When You’re Not “Just Tired”

As busy women enjoying our second act, Divas can often overdo things and become tired. In and of itself, that’s just fine and a hot shower followed by a good night’s sleep on clean sheets can usually put us right. But what if you’re not “just tired?”

What if, for instance, you’ve forgotten your hard-won lessons and fallen back into bad habits of people-pleasing, seeing yourself as indispensable (and therefore refusing to allow anyone else to take things off your plate), giving in to the Dread Bitch of perfectionism, or any number of other self-destructive habits that probably got you here to Splendor in the first place? What if you wake up tired and are getting dispiritedly through your day fueled by caffeine drunk on the run, bad food eaten too quickly, and a crick in your shoulders from working too hard for too long?

Clearly, you need a gentle reminder that you have lost your balance and need to regain it.

I wish I could say that I couldn’t relate to this and that I have to point you toward others for advice. Alas, I know these days all too well. (There’s a reason I haven’t posted here in a month.) So let’s go over our plan together, shall we? Please begin at the beginning and do not skip steps.

    • First, you’re not imagining things. Find a piece of paper – anything will do, as this isn’t going to be pretty – and write out a list of everything you have dealt with over the last four to six weeks that has drained your energy and spirit. No need to rank them – multiple small things can annoy as much as Big Stressors – just get them on paper. This is brainstorming, so don’t judge your ideas, simply record them. If everyday household chores made your eyes sting with tears as being One More Damned Thing, write it down.
    • Next, take a deep breath and see how many items you have recorded there. That’s your proof that you really are at the end of your rope. (Please note that “ropes” are deeply individual. Your “rope” is not to be measured against anyone else’s, nor are you to take someone else’s measurement here. You’ve got enough to worry about.)
    • Now it’s time to make a plan. You’re NOT imagining things; you’re NOT whining; and you ARE in danger of sliding into the abyss while protesting that no, everything’s fine, you’re just a bit tired. You’re not tired. You’re exhausted. The two conditions are different – “tired” is easily solvable while “exhausted” can wind up in a hospital stay. If you don’t want to wind up in a dim room with machines beeping and your sleep being interrupted by nurses coming in to check on you at inconvenient times, listen to me. Exhaustion is as real as a migraine and it needs to be treated quickly and kindly. There are a number of things to do here and you must do them soon.

Please consider choosing quite a few from this list:

    • You need to get work in its proper place and concentrate on tasks instead of constantly hopping from one to another like a mad hummingbird. Set a timer for twice a day. When that timer trills (pick something less heart-pounding than a sharp ring; maybe birdsong or windchimes), check your email and phone messages. When those are answered, push back from your desk and take a five-minute walk, outside if you can. Then go back to work, cheerfully ignoring email and phone messages until the next timer trill.
    • Do not check email from home before or after normal work hours. Just – don’t. In the usual course of business, it’s just not that important and it can wait for the morning timer trill.
    • Be where you are. When you’re home, be at home. Try to work in some of your favorite gracious touches – cloth napkins or plating dinner attractively. Focus on what you’re doing.
    • Take a few minutes in the evening to do something that is not work-related nor is particularly productive. For instance, while I was recovering from my recent surgery, I rediscovered that I like jigsaw puzzles. Try that. Or anything else that can occupy your brain and hands.
    • Make a list of enjoyable things that you want to make time to get to in the next four to six weeks. For me, my candle is burning too brightly at both ends right now for me to settle down to work with watercolors, but I’ve purchased some lessons to try. I also want to dig out the front flower beds and plant some summer blooms and I especially want to work on making the front porch colorful and inviting. I also need to go through my summer clothes and make a large number of donations – I’ve got far too much right now and some vigorous culling is in order.
    • Books. Have books on hand. Plenty of them in as many different genres as you like. I finished off a formulaic cozy mystery, am now deep in a historical fiction novel about first century Rome, and have a Booker Prize winner on my bedside table.
    • Go outside. Walk, stroll, hike, ride a bicycle, wade in a creek. Just get outside. Every day. While you’re there, stretch. In every direction you can think of.
    • Music – there’s something for every mood, so play it, make it, listen to it. Flip through playlists or go to a record store and just browse.
    • Eat real food and drink lots and LOTS of water. I’ve been awful here – when I’m facing exhaustion, I eat junk food on the run, drink far too much coffee too late in the day, stuff myself with bad-quality sweets, and then feel like a failure. Nonsense. I’m doing what I need to do to get through the mess I’m in the middle of and when I know better, I do better. Get whole grain rolls, real butter, honey, your favorite fruit spread, fresh berries, nuts, good-quality yogurt and cheese, and plenty of crunchy vegetables and go wild. Stock up on the good stuff – at home, in your car, and at work.
    • Go to bed early and limit screen time at that point. (Yes, hard copy books are better for you at this time than the incredibly-convenient Kindle.)

This is NOT a weekend fix. It took you a while to get this exhausted and it’s going to take a while to get better and feel your God-given Diva energy return. Lean gently in to this process. Heal.

Postscript – You know what got me back to my keyboard here to write to you? Grocery shopping. While at the store, I found a ten dollar breakfast tray, the kind with foldable legs that allows you to have breakfast in bed. (Not as fancy as the one at the top of the post, but it’s good to be aspirational.) You can bet your bippy I took that as a sign. It came home with me that day and is ready to be put into service later this week. Clean sheets, clean pajamas, a healthy breakfast eaten in bed with a book. I can’t wait!

Be well, Divas. And take care of yourselves so you can go forth and live with savoir faire!






One response to “When You’re Not “Just Tired””

  1. Jennifer Faircloth Avatar
    Jennifer Faircloth

    Wow, I love this. Super impressive.

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