What I Learned in the First 49 Days of 2020

Before I get started with my tirade, let me say Happy Love Yourself Month!

Okay, down to business.

When I first began drafting this post, it was only twenty days into the new year and I hated everything. Ev-Er-Ry-Thing. Even the wind was pissing me off. And so was the cold. Yes, I know it is winter, but it does not have to be cold and windy. Please do not get me started on people. Humans were rubbing me the wrong way by merely existing.

It was clear by January 25th that I was exhausted, frustrated, and already burning out. I’m going to go ahead and be honest and say that in reality, I was done with everyone and everything by January 10th. January 16th, I had to put myself in timeout at work because I had dropped the f-bomb about three times too many before 10 am.

Now it is mid-February, and while I no longer feel like an angry, confused twelve-year-old convinced the world is against me, I am just starting to feel like my calm, rational, badass self.

I don’t blame myself. A lot has happened personally, professionally, and globally. However, I should have seen the signs and worked to get back in flow before I began barreling toward burn out.

Instead, my body made it clear that my efforts were not enough and forced me into submission with an extended period of the dreaded in-between state of catching a cold, which can sometimes be worse than having a cold. My body held me hostage for two weeks, and by the end, I ended up having two days off instead of the planned one and wasted another two because of bone-deep lethargy.

I talk about energy a lot. I talk about self-care and self-love, but I am also candid. One, the more you have going on the harder it can be to slow down and care for yourself. It can be difficult to find time to step away. Two, I am still very new at making myself a priority, so I am bound to slip and forget.

The sad truth is I should have known I needed a break when I noticed the consistent, almost uncontrollable urge to eat fried foods that began in mid-January. The sadder truth is, I should have refocused my energy when I started gaining weight, a clear sign of being out of balance, and indulging in the desired fried food.

It wasn’t like I wasn’t trying. I tried to meditate and do my shower ritual, but nothing worked. They were band-aids. Last I heard, a band-aid is rather useless for a five-foot wound.

Here we are. Two days post planned and forced rest.

The lesson is to watch your energy. Renew and rejuvenate often. Rest. If you don’t your body will attempt to force it on you through cravings, lethargy, illness, lack of productivity, avoidance, and any number of unproductive behaviors. Your body will continue to seek things that provide satisfaction until it gets what it really needs.

To combat the energy drain, schedule days off and do nothing. No errands, no chores, nothing. Find a streaming service and veg, or even better, sit in silence and relax. Draw, knit, read, or indulge in your hobby all day. Take a nap! There is value in good, uninterrupted, peaceful sleep. Laying down with your eyes closed for several minutes can also be effective.

The point is, it is never too late to correct the course and work on your energy. There are so many ways to do it. Personally, I had to do them all. Dance, read, blast music, do EAM, meditate, sleep, and eat snacks and lay in my bed for seven hours. It took a few days, but I no longer feel as though I’m spinning wheels in a mud pit. In fact, Tuesday I was productive for six solid hours at work without the jittery, unfocused, frazzled feeling that has plagued me for the last three weeks, and I finished this post.

Another important lesson I’ve learned is to know your trends and head them off.

My Fitbit tells me that for the past four years, I gain between three and fifteen pounds between January and March. Every year. My post about energy and setting boundaries was roughly around this time last year as well.

Clearly, I have evidence of a trend. I’m a smart woman. I understand statistics and habits, so where did I go wrong this year? I did not change my behavior. I did not plan for the trend and make adjustments to prevent it. Knowledge is power, but it’s just a bunch of brain clutter if behaviors do not change. And therein lie damning my mistake. Before today, it never occurred to me to do anything differently to break the cycle.

As I said earlier, I am a smart woman, I am excellent at spotting trends, and I pride myself on learning from my mistakes. So, I put notes in my calendar for next winter, including a reminder to take a day off to do nothing and one to not overindulge in my cravings. I also scheduled one day off once a month until December. After all, self-care needs to be intentional and purposeful to be effective.

What will you do to rejuvenate your energy?

Now for the song. It is a perfect song for a lazy day. To be clear, everyone needs a lazy day.

I do not own this video.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova