You know the feeling – you're not sick, but you don't quite feel like your usual self. You might describe yourself as feeling a little "low" or a bit "off" and not quite on the ball. Over time, this can escalate to the point where you find yourself feeling tired, drained, and run-down.
During these periods, it can be tempting to ignore how you're feeling and simply push on as usual with your regular daily routine. This is precisely the time when you can benefit from pausing and taking the opportunity to assess where you're at. After all, you can't really take care of yourself unless you first tune in to what's going on.
Where to start? For most people, the three areas most likely to be in need of some attention are sleep patterns, eating habits, and stress management.
Adequate Sleep is Essential for Optimal Health
Many people think they can get away with cutting back on sleep in order to get more done. But sleep isn't optional; adequate sleep is essential for optimal health. It's during sleep that our body has an opportunity to repair itself and get rejuvenated. If you're not getting enough sleep, your body is going to feel it (and show it) sooner or later. Turning in a little bit earlier at night can have a huge impact on how you feel overall.
Healthy Eating: Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
Along with adequate sleep, healthy eating is also non-negotiable when it comes to functioning at your very best. "Healthy" doesn't mean you have to clear out your cupboards and start eating kale and quinoa every day. But if you routinely skip meals, consume a lot of ultra-processed foods, or get take-out for dinner every evening, your body is going to feel the effects. It might start with little things: you find that your energy isn't what it used to be, or that you're more prone to headaches. Small changes, like having fruit as an afternoon snack instead of a donut, can make a big difference in helping you get back on track.
Stress is Unavoidable; the Key is Learning How to Manage It Effectively
We hear a lot about the need to manage stress, and with good reason. Chronic stress impacts every aspect of our being – our ability to think clearly, our emotional state, and our physical health. A certain amount of stress in life is unavoidable; the key is learning how to manage that stress effectively, so we're not overwhelmed by it. Everyone is different, and what works for one person won't necessarily be ideal for someone else. Working out, meditating, and listening to music are just a few approaches that can help you manage stress. Find something that works for you, that you can easily engage in on a regular basis.
The process of slowing down and tuning in can be difficult for a lot of people. If you're feeling compelled to push on in even when you don't feel like your usual self, give yourself permission to take a break in order to tune in and take care of yourself. In the long run, this is how you'll truly be able to be at your best, both for yourself and for the people you care about.
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