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  • Foto van schrijverKara S. Weaver

Six ways to get more rest and more energy

Out with the old, in with the new. New start. New chance. You know the drill. Towards the end of every year, we humans feel the need to make new year resolutions that pertain to losing weight, more hustle, a healthier lifestyle (actually something to aspire to), learning more, doing more, etc. Far too often, you don't see people post about how their resolution is to take more rest, care for themselves, to find a better balance between work/home, to do the things that are actually good for us. I'm not saying those resolutions shouldn't be made, I'm just saying it's not for all of us.

In daily life, I'm a chronically ill mom/teacher/author/editor who demands way too much from herself. I won't go into the details; I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day diving into that. I know the why. Until 2020, I kept going and going and going, rarely resting properly. I'd take it easy for a bit, but I never really did nothing. On top of that, I stress way too easily and I'm a control-freak to the max. One of the things I'm good at is organising stuff, making to-do lists and following them. I'm very talented at keeping myself busy; much less so at doing nothing.

I'm an all or nothing kind of person.

In everything.

Then 2020 came around and boy did it teach me a few things about myself. As much as l like to keep busy, last year taught me it's not an option. At least, not in the way I was doing. On top of that, as much as I don't like to accept I've got fibromyalgia, I'm going to have to. I've always been afraid the illness would define me, that it would make me lazy and hand me excuses. I like to think that I've always fought for what I wanted. 2020 got me so hard, I could do nothing but forfeit that match. I was kicked down far and had to build myself back up.

As a creative, 2020 has shown me what I can and can't do. I published two books that year (of which I'm very proud), and I set up my editing business (but I've not yet been able to get it into motion properly due to health issues). I've experienced writing blocks, serious self-doubt, frustration, and the entire range of emotions I'm sure creatives all over the world will recognise. What I noticed most of all though was the lack of energy overall. I knew I had to do something to regain my energy, maybe not to full levels, but to something I could work with, especially in corona time (but outside of that as well, if it ever happens)

If any of this sounds familiar to you, read on what I have done and plan on doing to find a better balance in my work/home/creative life.

  1. Go to bed on time: Currently, my rhythm is still of because I'm craving alone time and with two small children, I do not get that until they go to bed. This has resulted in fluctuating bedtimes for me and much less sleep than I should have had. Starting this weekend, I want to go to bed at a set time and get up at a set time. On my days off, I'll allow myself an hour, maybe an hour and a half longer (if the kids allow) to stay in bed. Tip: if you don't sleep well for whatever reason, I suggest trying out a weighted blanket. I thought it'd be uncomfortable, but ever since getting one, I've been sleeping better.

  2. Keep on Journalling: Over six weeks ago, I started doing morning pages/journalling. It's bsically writing down everything that comes to mind. It has helped me loads in taking off the edges and seeing things from a clearer (and sometimes less emotional) point of view. The idea is, however, that you do not judge yourself on those pages. You just write.

  3. Start meditating: Every night when I go to bed, I put on an audiofile/audiobook (storytel) called 'Deep Sleep Meditation'. It's a guided meditation to help you fall asleep faster, including positive affirmations. I dare not say the latter have helped, but I sure fall asleep faster (it sometimes took me hours). I've also noticed, if my fitbit is any indication, that my sleep is more restful. So even if I do not get my eight hours every night, I don't feel as messed up as I should have.

  4. Practise Mindfulness: Another thing I've recently picked up again (journalling and meditating are part of it) is practisting mindfulness. I've been reading up on it, doing bodyscans, meditations, and journalling. The most important aspect for me in this is that I learn to stay in the present. I think way too much about the past and worry too much often about the future. I'm relearning my brain that I can change neither of them, but that I can stay in the present. It's not always easy, but it has gotten me out of the worst of the stress lately.

  5. Schedule in me/alone time: Despite everything that I feel like I need to do, this is probably the most important thing of all. Me time. However long it is, during this time I can do whatever I want (currently, that's playing Animal Crossing, New Horizons). I suppose writing could be considered part of this, but I'm rather leaning towards using this time for reading, diamond painting, playing a game, doing something I enjoy doing but didn't get the 'must do' sticker from me. It's definitely got that sticker now.

  6. Exercise more: This doesn't need explanation, does it?

At some point or other in the past, I've already tried all of these things. Just not together. Seeing this list, I realise it's not about just doing all these things; it's about finding a balance in this. I don't have to exercise every day; it's something I have to build up or my body will go into overdrive and I'll be back where I started. Same as with practising mindfulness or going to bed on time every night. The most important thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be done perfectly in one go. If anything, it shouldn't have to be done perfectly at all. What needs to be done is putting myself first and only when I feel good can I take care of others.

If you struggle with any of the above like me, remember to be gracious with yourself. Don't expect the world in one go; don't expect perfection. You don't have to be perfect or do it perfectly. You 'just' have to be you and do you.

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