There are lots of ways to perk up just enough to get through a hectic day when you are running on fumes. Those days happen from time to time to everyone.
But when those days become the norm, it's time to take a step back so you don't have to feel like a zombie every day. This involves a bit of planning, so refer to those other tricks to get you through the days when you are running on fumes, while integrating in your long-term strategy to keep your energy up.
Get Clear on the End Goal
If you're not focused on the real reason you want to feel more energetic in your life, then it will be easy to lose sight of that when you are faced with decisions, like watching one more episode than you should tonight on your Netflix binge, completely skipping your walk instead of taking a shorter walk, or choosing the extra helping of dinner instead of grabbing a piece of fruit.
Some reasons you may want to make adjustments in your life to increase your energy include:
- Lessening physical symptoms that often accompany autoimmune diseases
- Being more alert when driving
- Staying awake during classes and meetings
- Playing outside with your kids without huffing and puffing
- Entering an upcoming 5K
- Feeling less fatigued every day
- Having enough energy to stay on top of your daily routine
- Being able to focus on a specific goal you set without getting sleepy and going to bed instead
Keeping that reason in mind when you are making the daily decisions will help you to make better choices.
List the Areas of Improvement
These will be different for everyone, but chances are, you can already rattle off some areas where you can make changes. Just take a moment and think of the things that bring on a little bit of guilt when you do them. You may find yourself saying, “Well, just this once won't hurt,” or “I know I should do better,” or “If only” and then pairing it with something about one of the following things:
- Waking up tired (ex. “If only I had gone to bed earlier last night, I wouldn't feel so terrible waking up right now)
- Eating what's cheap, fast, easy, or portable (ex. “I know I should eat more fruits and veggies in my diet, but I am just too busy to eat anything other than what I can easily grab and take with me.”)
- Overcommitting yourself (ex. “It won't hurt to stretch myself thin right now. They really need the help, and I'm the only one who can even try to add that to their plate.”)
- Procrastinating the same things over and over (ex. “I know I should do the dishes, but I'm so tired, I just want to go to bed instead.”)
- Avoiding a bedtime routine (ex. “If only my life allowed me to have a routine before bed, then maybe I could fall asleep easier.”)
- Allowing certain people to eat up too much of your time (ex. “Yes, she does always ask me for last minute favors, but it doesn't hurt me to do something nice for someone else.”)
- Doing everything yourself instead of getting help (ex. “I know I should ask my kids to do chores, but I always end up either nagging them over and over to do it, or I have to go behind them and redo it.”)
Evaluate the Basic Areas of Your Life
Now that you have your list of things that you've cringed about in the past, it's time to see if there are other possible areas to consider. Since you are focusing on your physical energy here, that is a good place to start reflecting.
- What sleeps habits can you improve?
- Are there any eating habits can you adjust?
- How often do you exercise each week?
- Do you take any medications, vitamins, or supplements?
Next, move on to the mental and emotional areas of your life.
- Are there any people you should spend more or less time around?
- What do you do to help yourself think clearly?
- How do you strengthen your mind?
- Do your positive thoughts outnumber your negative thoughts?
- Are there some activites that add more stress to your life than they resolve?
- What things weigh the most on your mind?
- Are there any situations that make it difficult to concentrate or to clear your mind?
And finally, consider the obligations and responsibilities in your life.
- What things fall to you with your immediate and extended families?
- What is your current work load? (Include committies and other work obligations in addition to your main job duties, as well as part-time jobs.)
- Are there any volunteer groups or activities in your life? (Include community, church, and social groups.)
- What activities with your spouse, children, roommate, pets, or others involve you?
If I left anything off of these lists, pretty please go on and add them, OK? If they cross your mind at all while doing this, it's probably a good idea to just go on and add it, just in case. You can always cross it off later.
Map Out Your Plan
There are two parts to mapping out your plan: time and tasks.
You are more likely to actually follow through and do those changes that you identified earlier if you pick out times to work on them before the day even starts. Trying to work it in to your day without a plan makes it harder to do, and it's more like that you will delay doing it until later.
And you know how that goes if you put it off until “later.” Later could be any time, so it probably won't happen.
Use the Hourly Planning Sheet for Wall/Refrigerator (found in the free Women Managing Stress Resource Library and filed under “Work” once you log in) to map out your week. You can sign up at the bottom of this page if you don't have access yet.
Add in the things that you do most weeks on the hourly planning sheet. Then, use a highlighter to mark off those places where you can work on making tweaks. Do you want to make healthier lunch choices to give you more energy? Then highlight lunch time.
If you want to add in more physical movement, then mark off some times when you can exercise. You can even color code them for the times when it would be the easiest to do, and then another color for the times when you could make up for missed times during the week.
The next part involves getting clear on your goals. There is a Weekly Focus sheet in the free Women Managing Stress Resource Library where you can list what changes and adjustments you are focusing on for the week. There are sections for the various areas, like home, finances, health, and more.
Be as specific as you can. Here are some ideas:
- Take a multivitamin each morning when I brush my teeth and when I eat lunch (yes, the bottles say to take two).
- Go for a walk in the neighborhood for 20 minutes every day after work. If it's raining, then walk in place for 20 minutes inside the house.
- Do any work I bring home at the table, instead of on my bed to help me associate my bed with sleep.
Then, use the Weekly Focus sheet to check off your accomplishments!
To help yourself to be more effective with your plan, be specific. Plan target days and times of the week. Knowing that you do an online workout on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings will help you to make sure you do it- even if you have to squeeze it in before you go to bed on those nights.
Be fully committed. Eliminate phrases like, “I'm trying to,” “I hope to,” Maybe,” or “I wish.” Those phrases send subtle messages to yourself and others that you don't fully believe in what you are doing. It makes it much easier for them to agree with you a few days later when you say, “I am just too tired to take that walk today,” because they heard you say, “I'm trying to walk three days a week.”
Instead of saying “I hope to squeeze in a walk three days a week after work,” say things like, “I love how my walks after work make me feel.” If they hear you saying that you're feeling tired, they are more likely to say, “But you know how much you enjoy your walks.”
So print off those two sheets in the resource library, and start planning! Stick to it, and let me know how it goes. In just a short time, not only will you feel more energetic physically, but you will feel more confident in yourself when you decide to tackle any area in your life. The enthusiasm from this exercise is contagious!