Building Healthy Habits
When You're THAT Exhausted
I’ve been trying to do some pause lately, on things that can cloud my mind and body, especially at work, while at the same time, trying to rebuild healthy habits … just because.
So what do you do when you’re trapped in the vicious cycle of needing to improve your habits so you can feel refreshed but struggling to muster the willpower and motivation to even try?
I scoured the web and asked some of my friends and here’s my list. Hope it helps :)
Start with Sleep
If you’re super tired, then the key to greater productivity is not to push harder, but push less. Once you start getting enough sleep habitually, your body will support you in accomplishing your daily goals instead of dragging you down.
Once you begin to get the hang of heading to bed earlier, then start to work on your pre-bedtime routine so that once you’re in bed, you can actually fall asleep. Experiment with different strategies, such as signing off electronics an hour before bed, not watching anything too stimulating late at night, or simply dimming the lights.
Then the next step to improving your sleep quality is to focus on getting up at a consistent time. Most people put this goal as their first step, but it actually comes later in the process. I recommend this order because when you get to bed on time and fall asleep quickly, getting up is so much easier. And as an added bonus, consistently getting up earlier will make it much easier on those days when you need to commute to the office.
Think About Nutrition
Once you give yourself sufficient time to rest, then you’ll start to have the capacity to work on other areas. I’ve found the next most effective habits for rebuilding energy involve simple nutrition strategies.
One effective habit is to start drinking more water. Greater water intake improves energy, aids concentration, and reduces fatigue and anxiety. Make it a habit to always have a filled water glass or water bottle by you. I fill a water glass at breakfast, keep it on my desk while I work, and then keep refilling it throughout the day. If it’s harder for you to do refills, get a really big water bottle so that you only have to fill your water container once for the day.
Once you have the building blocks of sleep and nutrition in place, then you need to start thinking about integrating in physical activity. Counterintuitively, exercise ultimately gives you more energy throughout the day instead of depleting it. It also has the added benefits of improving mood, sleep quality, and focus. Some of my coaching clients with ADHD find that exercise is one of the key ingredients to being able to concentrate throughout the day.
If you do at least 25 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise at least three times a week, you can improve your overall wellness. I do Jiu jit su 3x a week, well, I try to. But I know I can do better than that.
Pick a New Habit
Once you’ve integrated in the healthy habits that will greatly reduce your exhaustion, then you can pick other new habits to fold into your life. Attending to the basics of sleep, nutrition, and exercise will have improved your energy and focus during the day so that you have the capacity to take on more.
To reduce the possibility of overwhelm, I advise choosing just one to work on at a time. For example, you may decide to focus on being on time, planning your week, breaking down projects, keeping up on email, or some other habit that you would like to master. Then focus on incremental change. For instance, with being on time, you may pick one type of meeting where you really focus on arriving a couple minutes early and then gradually expand the scope to other activities in your professional and personal life.
The key to habit change, especially when you’re truly exhausted, is to take it slowly and steadily: Moving forward but not putting too much pressure on yourself at any one time. You won’t be able to change all of your habits in a day. But with time, you can develop new habits that will help you regain energy, stave off fatigue, and build momentum for ongoing growth and development.