Have you ever felt completely exhausted, but no matter how much you sleep, you don't seem to be able to recover your spent energy?
For years I suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I kept thinking that if I could just get enough sleep I'd be okay. Sometimes I slept up to 18 hours a day, but still felt completely exhausted. There's something about being fatigued that has nothing to do with sleep, it has nothing to do with the physical.
I've learned that sleep is not the only type of rest your body needs, and sometimes we need to sit back and assess what we're not getting to work out how to recover our energy.
Often I get into the state where people ask me 'How do you do it all and keep it together?' and the answer is that, often times, I'm not keeping it together.
I'm a high achieving, type A, goal setting kind of person, and I am constantly having new ideas and new projects that I want to start, but honestly, I don't have the capacity to do everything I want to do, and so in the past that has led to frequent burn out.
So how do you maintain your personality, honour who you were made to be, achieve the things you set out for yourself, but do it all without damaging yourself and without burning out?
Well, I found out from this wonderful book Sacred Rest
by Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith
You need to ensure that you are getting all seven types of rest. Don't get overwhelmed though. Just pick the 2 or 3 that you're struggling with the most, then the others will start falling into place. Take a look at where you're pouring out your energy each day, not just 'I'm so tired after work' but what is it about work, which parts are making you tired?
Those are the areas you want to focus on.
Physical rest can be active or passive. Passive physical rest is things like sleeping or taking a nap. If I'm struggling to wind down and rest, I like to take the Serenity capsules, have a bath, work through my forgiveness ritual (more on that later) and then diffuse some Roman Chamomile & Pink Pepper by my bed. Active physical rest is things like getting a massage, doing yoga or going for a leisurely walk - the things we use to relax our muscles, restore circulation and improve lymphatic drainage.
Often times, although people are getting enough sleep, they have neck or back pain, because of the way they hold themselves at their office desk or because their job requires that they sit for long periods of time. Active physical rest is so important for our bodies, to reverse some of that stress and fatigue they feel from our work day to day.
I like to see my chiropractor regularly to support my body physically, and I use deep blue rub on my neck and shoulders, and often on my feet too, just to increase circulation and give them that soothing, relief after they have carried me all day.
Emotional is the second type of rest that we need. Particularly now, with a pandemic and all, people are feeling anxious and we've all been cooped up at home, but we're seeing the black lives matter movement and there's a lot of emotion happening in this season. I want to be clear that I don't believe in good or bad emotions, but what is important is processing your emotions in a healthy way. That's what my forgiveness ritual is all about. It's expressing how you feel, then releasing it and letting it go. I've taught this ritual to hundreds of customers over the years and it's always the thing I get the most positive feedback from.
Essential oils and aromatherapy can be an amazing way of helping you to process your emotions, but they're not a magic pill. You have to do the work too.
So with regards to emotions, are you able to be authentically you and express yourself? Or do you spend a lot of the day masking and trying to people please or fit in with your colleagues etc....?
Masking is a word that seems to be used a lot in the autistic community, but I think it's something we all do to some degree, whether you are the CEO of a company and you call 'professionalism' or you work in customer service and you have to smile all the time even when the customer is being quite rude, or you go to school and you want the teacher to like you so you get a good grade... all of it is exhausting. There's a performance stress that I think we all feel.
Often you're not trying to be inauthentic, you're just trying to be professional, or kind; but do you have anywhere you can be truly authentically you and say what you really think or what you really believe without fear of judgement?Which brings us nicely on to....
When we look through our day and we're saying 'what makes me tired?' we can often pin point certain people that are energy drains on us, but this doesn't necessarily mean we can or should avoid them. Often the people who drain us the most are the people we love or care for the most. Think about the example of a toddler, who is asking you a million questions all day every day and constantly needs your attention - it's draining! But that doesn't mean we don't love them or that we should spend less time with them. Ageing parents that need support or shopping delivered, especially now, if they've been shielding for a long time etc... We care for them and they're an important part of our lives, but that can also be exhausting.
So what we need to do is identify, who are the people that are negatively pulling from your energy and who are the people that are positively uplifting to your energy and make you feel good after you see them. Then you need to work out how you can create a balance in your life.
If you have young children who you're home with all day, can you make a weekly girls night out with some friends who uplift you? If you have a boss who you feel irritable and grumpy when you communicate, can you plan to meet a friend on your lunch break after that weekly update meeting?
Make an effort to spend time with those positive life-giving people, even when you're tired, so that they can help nourish you and keep your social tank filled up.
Many of us don't really see ourselves as creative, because we assume that means being good at art or music or dancing or something, but creativity is problem solving or innovating and we all do that in so many different ways - whether you're a classroom teacher coming up with a new lesson plan, a doctor writing up a new treatment, a business owner coming up with a new marketing strategy or a carpenter working out how to fit a kitchen around a wall that's not quite straight; we're all involved in some level of innovation or problem solving. These things could be draining your creative energy, even though you don't necessarily think of yourself as being creative.
Creative rest isn't taking an art class and drinking a glass of wine. That's still creative work. Restoring your creative energy is where you appreciate creation you had no involvement in, so for my husband this is going to an area of natural beauty like a waterfall or fells or something and just being like 'wow - look at this amazing geography!' whilst others of you it might be going to an art gallery and looking at paintings and appreciating their complexity. Whatever makes you feel good just looking at it or hearing it. Music, plays, nature, whatever it is that makes your heart sing.
For my daughter, she loves to watch art being made, she has far more appreciation for a picture when she has watched the artist build it, than when she just sees the picture, so watching artists on YouTube is a great way for her to achieve creative rest.
A lot of us have been missing creative rest during lock down with theater's, museums and art galleries closed, but many people have found it through daily leisure walks that they couldn't find time for before they lost their daily commute!
Surround yourself with beauty that inspires you and fills you back up in that area.
Again this word is thrown around a lot when we talk about autism, but the truth is everyone needs sensory input and sensory rest in varying degrees. It may be that if you work in a noisy busy environment you need to make time for either silence or soothing sounds that work for you such as white noise or calming music.
If you work with bright overhead lighting you may need some lamps or candlelight, or even complete darkness when you get home. Blackout curtains are a worthy investment!
Try to pinpoint things that are stressful or bothering you, even minor things, and work out how you can counter those when you are resting. If your office just got repainted and the smell is giving you a headache, maybe bring your diffuser to work!
Often times our work involves looking at a screen all day, so take a break, get outside, read a book, do anything that requires less sensory input.
Spiritual rest can mean prayer or worship, but it can also mean seeking out a sense of purpose, something to ground you or provide context. Particularly when there are big things happening in the world and suffering, if you lose sense of purpose, you lose hope and that's a fast track to depression.
Prayer or meditation are wonderful ways of reconnecting to something bigger than yourself. Even if you aren't religious, taking a few moments to wish well to others, to your friends, your family, your community, your nation and finally the world, can help you to feel like you're a part of something bigger and reinvigorate your sense of purpose and connection. Frankincense, Patchouli, Blue Lotus & Myrrh are wonderful oils for grounding and spiritual connection. Balance is also a fantastic blend to diffuse during this type of meditation.
This is an easy one to struggle with when you run your own business, because you are setting your own goals, and so you get stuck in a cycle of achieving. I know when I first hit any goal, my first thought isn't 'great let's celebrate' it's 'okay, how do I make sure this happens again next month'. Fortunately my husband is great at the 'stop and let's celebrate part' and he regularly asks me at the end of the month how my business is doing, but it's so easy to fall into the trap of 'always working' and never switching off because you're always thinking about that next thing you could be doing.
This is a really tough one for people to recognise because there is the fear that if they stop, everything will fall apart around them, but if you're working tired, you're not working at your best. If you're working on 50% of your capacity because of sheer exhaustion, imagine what you could achieve if you were working at 100%? Or even 75%? If you feel like you have to keep going, even though you are tired, you are wrong. You need to take a break so you can work at full capacity.
There's a lot of people out there doing good work, with what little they have left of themselves, when they could be doing exceptional work, if they really knew how to rest. It's why the four day work week
produces optimal productivity and is so much better for you and your employer. Try taking short breaks to meditate just breathe. I find peppermint a fantastic oil to just breathe from my hands for a few minutes to reinvigorate my brain and help me refocus.
Some people don't even realise that they are working out of burnout because they're so used to being tired that they assume this is just what life looks like - that you're always tired, you're always irritable with your spouse, that you don't have energy to play with your kids; but it doesn't have to be that way. You can find a work life balance that is good for your entire family and not just for your business. Often times people are meeting most of these types of rest without even realizing it You might not know why you do something, you just know that you feel good when you do it.
But if you are finding you are feeling exhausted all the time, usually one or maybe two of these types of rest are depleted.
Need help determining which types of rest you need to focus on?