“I’m feeling pretty tired lately. Lol, maybe I’m getting old?”
I received this text from a friend today. She's 20-something.
I also spoke to a not-quite-as-young friend of mine today who told me she felt great. She just started joining a hiking group last year, and now she does it regularly. She’s 50.
Listen, if you’re like my first friend, you’re not just getting old. Most of us feel exhausted after working for at least eight hours a day, five days a week plus the one-hour commute on both ends. When we get home, we watch at least two episodes on Netflix because it’s damn well-deserved and the only time we get to "relax" before we go to sleep.
Wake up and repeat. And repeat and repeat and repeat. No wonder you feel tired.
So how do you get out of this vicious cycle? How do you restart your life? Hint: NOT by adding something new to your life. Not yet. But by making sure your body is ready and able to actually handle new hobbies.
The first 3 things to check to make sure you have right:
Why these three? Because these are three keystone habits you're doing. Tweaking existing habits is much easier than adding new ones in, and if these three aren't in good shape in your life, you can bet you won't be in the optimal shape to start making positive changes in your life.
So let's start.
1. YOUR MINDSET
“Oh man, another one of these self-improvement things. I hope I can do it, but I’ve tried these things before, and I just never stick with it.”
This was something I used to say to myself every time I try to start something new for myself. It turns out I’m not alone with these invisible scripts. There’s a fear-driven side of your brain which tells you, “You can’t do this."
If you realize that your brain is trying to sabotage you, what can you do? Well, the tip here is to talk to yourself like you’re talking to a friend, or a coworker, or a child who is being told by a bully they can’t do something they want to try.
Would you say to that person, “Yeah, you can never do it, so just don’t bother”? No. (If you said yes, I can’t help you. You’re too far gone.)
So the next time you try something new, be kind to yourself like you would be kind to others. You are your own worst critic. But you can also be your staunch defender. Stand up for yourself against yourself (whoa, meta).
2. YOUR SLEEP
The Huffington Post has a whole section on sleep, and for good reason.
Without sufficient sleep, we’re basically going through the day drunk. This means tiredness, difficulty to respond quickly and smartly to anything that comes up.
The entire myth about "sleep is for the weak" is actually more accurate reversed: without sleep, you are weak. You are more irritable, slow, stupid and much easier to actually get sick.
The sleeping hours needed for an average adult ranges from 7 to 9 hours. If you don’t have a good sleeping habit already, there are tons of articles in the HuffPost "sleep" section to help you sleep better.
Just keep in mind that your body is not wired in the same way your computer is. You cannot have instantaneous change. Let yourself have at least 1 to 2 weeks minimum to start sleeping a little earlier regularly. And this sort of timeline is meant for small changes, like 15 minutes to 30 minutes earlier than your current sleeping schedule.
But this is an absolutely must. Without sleep, your body and mind is weak, slow, and definitely not energetic enough to accommodate any new activities you want to do.
3. YOUR FOOD
We all have heard of the phrase “you are what you eat." But in the plethora of information available out there, what can we actually begin with? What are the easiest steps and rules of thumb to keep in mind?
If you are looking at what you eat for the reason to feel energized, then the general rules are:
1. Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t eat when you’re not.
2. Be mindful when you eat. Chew at least 20 times. (Funnily enough, when I count, I either chew like 5 times or 30. There is no in between, but you are welcome to try.) Let yourself taste and digest your food. Your body wasn’t made to eat 45-minute lunches with 15 minutes waiting in the canteen line.
3. Don’t do three things at once when you’re eating. Again, your body wasn’t made for that.
4. Preferably, eat “real” food. Eat food your great-grandmother would realize as food. I know "real" food seems expensive to people strapped for cash (and those are the ones most strapped for nutrition) but there are plenty of books and articles out there that talk about how to eat cheaply and healthily.
To recap: there are way too many people out there who are stuck in a vicious cycle in their lives. The first step to getting out of this is to examine the three areas of your life of things you’re already engaged in and are huge factors to how you function.
1. Are you kind to yourself when you try new things? If not, try to talk to yourself you would to a friend or coworker. If your mind already tells you that you can’t do something before you can try and actually commit, you won’t go very far in whatever you do.
2. Do you sleep well? Sleep at least 7 to 9 hours. Without enough sleep, you are weaker, slower and generally less pleasant to be around. Give your body at least 2 to 3 weeks to adjust.
3. Do you eat well? When you eat, to you just chew and swallow to finish your meal in 15 minutes or do you actually let your mind realize you’re actually eating? Start by being mindful of how you eat, and you’ll start realizing what you eat will make you feel a difference as well.
Don’t let your days roll by in the continual humdrum. Start by re-examining these key habits in your life already to build a body that can start doing things you want.
To see the original and full version of this post with all the nitty-gritty details to HOW to do any of the above better, click here.