Everybody’s tank runs out of gas. I’ve been pushing myself very hard lately. If you haven’t noticed, I am attempting to make this a daily blog. Put that on top of work for clients, daily drawings, household chores, exercise, book research, administering my website, running the Facebook page, & seeking new avenues of marketing to help my contributors then its no wonder that I only eat 1 full meal a day. I seem to run dry daily—but I’m starting to learn that that’s normal. That’s the way we’re supposed to function. We’re supposed to go to bed tired and sleep soundly. We have all been sold this idea that we’re allowed time to sit around and do nothing; that we deserve to loaf. But, sitting around doing nothing is how we get obese, it’s how our brains get dulled, how we sink into depressions and how we learn to use the word “bored.” But being tired isn’t something to complain about, neither is being bored. Being tired is our reward for action & boredom signals a lack of effort.
But how the hell do we recharge? How do we stop from working ourselves into migraine graves and fist fights of insomnia? Where do we find balance?
- Exercise — Several studies have suggested a strong connection between physical activity and the brain. One University of Georgia study shows that aerobic activity (walking, running, swimming) improves that brain’s ability to process information. Another study at ULCA shows evidence that exercise increases brain growth, specifically in regards to neuronal connections. In other words exercise makes your brain work better. A third study from Stockholmshows that physical exercise actually has anti-depressant effects. So if you’re feeling down or feeling unstimulated, get up and go for a walk. I try to do 5 miles a day (that’s approximately 10,000 steps for those of you wearing fitness trackers).
- Meditation — Maybe when I say meditation you think of patchouli oil and sitar music. Many people still think of meditation as hippie-dippie bullshit, but scientists are learning that mediation has actual and measurable physical and mental health benefits such as increased creativity and lower blood pressure. Prominent people such as Tim Ferriss (author of the 4-hour Work Week) and Kevin Rose (Entrepreneur & founder of Digg) both extol the benefits of mindfulness. Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington are both fans. Even Kaiser Permanente has a page on their website dedicated to meditation.
- Inspiration — Read a book. Go see a great film. Spend a day in an art gallery. Take a camera and wander through nature. Expose yourself to the great, the beautiful and the challenging. Inspiration, like food, is most effective when you chop, cook and dine off of quality produce. Do things you love, try new things, and attempt things that you fear.
- Quiet time — Find thirty minutes to do something quiet. This time is separate from meditation. Lay on the carpet and throw a football in the air. Sit on a cliff and watch the ocean. Just give yourself some time free of music, television, conversation, phones, tablets, computers & coffee stop patrons learning their throats. Grab a paper magazine or a paper book and sit on the couch. Give your ears and eyes a rest from blinking, beeping, squealing, flashing streams of information. Let the clock tick by without tracking. Let your mind absorb the idea of being where you are and breathe. This time isn’t about what you’re reading or doing, this time is about giving your mind time to digest the gluttonous amounts of information we toss down it’s throat. If you’re an insomniac, this is what you brain is trying to do all night. Schedule time-outs for your brain and in turn you will see that bed time will again become sleep time.
- Foster a positive outlook — Stop being a prick, especially to yourself. As tough and as awesome as we like to think we are, our minds are like putty. We shape them every second of every day with the knives and thumbs of our attitudes. People with defeatist attitudes are easily defeated; they drive re-bar through their feet before any battle has even begun. People who hate everything, hate themselves. They’re never happy because when something beautiful floats by they’re too busy, bent over looking for deer shit under leaves. And people who hate everything, well…most people hate them. So, focus on the things that you like. Don’t bother with the things you hate, unless you mean to actively fight to change them. (Complaining on Facebook doesn’t count. You’re just pissing vitriol into a dixie cup.) Learn to laugh more. Yes, learn. When you don’t laugh enough then you have to teach yourself to recognize humor again. And finally learn to be grateful. James Altucher suggests writing down ten new things a day that you are grateful for. Grateful people are less likely to be dicks. Grateful people don’t take habitual selfies. Gratitude fends off self-centered tendencies and it makes you a part of the human race by reminding you how reliant you are upon circumstance and other people.
I’m by no means an expert on any of these. It’s a daily struggle but incorporating even one into you life will have a noticeable effect. I thought for years I was too cool and too tough for this kinda crap, but anxiety, high blood pressure, depression and lack of creativity have beaten that arrogance out of me. I understand now that wheels need grease and engines need gas. Nobody is superhuman. Death axes us all evenly, the good and the cocky alike.