Sunday, September 20, 2015

Running on Empty?

To You:


We've all been there.  You are sure you love your life, but you just don't know if you can take another day of this. You feel like you are running a marathon that never ends and never awards a winner.  The laundry is not done, the dishes are in the sink, your To-Do list is long and getting longer, the school Halloween party you're supposed to plan is quickly approaching, and wait, did the kids even eat dinner tonight?  You are sure your doctor would cringe at your blood pressure.  You are a manic stress case.

We've also all been here.  For some reason, everything is harder than it should be.  You go to work or get through the day and at the end wonder, "What have I accomplished today?"  Life seems dull, like an old faded newspaper rather than the adventure magazine you thought you signed up for.  You know you chose your life, but you think, "Did I really?  Why again?"  You are in a funk.

Although these two descriptions seem to be on opposite ends of a spectrum, I have come to see them both as results of emotionally running on empty.  I have found that in my life, when I enter these realms of stress or discontent it is either the cause or the effect of my forgetting what life is really all about.  I am disconnected from what really matters.  That disconnect makes life's tasks seem overwhelming or unimportant.  Some of us feel like we spend the majority of our lives feeling either stressed or down.  Others tend to go there once in a while, but like the Hotel California, once we are there, feel that we can never leave.  The state of our lives is a result of our upbringing, our personality, our life choices, our genetics, our breakfast choice, our local weather, our...
 Regardless, I believe that wherever we stand now, we have choices to make and those choices can help bring us to a better place.  A place of a little bit more calm, peace, and contentment.  I have seen people raise 8 active children and seem to remain calm–at least a lot of the time.  :)  I have seen others meet life's deepest difficulties with a smile.  It is possible.  In various circles this way of living is called centered, grounded, resilient, or close to the Spirit.  There are some tips (dare I say habits?) that I have learned from people I admire that live this way and from my own life.  There is no one magic bullet, so here is an arsenal of ideas, in no particular order, to help relieve stress and reconnect.

20 Tips to Refill Emotional Reserves in a Busy Life 


  1. Exercise
    • Run, swim, walk, bike, play badminton, sweat with Richard Simmons: it doesn't matter what it is, the positive effects of exercise are indisputable.  Moving releases chemicals in your body that are helpful for mood, brain function, and overall health.  Some of my very best thinking time is running time.  You don't have to be an Olympic athlete either.  I shoot for at least 20 minutes three times a week with an active lifestyle...this balance means it actually happens in my busy life!
  2. Laugh
    • You can watch a favorite comedy, but better yet, find the comedy in your own life.  Angry lecture is always an option, but laughing at the applesauce that was squirted everywhere while your back was turned certainly eases the tension.  One of my kids will instantly snap out of a rage if somebody makes him laugh.
  3. Exercise while you laugh
    • This is one of my favorites.  Try doing push-ups or lunges to the likes of Jim Gaffigan or Brian Regan.  It's hard to find a better use of time.  :)
  4. Eat a Nutritious Meal
    • Maybe it's a smoothie, a salad, or a gourmet sandwich.  Make something you can feel good about eating and feel good after eating.  Try my kids' favorite "Cheater Green Drink" compliments of my aunt.
      • Blend 2 cups cold water and a couple handfuls of greens (kale, spinach, anything). Add about a cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, mixed berries), and a squeeze of lemon or a scoop of vanilla yogurt.  Blend well.  Kids always like to drink it with a straw!
  5. Find something beautiful in the world
    • Take a moment and find it.  A facial expression, a flower, the sun streaming through the clouds.  Just stop and take it in.  A wise 90-year-old friend told me yesterday that his mom used to tell him, "The world is really a beautiful place.  People just don't realize it."
  6. Unplug
    • It is wonderful to be connected via social media and there is a lot of good entertainment out there.  Sometimes though, all that "connectedness" keeps us from really connecting with the people and beauties around us.  Unplug for an hour or two or a day.  How long can you hack it?
  7. Get up early
    • I'm a night person.  Getting up early is not easy, yet when I do it is amazing how much gets done.  Sometimes an early start is all I need to feel on top of life again.  That early morning quiet time is also incredibly enlightening time.  Many of the most inspired people I know regularly get up early.  
  8. Go to bed early
    • Repeat:  I am a night person.  However, I usually feel like I can do anything if I am well rested.  If going to bed early is not a habit (yet–me), try going to bed early once in a while.  Drop it all and just go to sleep.  Most everything really can wait for tomorrow believe it or not.
  9. Meditate
    • Pray, do yoga, reflect in bed before you go to sleep.  Quiet pondering can work wonders.
  10. Read something inspirational
  11. Visit your checklist
    • I remember talking with my mom on the phone after my third child was born.  In jest, I remarked how I could do it all and felt like the best mom...when my checklist was short.  Eureka!  Remember there is a season for everything.  You really do not have to do it all.
  12. Breathe!
    • Stop.  Breathe.  Breathe deeper.  Now repeat.  Aaaahh. 
  13. Have a real conversation
    • Get beyond the weather.  Ask about childhood memories, what the other person is learning in life, what they wish they'd done differently.  Really connect through meaningful conversation.
  14. Write in your journal
    • Writing is therapeutic.  (Sorry for inviting all of you to my therapy sessions.)  You learn a lot when you have to put thoughts, emotions, or experiences into words.
  15. Read your journal
    • You are amazing.  Step back and learn something from yourself.  Remember what you once knew.
  16. Refuse to multitask
    • Our kids and spouses probably get it the worst, but anyone can fall prey to our multitasking.  Simply refuse to do it.  If you need to work, help the kids be busy with a puzzle and tell them you'll play when the timer rings.  That is infinitely better than pretending to listen.  If you are with someone else, don't check your phone every five minutes.  Put it down and be there.
  17. Hug someone
    • Yep.  Just hug them.  Quick or long, hugging is healthy.
  18. Serve someone
    • There is no greater way to connect with people and remember what is most important than through service.  Whether it is in your family or your community, give something of yourself.  Write a card, cook a meal, make a visit, listen to a co-worker or go to Africa.  Be purposeful in the things you already do that are service.
  19. Garden
    • Get your hands dirty.  Connect with nature.  Weeding is one of those beautiful tasks that allows you to see the results immediately!  If gardening isn't your thing, scrub a floor.  
  20. Watch the sky
    • Being emotionally stable requires a balance of knowing how amazing you are and also having the humility to recognize you can't do it all alone.  Watch a thunderstorm.  Examine the stars.  Find shapes in the clouds.  Feeling of the expanse above engenders an awe that is both humbling and inspiring.
What else do you do to relieve stress, reconnect, and refill emotional reserves?  We all have our moments of unrest and truthfully life might be boring without them.  But to whatever extent you want to be more calm and more connected, I hope these ideas help.

Love, Marielle

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