• Stress Management for the Perpetually Tired

    Can't sleep

    Have you recovered from the time change yet, or are you still dragging? A client just told me that they heard it takes the average person one week to recover from losing an hour of sleep with the spring time change. Judging from my own personal experience, I believe it! Add to that the fact that most people don’t get enough sleep as it is, and you have a recipe for higher than normal levels of crankiness, more mistakes and accidents, and a greater number of bouts of insomnia (despite being exhausted). And if you have a chronic illness or chronic pain that already interferes with your sleep, you’re already behind the eight ball when it’s time to “spring forward.” So what’s a sleep deprived body to do?

    Whether you’re chronically tired as a result of doing too much or it’s a manifestation of a chronic illness, there are 5 things you can do to maximize both the quality and quantity of your sleep, which will help you better manage your stress and fatigue.

    1. Keep a regular sleep schedule -I know you’ve heard it before, but the best way to get a good night’s sleep (and therefore be better able to manage your stress) is to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. This helps to regulate your body clock, which will make it easier to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake refreshed. If you need a few pointers to get you started, try reading Too Stressed to Sleep?
    2. Know your limits – By the time you’re an adult, you should have some idea of how much you can get done in a day without either over-stimulating or completely exhausting yourself. If you don’t know your limits, it’s time to determine them. Does your brain whirr away when you go to bed, making it impossible to get to sleep right away? If so, you’ve  either overstimulated yourself or haven’t given yourself sufficient time to wind down.
    3. Don’t overcommit – This one’s easier said than done, I know. It feels good to be needed, and it feels good to contribute. But if you don’t take time for yourself, you’re going to crash and burn and then you won’t be able to help anyone. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, I’m just telling you like it is.
    4. Pace yourself – You have a set amount of energy each day to use as you see fit. Sure, you can push yourself to keep going long after it’s been depleted by dipping into your reserves; but your reserves are in limited supply, too. Each person has a different amount of energy available to them, so don’t push yourself to keep up with someone else. As you deplete your energy stores, you become more susceptible to illness and less able to deal with stress in a reasonable or productive manner. You’re also more prone crankiness, surliness, and angry outbursts.
    5. Eat (& drink) healthy – Admittedly, I’m not a food expert and I didn’t study nutrition. But you don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that healthy food and beverages will give you more energy than their less healthy alternatives. The general rule is this: the more processed it is (i.e. the less you have to do to prepare it) the less overall and sustainable energy it will give you. Good, healthy food will give you sustainable energy rather than just a quick burst.

    **Disclaimer: I wrote  most of this blog post while eating chips and dip late at night, and had one heck of a time getting up the next morning. Coincidence?? I think not!

    How many of these do you do? Which one(s) are you working on? Which one(s) do you need to start working on?

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One Response so far.

  1. I do #4 really well. I give myself plenty of time between each client to sit, drink water or eat, stretch, or just take a little rest. I am working on #’s 2 & 5. I know my limits, but I am learning how to push myself in a good way to exercise more AND rest more. I am also working on eating whole foods that help me sustain energy. Turns out anything with white sugar or flour makes me tired,and anything grown out of the ground gives me energy. 🙂