exhaustion cures - setting your Zen Alarm Clock
Are you feeling stressed, fatigued, and burned out? Discover the top 10 ways to put a stopper in your personal energy drains
Consider this simple question: How are you?
We answer it 10 times a day, often rejoining with a clipped “Fine” or “Busy!” accompanied by a glazed smile. But when your best friend or spouse asks, perhaps you tell the deeper truth: You’re stressed out and tired. Really tired.
“Busy,” “stressed,” and “tired” are intimately connected. They describe the ethos of our times — and its inevitable aftermath. We balance work, family, friends, and our various self-improvement programs. We take in a steady stream of information from the people, screens, phones, and sounds that surround us. We don’t sleep enough. We multitask like crazy, striving to get more done in less time.
For a while, maybe even years, it’s easy to feel like you can handle this frantic pace — or even thrive at it. But ultimately, it works against you. “Stress is pervasive in our society, and it’s only getting worse,” says integrative-medicine expert Woodson Merrell, M.D., author of “The Source: Unleash Your Natural Energy, Power Up Your Health, and Feel 10 Years Younger.” “And people do not necessarily have the coping skills to deal with it, even when they think they do.” We often don’t realize how much of our days are spent dealing with stressful situations, and on a physiological level, the effects of stress add up. “You don’t start every day with a clean slate,” he says. “You start the day with all the stress you’ve accumulated in your life, and you add to that.”
No wonder we’re so tired. In fact, many experts contend that chronic stress and our inability to cope with it are the biggest factors in fatigue. “I hear it all the time. People tell me, ‘I have no energy, I can’t sleep, I’m exhausted,'” says Andrew Weil, M.D., director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and author of “Healthy Aging.”
This “tired-wired” state has become a cultural condition, he adds. And for those that struggle with it, fatigue can also become a significant crisis. “Your personal energy level should meet the demands of the day. Your sense of well-being should be good most of the time,” says Weil. “When it’s not, you have a real quality-of-life shortage.”
As is always the case, however, in crisis lies opportunity. Fatigue, it turns out, can be a terrific teacher, giving you a chance to slow down and examine your life, learn more about yourself, and consider what’s really important.
For starters, you want to cover your bases by eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining good sleep habits, and following other steps toward sound overall energy hygiene. But many of our most potent energy drains fly under the radar. By taking careful stock of your daily habits, work life, and relationships, you can begin to see patterns that cause your vitality to slip away unnoticed; make some simple changes, and you’ll plug these leaks and start feeling better. Choosing a gentle, chiming Alarm Clock to awaken you in the morning could be step 1.
Japanese Leaves Dial Face in Burgundy Finish by Now & Zen
Here, Merrell, Weil, and other experts highlight 10 surprising causes of fatigue and offer thought-provoking solutions to help you energize your mind, body, and spirit — and your life.
1. Exhaustion Cause: Good News
We know that our energy gets drained by negative events: death of a spouse, divorce, imprisonment, getting fired, serious illness or injury, losing your home or savings. But positive events can drain us, too, says Alice Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Waltham, Massachusetts. “Getting married, having a baby, buying a new house, getting promoted at work — these are all positive steps, but they often come with a lot of worry, which can be exhausting.”
To further complicate the picture, it’s hard to find support when things are going great. “Tell people you’re exhausted because you’re caring for your dying mother, and you’ll get all the support in the world,” Domar says. “Tell them you’re exhausted because you got a fantastic new job, and they’ll be like, ‘Give me a break!’ ”
Exhaustion Cure: Make a Positive Prep Plan
The best way to end-run positive exhaustion? Prepare for it. “When you start getting tired,” says Domar, “ask yourself two questions: ‘What’s being asked of me that I don’t feel that I can deliver?’ and ‘Am I accurately perceiving what’s needed?'” Then make a list of what really needs to be done, and when. “We often feel like everything needs to happen at once, and that’s not true,” says Domar. Breaking things down into manageable chunks lets you catch your breath so you can plan and delegate accordingly.
adapted from Body + Soul, September 2009
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