Tension and Tiredness can kill our creativity, our good sense, our will to live well.
How much harder it is to live the way we might choose to live when we are distracted by tiredness and tension caused by stress, pressure, lack of energy, burn out, rust out..or simply doing too much.
The difficulty can be that what we do about it can often create an illusion of helping and supporting us, but it doesn’t.
My favourite phrase is, ‘I’ll just finish this’…but if I rested at the point of tiredness, what I’m wanting to finish may be more polished and I may not end up so tired that I choose to do something that isn’t really helpful or healthy for me.
Watching television is great but sometimes it may seem like it is relaxing: sitting down, ‘doing nothing’…but often we are being overly stimulated and inactive in a way that knocks us further off balance and far from giving us energy, it takes more out of us.
Other times I know I head for something that has the illusion of being sustaining: an extra coffee that actually overstimulates me when I am already overstimulated; a quick fix of some salty peanuts or a chocolate bar that seems like it is comforting but actually numbs me out to what I may really need. It might be food that I need, but something more sustaining and not masked with the addictive qualities of sugar and salt. What about a piece of fruit we really like; a nourishing salad; a piece of cheese; a bowl of porridge and honey; a drink of hotwater, cold water, a fruit tea – something designed to give us real energy.
I now know that when I am tired or tense, sometimes I need very different things. It could be exercise; meditation; sleep or rest; it could be that I need to contact a friend and ‘chat’, ‘ let off steam’. Often for me, it is that I need to be out in the fresh air connecting with nature; it could be that I need to do something creative or challenging if I’ve been bored or still for too long. It depends entirely on which of my own personal tanks is empty at any given time.
I believe that there are certain behaviours that many of us go into which we think is regenerating us, only to find that it takes us further away from having our real needs met to ease tireness and tension.
How could we help ourselves know what we need at different times ?
We could spend a few days being especially aware of those times that we feel extra tired and tense. Try different solutions and write down five things that really work to help us feel more energised, less tired and more at peace. Keep that list handy for those times when we feel that restlessness, tension, tiredness – that feeling of ‘running on empty’ that we all get sometimes.
This is a way to help us achieve the goal of living our lives the way we really want to, a little more often. This is real freedom, the freedom that self awareness gives us.
I know that when I do this, and I certainly don’t do it as much as I would like, I feel a sense of lightness that comes from freeing myself from those old attachments: to past habits, to familiar reactions, to old patterns of behaviour that don’t really give me the energy I am now looking for.
This is helpful for us as counsellors and for our clients, especially when we are making changes in our lives.