I’m pleased to share a guest post with you today from fellow blogger and minimalist Mia Danielle. Mia writes about living an intentional, minimalist life with a family on her blog. I’m excited to have her at Simple Lionheart Life sharing tips for how to live intentionally when you feel drained.
Mia offers great tips and strategies for coping through times where you feel drained, but still want to live intentionally. I’ve shared before how much minimalism has helped me cope as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). And I’ve received so many comments and emails from other HSP who are happy to know they aren’t alone in the struggle being a HSP can bring. Mia’s post offers great strategies to cope when feeling drained that I know HSP will appreciate and relate to. But Mia’s post will be beneficial to everyone, whether you’re a HSP or not.
I hope you’ll enjoy Mia’s post as much as I have. Be sure to leave a comment letting me know what you think and welcoming Mia to Simple Lionheart Life!
A guest post from Mia Danielle of miadanielle.com.
How are you supposed to live intentionally when you feel drained? Our energy is a finite resource. We all want to be motivated, alert, and energetic (with the exception of bedtime).
It’s frustrating when you want to be intentional- you want to stay on top of your priorities and flourishing lifestyle- but your energy won’t get off the ground to participate in your awesome plans!
I have run into regular bouts of energy depletion throughout my life. Without fail, each time I’ve begun a new place of employment I start off strong for 6-9 months, only to have my energy crash abruptly after a grueling day at the office.
Those miserable days to weeks following an energy crash make each task feel like dragging around dead weight. Even mundane tasks feel like a massive burden. You realize that optimism and positivity also require energy as you curse inanimate objects for not being ‘smarter’.
Creativity, patience, communication, productivity, and cleanliness seemingly disappear and you wonder desperately if they’ll ever come back. While there is no magic wand that will give you infinite energy, there are many resources out there for self-care and other preventative measures.
But this post isn’t about prevention. This is about measures you can take to ensure that you don’t lose your progress. You should not have to start all over- or worse, quit!- in your intentional journey due to drained energy.
Know yourself + live intentionally when you feel drained
Before you can begin a plan for self-preservation you have to know who you’re planning for. How does your personal energy work? Everyone’s energy flows differently.
Maybe you’ve noticed those people who are steadfast in their temperament and always even-keeled. Perhaps they get up and run 10 miles every morning without fail. Yes, many of these things are conditioned. But there is also a large energy factor at play.
For example, I am an introvert. I have learned that I cannot remain social for extended periods of time. It’s enjoyable for a bit, but it wears me out very quickly. Because of this, I need a schedule which spaces out the amount of straight social time required of me.
For women, certain periods of the month produce high levels of productivity and energy while others produce sensitivity and exhaustion. I recommend the use of a phone app to track your weeks of high energy and focus (I use ‘Clue’ but there are many out there). This will help you in your planning phase.
If you have a history of a mental or physical disorder, like depression, rather than ignoring that it exists it is highly beneficial to study your responses.
How do you know when it is coming on, what are the triggers, and what helps you to pull through it?
This is essentially a ‘data gathering’ phase. After all, any effective plan starts with strong data.
This is what we call ‘planning ahead’. For the most part, we own our own time and are in control of telling it where to go.
I say ‘for the most part’ because that is not always the case. We have jobs with various deadlines, our kids have school projects and events that are out of our scheduling control, and sometimes stuff just happens.
But we can do our part to efficiently schedule what we are able to. So, schedule your creative projects and social events for weeks when you have proven to have higher energy (based on the data gathered above).
Then- and this is the important part- schedule rest time.
For me, that includes scheduling a week off from creating and heavy socializing about once a month. Because I’ve scheduled and planned for this time, I am able to take that week and be drained- if that’s how I feel- without feeling additional stress.
Yes, I can lay in bed and watch Netflix, sleep in, and make quick meals because that’s what I’m ‘scheduled’ to do!
In order to allow myself this, I work ahead of time on my projects and rely on automation so I don’t seemingly disappear for a quarter of the month.
Now, sometimes I don’t feel like taking the time completely off and will work on some projects. But, I know myself enough to know that those drained days DO come around. So, I’m as prepared as possible for them.
If you don’t quite have that luxury then just do what you can. Keep an ‘optimal calendar’ on your desk and try to fill in those dates for your meetings and deadlines when possible.
Maybe you don’t get to sleep in on your week of rest but can retreat to your office for recharging with light music and less human interaction.
First, be honest with yourself.
Is there something else going on? Are you feeling drained all of the time because you are deeply unhappy in an area of your life?
Maybe you hate your job or have an unhealthy relationship that is keeping you drained. Before any changes can be made to fix the issue and get you back on your life’s intentional path, you have to be completely honest with yourself.
Make sure that your priorities actually are properly aligned.
Then, be honest with others.
I’m not saying it’s a good idea to tell your boss that you actually hate your job (unless you’ve decided to move on). But letting your family and coworkers know that you are going through an energy drained time will help.
People are much more likely to be supportive and share some of the weight if they understand what you’re going through.
Not sharing what’s going on might result in negative feedback such as complaints from coworkers, concern from bosses, or conflict with your loved ones. If you aren’t upfront, people might make their own assumptions that you don’t care or are just in a bad mood.
Sleep is the quickest way for the body to replenish. To live intentionally when you feel drained you must respect your physical limitations.
Any projects that you try to bulldoze through will likely not be of high quality anyway if you aren’t rested.
Temporarily adjust your schedule to allow for more sleep. That might mean removing one of your evening shows or reading time. It might mean going to bed an hour earlier than you’re used to, or leaving a Saturday blocked off for sleeping and rest.
Sleeping will also keep you from making those delirious bad choices like downing a tub of ice cream or purchasing some feel-good items when you just decluttered your home. When we’re weak we are much more likely to fall victim to impulses.
Reject guilt + negativity
It can be easy to dwell in guilt when we aren’t accomplishing much. (That’s why I recommend trying to plan for your downtime as much as possible). But keep in mind that guilt is a passive emotion. It doesn’t solve the problem.
In fact, guilt is often debilitating and only reinforces the draining of energy. So, when that heavy guilt tries to settle into your mind and weigh you down, try to let it slide right off.
Reassure yourself that you have experienced this energy depletion before and that it WILL go away. It does not last forever.
And, instead of sinking into the self-loathing guilt, think of ways that you’re going to keep everything afloat while you recharge. (Spoiler, we’ll be going over some key methods for this next).
Just as you’re going to reject your internal negativity- guilt, you also need to avoid external negativity. Nothing will keep you down longer and suck your energy like a person spewing negativity at you while you’re down.
Now, these final three things are ways to stay afloat and not lose progress when you find yourself stuck in a drained state so you can continue to live intentionally when you feel drained.
Create a bare-bones to-do list
When you feel depleted of energy, your productivity diminishes. You don’t wake up in the morning will bells on, ready to get stuff done. But, typically there are still some things that need to be done.
This is where you are going to cater to your drained state. Each night before bed make a bare-bones to-do list of the essential things you will need to accomplish the next day.
There should really be no more than 5 things on this list. These are things that cannot wait and will cause your business or family to suffer if not done.
I recommend following this up with task alarms to keep you on track. This way, you aren’t wasting extra energy reminding yourself every hour- you have a phone for that.
I repeat- each NIGHT. You do not want to wait until you wake up to gather your thoughts of what needs to be done. It will make your life so much easier if you wake up on autopilot with task alarms in place.
Delegate or outsource
Of these things on the to-do list that cannot wait, decide how many of them can actually be done by someone else. Maybe your spouse can take the kids to school. If you have subordinates at work, delegate some of the assignments to them.
If you run your own business you could look into a VA to help keep up on your behind the scenes tasks. Have the kids do the cleaning. Outsourcing and delegating are passive ways to live intentionally when you feel drained.
Set a hard deadline
Probably the most important part of this whole plan is to set a hard deadline. You don’t want this downtime to last forever. And you’ll be much more able to relax into it if you know it’s only for a specified period of time.
These changes can quickly become a habit if you don’t position yourself mentally for a hard, no-nonsense, end date. This is also a great way to deflect that guilt and outside negativity by reassuring everyone that your downtime ends *this* date.
When that deadline arrives, don’t wait for motivation or inspiration. At this point, you always start with ‘activation’. Don’t give yourself time to think about it, just get up and move your body!
Oftentimes, things feel like they’re going to be much more difficult than they end up being when you actually get your adrenaline flowing.
My hope is that this article encourages you to continue to live intentionally when you feel drained and not lose the progress that you have worked toward. Our energy is finite but so is our energy depletion. Be encouraged that you’ll come back even stronger because you know what to expect.
About The Author:
Mia Danielle is a mother of two daughters, a writer, and an enthusiast of minimalism and intentional living for parents. She is the founder of MiaDanielle.com where she blogs and offers a free library of resources for her subscribers. You can find Mia on Facebook and Instagram.