Although it seems like it, this post is not about exercise – check through to the end to see why.
I was tired. All the time. My mind was a kind of haze, especially when I wanted to think about writing. I would go to bed early thinking that I could recharge my batteries and yet, the next morning I felt exactly the same. I would spend time relaxing, from watching TV and browsing the internet to going out with friends. I was exercising and I wasn’t physically tired, just mentally drained. I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back I was totally exhausted.
I’m constantly experimenting with the way that I work and looking back on this time, it seems pretty clear what the problem was.
I never shut off
I thought exercise was the answer. I remembered times in my life where I had lots of energy and I always associated it with exercise. But I was exercising and I felt tired. Then I realised that it wasn’t the exercise itself, or it wasn’t just the exercise. The way that I regained my mental energy in the past was by running… outdoors… without headphones.
I should start running again! So I did, and IMMEDIATELY I had more energy. I don’t mean in a day, or a week or a month. I mean that I went for a run and when I came back – my mojo had returned.
So the running was special. This never happened when I exercised in the gym, surrounded by people or with my music on. It only happened when I went outside. When I ran it felt like the wind was blowing through my head and clearing everything out. I would have random thoughts out of nowhere that applied to all different parts of my life and work. When I finished the run – I was ready to face anything! Everything that had piled up before now seemed manageable. It felt like I had run away, seen my problems from a far and now I was coming back with a renewed sense of perspective.
Running was how I discovered this, but like I said, it wasn’t the exercise per se that worked. For me, running is a form of meditation. Running is a way for my brain to escape for a while.
Back to the exhaustion
So, I was exhausted. I was exercising and relaxing but I was still exhausted. The problem was, as I said before that I wasn’t shutting off. My mind was always occupied. I finished work and watched TV or put some music on. I’d check the internet on my phone whenever I had a spare second. My brain was constantly being pulled in one direction or the other, but it was never allowed to just sit and do “nothing”.
Your brain will do amazing things if you just let it. I thought I was relaxing but I wasn’t relaxing my brain – not properly. I was feeding it junk food and letting it get out of shape.
Are you suffering like this?
Do you ever disconnect? Do you ever feel like I do when I go running? Do you ever meditate? If not then there’s a strong chance that you are closing in on mental exhaustion.
Make a change – clear you head – find your own way to meditate
And do it every day. For me, I found meditation through running. I know other people have found it in different ways such as preparing and drinking a cup of tea or coffee, or smoking a cigarette. Have a think about your routine and see where you could find a space to disconnect for 10-30 minutes. If I don’t go running I just sit and meditate.
Now I when I use the word meditate I know I’m using it with a certain amount of ignorance. I’ve never studied meditation or its use in spirituality and religion so my method is very simple. I just set a timer for 10 minutes, get in a comfortable seated position and close my eyes. I just sit there and try to think about nothing. I don’t resist thoughts popping into my head, I just don’t dwell on them and make sure that they can escape easily. The goal is always to have a completely empty mind.
I’ve never achieved this but the effect of meditating is similar to that of running. It’s like your brain is talking to you and telling you what you need to do. Without this time your brain can’t function properly and it’s not long before frustration and exhaustion set in.
What do you think? Do you agree? Is it nonsense? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.