Does this sound like you?
Wake up, grab a cup off coffee (or tea if like me, you’re trying to kick caffeine), get the kids up, fed and ready for school, rush out the door to work, run 90-miles per hour all day, rush home, make dinner, spend time with/manage the family, finish up the work that didn’t make the cut earlier, squeeze in a show, go to sleep. Rinse and repeat.
If you’re looking around the room wondering where the hidden camera is, you’re not alone. Before the pandemic, I felt like I was on a treadmill from the moment I woke up until I could grab those few precious ZZZ’s again.
When Austin’s mayor issued the first stay at home orders at the beginning of the pandemic, panic surged in my chest.
Then a shift.
I was still worried about the impact this would have on my and my family’s lives. But, I have to be honest, my initial panic was overtaken by a wave of relief. It was as if a flashing red stoplight had been installed in my path.
Once I paused, it finally hit me. I was depleted.
I had been forced to decelerate the pace of my life from an 8 mph sprint to a comfortable 3.5 mph brisk walk. I would not have done it on my own, but when it happened, I realized how desperately I needed to catch my breath.
I also knew that I needed to figure out which parts of this decelerated life I was going to hold onto. The sprinter’s pace was not sustainable. I needed to do less and be more present in what I was doing.
Once I paused, it finally hit me. I was depleted.
I hadn’t left space for renewal in my life. I’m not talking 2 weeks on a tropical island with a private chef (although, I wouldn’t turn that down if someone offered it to me.) I mean the small, daily practices that give me the vitality, motivation, and energy to show up engaged and present in the important areas of my daily life.
My 3 big takeaways:
Start with the basics If you aren’t intentionally focusing on your basic self-care, you’re likely to let it slip. Our human bodies need to be tended to. When we don’t attend to our body’s needs, it becomes less efficient, less resilient, more vulnerable to stress, and more prone to disease.
Sleep The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults 26 to 64 years old. For really good sleep, your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet. “Unplug” an hour before you want to fall asleep.
Exercise Getting regular exercise can positively impact your mood and ability to manage stress
Diet I’m not talking about a specific diet. Try eating on a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetable, nuts, whole grains and lean proteins.
Water Drink plenty and don’t get thirsty.
People We need supportive, nurturing people in our lives. Stay connected with your people whether it’s in person, by phone or by video.
Name your core values Sit down and figure out what’s really important to you. Do this, and you can cut out the energy draining extra stuff.
I took some time to name my core values. I literally sat down with pen and paper and came up with a list.
Now, when I notice the speed on my treadmill creeping up, I look at how I’m spending my time and ask myself, “How are my values showing up here?” If I can’t answer or if the answer is, “They aren’t,” then I tweak or cut out that activity all together.
My core values are the foundation for understanding where to focus my energy. They dictate what makes the final cut in my daily life.
This was a game changer for me. Once I named my core values, I understood how important my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical, health are to me. Not only do I prioritize sleep and exerecise, but building quiet time into my day, even if only for 10 minutes, is a must.
Embrace imperfection I’m a recovering perfectionist.
I realize that I’ll always have perfectionistic tendencies, but I have a choice on whether or not to act on them.
Perfectionism is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. And, most importantly, perfection is a myth. I’m setting myself up for disappointment and failure every time I try to live up to a perfect ideal.
I’ve learned, in certain situations, to accept good enough and to celebrate done (like I said, I’m still in recovery). I can acknowledge the success in being able to finish what I’ve started to the best of my ability, whatever my “best” is in that moment.
When my perfectionistic habits emerge, seeking to sabotage my progress, I ask myself, “What is good enough right now?”
This practice has saved me time and energy. If needed, I put a time limit on what I’m working on and accept the end product as is. It’s also forced me to sort out the tasks and activities that need “A” level effort from the ones where a “B” will do. This might mean imperfect but clinically clear and appropriate charting. A perfectly written chart isn’t going to help my patient heal any quicker.
Life altering changes are not always possible or even necessary to keep us from becoming depleted. Understanding which practices will allow you to live as your whole, present self can start you on the path towards renewal.