Oftentimes I hear people say “I can’t do anything when I get home except fall on the couch, watch TV for a few hours while I mindlessly snack.” I most often hear this from myself as I know the feeling well. But what I realize now is that there is a universality to this experience. I used to label myself as lazy or just feel guilty about this type of fatigue but now I know that this indicates a need for an energy reset. Here are the questions I ask to determine what kind of energy reset I need. (Note: This blog entry will contain no mention of detox diets, cleanses or expensive spa treatments)
Have I Been Meditating?
At one of the first Buddhist meditation classes I took, the teacher said that whenever she was having a bad week, her teacher asked her “Have you been meditating?” and the answer was usually no. A nice anecdote I thought at the time, but a little simplistic, it didn’t change my sporadic relationship to meditation. But as I have practiced more, it does seem to correlate with the amount of energy and positive feelings I have in my week. You don’t want to go into meditation with expectations that it will “fix your life” but I would experiment with seeing the effect meditation can have on your life. There have been times when I am driving home and stop at my meditation studio feeling dead tired and like maybe I should skip it because I am “so busy” but I end up leaving with more energy and less anxiety about completing the tasks ahead.
When was The Last Time I Ate?
If you’re the idealized me, you’re eating three meals and two well timed snacks a day. If you’re the actual me, some days you’re running to the grocery store prepared food section and grabbing something in a plastic container at 3pm when you haven’t eaten since breakfast. Hey, we get busy, no judgment. However, we can’t ignore the reality that our we have biological needs. When we skip meals we are prone to a drop in blood sugar, moodiness and overeating later on.
Have I Been Outside Yet Today?
I have a lovely courtyard outside of my office. When I was looking at the building, I could picture myself sipping coffee there on my breaks. Has that happened? Not so much. Often we are steps from fresh air and we don’t take the opportunity to go outside and breathe it in. We sit at our desks for lunch instead of taking a short walk. I know just a few minutes outside, even in a city where I might catch a glimpse of a tree overlooking a Panera, is better for me than staying in my office all day.
Do I Need to Talk to Someone?
Have you been with your own thoughts too long? Having imaginary conversations with the sister you are annoyed at or running through your to-do list fifty times. Our mind is like a Merry-Go-Round that rarely stops. When we talk to someone it helps us to press the stop button, get off the ride, and observe it from a safe distance. Listening to the incessant chatter of the mind can be exhausting, and we may struggle to manage it through meditation. Sometimes talking it out with someone whether that be a good friend, your partner or a therapist can be really helpful in getting relief from those tiring thought loops.
How Am I Sleeping?
Usually people answer this “not well”. I believe when we haven’t managed our overactive minds, it doesn’t go off just because it’s bed time. Our minds stay looping, wondering, planning, and worrying and it doesn’t care that it is 3 AM. If this sounds like you, you may want to focus on something like a guided meditation or visualization. Your mind may still wander but it gives it an alternative place to go instead of staring at the ceiling (which may only spark more worries about asbestos).
What you know on some level is that the only one who will prioritize resetting and recharging your energy is YOU. Other people aren’t bad because they want to rely on you at times, but they don’t know how much fuel you have left in the tank. Only you know that. And while sometimes an energy reset may feel more effective or less effective, the best thing you can do is try something…anything…and see if it helps. As always, it’s just an experiment. Find what works for you.