Today I woke up with a full-blown cold. Stuffy nose, throat slightly scratchy, coughing-the whole nine. Ironically, today is also the day that I determined that I would revamp my entire life and mindset and become extremely productive, stop fucking around with my diet, and basically become Hannah 2.0: Awesome Edition.
While I still fully intend to get all of my things on my Win the Day list done, it is proving to be substantially more difficult because I. Am. Drained. I have thus far completed one task (meal prep) and all I want to do is take a nap.
This got me thinking about how energy is KEY to living our lives as our best selves. I have no idea how people who are chronically sick, always tired, or perpetually mowing down fast food every day of the week do it.
Your energy is the pilot light of your life. And as such it needs to be your top priority. So, how do you ensure that you are always running on a full tank of gas? How do you avoid the gas light coming on when you’re still 40 miles away from your next destination?
Be Proactive. I could feel the inklings of this cold on Friday night. Yet I still chose to go out drinking and stay up late. Granted, it was a friend’s birthday party so I would have been a bit of a rat if I had skipped out last minute, but I could have chosen not to drink, headed back to the hotel early, or made sure that I was consuming good, healthy food before heading out. Instead, I chose to ignore the signs and carry on as if all was well. And now, here we are, 12 kleenexes deep before noon.
Being proactive about your health is the best way to ensure that your energy reserves are always replenished and you are constantly running on all cylinders. Our mind may be the tool that is responsible for getting most things done, but it is housed in our bodies; it can only do so much if its living space is constantly drained.
Even before the hint of a cold, I could feel myself getting run down by all of the things going on in my life. School, sports leagues, working out, diet, birthdays, friend hangouts…everything seemed to happen at once and without a break, constantly keeping me moving, and I went along on the rapids, not realizing how much all of the perpetual motion was really affecting me.
You need to be able to recognize when you are on the verge of cracking, and somehow ease off the pressure for a little bit. Giving yourself a night off from your responsibilities, taking a slow walk with no heart rate goal in mind, indulging in a mid-week glass of wine. All of the things that we may not allow ourselves to do because we have too many other responsibilities to handle; those are the things that become the most critical tasks when we approach the breaking point.
Practice Prevention. Taking the time to slow down can be difficult, because I am a firm believer in the fact that productivity and accomplishments are what give us our sense of self-worth. No one should feel good about wasting their days away just doing things they feel like doing in that moment on a consistent basis.
But there is the other side of the coin where if you don’t take the time to indulge your inner whims, you will lose sight of what you enjoy about life and wind yourself tighter and tighter until you eventually have no choice but to explode.
In order to live your best life, you have to be productive, accomplish things, grow from one week to the next. Yet to achieve this constant growth, you must have an abundance of energy, which comes from your ability to take a step back from the grindstone and admire your progress, drink some water, wipe off the sweat, and then get back to it.
Use the energy you have. In my experience, the more you use your energy, the more energy you will have available to you. If I go to the gym after work and spend a good hour on strength expenditure, I will have exponentially more energy for the rest of the evening than if I skip the gym altogether. This logically should not make sense. Yet I have experienced it time and time again.
Likewise, when I get quite a few things done on my list for that day, I am a lot more motivated to get even more things done. Contrarily, when I wake up, plant my ass in front of the TV, and don’t move for an hour or so, I want nothing more than to not move for the rest of the day.
Know yourself. Sometimes, when you’re feeling like you can’t get anything done and you are dead tired, all you need to do is push past the mental barrier and you will be whipping through your stuff in record time. Other times, you can try as hard as you want to push through, but you simply cannot because you are running on empty.
You need to be able to tell those times apart. If you know in the back of your mind that you tend to feel overwhelmed and shut down at a certain point yet you still have some reserve left, push yourself past that mental block. If you know, however, that you are seriously approaching your breaking point, ease off the gas and allow yourself to have a break for a day.
Overall, balancing your energy is one of the most effective tools for owning your life. No one wants to gather their grandchildren about them and regal them with tales of the time you sat and watched TV every weekend for 20 years straight and how you always felt sick and run-down. Taking control of how you feel and really taking the time to know your body and safely push your limits is the best way to get the most out of this gift we have been given.
Take the time to give yourself a break, but only enough to gather your force for the next breakthrough. Everything, much like the tides of the ocean, is a cycle, and you can either have it work for you or against you. Learn to read the waves, and you will find yourself surfing with ease rather than tumbling along the break-line gasping for air.