How do you know if you’re just “tired a lot” or if you’re truly burning out and exhausted? What’s more, how do you know what to do about either? Being tired means that your physical energy is drained. If you prioritize your sleep every day for a week straight, you’ll quickly feel energized and excited to engage in your life. Being exhausted, on the other hand, is markedly different than being tired.
Being exhausted is more challenging to recover from because exhaustion is when your energy is drained on all fronts. Not only are you drained physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. At this point, real restoration is in order. Why?
It’s an incredibly simple truth: a person’s ability to be of service to themselves and others is drastically stunted if that person is exhausted. If you’re exhausted, it doesn’t matter how much you care or how dedicated you are to what you’re working towards–you’re not going to gain any real traction with your passion until you restore yourself.
Real restoration takes on many forms, one of those forms being psychotherapy. I notice many of my clients feel badly in a way for being in therapy, as though there is something that feels so indulgent about it. I often wonder how many people who are not in therapy feel this way. Being concerned about self-centeredness is certainly understandable and in a way admirable, we are living in the age of selfies, after all. But as anyone with a good therapist will tell you, therapy is the opposite of indulgent. Focusing on the indulgence of it will only add to your depletion and exhaustion.
In addition to therapy, here are some more immediate ways to restore. Here are 3 things you can do right now to begin to regain balance:
1. Drink. No, not that kind of drink. Allocating 5-10 minutes each day for a soothing cup of tea can do wonders. It’s not the tea itself that really makes the difference, it’s the fact that you’re purposefully prioritizing yourself that helps you to feel restored. During these 5-10 minutes, resist the urge to multi-task. No helping your kids find their shoes, no reviewing something you’re about to submit to your boss. Just sit, then sip.
2. Breathe. No news here, you already know breathing is the most integral, easiest way to snap back into the present moment (otherwise known as the place from which you heal). Make your breath count, or it doesn’t work. If you’re not making noise when you breath, you’re probably not breathing deeply enough. Let the breath touch your stomach and move your body. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
3. Lighten up. Does the only glow in the room come from the TV, your phone, or the computer screen? Not good. Light a candle, pull the shades wide open, turn on extra lights in your home. There’s something quietly abundant about lighting a candle in the daylight, don’t you think?
If none of these strategies work, consider reaching out to someone you trust and talking about how you’re feeling. Go ahead and ask for a little help if you need some. Many people wear their exhaustion like a badge of honor, but it’s time to find a new badge of honor. Consider connection and deep support your new goal. After all, genuine connection is the most restorative endeavor of all.
By Katherine Schafler
Katherine Schafler is licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in NYC. To contact her or find out more about her work, please visit her website atwww.katherineschafler.com