We’re not trying to make it complicated here. Sleep is the best thing you can do for your mind and body when you are feeling depleted.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced the effects of sleep deprivation before. Your response time is slower. Your ability to concentrate and think clearly is compromised. You might be more emotional and moody. Everything feels harder, and it’s because your brain isn’t functioning properly.
The best thing you can do when you’ve hit that wall is sleep. This will give your brain and body time to recover, rebuild, and heal.
Make it a #1 priority. Go to bed earlier or take an afternoon nap. It might sound like a crazy suggestion if you’ve never entertained the idea of an early bed time or a nap before.
You might be thinking, I don’t have time for that. I can’t do that. But, there is always a way. So choose sleep. Choose sleep over scrolling Instagram. Choose sleep over chores. Choose sleep over Netflix. Make it a priority. You will thank yourself for it later.
#2 Ask for help and accept it when it’s offered.
Delegate what you can to lighten your load.
It will give you a real chance to rest and recover.
Don’t downplay how you feel all because you don’t have a serious illness or you feel as though other people have it worse off.
You are allowed to ask for help. You are worthy of receiving support.
If it’s something you struggle to do, I get it. I used to feel like I was putting other people out. And then I would feel weak and incompetent for not being able to do things independently.
But what we’re forgetting in those moments are the beautiful flow on effects.
Think about the last time you were able to lend a helping hand or do someone a favour. Didn’t it feel good to help them out? Satisfying? Fulfilling?
Here’s the science behind it. When you help others, your brain releases oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine which boosts your mood and counteracts the effect of cortisol, the stress hormone.
So the next time you struggle to ask for help, reframe it.
Remember that it’s a feel-good opportunity for the helper. All those good feelings that you have experienced in the past when helping others—they get to feel it too.
It’s also chance to connect with that person on a deeper level because you’re being more vulnerable and maybe sharing a side of you that you haven’t shared before.
If that's not enough incentive, you’re also setting a positive example for others to take care of themselves. Your family and friends may feel more comfortable asking for support because you have normalised it.
So seek the support you need. The truth is, people genuinely want to support you, so let them. It will help welcome back a sense of ease.
#3 Make and keep those medical appointments.
If there is a lingering health condition or issue or you’re just not feeling quite right, trust your gut and go get it checked out.
The sooner you see a health professional, the sooner you can start doing the right things to recover. The sooner you’ll have the knowledge and awareness to make the changes you need to make.
When you have clarity on what’s making you feel so unwell, it’s easier to be kind to yourself because there’s a reason behind your fatigue or whatever symptoms you might be experiencing. There’s some logical explanation for how you feel.
It might feel like an inconvenience to go to the doctors—to sit in the waiting room—to go get a blood test, but I promise you, your future self will thank you.
#4 Cancel and retreat.
Give yourself permission to cancel and reschedule commitments so you can use that time to rest.
What you need right now is white space in your schedule. You need space to breathe, to recharge, to refuel. Your to-do list—your social calendar. It can wait.
People will understand if you're honest about it.
Let go of the guilt that comes from saying "I have to reschedule" or "I can’t make it" because showing up depleted doesn’t benefit anyone.
It doesn’t benefit you because you’re scraping the barrel for energy you don’t have. You can’t pour from an empty cup. So take the time to recharge, refuel and recover. Everything else can wait.
#5 Turn off notifications.
Notifications can be intrusive and stress-inducing. Consider switching off alerts for emails and social media and text messages so that you're not bombarded with untimely messages.
The goal here is to protect your mental wellbeing.
If you are already feeling depleted, you don’t need that additional noise. You don’t need to start the toxic cycle of comparison—of comparing your life to someone else’s highlight reel. It’s just not helpful.
Conserve your energy for other activities that are more mentally rejuvenating at this time.
#6 Drop all expectations.
Expectations are heavy and when you are already feeling depleted, they don’t benefit you in any way.
Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself.
It’s okay to do the bare minimum while you focus on replenishing your energy levels. Take it one moment at a time and forget the long list of to-do’s.
Now is not the time to push through at the expense of your wellbeing. Now is the time to stop, to pause, to listen to your body. There is nothing more important than your health and wellbeing.
Remember, there’s huge disparity between what you’re able to do when you’re feeling depleted versus what you’re able to do when you’re feeling energised and well rested.
You can’t expect yourself to function, let alone work at the same pace. You need to cut yourself some slack and remember that strength is not about pushing through. It’s about honouring your limits. It’s about choosing to rest. It’s about having the courage to ask for help. It’s about resisting the urge to do it all.