While some consider this the “most joyful time of year,” many would confess it’s the “most stressful and exhausting time of year.” Regardless of where you fall on the continuum of opinion, we all need to do what is in our power to take care of ourselves so that we can do the things we need to do and be available to those who need us. That’s why it’s important to chat about how to recharge yourself.
Early in my career, I was very achievement focused and I tended to be a people pleaser, which translated means I didn’t set very healthy boundaries for myself. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer and unable to work, I jumped in and worked more to make up the difference. I ignored every sign that I needed to recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Until…my body shut down. It could no longer function the way it had. Long story cut short, I ended up in the hospital, having two surgeries, and on medically induced bed rest for 5 months. Please don’t let that be you. Take the advice in this post and use what is helpful to recharge yourself and keep you functioning optimally.
What Does it Mean to Recharge Yourself?
While the emphasis may be different for each person, we can think of recharging yourself much like recharging a battery: it essentially means self-care and rest which are designed to restore yourself to a more optimal level of functioning. In a somewhat extreme example, consider when you’ve had a cold or the flu—your body spends all of its energy stores fighting the illness which can leave you feeling depleted and lethargic. That’s why doctors often say the best remedy is plenty of fluids and rest. A different way to think about recharging yourself is anything that restores, renews, or revives your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual functioning.
Why is it Important to Recharge Yourself?
Our bodies, minds, and emotions do not have limitless stores of energy. Each is much like the battery I mentioned above: they can go for quite a while with optimal function, but at some point, they begin to wear down at an accelerated rate, and need to be intentionally recharged. When you take the time to recharge (which often needs to be a conscious decision), you invest in your overall long-term health and wellbeing.
How to Recharge Yourself Physically
When we consider self-care and rest, most tend to think of their physical bodies first, in large part because it’s easiest for us to identify when we’re physically worn down or lacking in energy. When considering what may be most helpful to recharge yourself physically, consider those things that help restore, renew, or revive your physical body.
- Stretch—regardless of your occupation, whether you spend a lot of time on your feet or a lot of time hunched over a computer screen or sitting in the same position, your muscles become fatigued when we don’t take time to incorporate physical movement in the midst of our day. Consider simple muscle stretches for a minute or two at the start of your day and then every 30-60 minutes throughout your day.
- Exercise—many patients tell me that they are too physically exhausted to exercise, but as a board certified clinical neuropsychologist, I challenge them to start small and build up, and watch how just 10-15 minutes of exercise a day will actually give them more energy to increase the length of exercise they engage in. Feel like you don’t have time to exercise? Consider simple actions that add up: take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the door, walk the dog instead of just opening the door to let them out, pick a few weeds each time you walk past the garden, do sit-ups or squats or a few planks during commercials.
- Change Your Diet—we often forget how much our diet impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m not suggesting one of the popular fad diets out there, but I do encourage my patients to consume large amounts of protein while minimizing processed food and a lot of sugar.
- Sleep—when life gets busy or stressful and we push the limits in order to add more to an already packed schedule, we tend to respond in a way that suggests we believe sleep is dispensable. But the truth is, our body needs sleep in order to recharge, restore our energy reserves, and repair itself. Set a cutoff time for work related tasks every evening, then allow yourself 30-60 minutes before bed to do those things that help relax you whether that is taking a bubble bath, reading a mystery, or watching a silly comedy. The idea is to do what will allow you to unwind so that you can get an optimal night’s sleep.
- Massage—as physical beings, we tend to hold stress in our body. We don’t realize it, but we hold our shoulders up close to our ears or clench our teeth or furrow our brows. A good massage can be a physical reset for your body, ridding it of built up muscle tension and recharging it for future demands.
- Rest—In our society we have come to equate rest with sleep, but that isn’t entirely true. Our body needs periods of rest throughout the day when sleep isn’t possible. Rest can be as simple as closing your eyes for a few moments to alleviate strain from screens, or getting up from your desk and walking around the office for a couple of minutes, or walking in the garden smelling the flowers. Rest is essentially a renewing of your body by doing something less physically taxing. To find out more about the 7 types of rest, listen to my podcast episode, “Give Yourself a Break,” and read this post, “Finding the Courage to Rest in God.”
How to Recharge Yourself Mentally
While we tend to give more attention to the physical demands of our body, recharging ourselves mentally is equally as important. Have you ever been involved in an intense project and found that you became confused or easily distracted over time? Chances are your brain needed a recharge. So, how do you recharge your brain?
- Minimize Distractions—this may seem counterintuitive because we’re talking about recharging our brain after prolonged use, however, when we allow distractions to occur, our brain works harder to regain focus. Most praise multitasking, but the truth is, your brain can only give 100% focus to one thing at a time. If you’re being distracted by a text message, a social media notification, music in the background, numerous phone calls or the like, it takes your brain longer to re-engage in what requires your focus. So to the degree possible, minimize distraction and you’ll accomplish more in a shorter period of time to afford you a few minutes to then recharge yourself mentally.
- Do Something Creative—creativity draws on a different part of brain functioning than say crunching numbers, writing reports, or supervising employees. When we take the time to do something creative, we give our brain some time to rest and recharge itself while engaging in a little play. Doodle, play a few strings on the guitar, arrange flowers, or anything else that is enjoyable and creative.
- Get Organized—so much of our life is spent trying to find the things we need to accomplish the tasks required, that we waste valuable time and energy. If you have to do something more than one time, develop a system to save you time in the future. Organize your tasks and your tools so that you do what is most strenuous during your most energetic part of the day and save the mundane for when you’re more fatigued.
- Challenge Yourself—just like our physical bodies, our brain can become lazy if we don’t stress it occasionally. If you always lift five-pound weights, you’ll never become stronger. If you always engage in the same mental activities, your mental abilities don’t become stronger either. Try new activities, whether it be learning a foreign language or learning to cook a new ethnic food, that requires your brain to expand into new areas. This strengthens your attentional skills, problem solving skills, executive functioning, and memory.
- Take a Break from Technology—there’s no sugar coating it: technology wears on the body and the mind. So much of our life is approached digitally whether it’s a zoom conference call, or hours on the computer tracking numbers or writing reports. And then “for a break” we turn to our phones for a scroll on social media. Do yourself a favor, and take a break from technology for 5 minutes every hour (you can use those five minutes to do one of the other suggested tips) and then set a cut-off time for the end of the day so that your brain will begin to register when it’s time to shut off and rest.
- Prioritize Rest—just like our body can’t continue to function effectively without periods of rest, so too does our brain need rest to recharge itself and continue optimal functioning. Rather than working through your lunch break, consider taking a walk or reading a good book or journaling your cares, concerns, and joys.
How to Recharge Emotionally
- Let Go of Past Mistakes—too often the tapes of our past continue to play on repeat in our mind. For some, those mistakes haunt and are a big part of why we strive so hard to achieve now and for the future. Forgive yourself for what you didn’t know earlier and the poor choices or mistakes you made, and learn from them to make your future something you are proud of. Rather than letting your mistakes define you, let them teach you and prepare you for a positive future.
- Make a List of Accomplishments—the majority of people tend to focus more on the negative or challenging aspects of life and take little time to celebrate even the small successes. Did you hold your tongue instead of speak out in anger? Recognize your progress. Did you sign a new contract? Congratulate yourself on opening the door to the joys to come as you work on the next project. Did your child’s teacher mention your child’s accomplishment or positive character trait? Recognize that your child has the gift of having you for their parent.
- Forgive Others—Unforgiveness breeds anger, resentment, and bitterness, all of which are toxic emotions that leave a mark on us physically and emotionally. Holding on to anger and resentment does nothing to hurt the offending individual, but will hold you back from living in freedom. Forgiving others doesn’t excuse them of their behavior but takes the shackles off your own heart.
- Talk with a Good Friend or Professional Counselor—emotional wounding and trauma can go unresolved for years if we aren’t careful, and those wounds tend to color our perception of future events and people. If you’re struggling emotionally, don’t feel you have to endure it alone. If you don’t deal with it, I can guarantee it will come up and out again at a less opportune time!
Throughout this post we’ve been talking about how to recharge yourself. There are many more ways to do so, and if you’ve found specific things that have been helpful to recharge yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, or even spiritually, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
A central theme throughout this post about recharging yourself is rest. Rest is one of those things that for years I dismissed the importance of until I was forced to completely rest. I find in this busy world, most of us either don’t prioritize rest or don’t understand how to rest in a way that is most helpful to us individually. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about a valuable resource to help you.
I’m one of the guest speakers for the Living Sabbath 2022 Summit, an online 3-day summit happening January 7-9, 2022 with over 25 expert speakers to help us learn to rest better in order to be our optimal selves in the new year.
This summit would also make a great gift for a friend or loved one who leads a fast-paced life and may not even know they need to rest.
Consider gifting it to a friend and then you can be each other’s accountability partner as you endeavor to rest well.
You can get tickets right now for this LIVE 3-Day retreat for as low as $15. Would you join me?
Get all the info today and Register at LivingSabbath.com.
But, to get the special pricing, you need to Register by December 24th. Tickets are available now, and there’s a way to join for every budget!