No matter how much you might enjoy your everyday life, and no matter how much you feel as though you are properly aligned with your true sense of purpose and meaning – there will inevitably be times in the life of every individual when things seem a bit much.
If you feel that you are worn down and exhausted – maybe as if you’ve been dragging your feet and going through the motions for days, weeks, months, or even longer – it’s important to realise that this isn’t “the way things should be,” and that there are steps you can take that can go a long way towards alleviating that sense of frustration and burnout.
Here are just a handful of self-care tips to try when you’re feeling down. Even if none of these tips is a total game changer in and of itself, there is a good chance that playing around with them will at least give you some useful insights that can help you along your own path to feeling more rejuvenated and on top of things again.
Take steps to investigate and address any ongoing health issues you’ve been ignoring
Many people deal with low to mid level chronic or recurring health conditions, which might not be totally debilitating in and of themselves, but which can nonetheless contribute significantly to a sense of overall fatigue, burnout, and exhaustion.
If you notice that you regularly experience certain frustrating health issues – even relatively minor ones – you should take steps to investigate and address those as soon as you can. That might mean something like looking at the right heartburn treatments and prevention strategies, or it might mean getting tested for sleep apnoea or UARS and potentially getting on a CPAP machine.
In any event, life will certainly be a lot less frustrating and a lot more manageable if you are able to tackle and remove the sting from some of these issues.
Read some good fiction, or listen to a fiction audiobook
Often, when we end up getting burned out, it’s at least partly due to the fact that too much of our attention and mental energy have been dedicated to problem-solving during the day, and to chores and other tasks that can easily leave us feeling as though we are constantly playing catch up, and are struggling uphill to get things done.
Suffice to say, this tends not to put people in a very positive, confident, or empowered state of mind. In fact, it tends to simply create a lot of mental fatigue, a feeling of drudgery and irritation, and a sense that you don’t have a lot of energy or efficacy with regards to successfully pursuing your goals.
Often, one of the best possible solutions to this kind of situation is to hear some good, thrilling, and uplifting stories that can help to give you a broader sense of perspective and to connect you with ideas, tales, and themes above and beyond the particular frustrations that you might be hyper-focused on in the course of your current day-to-day routine.
In other words, read good fiction – or, if you prefer, listen to some compelling fiction audiobooks.
Fiction books and audiobooks have various advantages over just watching TV shows or films. For one thing, the medium naturally engages more of your imagination and gets you “connecting” with the story on a deeper level.
For another thing, stories tend to be deeper, plotlines more sophisticated, and characters more well fleshed out, when presented in book format.
These days, you don’t even need to necessarily set aside a chunk of time at the end of the day in order to absorb some good stories. You could simply install the audible app on your smartphone, sign up to the service, pair your device with some Bluetooth headphones, and listen to great stories while you go for a walk, or deal with basic household chores like getting the laundry done.
You can’t expect to feel balanced and energised if you only ever preoccupy yourself with completely “pragmatic” things.
Take an outdoor stroll somewhere with greenery
Regular walking might not seem like a big deal – especially in the world of exercise – in and of itself. In fact, though, plenty of research has been done which suggests that going for regular walks can have all sorts of profound health benefits, even if the walks aren’t particularly strenuous.
In addition to the benefits of regular low-level exercise, there are also real advantages to taking regular outdoor strolls somewhere with greenery. Not only has it been observed that people who live closer to nature tend to have better mental health outcomes – and physical health outcomes, for that matter – but it’s also been suggested by some researchers that even just seeing a tree can help to elevate the mood and enhance the recovery time of hospital patients.
What’s more, actually going for a stroll in a forested area might have more directly tangible physical effects – as the trees themselves constantly release an invisible aerosol of healing essential oils into the surrounding atmosphere.
There’s a reason why the concept of “forest bathing” is big in Japan – one of the societies most known to be affected by a culture of overwork, burnout, and stress. It’s because there is a remarkable healing effect to be found in regular strolls through natural settings.
You don’t have to become an enthusiastic hiker in order to experience these benefits, either. Simply make a point of getting outdoors and walking around for a while every day – especially if there is a safe nearby park or meadow that you can pace around for half an hour or so.
Start “time blocking your days” and be sure to include regular slots for fun and relaxation.
The idea of “time blocking” is essentially that you should use a daily planner or calendar app in order to structure your days, in advance, according to what you will be working on, in the different “timeslots” available to you.
Usually, time blocking is employed in a purely productivity-focused sense, usually with regards to people like tech entrepreneurs. In this kind of situation, “time blocks” might include things like “2-4pm: work on marketing strategy…” et cetera.
Not only can time blocking your days help you to optimise your productivity, however, but it can also help you to regain a sense of control and balance over your time, and it can even allow you to get a degree of much-needed insight that can be used to help you squeeze in more “self-care” activities in the day.
If you find that you often procrastinate or drag your feet on certain tasks, for example, and that this then puts you in a state of chronic stress more or less all day, time blocking might help you to get your work and chores done in a more regular and structured manner.
But even putting aside the subject of “work” altogether – you can “schedule” things like a morning yoga session, or a film in the evening, as well.
Adjust your diet – make sure you are eating enough, and enough of the right sort of things
If you are eating a completely haphazard diet – some days a lot, some days very little, and often a bunch of processed “convenience food,” you will certainly not be helping your body to feel more resilient or “on top of things.”
Adjust your diet if necessary – make sure you are eating enough, and that you are eating enough of the right things, to support consistent energy throughout the day. Emphasise home-cooked meals made from whole foods.