We are an exhausted, overwhelmed, rushed, and stressed out people. Ask most adults how they’re doing and you’ll likely hear, “Tired.” Yet, statistics indicate we spend, on average, 5 hours a day watching television and as much as 2 hours each day on social media. Could our struggle center both on our reduced free time and how we use it?
If you’re consistently fighting burnout and fatigue, unsure of where that extra time and energy have gone, here are 7 ways to recharge.
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1. Get sufficient, restorative sleep.
According to numerous studies, the vast majority of us are seriously sleep deprived. Stress, hurry, blue-light electronic devices, and a lack of physical activity and sunshine throw off our bodies’ circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall and stay asleep. As a result, we’re spending over $40 billion on over-the-counter sleep aids. Yet we’re still exhausted. For some, medical issues, like thyroid disease, are to blame. We all, however, can benefit from a few simple lifestyle choices.
We need to reduce those things—like screen time and anxiety—that lead to increased alertness, while increasing those things—like the suggestions listed below—that promote rest. Though parents of young children might find this challenging, they can take turns being the “on” parent for alternating nights to allow one another to get some REM sleep.
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2. Take numerous “mini-breaks.”
We’re juggling demands at work, trying to raise a family in an ever-changing world, navigating difficult relationships, and more. We know we need to relax but may feel as if we don’t have time. So, we push through. By the time evening comes, we’re too exhausted and overwhelmed to do anything other than watch television.
But what if we added momentary breaks throughout our day? What if doing so not only helped reduce our stress and fatigue but increased our efficiency as well?
Productivity experts say humans work best in 52-minute intervals. DeskTime, an app designed to measure employee output, discovered their top ten percent performers worked for 52 minutes then stepped away from their computer for a full 17 minutes. During that time, they did something active or talked with coworkers.
About five months ago, I started doing something similar. When I sit to write, I set a timer for just under an hour and do my best to remain focused until the bell rings. Then, I get up, stretch, close my eyes, and often say a prayer. This has dramatically decreased my eyestrain while increasing my overall productivity.
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3. Do something active.
Many of us struggle with a mid-afternoon lull. We want to tackle the rest of our tasks, but our brains long for a nap. We can respond in numerous ways. We might eat a candy bar or drink a soda for a quick sugar and caffeine rush, only to crash a couple hours later. Or we’ll persevere, taking twice as long to accomplish assignments. In both cases, by the time we get home, all we want to do is plop onto the couch. Our brains tell us they long for sleep, but what they really need is a jolt of oxygen initiated by movement.
What if we traded our sugar high or sheer grit for a brisk ten-minute walk? We’d likely return more energized and efficient with greater and clearer concentration. And in the evenings, if three or more nights a week we choose exercise over sedentary entertainment, we’ll increase our stamina and restorative sleep while reducing our stress and anxiety.
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Some of us might feel anxious to hear a Christian espousing meditation, assuming this involves Middle Eastern New Age practices. But meditation is a biblical discipline that involves prayerfully thinking deeply about Scripture, who God is, and what He’s done. This helps us anchor our anxious and self-defeating thoughts in truth while connecting us with our power source, the Holy Spirit.
Many times, when we feel exhausted, this has less to do with our tasks or responsibilities and more to do with all the emotional baggage we attach to them. Perhaps we fear that if we don’t complete an assignment well, our boss will become displeased or we’ll lose our jobs. Maybe we’ve allowed our value and identity to become entangled in a particular role and we worry how others might perceive us if we threw an imperfect party or maintained a slightly cluttered home.
When we pause to reflect on God and His promises preserved in Scripture, however, we experience emotional freedom regardless of our circumstances or obligations. God reminds us that He, not our bosses or jobs, is our provider, that He’s sovereign over every area of our lives, has a plan, and is always working out that plan. As we contemplate His truth, His love overpowers our anxieties and fears.
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Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (NIV). Recently, doctors and neural psychologists have discovered just how true this is. Laughter provides numerous mental and physical health benefits. It ups our oxygen intake, which stimulates our organs and increases the endorphins released in our brain. This in turn reduces our pain and stress levels. Laughter also stimulates circulation, muscle relaxation, and improves our immune systems.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, though it’s temping to shackle myself to my computer, I know I’ll perform much better if I take time to unwind through humor. I have a few hilarious friends I call during particularly stressful periods. An afternoon with them helps me recharge and stay positive for whatever lies ahead.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Priscilla DuPreez
Often, when we’re overwhelmed and feeling depleted, we cut out our more pleasurable activities in order to make time or save energy for our tasks. But such behavior could actually work against us by eliminating a fun and necessary stress reliever. Expressing ourselves through art, music, and other related outlets helps disrupt negative thinking while fostering positivity.
In one study, researchers gave participants various art supplies and instructed them to create whatever they liked for forty-five minutes. Once finished, scientists discovered 75% of those studied experienced a reduction in stress hormone levels.
When your energy wanes, set your computer or to-do list aside for an afternoon and find a way to be creative. Take a painting or stained-glass art class. Find a pottery barn that allows guests to manipulate clay. Decorate a cake or cookies with friends or purchase an adult coloring book. Studies indicate, when it comes to recharging, what we create isn’t as important as the fact that we’re simply creating.
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7. Spend time outside.
Fresh air and sunshine have a way of invigorating our brains and elevating our moods. Feeling the wind on our faces and inhaling the scent of flowers and fresh grass can also draw our hearts to God, their Creator. We’re reminded of His presence and His care. He who clothes the meadows with daisies and tends to the bees and butterflies watches over our lives as well. This knowledge enables us to surrender whatever worries that weigh us down and helps us to rest deeply in our Father’s embrace.
That is where true power, peace, and energy are found—in Christ. “Remain in Me,” Jesus said, “and I will remain in you. … Apart from Me you can do nothing.” But with Him, in Him, we can do all things, including tackle whatever responsibilities we’ve temporarily set aside in order to recharge.
We will all experience fatigue and times when we feel as if we have nothing left to give. When that occurs, we can zone out with the television, temporarily distracting our minds but doing little to feed our hearts. Or we can pursue soul-filling ways to recharge, which enables us to return to our obligations filled with joy, peace, and renewed energy.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’saddressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She contributed numerous devotions Drawing Near: 90-Daily Devotions, is the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles, and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Soroush Karimi
Originally published Monday, 08 July 2019.