Let’s face it – life can be knackering. As a parent, it can often feel as if you’ve done a day’s work before you even get out of the house, never mind a full-on work day and then homework/dinner/bath/story/bed – before tackling household stuff. Plus, that’s before we find the time to exercise, drink 8 glasses of water, have date nights, keep on top of social media and generally be an awesome all-round person. Some things that impact our energy are out of our control, like broken sleep due to the little people in our lives, however, there’s plenty of things we can influence.
Managing our energy is a hot topic on our Mumager workshops for new mums and working parents. A study by Mother & Baby Magazine of over 1,000 women revealed that 82% of working mums said lack of sleep affected their performance and output at work, eight out of 10 mothers with a baby aged up to two said tiredness put their partnership under immense strain and caused rows and two-thirds of mothers said exhaustion had put them completely off sex. Is it any wonder we sometimes feel like a permanently exhausted pigeon?
Most of us push ourselves very hard – from the moment we wake to when we fall into bed – we are ‘doing’. At times it feels like we’re running a marathon….
slogging away, keeping on going until we cross the finish line – exhausted.
What if we shifted our mindset? Research shows that we’re much more effective, plus our mental and physical well-being improves when we adopt the attitude of a sprinter. Instead of a hard slog we pace ourselves and aim for short intense burst of activity followed by periods of rest and relaxation.
In reality, what this means is that throughout the day we look for, and create opportunities to re-charge. These might last only a few minutes, between meetings, or they can be longer e.g. a couple of times a week we might go out for a 20 minute walk at lunchtime.
What’s interesting is how we choose to spend the little time we have. In a poll we ran online we found that when faced with an choice, we’d rather go for a walk than do laundry (good idea); check our social media over relaxing for 10 minutes, and have an afternoon off once a month instead of daily break.
I remember earlier this year I was sitting at my desk feeling completely overwhelmed. I’d taken on too much work (as a freelancer it can be hard to say ‘no’), was running on empty and just didn’t know where to start on the mountain of work. My other half came in and saw me sitting with my head in my hands. After hearing my woes, he sprang into ‘fix-it’ mode – encouraging me to head off for a night at the weekend and stay in a hotel on my own to get some rest (I know, he’s a keeper). As tempting as this was, I knew it wasn’t the answer in the long term. Running myself into the ground and waiting to have a huge chunk of rest, isn’t sustainable. Instead, trying to practice what I preach, I stepped away from the desk. I made a cup of tea, got my book and sat down to read for 15 minutes. I felt completely different after the short break. I could think clearer and felt more refreshed. It was a timely reminder that creating moments to recharge throughout the day can have a big impact on our wellbeing. So what does this mean for us?
- Thinking like a sprinter means making smart choices about how you recharge: Does getting stuck in a social media ‘scroll hole’ really make you feel good? Or would you be better off closing your eyes for 10mins and listening to that Headspace App you’ve had on your phone for 18 months but never used. Will an extra 15 minutes at your desk drastically reduce your to-do list, or would a quick walk in the fresh air be more beneficial?
- Think HITT rather than Health Spa: Just like we can get fit from doing a high-intensity workout for 5 mins each day – we can manage our energy much more effectively by doing something little and often. Rather than focusing on that night away in 6 weeks, what can you do TODAY to keep you going? A lunchtime walk? Switching of your phone for a couple of hours. Reading a book for 15 minutes? The choice is yours. What makes you feel relaxed and revived?
- Set a good example: What impact does it have on the people around you if you’re constantly slogging away? Showing that its okay to take a moment to recharge is good for everyone. Remember we’re human beings not human doings.
Try it for one week and see the difference it makes to your energy levels. A few minutes spent wisely can make the rest of the day so much more productive and happier.