One of the things I’ve really been focusing on lately is not being so obsessed with being productive. This is hard for me because I always like to be doing something. I often feel like I’m wasting time if I’m not on my feet cleaning, folding laundry, or engaging in some amazing activity with my kids.
Lately, though, I’ve been trying to do things a little differently and it has made a big difference in how I feel overall. Instead of forcing myself to go-go-go all day every day, I’ve been listening to my body’s natural rhythms and energy patterns.
I have more energy at certain times of the day and dips at others (I think most people probably do). My energy comes and goes in a pretty regular pattern. If I fight against this pattern, I find that I get less done and feel worse overall. But if I go with it, my day seems to go much more smoothly and I feel better, both emotionally and physically.
Usually when I wake up in the morning, I feel pretty motivated and energized. If I get up and get moving immediately, I can get a lot accomplished in the morning. I try to do most of my housework during this time. Confession: I’ve started waiting to shower until my energy starts to wane. Or sometimes I’ll just shower in the evening. Showering is a relaxing activity for me, so I’ve found that I’m more productive if I save the shower for later. (I do get dressed right away, though.) My son has therapy first thing in the morning. Once that’s over, it’s time for the kids to have lunch and to get him off to school. Once he’s on his way, I do okay for a little while longer and then I start to fade.
This is where the internal struggle comes in. It’s still pretty early in the day. I should still be doing stuff, right? I should still have energy! WRONG. I just don’t. In the past I’ve tried to force myself to push through this energy dip by doing more cleaning, more activities, more what-have-you. And then I completely crash. Often with a headache. And then I’ll end up sitting on the couch, beating myself up for not being more productive.
Lately, though, I’ve been trying to change this attitude. Instead of fighting my body’s rhythm, I go with it. When I’m feeling tired, I slow down. It isn’t that I just clock out (who can?), but my kids and I have quiet time together. Baby gets put down for a nap. I let myself sit down. I eat lunch (which doesn’t often happen when my attention is on being productive). My daughter and I watch a movie or read books. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll fall asleep too. Then it’s time to watch something I want to watch, or blog, or read a book of my own. And when the bus pulls up with my oldest in the afternoon, I feel a lot more refreshed and ready to go. I have more energy for the afternoon and evening and I don’t completely crash as soon as my hubby walks in the door. Dinner is more likely to be ready when he gets home and I’m more present in the evening hours.
So if you are in the position to (I understand that everyone’s schedules are different and it isn’t always possible to stop and take a break in the middle of the day), listen to your body’s natural rhythms and follow them. Move and get things done when you have more energy and take things slow and conserve when your energy is waning. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t beat yourself up during those slow times. We can’t all be at 100% activity level 100% of the time. See how it affects you and how you feel. Does it make a difference for you? Let me know!