There are days when I feel like I have nothing left to give.
I feel depleted by the need around me: The endless negative news, the demands of responsibility, and coping with an empathic heart in a world filled with suffering.
I feel activist-fatigue and just plain old weariness. I feel like I could sleep for a week, and I find myself struggling to summon the energy I need to complete the basic tasks of life.
This isn’t depression—this is exhaustion.
We cannot give from an empty cup.
So what do we need to do when we find ourselves struggling? We can try the following restorative practices:
>> Get more sleep. If you need to take a nap, sleep in, or go to bed early—do it. We can make time for extra sleep when we’re feeling exhausted. It’s basic, but it’s important. We need to get a little more rest even if our problem is that we’re world-weary.
>> Get more exercise. Yes, it seems counter-intuitive when we’re exhausted, but we need more energy so we need to get moving.
>> Eat a big breakfast. We can start the day with a big breakfast to give us more energy.
>> Eat a little healthier. When our energy is low, we don’t need the false energy of carbohydrates and sugar. We need to try to squeeze in a little healthy food.
>> Drink water. It’s easy to become dehydrated when we’re not at our best. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning and before we go to bed can be restorative practices that are easy to maintain.
>> Practice indulgence. We can figure out some way to indulge ourselves. By indulgence, I suggest we go a step or two beyond our normal self-care routine. Maybe we turn our baths into long, hot ones, with bubbles and wine. Or we could spend time doing a home facial. Maybe binge-watch Netflix in comfortable pajamas.
>> Meditate. We need meditation time to restore ourselves. Perhaps turn off the TV and enjoy the quiet. Or take a long walk. Maybe listen to a guided meditation or sit quietly and meditate on a bite of chocolate. We just need to find a way to center ourselves.
>> Get grounded. No, I don’t mean in a punishment sort of way. We need to ground ourselves when we’re particularly exhausted. An easy way is to stand on the grass with bare feet. Another way is to reach out and touch something and to actively use our senses to identify what we’re experiencing in the moment—what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell.
>> Practice yoga. Yoga is a wonderful restorative practice. We can do a number of restorative poses to help center ourselves. Here are a few poses that can help: child’s pose, Balasana, corpse pose, Savasana, adept’s pose Siddhasana, and legs-up-the-wall pose, Viparita Karani. Remember that a restorative practice should be a gentle one.
>> Sip tea. No, I’m not going to judge you if that’s wine you’re sipping. But tea can be restorative. I like to brew a nice herbal tea and pour it into a delicate teacup. I concentrate on the process: Putting the kettle on, getting out the tea leaves, brewing the tea, and taking slow sips. I turn it into mindful meditation and allow it to restore me.
>> Tune out. When we get exhausted, we may need to turn off the news and social media until we’re ready to handle the barrage of incoming, often negative, information.
>> Tune in. We need to tune in to the people in our lives who support us. We need to lean on our support system and let them carry us during the tough times. We can talk to a friend or simply spend time with friends. We can give ourselves permission to have a good time and put down the weight of the world.
>> Laugh. We need to give ourselves permission to enjoy life. We can watch a comedy or see a live comedy show. We can even just get together with friends for a laugh. Laughter is healing, and we need all the healing we can get.
>> Escape into a good book. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a wonderful story to help ease our stress. We may just want to pick something relaxing that won’t add to our feeling of exhaustion.
The weight of the world can wait for us to restore ourselves. We can let others carry the load while we take the time to make sure that we’re okay. We’ve put so much responsibility on our shoulders, and we forget that we need to take care of ourselves to continue to take care of everyone and everything else.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Shan Sheehan/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson