Feeling exhausted has become so normalized in our "fast-paced, keep busy, work hard" culture. Like, if you're not exhausted, then aren't you being a little lazy?
Just writing that down sounds CRAZY! Exhaustion does not equate to optimal productivity. In fact, I would argue the opposite. The more rested and in balance we feel, the more we can show up to work energized, feeling present, and offer our best selves.
Now I am not an expert on productivity, but there have been many studies and Ted Talks given talking about how working less and reducing stress yields greater productivity (see resources below!)
What I am here to share is how I face exhaustion IN THE MOMENT. These are tools that I have learned over the years that help me recognize what I need in the moment when I am feeling on the brink of total exhaustion. You'll even see the flow chart I drew myself to keep in my desk so I don't even have to think when I'm feeling exhausted, I just need to work through these few steps and follow my own instructions (I know, easier said than done sometimes!).
Step 1: Identify how you are feeling
"Stress" can actually be stemming from a lot of different feelings, so I try and identify where the "stress" is coming from. If I can identify that I am exhausted, mentally, physically, or both, then I proceed with the next question...
Step 2: Ask yourself "Why?"
Sometimes I have an easy answer: Lack of sleep.
Maybe my dog was sick all night and kept me up. Maybe my mind was racing. Regardless of the reason, if I am feeling exhausted simply because of lack of sleep, the best thing I can do for myself in that moment is take a nap.
Now I fully realize that this is not always an option. You may be at your place of business, or you may be a primary caregiver to a child or family member, so this option may not be feasible. BUT IF YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO SO, take the nap! It is not lazy. It is not selfish and it does not make you less productive. In this instance, rest will bring balance to this situation and ultimately bring you to a healthier mental and physical state. Take it from me, someone who is TERRIBLE at napping because I used to think of it as such a waste of time. The amount I get done after a nap when I am truly exhausted is incredible.
So what about if I can't take a nap or my exhaustion is not from lack of sleep?
One tool that I LOVE is a "body scan". It only takes 5 minutes (or less)! I find a comfortable place to sit or lay down, start with some deep, slow breaths, close my eyes and try to center myself. I start at the top of my head and I explore how each part of my body is feeling as I scan down my body all the way to my toes.
My shoulders are a bit sore...
I feel some strain in my lower back...
I feel a heaviness in my chest due to anxiety...
It is like a short form of meditation where I can truly focus on how I am feeling and what I need in the moment to bring just a bit more balance to my day.
Step 3: Now what do I do?
Well, I've made a list of things that help me when I am feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and I try doing some (or all!) of them to bring me energy!
- Go for a walk outside (getting out of the house is super revitalizing!)
- Quick yoga session (movement with breathe work to wake up the body and mind)
- Shroom Magic Mix (5 adaptogenic mushrooms and invigorating spices to help me with mental clarity and all natural energy!)
- Jump rope for 3 minutes (get that heart rate up and shake up the whole body!)
- Take a shower or bath (rejuvenate the body and mind)
- Journal (Sometimes writing about how you are feeling brings up emotions you couldn't pin point earlier)
Make up your own list and keep it nearby for next time you feel exhausted! Remember, taking care of yourself should be a priority.
I love a good mantra as well, so my mantra for when I am feeling exhausted is:
"When you're tired learn to rest, not quit."