Have you ever been surrounded by people who are complete and total “go-getters”? You know, the type who are always on the go and getting things done and setting goals and achieving all of these awesome things in life? And meanwhile, you’re just feeling exhausted from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, already tired before the day even starts?
Yup, we’ve all been there.
The truth is, there are seasons in our life when we feel anything but motivated and productive. There are seasons, sometimes for weeks and months, when we might feel lost and confused and completely directionless. We might wonder if we will overcome that feeling like we have absolutely nothing left to offer the world, our families, or ourselves. So, what do we do in those times when we have absolutely nothing left to give?
1. We can honor the present
I don’t know where you are at in your life that has led you to this place. Maybe you have gone through a loss or a job change or a move or some other transition in your life, but not matter what led you here, it’s important that you honor exactly where you are right now. That means not beating yourself up about what happened before or stressing about what is to come next, but simply acknowledging and accepting exactly where you are right this moment.
That might mean acknowledging some difficult emotions, from grief to anger to just flat-out exhaustion, but no matter what those emotions are, you need to allow them space to just “be.” Willing them away, pretending that they don’t exist, or trying to bury them will only cause bigger problems later on. So, acknowledge where you’re at now without judging yourself for being there.
2. We can take time for self-care
Ask yourself this: when was the last time you did exactly what you wanted? When was the last time you woke up and just asked yourself, What do I need today? Whether it be more sleep or a day off or simply an afternoon of reading a good book on the couch, can you name the last time you truly listened to your body and gave it what it needed?
It might seem impossible if you’re at a situation in your life when you can’t give your body everything it wants, like a full night of sleep or a trip to the beach, but chances are, there is something small you can do to honor what you need right now. Maybe that means skipping the dishes and resting more, maybe it means scaling back on work for now, or maybe that means treating yourself to a special item just because it makes you feel good, but whatever it may be that your body is asking for, take some time to really listen.
3. We can remember that nothing lasts forever
I recently went through a several months-long period of a hard time in my life. I had suffered a loss, had gone through some failures at work, and I had moved, all in a very short time period. And instead of granting myself some kindness and compassion to adjust, I initially beat myself up about it. Why wasn’t I stronger? Why couldn’t I handle life better? Why couldn’t I just snap out of it already?
Eventually, I was able to stop being so gosh darn hard on myself and realize that the only way to get over my slump was to let myself live in the hard part for a while. That meant realizing that just because I was struggling right now did not mean I would struggle forever. Would I lose my entire career if I took a few weeks off to indulge in some self-care? Of course not. Everyrone stumbles and falls and grows through growing pains through life and it’s the people who can use those experiences to learn from and grow through that will come out stronger in the end.
And you know what? In my case, I absolutely did. I let myself have several months to just “be” with my sadness and my grief and my hard emotions and I did lots of extra self-care: I committed to reading more, something that always makes me happy, to taking on less work, to eating nourishing, good food, and to moving my body in healthy ways, and to be kinder to myself. If one of my kids was struggling, what would I tell him or her? I tried to imagine the advice I’d give someone I love–and then follow it for myself. Eventually, I was able to move past the hard season and I soon realized that it wasn’t the life-long sentence I had imagined for myself. In the big picture, a few weeks of rest was not the end-all I thought it would be.
If you are at a point in your life when you feel like you have nothing left to give, then don’t. Stop giving to everyone else and instead, give yourself a little time to honor the place you’re in, to heal, and to rest. Give to yourself first so that you can get stronger and get back to giving your gifts to the rest of the world.