Holley Hyler is an IT consultant and published freelance writer living in New York.
It's happened to me before—eight hours of sleep, a balanced diet, regular exercise, a good job situation, a decent social life, and yet I still felt lethargic or unhappy. I knew nothing was wrong medically. Then my iPhone started giving me weekly screen time reports, and it got me thinking more about where I was directing my attention and emotion. I am not going to propose that smart phones are the root of all evil. As with anything else, it is how we use them that's important. Becoming more conscious of where and how we spend our time can be helpful in getting to the root of listlessness and fatigue.
I was not always conscious of how I was giving my energy away, or even aware that I was. When I shifted what I was unwittingly giving my attention to, life became more peaceful. Even if storms came up, I felt better equipped to handle them. Read on to find out more about draining habits and how to direct your life with more intention.
If you work a late shift, you can adjust "morning" in this title to whenever you wake up to start your day. Having a plan or intention for this time can improve how your day turns out.
I used to have no solid plan for starting my workday. I'd roll out of bed as late as I possibly could and start answering work e-mails. While this may work for some, and the quality of my work was still good, I tended to feel out of place for the rest of the day. I felt like something was missing. Then I began setting my alarm for an hour earlier so that I could do an activity of my choosing before the workday started. What I do for that hour of "me" time has not always been the same – sometimes I read or worked on my website, or I texted my friends and played phone games. No matter what I chose to do, I felt better and more myself for the rest of the day.
If you tend to wake up in a bad mood, that time can help you get into a better mood before you have to be productive. It might be harder if you have kids or a lot of other responsibilities before work, but that is all the more reason to make room for time to yourself. An hour may be generous in that case, but it doesn't have to take a long time to make that shift before work starts. Try five minutes of reading a website or book that uplifts you. I would stay away from the news or social media—more on this in the next section.
Your morning intention can be as simple as declaring it a good day and deciding to look for evidence of that, no matter what. That means, even if you get a flat tire, an angry client calls you, you spill coffee on your new shirt... you get the idea. It's a good day. The tire is flat, but the car still runs. The client is angry, but you still have a job. You spilled coffee on your shirt, but you can probably get it out with a good stain remover, and you have the ability to enjoy a coffee or whatever your drink of choice is.
Repetition of this thought, "it's a good day," until it becomes a belief is key in shifting your day-to-day to something better. It's not necessary to be perfect to achieve this.
Using Technology With Intention
I do help desk work in IT, so I interact with a lot of people who feel frustrated with technology. On the other hand, it is miraculous that with a few clicks of a button, we can communicate with someone across the country or an ocean away. Where we run into trouble is when we forget that there actually is a person on the other side of the screen, or we feel like our words vanish into the abyss after we send them. I have learned, in both good and bad ways, that words do not disappear. They are not forgotten. Any energy that we send out comes back to us in some shape or form.
Getting into a scathing Facebook or Twitter argument might seem like a good way to spend your time. It might be for a good cause, and maybe you do have a chance to justify your point of view to someone who is important to you. Often, people engage with strangers, which might make it easier to be honest or say whatever you want to say. But that stranger is still a person. You might be able to delete comments, but you still have your memory and your feelings. Sometimes, a few words that seem simple, when spoken in the thick of grief or anger, can alter a relationship forever.
I used to look for things that upset me, thinking that if I looked at them more, I would get closer to resolving them. In my opinion, energy is much better spent looking at something positive or sending a few genuine words of care and encouragement to a friend. It only takes a few seconds and can start momentum for even more positivity in your day. It may not be a direct approach to resolving problems, but practices that replenish you can make you more effective in all aspects of life.
Looking at social media first thing in the morning, before you've made a positive shift in your mood or set the intention for a good day, could be draining your energy more than you realize. Remember that where your attention goes, energy flows.
Finding Humor in the Heavy
This might be a step for more “advanced” feeling better techniques, as I know from experience that it can be hard to find the humor in a heavy situation right away. I had a crazy situation in my life a few months ago, which I cried about for several days. Then I started comparing it to the plot of a '70s porn movie and turned my tears into laughter.
You can laugh about anything—especially the heavy stuff. J.K. Rowling had it right when she wrote in the Harry Potter books that the best antidote to a boggart was laughter. Humor is powerful when it comes to diminishing negative situations or embarrassing ones that you’d like to forget. Taking yourself too seriously will almost certainly make them bigger. For this step to work, you have to be able to laugh at yourself. I don’t mean in a cruel or even self-deprecating manner, but in a way that encourages self-compassion and endearment.
I once told my life coach about my tendency of always feeling as though I had screwed up in friendship or romance situations. I told her, “I feel like Britney Spears – always saying oops, I did it again.” We laughed at that and made it into a running joke. Once I was able to recognize the pattern and laugh at it, it stopped.
Whatever you may be going through, if you can't laugh at it now, it's okay. Give it a few days or weeks. The only exception I would make to this rule is the passing of someone close, but in that case, you can remember things you joked about with that person or good moments where you were smiling together. It may not feel as good as having the person back, but it can provide a moment of relief from heavy emotion.
Connection is a big part of being human. Much of what drives us are relationships. Babies cannot survive without attention and care; adults can't either, even if they like to think they can.
Being deeply introverted and going several days without leaving the house has its place. There are times that I have done that and felt better for it. Spending too much time alone is also possible and can have detrimental effects. One of the worst things about living across the country from my family and without a partner was that I rarely experienced physical touch. It altered the way I feel about touch and its importance to me.
Of course, there are many ways to connect with those you love: writing kind notes, sharing a meal, doing them a favor, calling them on the phone... the list goes on. There is no shortage of ways to do this, but what we do run short on is time and energy to do it. We make excuses or push things out into the future. I get it, and I've done it. Looking at where your energy "leaks" are and redirecting the flow to better things can help.
Sometimes you may need to pursue friendships before they catch on. This doesn't mean call or text someone ten times per day. A steadier, calmer approach works wonders. Be consistent about checking in with people or just saying hello to them. It only takes a few seconds and can mean a lot. You may not notice reciprocation right away or from everyone. It opens you up to more opportunities for friendship and sends a signal to more people that you are a kind and extroverted person, even if you are not at all extroverted. (Sometimes the appearance of it is more important to let people know it is safe to approach!)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Any suggestions on how to balance friendships with the opposite gender even when the attraction is a hindrance on one or both sides, or how to become comfortable with members of the same gender? Having to actively avoid friendship because of attraction or repulsion is irritating but ever-present.
Answer: This is an interesting question and probably one that a lot of other people have. In the case of attraction, having a firm sense of boundaries (but not shutting the other person out entirely) would help. Have a plan in place for how you respond when you notice the attraction. It seems like this is a pattern for you, so changing the way you respond is key to altering the pattern to something that would feel more balanced and healthier for you.
I have not experienced discomfort with people of the same gender, but again, this may be more common than you think. Worrying less about gender and focusing more on what you have in common may help here. I'm not much of a talker, but I pay attention, especially when someone mentions a thing they're into - a band, a television show, a hobby. Then I try to hone in on those things for conversation pieces when I feel at a loss. Focus on things that are universal across all humans. Joking and humor is an example. Everyone loves to laugh.
Thank you for the great question. This may be something I can cover more in another article.
© 2019 Holley Hyler
Holley Hyler (author) from Upstate New York on March 02, 2020:
Hi Kyler, and thank you for the thoughtful and honest comment. I used to have trouble with boundaries in my relationships as well - maybe that's material for another article. I will think on it!
Kyler J Falk from Corona, CA on March 01, 2020:
I have a lot of trouble connecting with those of my same gender/sex, and more often than not I find myself uncomfortable around them. When it comes to those opposite, though, we often get along really well and by many of their standards way too well. It is like I have no real balance between my comfort and a proper FRIENDship with others. Yet, it is the one thing that escapes the "success" column in my life frequently and often leads to deep cycles of depression and self-loathing. Not sure how to avoid people being attracted to me sexually, or how to avoid being uncomfortable.
Great article, though, with a lot of useful information.
Holley Hyler (author) from Upstate New York on January 21, 2020:
Thank you, Tory! I appreciate your kind response. It's very cool how the smallest and subtlest changes can have such a big impact on our vibe throughout the day.
Tery Peta from Bulgaria on January 21, 2020:
Spending less time on social media, finding time to start the day in a positive way and truly connecting with people really does help for having more energy and feeling less tired. Very well-written and lovely article.