On Stepping Back and Shutting Off

I am of the belief that there are different levels of tired.  At the bottom is the kind of tired that falls upon us after a poor night’s sleep or a particularly busy day.  As you move up, the levels get more intense.  There are levels that come when those sleepless nights have started to pile up, when life is hitting us extra hard, and when our health is poor.  And, of course, there is level that one might reach when many of things collide.

Given that I’ve had chronic insomnia and poor sleep since puberty, I’m used to the low-grade levels of tired.  I live in them.  It’s my normal and I’ve made peace with that.  Sometimes, though, my level rises and I know I need to permit myself some extra care and rest.  Generally, it’s dealt with quickly and I return to my norm.  But, lately, that hasn’t been working.

I am tired.  Like, really tired.

josh on beach black and white

My body is okay – better than okay, actually.  Running still feels good.  I don’t have any weird aches or pains, but as for my brain?  Well, that’s a different story.  I’ve been the kind of tired that I most feel in my head.  I’ve been feeling scattered.  I have trouble focusing on things.  I’m quick to be irritated (okay, I may be quick to be irritated most of the time anyway).  And, my creativity is waning.

This is all stuff I don’t like one bit.  Nope.  Not a fan of it at all.

This is also why I’ve only posted a few times over the last month.  Such minimal blogging isn’t my norm and I know it won’t become my norm – but it may be one temporary part of giving myself a bit of much needed down time.

I know that one of the major causes of my current funk is my state of chronic busyness.  I am always busy and my mind is always racing.  I jump from a full day’s work to a workout to my second job to cooking meals to blogging to running errands to appointments to housework and so on – with little time to just stop and breathe.  Some of this is absolutely necessary (work and more work) and some of it is self-induced (me trying to squeeze in the activities that actually bring me joy and satisfaction) and some of it is just, well, dumb (me believing that I always have to be multitasking – one project at a time is never good enough).

So, in light of all this, I’m trying a few things to take a little better care of myself, get my spark back, and clear my head.  They include:

  1. Shutting off/Disconnecting – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels constantly tied to an electronic device.  Frankly, I love them but sometimes they’re draining.  Between two computer-heavy jobs, blogging, and general news and communication, I too often am staring a screen.  This is why my blogging has been a bit less lately – I need a little break from those screens right now.  And, maybe I won’t read ALL the news of the world and it will still be okay.   
  2. Less multi-tasking – Building off of #1 above, I am always juggling multiple things, taking in and shooting out information and energy from a variety of sources.  I am really feeling the need to ease up on this.  It’s good to give one project (and only one project) my attention sometimes.  And if that means something else has to wait a while, that will just have to work itself out.
  3. Re-prioritizing – Often in my brain EVERYTHING IS SO IMPORTANT.  But, really, it’s not.
  4. Being kind to myself – Oh, I’m so bad at this.  So very bad.  I expect way more out of myself than I would ever expect out of others, setting high expectations and then becoming angry when I don’t always meet them.  This is an ongoing project.  If you have tips, I’m happy to hear them!
  5. Allowing space for nothing – This is also extremely difficult for me.  If I sit and do ‘nothing’ for even 30 minutes, I generally become anxious, thinking about what needs to be done and feeling lazy for doing those things.  Recently, I’ve been trying to put everything else away and either enjoy a television show that makes me laugh or lose myself in a book (I read often – but generally on the bus, while eating, or waiting for something – rarely just any old time of day).  These are simple pleasures that help me unwind and disconnect and I’m trying to remember that they are just as valuable to my life as finishing the next task.

What I won’t change is finding small spaces for the things that already work to rejuvenate me – running, connecting with you all kind people, enjoying a nice meal with others.  These things are keepers.

So, this is my plan, friends.  I’m feeling optimistic about it and am hoping that it will help me get my mojo back (Yes – I did just say that.  Give me a break, please, I’m tired!)

34 comments on “On Stepping Back and Shutting Off

  1. Laura says:

    Your plan sounds like a good one – relaxing for me was always so hard until recent circumstances forced it. It’s hard but has been so good to learn to quiet my thoughts. Good for you for figuring out what you need and good luck!

  2. Nora says:

    You remind me of me. I hold myself to a standard I’d never hold anyone else to. Just last night I had to remind myself to not beat myself up over the fact I’m doing less intense exercise right now…after all, I’m still moving. There was a time when I did no exercise.
    A book that helped me “reset” so I could slow down and enjoy life more is “The Simple Living Guide” by Janet Luhrs.
    Also, I occasionally have racing thoughts that make me anxious. When I notice that, I start counting in my head. It’s a trick to distract my mind and gets my thoughts to stop. Then I take deep breaths and slow down.

  3. I am in the same place as you. I haven’t blogged for more than a month. My life coach and I are working on S L O W! and it feels really really good. Being present and aware of all around me is a blessing.

  4. Julia says:

    You and I are very similar … Can’t live without running, exploring alternative ways of cooking and eating, filling our days with activities, racing through our days ,,, quite frankly, I can’t take the pace anymore! Recently I have discovered Yoga. This is something you may want to try out … Yes, I know it’s one more activity when you’re trying to narrow down, but what Yoga does is slow you down. It’s difficult at first for people like you and me who are not used to slowing down, but with some practice it comes and the benefits are amazing – better sleep, less irritation, a more positive and patient attitude … Maybe you can try it out?

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Julia. I do partake in yoga from time to time. Usually about once a week. It is a nice addition to my day when I do it. I have been thinking about incorporating short yoga-mini sessions into my week more frequently – 15 minutes or so just to step back and refresh for a few minutes!

  5. delishdlites says:

    If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were describing my life to the detail! Best of luck, I’m working on this stuff too.

  6. sueslaght says:

    Your post has obviously rung true for many of us. Thank you! My brother gave me a wee book called ‘Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. I call it a pre-beginner guide to meditation. ( no offence to the author intended) It has been helpful to me in slowing down for a few moments in the midst of multi-tasking, screen stimulating chaos. All the best to you.

  7. Rachel says:

    I can relate so much to what you have written. I sometimes will even fall asleep early only to wake up at 2:30am and my mind starts racing with all sorts of stuff. I tend to feel lazy if I sit around watching TV for an hour, etc. Busy isn’t always a good thing and your body and yourself deserves some rest. I recently tried meditating for five minutes a day. At times it’s really hard clearing your head but I found staring at a blank wall for some of the time helps :)

    xo
    Rachel

    • Thanks, Rachel! What is it about that hour between 2am-3am that is so problematic??? I’ve heard that from so many people throughout the years. Anyway, I like your five minute meditation plan – it sounds like it’s been helpful to you!

  8. Jim Brennan says:

    Now that is a 5 step plan for today’s hectic world. I just had a discussion with a close friend about the health benefits of unplugging, a lesson I need to practice more diligently myself. And yes, busy woman, give yourself a break. Heaven knows you deserve it. As far as not blogging often enough, from what I read every single post of yours is genuine, thoughtful and heartfelt. Who could ask for anything more?

    • That is a kind comment, Jim. Thank you so much! Also, it never ceases to amaze me how the devices that are ‘supposed’ to make our lives easier (phones, computers, etc) sometimes only make things more chaotic. There’s got to be a balance in there somewhere!

  9. Good for you for recognizing that you need to slow down and then actually doing something about it! Far too often we (and I definitely include myself here) complain about how busy and tired we are and then continue on as we always do hoping that something will change. It’s a big step to actually make those changes happen. Keep taking care of yourself, and I hope you find some relief soon.

  10. Maybe it is the few years (really many years) I have on you, but I have finally learned that the airplane rule of “put your own oxygen mask on first” is the one to live by. You are no good to anyone else unless you take care of yourself first. Once I started believing that, it gave me the freedom to slow down, do what I need to keep myself relaxed, or at least unstressed. This really hit when my girls were teenagers, my dad was dying, my business was no earning any money and life was incredibly stressful. When I started prioritizing taking care of myself, I was happier and then everyone else was happier and I was better able to deal with all the stresses. Go with your plan and know you are really doing what is best for everyone around you.

  11. I like that you have stepped off the “treadmill” and realized that an action plan is needed. Most people don’t get that far! Especially with tiredness – it is possible to be too tired to make changes! Good for you. I think you should also give yourself credit for already doing so many things right (food, exercise, meaningful work, etc.)

  12. Mileage Mama says:

    This is SO me right now! My body has energy but my brain is fried. I hop from one thing to another, without really finishing anything. The multi-tasking is also insane and I’m probably accomplishing less in total than if I just completed one task at a time.

    Thanks for the suggestions, and now I know I’m not alone!

  13. Joanne says:

    These all sound like such great ideas for combating your tiredness!! I find that the busier I am the less creatively inclined I am also…it’s definitely frustrating!

  14. mitzimagpie says:

    Wow. Until I read your post I did not realize that I’m in very much the same boat. While my life is not as computer-heavy, I am always extremely busy and limited in the time I have for myself because I work full-time and have to commute 25 hours a week. And I too feel anxious and at times even guilty if I’m doing “nothing.” Thank you for the food for thought. I need to be better to myself, and permit myself to have space for simply being.

    Purple Magpie

  15. Unfortunately I know these feelings of over exhaustion all to well. Since childhood I have suffered from insomnia, and have found myself in a slump lately. My blog is suffering for it, sadly. Will try these suggestions. Two things I have found some relief with are a good magnesium supplement and restorative yoga.

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