I did not have a good week last week. Not only was the week a hard one with many problems that I needed to solve, but what made it more difficult is that I was running on empty.
I worked hard the week before and did not stop during the weekend. I planned to take some time off at the beginning of the week, but that is precisely when I had to deal with two significant challenges. The problem was I had not taken the time to take care of myself.
As my executive coach likes to tell me, these are the Olympics (working and living through a pandemic), and in these circumstances, I must make sure I am ready at that level. For me, that includes rest, healthy food, exercise, meditation, and following my routine. Although I solved the challenges, I did not respond with the levelheadedness I would have liked. And then I felt terrible for not being centered. So, I went into this cycle of feeling bad and then feeling even more tired. By the time Friday rolled around, I was fried. It was tough.
Instead of relaxing on the prior weekends, I had been spending the last few Saturdays and Sundays catching up on two courses that I am taking and working on my social media, but on the weekend following my rough week, I did no work. On both days, I baked all day and knitted with my daughters. I did not do it consciously; I just went with what I was feeling. It felt right, and I forgot about everything else. And today, I realize that my tank is full again.
I am not saying that my week would have been easy had I taken more time for myself – it would have still been incredibly challenging – but I think I would have felt better throughout it. I would have spent less energy feeling bad that I was having such a bad week, and I would have been able to get back into action more quickly.
In the middle of so many changes and demands, it is easy to forget to take care of ourselves. We all know we need to rest and eat right, but at the same time, so much is demanded of us. It is easy to fall into the trap of busyness and work, trying to get everything done, forever increasing our productivity, yet forgetting that the person that is doing it all needs to be ready for it as well.
What are some ways that you fill your tank? These strategies have worked for me and I hope they help you as well.
Rest and healthy habits: Sleeping 7-8 hours a day is what is recommended for adults. Some of us, like me, love to stay up late, but whenever I do that, I always pay the consequences the next day. Conversely, sleeping well consistently will give you the energy you need to achieve what you set out to do. Eating right will also support you in maintaining that vitality throughout the day.
Hobbies: Taking time for your hobbies is so important. I had lost my hobbies because I dedicated all my time to my girls and my work. I have since found them again, and the pandemic’s quarantine orders helped, too. I love painting, baking, and writing, and I have also taken up knitting. What are some of your favorite hobbies? If you do not have one or lost them along the way, pick up something that sounds interesting. If you find that you do not want to stick with it, it’s okay – try something new.
Meditation: Meditation helps us stay present. It also reduces anxiety and stress. Some people find it hard to start meditating, but once you get into the habit, you cannot live without it. Try starting with 5 minutes a day and then working your way up to more time. Also, try finding a time that will work for you permanently.
Talking to friends and family: Staying connected is not easy in the best of times, but it is so rewarding. We are social animals, and our friends and family can be our greatest supporters in times of need. Plus, having a fun conversation can make a bad day go so much better.
Routine and rituals: Routines anchor our days. They help make them more productive and useful. It is especially important if you create blocks of time in your routine (please see Build Your Schedule Block by Block), where you take the time to do things that nurture you, such as meditation and journaling. Add in projects for yourself, such as your art, launching a new venture, or writing. If you combine these routines with rituals (please see Finding Rituals That Will Make Your Days Work Like Magic) that you use to get your day started, you may be able to reduce stress while continuing to perform at the same level. Rituals are a set of actions you frequently take before a specific event that help you gear up for performance. In your mornings, it might be drinking your coffee or your green juice at a particular time every day while you journal.
Take care of yourself, especially in trying times. The more you look after yourself, the more you will be able to give.