Admitting to exhaustion is literally one of the hardest things a person like me with a go-getter personality can do.
Maybe it’s a pride thing. I know this to be true because lately I have been exhausted. I’ve been shushing that voice inside me that’s been telling me I'm prideful and saying, “I WILL NOT LET MY BODY WIN. MIND OVER MATTER. I CAN DO A MILLION THINGS TODAY AND STILL SAY SANE.”
And off I go to do a million things I would!
A typical day for me would look something like this: I would wake up in the morning at 6am, go for my morning run, volunteer, grab breakfast, write morning devotionals, shower, prep for class, go to class, eat lunch, run to another class, come back, call home, try to get some homework in, work on new articles, go out adventuring with friends, come back, attempt to do more homework, stay up late to catch up on all my social media channels, and then realize I only have a good five hours (or less) to sleep before my next big day.
This has been my consistent schedule since the school year started.
It’s funny because actually, mind over matter worked, for a while.
When a friend last week commented, "You're way too busy and should be sleeping more." I responded, “Hey, I know you’re concerned, but I’m fine! I feel fine! Really I do!” I wasn’t lying - I truly was okay, pretty energetic, in fact! I was on a roll!
Unbeknownst to me, this state of being ‘okay’ wouldn’t last too long. Yesterday was the day I officially craaaaaaashed.
I started experiencing the following symptoms of OVER-WORKING:
1. A pounding, slowing heartbeat.
2. Complete exhaustion. I felt like sleeping for the next two days straight.
3. A strange craving for sweets like chocolate (I'm not a chocolate person - I never crave it!)
4. I became more emotional and sensitive about everything, even the little things (which was so annoying!).
5. I experienced a lack of focus or concentration for what I usually love to do.
THIS is when I knew things had to change.
No more late nights. No more overcommitment. No more thinking I’m invincible. No more being a “Yes-Man!” and naively imagining I can undertake anything and everything. It has been a long process. This is a total lifestyle change for me, but I'm taking small steps, and I'm already feeling so much better!
If my story sounds like yours, here are the steps I want you to take:
- Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take a break NOW before you crash. (Even your phone needs time to recharge! So stop making excuses - you don’t need to do one more workout and you don’t need to send one more text.)
- STOP FREAKING OUT. Yes, I know your organizer looks like a complete mess and your room looks like a complete mess and your life feels like a complete mess. But I am here to tell you that IF YOU DON’T TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, YOUR LIFE WILL START FEELING MESSIER AND MESSIER. Trust me on this one!!! You need to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually sound - or else you could be doing a million things and not really accomplishing anything!
- Start cutting commitments out of your life that aren’t making you happy and only making you busier. (School and work are exceptions; but here’s what I mean: Are you signed up for an extra class that you don’t really need but decided to take anyways because you don’t want to fall behind? Are you involved in way too many extracurriculars even though you can't handle all of it only because you're trying to build a fatter resume? Drop it if it’s leaving you way too exhausted to do anything else. It’s not worth it.)
- Don’t sacrifice people and relationships for "busy work" that really aren’t ultimately all that important - you’ll live to regret those decisions. People like your family and your tight-knit community of friends are really special, too special for you to neglect because you have five million volunteering commitments or activities.
- “Slow down, or else you will miss the really good stuff.” Just quoting one of my wise friends as he saw me run off last week to do another errand. So what’s the really good stuff, you might ask? They are the little things like taking the time to hear a good story from someone and just share a good laugh together. It’s things like watching a sunset and enjoying the serenity of it. It’s things like reading a good book that could change your life. It’s things like listening to the voice of God, for His guidance and direction. It’s things like stopping to observe the people around you and feel for them - really asking God for wisdom as to how you can step into their day and bring them joy, comfort, or whatever it is that they may need.
To end, this is some of the wonderful “golden nuggets of truth” I’ve discovered since turning 20 that have really helped me live healthier and happier: