Thursday, December 1, 2016

Why you're so tired and what to do about it.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired. 

Not like I didn't get enough sleep. More like bone-deep weariness.

I know you understand, because life can be demanding, hard, unfair, and colorless. 

Even the beautiful moments of life are sandwiched between frustration, monotony, and heartbreak.

Eventually, if we don't take the time to restore ourselves, our tiredness turns to weariness, which manifests into complete shutdown mode also known as burnout.

There is something so obvious about a person who is burnt out. It oozes out of every crevice. It's a cocktail of exhaustion, stress, and longing for a different stage of life to begin.

I've been thinking about this a lot, because it has been a recurring theme among my friends lately. Every time I see them, we end up talking about how tired we are.

It's less about physical tiredness, and much more about how our souls feel drained, like the world has turned us from plumbs to prunes by siphoning our zest for life completely dry.

I have written about busyness before; how I hate being busy and for that to be an excuse to not spend time with people we love and pursuing worthwhile goals.

However, I don't think the problem can be wholly contributed to busyness.

The other contributing factor to our all-consuming fatigue is that we've forgotten how to rest well.

We spend a lot of time merely treating the symptoms of our fatigue with band-aids- like trashy television, junk food, and sleeping in on Saturdays- instead of figuring out what restores our souls, brings color to our world, and gives our lives meaning.

I've found that we don't even take time to think about what refuels our souls.

One of my closest friends and I were talking about this recently. She asked me what it is that refuels me, and I asked her the same. Our answers were remarkably different.

For me, the best way to rest is to exercise, listen to music without doing anything else, sing praise songs or play the piano, read a fiction book with a good story, or to watch an uplifting television show, like Gilmore Girls, Jane the Virgin or Parenthood.

For her, she recharged the best by being in nature, going on an adventure, listening to podcasts and TED talks, and spending time with her dogs.

As we talked about the differences in the way we recharge, we also began to realize how often we don't intentionally do these things when we do have down time. 

Often, instead of doing these activities that have proven successful, we end up choosing something else.

For me, I often choose to run errands, meet up with a friend I've not made time for in a while, or talk on the phone to long distance loved ones.

None of these things are bad. In fact, they are really good and provide benefits to me.

The problem is, I feel drained afterward. I don't feel rested. I have given more of myself when I should have been filling myself.

This results in more tiredness, and the cycle continues.

For example, I always feel much more at peace with my life when I exercise. I feel more confident and less stressed. You know what, though? Exercise is hard. It takes time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy. It takes planning ahead and the ability to say no to other things.

Therefore, I am much less likely to choose exercise over pizza and a chick flick simply because the carb + movie idea is easier.

Then, after the pizza is consumed, the credits roll, and my free time is over, I still feel weary and restless, not rested.

While this is my own personal version of choosing a numbing mechanism over real rest, I'm convinced you do it too, in your own way.

I don't know that I've completely figured out where the problem lies, but I do know a contributing factor.

There are things in life that must be done, even though they drain us. That might be household chores, our job, taking care of loved ones, or studying for our next degree.

They have to be done for us to be successful in life, so we schedule time to accomplish them. Then, whatever is leftover we consider our free time. During that free time, we tend to choose the path of least resistance rather than choosing something that might restore us more fully but requires more energy to make happen.

So how do we choose what is better? Is the answer more self-discipline? A "Just do it" mentality? 

I think not. We're setting ourselves up for failure if we don't change the framework, but expect ourselves to simply make a better decision next time.

The answer, or at least part of it, is learning to schedule our free time the same way we schedule our jobs, family, and social life.

Our free time needs to be a little less free, and a little more planned. 

Planning to rest seems like a foreign concept. It feels counter productive and wasteful.

The truth is, our bodies, minds, and spirits need to rest. We need time to restore. We need to make resting well a priority so we can continue to do the work we do every day. 

So today, I'm giving you permission to rest. Not that you need permission, but sometimes it's nice to hear it from someone else. You need rest- real, restorative, life-giving rest. 

Before you can do that, though, you need to figure out what restores you so you can intentionally follow through when you have time.

So, just like my dear friend asked me, I'm asking you.

What activities make you feel rested?

There are no wrong answers. Don't tell me what you think sounds like the right answer or the most holy answer. 

Be honest and open. There will be no judgement from me. 

Then, once you've figured it out. Plan a time this upcoming week where you can do just that. Don't cancel this important date with yourself. Don't compromise the time, apologize for taking it, or feel guilty about it. 

Just rest, and do it well.

If you want, comment below telling me how you feel most rested, and when you plan to do it this week. If you don't want to leave a comment, you can email me at vanessalumbyblog@gmail {dot}com instead. I'd absolutely love to hear from you.