Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Deal with Fatigue and Exhaustion (Why Am I So Tired?)

In order to function well and maintain our happiness and well-being, we need to avoid becoming exhausted and fatigued. This is not always possible. Sometimes, we find ourselves burning out and working ourselves past our limits- we become very tired and we are nowhere close to functioning optimally. When this occurs in life, we need to assess our situation as soon as possible in order for us to regain our well-being and enjoy a higher energy state.

Why Are We Fatigued?
First, we have to assess our situation. What are we doing, or not doing, that is making us feel exhausted?

What mental, physical, emotional, and/or spiritual aspects and needs are we neglecting?

Have you been eating healthily and exercising regularly? Are you processing and accepting your emotions in a safe, productive manner? Do you regularly remind yourself to live with perspective and purpose instead of chasing mindlessly after purely materialistic endeavors or instant gratification?

It is very easy to get into a rut involving any of these aspects. It is very easy to start neglecting any one of these factors , and it is very easy to adopt a state of mediocrity as your default mode of operation. In order to avoid this, you must start good habits that reinforce healthy behaviors into your lifestyle so that you can support yourself on every level and be all the more capable of enjoying life and achieving your goals.

If you have recently just started neglecting yourself, stop yourself now. If you are tired of your daily routine, you can make adjustments that work best for you instead of throwing out your routine altogether.

What personal boundaries are we neglecting?
Sometimes we overwork ourselves because we are afraid of confrontation. If another party is exerting too much pressure on you and is expecting too much of you, you have to stand your ground and assert your personal boundaries. Don't let others take advantage of you, but remember, people will assume you are alright doing extra work if you don't contest against it. Always speak up if you feel the need to decline or negotiate regarding responsibilities and expectations- in work and in relationships.

Are there any possible influences that are sucking your energy?
Sometimes being around certain people or situations sucks your energy. Some people and situations are perpetually negative, and it is best to avoid them. This is not to be confused with a situation you can help improve- be discerning- sometimes you can do something to help alleviate a situation or help someone work through issues that spill over into their social interactions. But always remember, it is not your duty to go around "saving" people or situations. Use your common sense and judgement when accepting or declining invitations to be around certain people. Choose wisely before choosing to take part in certain scenarios.

Pampering Yourself and Healing

The next most important step in combating fatigue and exhausting is giving yourself the proper attention and nurturing. Make extra time for yourself in order to relax and partake in activities you enjoy. These activities can be relaxing and/or rejuvenating. Some people feel better after a trip to the spa, while some people feel better after a day of hiking in the mountains or playing sports. 

Now is the time to give yourself a little treat if you have been depriving yourself- if you have burned yourself out by sticking to an extremely demanding exercise regime and diet, give yourself the opportunity to indulge reasonably and rest for as long as you need to regain or improve your well-being.

If you have been indulging yourself too much with a bad diet or lack of exercise, do not further indulge yourself with food or laziness. Instead, treat yourself to a nice beginner's workout and some fresh fruits and vegetables.

Pampering yourself and healing is all about combating the recent behaviors that have lead you to imbalance. In order to gain balance, you do not put more emphasis on what got you there in the first place- instead you incorporate what you have been lacking. This sounds like very obvious advice, but often we lose sight of moderation and balance. Sometimes people are afraid of moderation and balance- thinking that no growth will come of it. 

The truth is that you can achieve more whilst living moderately- moderation grants sustainability and with sustainability comes a greater sense of peace, well-being, and endurance. Also, moderation requires patience, and the cultivation of patience, albeit not the most exciting endeavor, is surely one of the most rewarding and beneficial.

Making Changes and Reassessing Your Goals and Lifestyle

Whilst you heal from fatigue and exhaustion, you can think about the kind of life and the kind of goals you truly want to achieve. Be reasonable with your choices- many things are achievable but the greatest efforts usually take greater amounts of time. Often, especially in this fast paced modern world, we expect everything to occur at an incredibly fast pace. Understand that life does not work under such an extreme demand.

While reassessing your new lifestyle, you will inevitably let go of a few habits- be they behaviors, indulgences, expectations, or relationships. Do not feel guilty for letting go of what no longer serves you. Know that if you do have certain responsibilities you must carry out and commit to, you must find a way to provide for those responsibilities- but make adjustments so that you do not overburden yourself.

The one most beneficial aspect to avoiding and healing fatigue is the ability to be discerning in the moment so that you do not make choices that cultivate to exhaustion. With discernment, balance and moderation will pave the way to your goals, and happiness and well-being will be a constant in your life.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Use Intervals to Increase Productivity and Reduce Stress

Relaxation and effort are relative terms- but have you ever thought of them as "net" terms?

During a long spur of exerted effort, one might perceive the entire long, marathon-like ordeal as extremely stressful and difficult. Although mental endurance and attention span do develop just like physical endurance and strength, rarely do long winding episodes of effort result in the optimal efficiency.

During long internals, the "net" amount of stress completely overrides the amount of relaxation we feel after getting through the ordeal, as the relaxation is often interrupted with more stress regarding our doubts about the efficiency of the job we managed to plow through with less-than-optimal energy and focus. 
With shorter intervals, our "net" amount of stress is much less. Our net amount of relaxation increases- we can more easily and readily exercise the required concentration to do our jobs effectively.

In order to optimize our efforts, we must compartmentalize and organize our efforts in a streamlined manner.

When you eat too much, you get a stomach ache, you feel horrible and you interrupt your natural digestion. This is the same thing as taking in too much information or exerting too much effort- you can't process what you are doing as efficiently as if you exerted the effort and took in the information in smaller portions. You can get a stomach ache from eating your entire day's worth of food in one sitting, so we don't do that. We time our meals throughout the day in intervals that are convenient for our processing.

Everyone has a different metabolism, so work with yours. Work with your productivity metabolism by using intervals to help you get more quality work done with less stress.

In order to compartmentalize your periods of effort, you need to organize and prioritize what you need to do. Start by making a list of what you would like to accomplish. Then make subcategories of those items- write down the major components of the job. What factors are crucial for the job to be done well? Keep those in mind as you prioritize these items according to your schedule- how much time do you think these jobs will take? 

Now the question arises- how long will these tasks actually take and how can I organize that expected time period to optimize my productivity?

Now you have you consider the nature of the crucial, important aspects required to make sure you do that job well. How much mental engagement do they require? How much focus do they require? 

Prioritize these sub-tasks of your jobs. The ones that do not require much mental engagement go in the bottom pile, and the tasks that require lots of mental engagement go on to the top pile.

Now, you can set up your intervals. You will want to exert lots of focused effort in shorter periods relative to your rest period at first, until you build up lots of mental endurance or until you are really, really interested in what you are doing. 

For example, you are completing a computer programming task.

The top priority tasks could include laying down the groundwork and setting objectives. Then the rest period could involve researching and reading about various ways to fulfill those objectives. Then you go back to your active period- writing the code into your program. Then you would start your next passive interval- copy and pasting different versions and playing them in order to figure out which version you prefer.

This is extremely useful during studying.
If you have lots of reading material to get through, your active phases could involve speed reading and constructing questions. Then your passive periods involve you re-leafing through the material and constructing answers to those questions. You do this until your questions are all answered. Then you start the cycle again. Your active phases would include you creating ways to conceptualize and integrate the questions and answers into your long term memory, whilst your passive phases could include you allowing your imagination to bring up different scenarios with which you could further extend your analogies.

This interval technique depends on relative active and passive phases- choose which aspects of your job require the most focus and concentration and delegate these as your active intervals. Your passive intervals include the tasks which require less focus and allow you to broaden your vision and gather supplementary information or fulfill supporting tasks.

These can be based on time periods- for example, 15 minutes of active phase followed by 20 minutes of passive phase. Once you develop your endurance, you can change the ratios so that your active phases are longer than your resting phases. Adjust the ratios to your capabilities and the needs of your project.

These intervals can also be based on quantity- organize your work into sections and adjust according to your needs.

By using intervals, you can keep your stress levels down and work in an organized and relaxed manner. Organization and time management can do wonders for your productivity and stress levels- intervals are just one intuitive way to utilize your time and attention.