5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself When You're Just Plain Tired
Everyone seems to be busy nowadays, so busy we have often forget to take care of ourselves. We eat take out at our desks, stay up until late in the night, and binge on the latest Netflix series to “relax”. Our bad habits lead us to feeling exhausted and tired most of the time.
If you’re feeling emotionally and physically drained, take a second to look at how you’re spending your time. Are you taking time to take care of yourself? Here are 5 tips to help you take a second for your health in during a busy day to help you get you're energy back and feel your best.
Get Enough Sleep
I know, I know. You don’t have enough time for sleep. Sleep is for the weak. But did you know that people who say they only need 4-6 hours of sleep per day actually are functioning way under their potential? Their bodies are adapting to the lack of sleep but only barely. Driving while sleep deprived can be as dangerous as drunk driving! At bare minimum, you need 7 hours of sleep. Go to bed early (like really early) two or three nights in a row and see how many hours your body naturally wakes up after. I know I need about 7 hours and 15 minutes of sleep to feel fully rested. More than 8 I feel groggy. Less than 7 I feel loopy. Listen to your body to find your sweet spot.
Tip: Set a timer for your bed time and when it’s time to get ready for bed. Many people starting out with a bedtime just set the timer for when it’s time to go to sleep. By the time you actually turn off the TV, brush your teeth, and get in bed you’ve wasted at least 10 minutes, usually closer to 30 and you haven't wound down yet. By setting a get ready for bed tip, you give yourself a buffer before you actually need to be in the bed. If you have a FitBit, they have a new feature that allows you to set these timers through the app. You can also set your wake time, an alarm, and track your sleep habits!
Are You Sleeping Enough?
How many hours do you typically sleep per night?
Create a Ritual
Rituals don’t have to be super New Age-y nor do they require chanting or incense (although if your rituals do, more power to you!). For me, a ritual is something I can do every day, gives me a sense of calm, and keeps me present. My favorite ritual is making my French Press coffee each morning. I boil the water, grind the beans, set up the French Press, and then signal that the ritual has ended once I push the plunger down and pour the coffee.
Tip: Find something you do every day that you can be present in enjoying. Maybe it’s tying your shoes, making the bed, or emptying the dishwasher. It should be something you do the same way, every time, and that excites your senses.
“But I don’t have TIIIIME to read a book.” Yes you do. And if you don't, make time. Read a chapter. Read a page. Read a paragraph. Read ONE SENTENCE! But find time to read. It let’s your brain escape for a brief moment. You can read books, magazines, blogs, newspaper articles, tweets, Pinterest quotes, Facebook rants…whatever you want (although I find reading Facebook rants and internet comment sections often leave me infuriated and drained rather than energized). Just find something that will give you a little boost of energy!
Tip: Audiobooks and Podcasts (I know, technically not a book) are fantastic for those of you who commute but also get motion sickness. I can’t read a lick in the car, even writing about it is making me feel a bit carsick. I also get a bit of a rush because I feel like Audiobooks are “cheating” and not real reading but they totally are! I had a 2 hour commute last year (one way, 11 miles, thank you DC) and Podcasts SAVED me!
Take 1 minute to just stop breathe for a minute. This is especially helpful when you feel your wheels starting to spin and your heart rate rising. Slow down your brain and let your body and mind rest for a moment.
Does mindfulness really work?
Tip: If you have more than 1 minute, say 5 minutes, you could try a guided meditation. There are TONS on Youtube and dozens of apps, some free and some paid. This is another great thing for commuters on trains, metros, buses, or in carpools. Do not meditate and drive!
Plan Your Breaks
Tim Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged?, recommends working for 45 minutes and then taking a 15 minute break. Apparently, this is what the most productive people do. The goal is to maximize your work time in those 45 minutes and then completely relax your brain during the following 15. The best way to get your breaks in is to plan them out and set a timer. I also like to pick 3-4 “acceptable” breaks for that time. My favorites are making tea, going for a walk, reading a book, and listening to a podcast. If possible, get away from your desk. You will return to your work feeling energized and more productive.
Tip: If taking breaks is discouraged in your work environment, HYDRATE! Use your break time to use the bathroom and fill up your water bottle. Take the long way to the bathroom, if possible. Hide in the bathroom for an extra minute (I’m a teacher and we seriously do this whenever we’re fortunate enough to get to the bathroom).
There you have it! 5 ways you can improve your energy levels, even if you’re tired. During the busiest seasons of our lives we often push our self-care to the side first. This week, try to do one thing to take care of yourself each day and keep track of the results. Good luck!