I don’t know about you but since the beginning of November, I have started to feel a bit tired. If you changed time a few weeks ago, you may be still adjusting (and your pets too!). We are sliding into the end of the year after a long stretch of change, isolation, and, still (!), mass uncertainty.
For many of us in the US, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving and are venturing out to see our friends and families when we may not have done so last year. This is a welcome change. For others around the globe, cases are rising again and what looked like a promising start to 2022 is quickly becoming a step backward — a step further from returning to a more balanced way of living and working.
I think we all have a right to be tired. We have made the most out of tough times. Some of us have maximized the time to do things we have wanted to do, get healthy, or put positive routines in a place. Others have struggled during these times and continue to struggle.
These times have launched debates among businesses, communities, and families around what we should do and how we should plan for the future. These conversations are stressful because we are all making it up as we go along and we approach universal problems, like a pandemic, from different perspectives.
Against this background, it is understandable we are tired. I have spoken to many who say they are finishing projects to the best of their ability but they are delaying any kind of planning until January after people get a much-needed break at the end of December. We need to continue to work but most of us are backing off on the level of intensity right now.
However, there is still plenty to do and there can be even more on our plates with the holidays and finishing up major work assignments. So, how do you find the energy to stay committed and focused? I am sure we all have our tricks and go-to actions to push through.
One of my past mentors used to tell me to get the must-complete items done first thing in the morning to give me flexibility for the rest of the day. So, even when you don’t feel like it, you need to push through and then you can relax. This advice has served me well. This advice is a lot like what my parents instilled in me…get your homework done first and then you can go out with your friends. Funny how life advice translates across life stages.
Here are seven techniques to find more energy. Some of them are mental and some physical. You need to address both to have success. The link between mind and body is extraordinary to me as it is an essential connection to make progress on just about anything you want to achieve.
For the Brain…
The best way to grab some energy is to learn something new. I shared some virtual networking tips with a group of women last week and I had a few people reach out to say they learned several new actions they could take that day to expand their network. First, I love to hear that. I am always so humbled when someone tells me that I gave them something actionable to do. Second, they all said learning these tips gave them new energy, put wind in their sails, and pulled them out of their slump. I listen to podcasts, read books, watch documentaries, attend webinars and read articles all the time. I am taking a class right now on marketing. If you need a boost in your brainpower, make time to learn. This could be anything, by the way, not necessarily tied to business. I am reading a book about the Salem Witch Trials. Fascinating. While this won’t win me any awards or promotions at work, it may help me excel at Jeopardy and trivia competitions. It keeps me energized.
When you are tired and not sure what you can accomplish that particular day, put some of your day-to-day work on hold, if you can, and plan. Nothing gets my energy flowing more than thinking about and planning for the future. I have written about my planning techniques before and I am gearing up for 2022 planning. I am actually excited and looking forward to it. I love contemplating what I want to achieve and then coming up with actions to help me do it. Nothing is more motivating to me than to write down what I want my life to look like and how I can realize that. We all have this capacity. We all can do it no matter how big or small our aspirations are.
This one can be both mental and physical but laughter can give you some pep. I need to laugh at least once a day for it to be a good day. Ever notice how contagious laughter is? It is difficult to be stern, grumpy, or overly tired when someone is laughing. You can’t help yourself but smile and giggle when others are laughing even though you don’t know the punch line. Find that friend who tells corny jokes. Find a show you can stream for 30 minutes that will make you smile. Read a funny anecdote or tell a funny story to someone else to make them laugh. Laughter is a release; it is also a pick-me-up in every sense. Look for laughter; it is vital to make us feel good and ready to take on a challenge if one lies ahead of us.
For the Body…
Many of you may have started a walking routine in our remote and hybrid times. I certainly have. I don’t let the weather stop me either. Fresh air can give you energy in a heartbeat. Even when it is freezing, I bundle up and go for a walk. We need to walk away from our computer screens and always-on phones in front of us. We need to clear the fog in our brains and give our eyes and necks a rest. I know many people who go to work out when they are tired. That works for them. For me, I just need to move for 20 minutes. There is something about fresh, cold air to wake me up and help me re-focus.
While an obvious one for many, I never thought about how critical water was to my energy level until I read more about it. I would always reach for coffee or even a soda (back in the day when I used to drink soda) to give me a boost. The best thing for energy is water, not caffeine. When you are dehydrated, you are tired and maybe even queasy or light-headed. Don’t get to that point. I know people who put a lemon or orange in their water. Citrus has amazing energy properties. I can never give up my coffee. I don’t want to partly because I have quite the collection of coffee mugs from my travels but I also love the smell and flavor. When I have had my two cups, however, I switch to water. You don’t need to deprive yourself of coffee if you love it but we should all up our water intake to keep our energy up.
Take it Easy
It is okay to take it easy on a day when we are tired. Go for a walk, drink lemon water, laugh, and all the rest but don’t make important decisions when you are tired. Table the big meeting or serious conversation until you feel more refreshed. Try to have a lightly scheduled day if you can. There is nothing wrong with not being at 100 percent intensity on days where you are pretty tired. If there is something big you need to resolve, present or think about on a tired day, focus your thoughts on that and minimize everything else. Juggling and multi-tasking while tired can lead to less than optimal outcomes.
Have Some Grace
Finally, cut yourself some slack. I know people who actually get mad when they don’t have energy to accomplish the items on their long to-do list. Don’t get mad, down or deflated. Have some grace with yourself and others if they are feeling this way. I have struggled with sleep for years, and I know I am not alone. When you do lose sleep, it is important to not stress about it. Try to push the big things on your plate to another day if you can. If you can’t then take the actions above. But, most of all, say to yourself: “Oh well. I didn’t sleep last night.” And let it go. There is always the next night to sleep better. Don’t stress or obsess on this because it will only make it worse.
This has been a tiring year for many reasons. We don’t always wake up every morning feeling refreshed and ready to go. That is okay. On the days where you need a boost, try the above actions. On days where you lost sleep the night before and are really struggling, take it easy. If you have to facilitate a big meeting or travel, which may be why you didn’t sleep in the first place, drink water and smile and get through your big to-do. Then, crash. It’s okay. We all have ups and downs and times where we are on fire and times where we are smoldering. Allow yourself some room to be both.