I have this really bad habit (to my husband’s dismay), of driving my car till the fuel light comes on before filling up again. He tries to reason with me about the advantages of having enough fuel in the tank at all times as well as the disadvantages of running on empty.
“It’s just as easy to drive around on the top half as the bottom.” He says.
But to no avail, every week it seems I hear the warning bell and notice that the low fuel light is on again.
I don’t do it on purpose, it just sort of happens. Like all of you, I’ve got many things that require my attention and well, I don’t HAVE to do this one yet, so I don’t. In places like North America, getting stranded on the side of the road because you forgot to fill up is likely a matter of inconvenience. But I live in South Africa, and being stranded on the side of the road here isn’t safe. Putting myself in a vulnerable position because I didn’t fill up is an unnecessary risk.
The last few weeks have been pretty hectic. The kids have been difficult at times, I had an accident in the kitchen that left me with a pretty nasty burn, and we’ve all been so busy that I’ve been feeling a bit like taffy, pulled in all sorts of directions. I like being busy, but the other night I think my battery was just about drained and the ‘running on empty light’ lit up inside of me. I needed a reset and some rest.
Running On Empty
After a conversation with my hubby, something kind of dawned on me; when it gets really busy, when things are the most hectic and I need as much energy as possible to get through the day, those are the times that I let my own tank drop to empty. It’s been weeks since I’ve had a full nights’ sleep or a workout, I’ve been skipping meals because I’m too busy, and when I do eat, it’s been the quick option instead of the healthy one.
It’s funny that when we’re busy and need to make time for something, it’s incredibly easy to take it from the time that we normally use for taking care of ourselves. Getting enough sleep, eating regular healthy and nutritious meals, praying, exercising, even flossing. (yes, I’ve joked about that in the past :P)
Taking Stock of the Situation
If things have become so busy that you are constantly in overload mode, then maybe it’s time to sit down and evaluate what’s going on in your life. There’s a big difference between the burn out caused from day to day life overload, and that deep soul draining exhaustion caused by crisis or ongoing real life pressures that have no easy solutions. Maybe you are coping with both paradigms at once.
If you take stock of what’s going on, it may be easier to find some wiggle room and relief. Maybe you’ve said yes to one too many things. You’re on too many committees, work is crazy, you think the neighbors expect you to plant that huge flower garden every year. Your kids are in every extra curricular program and club at school, on every team. You’re running yourself ragged trying to keep their schedule as well as your own.
Or maybe it’s even more serious. Maybe a family member is really sick. Maybe it’s you that’s struggling with ongoing health issues. There are work and financial pressures that often have no quick and easy solution. Going through these kinds of stormy waters is much more serious because there is often no easy solution, and taking time for a mental and physical break can leave you with feelings of guilt.
Regardless of where you are though, you need to look after yourself. It won’t do you or anyone else in your family any good if you don’t take care of yourself. Sometimes you need to lighten the load, to take a time out to recharge and regroup.
The hectically crazy-busy day to day stuff usually comes in spurts for me. Eventually things calm down and there’s time to regroup and get things back on track. What’s even funnier though, is that when time does become available again, we’re sometimes reluctant to give it back to the areas we’ve scavenged it from.
Instead of making something healthy to eat you find yourself with an unhealthy snack while scanning through your Twitter feed or reading some unimportant emails. Instead of exercising you end up on the sofa watching some frivolous show.
I’m all for some much needed R&R from time to time, and sometimes a night or two in front of the tv to just veg out and unwind is exactly what the doctor ordered. But let’s face it, it can be very easy to get stuck there. There’s a lot of nonsense on the tv or tablet, but there’s also a lot of really amazing stuff too. After a few days, it’s no longer about R&R. It’s about me wanting to stay on the sofa and do nothing before the next busy storm arrives.
Still Feeling Burned Out After a Rest
So why can’t I move myself to have a workout? I love working out! Yet I just don’t feel like it. Out loud I say – “I’m too tired.” I’m not. Not really. Not physically. I’ve been sitting behind a desk the whole day – how tired can that make you?
Emotionally I’m tired. I feel drained and I’m allowing my mental state to control me to the extent where I really just feel tired. Now if I would just snap out of it and do something, I would probably feel better and end up being more energized.
I say; maybe tomorrow. Right now I just need to relax and not worry about all of that. Tomorrow I’ll have the energy to take action. No I won’t, because it’s not about the energy, it’s about the will.
I don’t think it’s about motivation, because everyone lacks motivation at times. I suppose part of it is about the self-discipline to do what you have to even when you don’t feel like it.
For me though, after a really busy season and I am exhausted and burnt out, I can slip into a funk. I can sit in a funk, self analyze and feel bad about it or try to come up with ways of finding self discipline and motivation.
Time to Get Moving
But really, what works is to just get off my butt and get moving. Ten pushups during break time turns into a 3km run the next day and a house cleaning festival the next. A trip to the store for some fruit and veggies, more time on my knees talking to my Lord, and I start feeling my battery charging, my tank filled.
Sometimes life, work, and family forces us to take some time out of our personal account and that’s ok. But when time becomes available again, recharge those batteries, and make sure to return it to the right account.