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I have a secret. I am not an energetic person. Never have been--even as a kid, I got tired before everyone else. I was the one who was relieved when parents came to break up sleepover shenanigans so I could get some much-needed sleep. I was in a car accident years ago, and the residual pain taps my energy further while adding its own problems.
My practice focuses on the chronically ill, so I see a lot of people like me. Many of them have trouble mentally dealing with their health issues. They feel like they're missing out on life, or that all they can do is get the daily requirements done, then drag off for as much sleep as possible before doing it all again. They are constantly tired, and usually depressed.
I get frustrated at my energy levels, but all-in-all I handle them pretty well. I look at my life, and it is full--I go out with friends, I have a career that uses my talents, and a husband and cat who love me. I get a fair amount done most days, and stay better rested than I have been at any earlier point in my life. How do I do it? I'm glad you ask!
- I accepted there were limitations. This idea is anathema to many. They want to fight with everything they have to get one more thing done, add one more activity, one more commitment, one more accomplishment. For those whose personality fits this lifestyle, it is great--the constant challenge energizes them, so fighting their limitations is a great coping strategy. Most of the people I see day-to-day don't have this personality--they just wish they did. I stopped wishing for it a long time ago, and made a few policies: I rarely commit to extra responsibilities because I know I can't be reliable at them. If I get so little sleep that I cry when it's time to get up, I cancel my day. I avoid places, other than my office, where sick people are likely to congregate--no trips to the drugstore during flu season, and no unnecessary gatherings with a gaggle of small children. Being sick takes a lot out of me, and since setting up this policy I have a lot less illness than I used to.
- I eat well. As much as I used to like soft drinks and french fries, I almost never eat them now. I don't digest either of them well, and the "hangover" of eating any kind of junk food gets in the way of the things I want to do. My husband and I invest a lot of our income on healthy food that tastes great. We both enjoy food, and both know how important it is to give our bodies good things. It was a lesson we have only really committed to in the past five years or so, but now that we have we get reap great dividends--a clear mind, better moods, and a gradual improvement in health all-around. My pain levels are usually very low, and my energy improves the better I eat.
- I try to have only positive things in my life. Lest you think I live my life focused on what I can't do and cannot eat, let me tell you my philosophy: I am a valuable commodity, I have a lot to give, and like any precious thing or entity, I must receive excellent care to be at my best. So I put as many good things into my life as I can. The lesson of positivity is relatively new for me--I used to feel that saying my life was going well was a form of bragging. Now I see it as a way to improve the world around me by not adding to the complaints that burden society. I try to look at my life with a positive perspective ("change your story, change your life"). I seek out positive people to read and emulate, like Michael Hyatt, Marc and Angel Chernoff, Chris Guillebeau, and others. Putting upbeat, can-do, honest words into my mind each day helps fight discouragement and gives me the raw materials to create my own positive creations. Taking care of my mind also gives me a safe place to deal with hard things. When I'm tired, cultivating a positive outlook means I don't bow to discouragement as often, and dark days when I see only the negative are easier to turn around.