Do you ever feel like your life is out of control? That there is no end in sight to the madness of it all?
Maybe you worry constantly about not getting enough done, and yet you still struggle to find focus and control your unstable emotions.
And I’m still feeling pretty worn out.
It was hard to explain until a couple of weeks ago when I realized that I get Seasonal Affective Disorder around this time every year. I’m already getting the help I need and feeling better every day.
The other day as I was meditating, I learned that lethargy is one way our body tells us to slow down. Here are a few simple ways I’ve learned to slow down as much as my body and mind need.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” — George Bernard Shaw
One night a couple of weeks ago I was ecstatic about a successful client meeting that day. I wanted to sit down and write in the evening but thought I needed a little break as I was starting to lose my energy.
So I dusted off my N64, found a controller, and played Star Fox for an hour and a half.
My much-needed break was after the kids were in bed and while my wife was doing yoga, so I didn’t use any precious family time.
When you’re feeling lethargic, mentally and physically, it’s really refreshing to find something you love to do and just play. It’s not easy to do when the demands of relationships, money, and health are constantly vying for your attention.
But when you play, you become better at each of these vital pillars of a happy, well-balanced life.
I hadn’t realized how unintentional I had become with my time to relax. Once I saw the negative effect that some of my forms of play had on me, a quick return to purpose helped me recover mentally and physically.
“Sleep will enhance your ability to explore, make connections, and do less but better throughout your waking hours.” ―Greg McKeown, Essentialism
Isn’t it funny that whenever life starts to get crazy, whether it’s work or relationships or whatever, we seem to neglect sleep? As if going faster will magically make us feel better about the madness of it all.
It’s always about working more hours, spending more quality time with your significant other, or doing more exercise.
When you’re feeling tired and down, doing more doesn’t actually mean achieving more.
Exhaustion is your brain telling you it needs a break. And you should listen.
I’m improving at listening to my body and letting myself get enough sleep. I’ve let up on allowing the most driven part of my character take control. I’ve relaxed more.
As humans, we tend to overcorrect sometimes, and that’s okay. Nobody is demanding we be instantly perfect, and we should ignore our inner critic telling us otherwise. We can’t be afraid of overcorrection.
Especially when it comes to learning our limits and letting ourselves take a break.
Some days I have slept too much, but I’m still learning and adapting, and that’s okay. I’m not afraid to oversleep or over-relax because I’ve had a hard time letting myself do either of these things for a very long time.
Sometimes, I even need someone else to help me realize I need to relax.
3. Ask for Help
“The strong individual is the one who asks for help when they need it”
— Rona Barrett
There is a stigma around asking for help. We idolize solopreneurs, lone sports stars who shatter records, or anyone that seems to be an outlier for self-grown success.
But guess what? None of your heroes got there without the help of those around them.
None of what they did would have been possible without their network.
If you look closely, you can see the key relationships that are the true source of success in the lives of champions. They couldn’t have achieved what they did without asking for help and support from family members, coaches, friends, and others.
Recently, I went to the doctor to get help with depression. It took a lot of effort for me to take that step and I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of my family and friends.
Their recommendations eventually helped me reach out for support from a doctor instead of trying to handle it alone.
Ironically, the visit with the doctor himself wasn’t the hard part. He gave me a prescription and requested a blood test just to check that things inside were normal.
I didn’t think anything of it, proceeded to the phlebotomist’s office and got started.
Not a minute into the blood draw, I passed out.
I didn’t even know what had happened. When I came to, my vision was blurry and didn’t get better. The doctor and assistants were trying to make sure I was alright. They gave me some water and propped my legs up.
But my vision still wasn’t clearing up.
I reluctantly asked if they had any food, knowing that my reason for passing out was because I hadn’t eaten anything. The phlebotomist kindly mentioned she had some Starburst and generously offered me as many as I wanted.
When I swallowed the first Starburst, half of my vision came back.
After another one, another half of my vision returned.
I ended up eating what felt like half the bag, apologizing for every extra one I took. Another one of the assistants helped me to a table where I could lay down until I felt well enough to grab some lunch.
I didn’t get better until I overcame my apprehension and asked for the help I knew I needed.
I found this experience oddly analogous with the entire reason I was there. I needed help with my depression just as I needed help to get my blood sugar back up, or to get out of that chair and onto a table where I could rest.
I couldn’t do it on my own.
Asking for help doesn’t have to be hard, and it can have exponential benefits for your physical and mental health. It may be as simple as delegating a task or letting someone know you are struggling with something you don’t know how to fix.
Sometimes even writing about what you’re going through can be a catalyst for the right people and the right support to get you what you need. The mental, emotional, and physical rest that we can attain by relying on others for help is vital to success.
Start by talking with a spouse or other family member about how you feel. It can happen in as little as 5 minutes.
In Conclusion: Slow Down a Little
If life is coming at you fast, slow down. I often refer back to one of my favorite speeches on this subject, and conclude with a quote from it:
“What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence?
A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do.
Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.”
— Dieter Uchtdorf