Twelve Tips to Eliminate Exhaustion in the New Year
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
How much different would life be if exhaustion wasn’t a factor? It is normal to be physically overwhelmed from long hours at work, ungrateful children, overload of electronic stimulus, and tiresome relatives. But some exhaustion is much deeper.
It stems from unmet needs, expectations, ambitions, and hopes. It is compounded by tragedies, disappointments, rejections, and harsh realities. And it encompasses nearly every aspect of life without prejudice. So this year, instead of adding one more thing to an overburdened schedule, how about eliminating exhaustion?
To make this task even more manageable, try focusing on just one item per month. Most habits are set within 30 days so incorporating a new concept each month can make this year considerably better.
1. January: Plan. Start off the year on a good note by calendared all major events for the year. There are several very good on-line calendars and apps that can be viewed on a variety of devices. Some of them even include “To-Do” lists and invitations for other family members to join. Developing a pattern of placing all events on a calendar can prevent conflicts within a family unit. A good rule is: Whoever calendars an event first gets priority. This will encourage everyone to participate.
2. February: Prepare. It is difficult to prepare for a crisis. However, each day should have a scheduled time to handle emergency events, so when they occur, it is easier to cram them into a schedule. Blocking off 30 minutes in the morning and late afternoon for family and work calamities helps with the last minute “Oh no, I forgot.” It is amazing how planning for unknown predicaments reduces the tension of them.
3. March: Purge. Spring is the traditional time for cleaning out the closets. This year, be intentional about eliminating anything that is not truly loved or valued. Clothes that have not been worn in a year should be given away to a charity. Items that are no longer useful or working should be thrown away. Removing the excess clutter from life allows it to be lived more simply.
4. April: Rest. One of the most difficult things to do is to be intentional about taking time to rest. Our bodies naturally demand rest through sleep and our minds need it as well. Try setting aside a full 24 hour block of time for restful activities each week. It could be from 6pm one day to 6pm the next. Use this time to relax with friends, binge-watch a program, get a massage, or read a book. Do not use this time to clean, work, pay bills or argue.
5. May: Reset. Unmet expectations about family, work, friends, and community contribute greatly to exhaustion. This is the month to examine each hope, belief, or anticipation to see if it is realistic given this phase of life. Having a perfectly clean house might be a realistic expectation when there are one or two adult people living there but is likely unrealistic when there are children. Resetting these standards to more obtainable levels brings peace to a home environment.
6. June: Recreate. This month, find time to expand creativity and return to activities done for fun. As a person ages, there is a temptation to be purposeful with each action. But hobbies completed just for enjoyment add significant value. Being creative and imaginative can expand a person’s cognitive abilities to think outside of the box. This frequently brings about clever and inventive problem solving solutions to other issues.
7. July: Strategize. Typically this is the time for taking family vacations while the kids are out of school. So while enjoying this family time, begin the discussion about future vacation and holiday plans for the upcoming year. Be deliberate about making plans for family, work, school and community activities that incorporate the uniqueness of each member. This is the time to dream big.
8. August: Support. A strong functional support system requires healthy boundaries with friends, family and work. Think of a boundary as skin. It is used to hold the insides of our bodies in place but also to keep out bad potential infections. Boundaries with people serve the same purpose. It keeps the healthy ones close and adds distance to the unhealthy. Evaluate the borders to see if perhaps some changes need to be made and then have the courage to make them.
9. September: Stimulate. It takes time to establish new friendships. Be purposeful in seeking out relationships with people who are growing, challenging, calming, or exciting. Take a chance on opening up to someone new and look for positive reciprocal responses. So few are willing to take the first step in expanding a friendship, preferring it remain at a safe arms-length distance. Be different, make the first move.
10. October: Advance. Once a year, old goals should be evaluated and new ones set. Don’t be like others who go through the motions of life without premeditation. Take a step forward this month and be bold in goal setting. Focus on one major goal for the year. Then take other long-term goals and break them up into smaller accomplishments which can be done over the next 12 months. Forward motion begins with one step at a time.
11. November: Appreciate. This is the perfect month to be reflective and appreciative of the things that have gone well and the people surrounding. Take time to send a note of thanks to someone from the past. Be grateful for the gifts and random acts of kindness others have shown. Purposefully seek out opportunities to express gratitude to those who serve others. A grateful heart can soften harsh company.
12. December: Activate. As the year concludes, take time to evaluate progress and select a focus for the New Year. Perhaps it is a word or phrase that will define a singular focus such as simplify, trustworthiness, patience, or kindness. Every year, choose a different virtue to concentrate on improving, just like this past year’s focus was on eliminating exhaustion. This will enhance perseverance and purpose in life.