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How do you stay active? And get things going? A few little tips

Tuesday December 8, 2020

Various people wrote me or posted about this recently, and I thought it’d be good to answer here.

“How do you stay active, or get yourself moving?”

I used to force it. I don’t do that anymore—it was not good. Sometimes it has to be done, but thankfully that’s not most of the time. Here’s what I like to do now:

Rhythms and Waves

I like to feel out my ultradian rhythms, so to speak. This internal sense of various ups and downs has become easier to detect since I started to listen to my body.

I like to ask myself: Am I at a high-tide point, or a low-tide point? In which direction is the tide heading? And the important one:

“Can I take advantage of the direction?”

For example, if the mood-tide is low, but rising, can I plan to leave for a hike or a walk in about 15-20 minutes? That way I should hit a high point during the activity, and a suitable rest period just after.

In my experience, these cycles are usually around 90 minutes. (This is also helpful during really bad sickness).

When I feel tired and am trending down in energy, I find a way to rest:

  • I let myself yawn, sigh, lean back, slump over and drool, or whatever feels nice. Sometimes it feels really good to even exaggerate this a bit. It’s my way of reassuring my body: Take whatever time you need, I know you’ll help me out later.
  • I like to lay down if possible, but I don’t necessarily take a nap. I do some introverted activities (the past / my past) like re-listening to a favorite podcast, or re-reading a favorite book, etc. These activities are really easy on the mind and you already know you can expect a pleasant experience.
  • If I’m tired enough though, the benefits of even a short nap can be pretty amazing, so I’ll do that.
  • I like to turn on music that I like. I had a brief Zoom call during a low point recently, so I listened to a favorite album during the call. (I’m pretty sure no one else heard it, or they were very polite about it)

When I feel energetic, and am trending up in energy, I try to find a way to take advantage of the energy:

  • I may take a stimulant so that I can really harness my mental and physical resources.
  • I try to make it easy to get into tasks later, by planning or brainstorming.
  • I pick a variety of favorite activities, put them on a list, and make a little bit of progress. This feels really good.
  • If I need to do something involving extroversion, this is a really good time to do it. For example, planning out or visualizing the next steps on a big project, or giving someone a call. (Sometimes the call is best for the tail end of this kind of energy)
  • If I have been planning to do something generous, this is a really good time to carry it through, though it may not be the best time to conceive of the idea (see below).

Middle Ground

Sometimes the middle points are really nice, too. They help me to determine the emotional content of my plans, thoughts, intentions, etc. Usually if I had an idea to do something drastic, it needs to come down in tone a little bit. For example, if at a high point I decided to start a new project, I may need to circle back and make it easier to complete the project, by establishing a point at which I can call it done. Otherwise my expectations may be way too high.

Can you trust yourself?

Ask yourself:

  • Do I trust myself enough to let myself slack off or just rest during a low moment?
  • Do I trust myself enough to build on the high points and let myself be optimistic and creative?

For some of us, the answer is unfortunately “no.” If that’s you, I encourage you to find third-party standards, or just ask around to see where you measure up—compare how you use your time, or how often you take breaks, days off, vacations, etc.

Some of you who read my blog have set your standards way, way too high. And some of you have set standards so high that your doctor is worried about you! That’s important information, so please consider reaching out to professionals or friends and family, and finding ways to see how your levels compare, so to speak.

It never hurts to be gentle with yourself, so if the answer can be changed to “I don’t fully trust myself, I’m a slacker, but I’ll try new things and see how it goes,” I think that is a good way to make a really good start.

Filed in: Goals /52/ | Fitness /31/ | Procrastination /23/ | Productivity /119/ | Energy /120/

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