From Stress

A fresh look at philanthropy for the overworked parent

For the Love of Humankind: A Bit of Sanity for the Overworked Parent

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Philanthropy – a word from Greek origin that translates to “ for the love of mankind”.

A fresh look at philanthropy for the overworked parent

Philanthropists are generous, donating time and/or money where profit is not a motive. This idea, though still at the core of philanthropy, is evolving. Everyday people use their buying power to effect change when they support organizations that ‘give back’, are local (less environmental impact), support fair-trade, etc. I call it ‘conscious consumerism’ and you see it everywhere these days. Many businesses have it built into their philosophy where employees are paid to donate time for a cause, where corporate sponsorship, business-lead fundraising (think of 5km runs for cancer, walks for muscular dystrophy etc.) are the norm. So how does this relate to parenting?

It comes down to mindset. Who comes to mind when you think of a philanthropist? You may think of Andrew Carnegie for which Carnegie Hall in New York City is named, or Bill Gates and his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. Both Carnegie and Gates were wise businessmen, set on amassing fortunes often before their generous spirit was sparked. The kind of philanthropy they and many who amass millions are associated with comes with brand or name recognition, and there’s nothing wrong with that, often a name helps attract and initiates further generosity, which is great. Carnegie believed his purpose (and that of industrialists) was to first accumulate wealth and to follow that by distributing the wealth to benevolent causes. In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffet launched the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy. Though I have certain issues with the Gates Foundation (why not make computers that don’t become obsolete is what many argue and I would agree), the Foundation does amazing work in so many fields across the globe. But what about your neighbor, who picks up two other kids from your street afterschool and looks after them, free of charge, until thier working parents come home? Take a look in the mirror. What about you?

Since working on a book on philanthropy with Gena Rotstein of Dexterity Ventures (www.dexterityventures.ca) how I look at philanthropy and the work I do as a parent has been changing. I would’ve never thought myself a philanthropist before. Sure, I’ve donated dollars to support friends and colleagues in their donation pledges and I’ve run in a number of charity runs, but that wasn’t philanthropy, or so I though. It counts of course, but in my mind that wasn’t real philanthropy. The writing I’ve been doing with Gena Rotstein has been about actualizing what philanthropy can glean from a business – asking questions, having a goal and strong vision, being accountable – these are just a few business applications that are reshaping the landscape of philanthropy and have reshaped how I began to look at parenting as a kind of philanthropy. I’m donating LOTS of time and energy to raising a decent human being – one who is courteous, mindful, respectful, brave, thoughtful, inquisitive, playful, and innovative. This is not for personal gains alone. My son is going to outlive me of course, but before that his outreach is going to extend way beyond my personal world. Am I parenting so I can boast that he has manners and gets good grades? Not at all.

When you think about, it’s not a stretch, to see that when we engage in mindful parenting (and yes, that clause is important because I don’t think it’s applicable always, like when I let the TV run, I’m not being mindful though that’s ok too), aren’t we doing so “for the love of humankind?”

I’m not suggesting anything beyond opening up our minds to what parenting is. That in those tough moments when things don’t seem to being going right, when he’s not listening, when you are pressed for time and struggling to find patience to be kind when your kid is shouting no at you and you strive to look beyond the scene playing out in front of you. Think of me. Think of your neighbours. Think of your children’s future acquaintances. Go beyond that scene, take a breath and then respond. What happens when you think, this is not about me, or him, but how can I act here, now, that will change our future interactions for the better? This is philanthropy at it’s core – generating time, a huge dose of patience to practice asking how your actions can move beyond solving the immediate to solving the immediate AND effecting change in the future. Sounds pretty great doesn’t it? You act in a way that gets you out of a bind but is also generous to everyone else around you by engaging with your child in a way that suggests accountable actions (both yours and his) in the future. It’s a pretty great investment. It’s hard to see it like that sometimes, but it’s helped me in some of those moments and I offer it here, as possibly helping you step beyond a tense scene for a great cause: for you, your child, for me. For the love of humankind.

 

*For more doses of the philanthropist mindset Kim is starting a Daily Donation on her blog WhiteSpaceBlackArt.com where you can find generous spirit motivators useful to parents and non-parents alike and information on various charities doing work in all realms of outreach that have to do with our future: children.

 

Practical suggestions for mindful living.

Mindful Living

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Practical suggestions for mindful living.I know I’m not the only one lying awake at night thinking of our hurting world. I hold my babies tighter not sure of their future and what it might look like. I say this with a compassionate attitude towards those that are truly suffering. I’ve been feeling empathy pains and aches for those people whose lives have been shattered and live in fear on a daily basis.   In order to keep moving forward, I choose to focus on the moment and pay attention to what’s in front of me.  “Be present,” said Ms. Lei, J’s teacher during her Empathy Parenting workshop a month ago.  She gave an example of when we treat ourselves to a cup of coffee. Often we are instantly pulled in six different directions, breaking the silence, and missing it’s greatness.

“When you are in the now,” she said, “you will be aware of every last sip.”

Every.last.sip.

What a wonderful idea and journey we could all take through life. She shared with us the children’s daily routine of circle time at the beginning of each day. By asking each child to “come into the circle and feel your breath,” she’s inviting them to be present and practice mindfulness.

I challenge us all to begin to live our lives this way. When a friend shares with you her struggle over her child’s behavior, put aside your to-do lists and personal struggles. Be in the moment. Practice empathy friendship. This could just be undivided conversation and a hug or offering to babysit. If your child is struggling to put on his shoes and your arms are full of library books, purse, water bottle, and you’re halfway out the door. Stop. Put everything down (you can huff and puff in your head, if it helps) and help him through the struggle. If your partner seems tense from work (and if you two can grab a moment alone) lend an ear to those struggles, even if you have no idea what their job entails.

Mother Teresa said “small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace.” This is absolutely true. Tuck that note into your kids lunchbox. It might just be the lift they need to get through a tough day of middle school. Pick up dinner for a family of five,  just because. Practice random acts of kindness. I can say with absolute certainty that the reward will be two fold. You get to make someone’s day but the joy in giving will be all yours.

In addition to mindful living, recognizing what we’re grateful for can also lift our spirits.

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10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter

10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter

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Life has gotten so much busier since Jack started half-day school, 5 days a week. I truly thought life would breathe a little easier once the school year began. Although I laugh every day at my naiveté, we couldn’t be happier with the decision to send him to our small, heartfelt Montessori school. He runs right into class every day.  It makes me so proud to see him loving this new part of his life but I have to admit that I’ve felt a wave of emotions these last several weeks. My little boy is in school! Our long days together have come to an end. Sniff. Sniff. Etc. Etc.

Need a pick me up? Check out these ideas for appreciating the moment.

In times of big change and big emotions I like to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look around at all the little things that make my day brighter. The following is a list (with helpful links) of my ten favorite things of the moment.

  1. I purchased this bento box from Zulily.com nearly two years ago in anticipation of making school lunches. Am I the only one who can’t pass on a good deal?  I thought it would be a great way to eliminate Ziploc bags and even more fun to get creative with food. Boy, was that an understatement.  I’ve had a total blast (most mornings) making food fun for little dude. Sliced cheddar in the shape of tiny teddy bears was a big hit.
    bentolove
  2. If you want to give yourself a kick in the pants, GET A FIT BIT. The holidays are coming up. Make sure to get your letter to Santa in the mail now.
  3. After Pops gets Jack to school in the morning, it’s an absolute treat when his sister graces me with an extra hour of slumber because that means I can have my favorite breakfast-of-the-moment in solitude. There is no better start to the day than with a bowl of blueberry oatmeal and a piping hot cup of coffee.
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  4. On the days that I’m thrown in the driver seat full throttle I turn to my new friend The Complete Cookie. These little vegan, kosher nutritional gems are conveniently perforated into two servings. For a full cookie it’s 16 g protein and 6 g of fiber. They have many delicious flavors but at this moment peanut butter cookie is my favorite.
  5. Two books that I would highly recommend…
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    Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book. This is one of those grab in a fire things for me. It is so wonderful to look back on my babies’ lives and see what they were doing each day and how they’ve changed. This is a wonderful gift you could give to new parents. There have been many days when Albert has picked up the pen and taken over too. I love that this book is chocked full of love and so much pride. What a treasure!
  6.  Small Victories (Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace) by Anne Lamott. She is such a breath of fresh air. I laugh, cry, and ponder when I read her books.
  7. Tortilla wraps have become a bit of an obsession for me. I’m especially fond of the big spinach ones by Mission that only set me back 210 calories. The following is a quick list of what I’ve put in wraps lately; Spring mix, spinach, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, smoked Gouda cheese spread, black beans, crab cake, tuna salad, Trader Joe’s roasted eggplant dip (2 tbsp 30 calories), hummus, peppers, cucumbers, pasta salad, cannellini beans, edamame, etc. The list goes on and on. The key to a healthy, happy wrap is portion control with a variety of fillings. So yummy and for someone who gets in a rut with meals, perfect.
  8.  When I saw these Saucony tennies (found here on Amazon) on the sale rack at Nordstrom ($25!!!) I knew they were coming home with me.  My Emmaline has a teeny tiny fondness for all things shoes. I blame it on her Nana and her turquoise sequined house shoes that E has been after since birth. My Mom informed me recently that those slippers have been bequeathed to my sweet daughter. For now, she will have to slum it in these wee things.
    shoes
  9. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer & Hello Light Liquid Brightener. These early mornings aren’t doing my under eye area any favors. I picked this up at Ulta for half off during their recent 21 days of beauty. A Beauty Blender sponge works really great with this product.
  10. Radio Flyer Ultimate Wagon. This contraption was a well thought out purchase for us. Sadly we have not taken it to an amusement park or major outdoor excursion yet, but those times they are a coming. We have been enjoying this as a way to wind down our evening taking a nice stroll after dinner and before we settle in to the night time routine. It’s easy enough for big boy to pull when he feels inclined and handles like a dream. Cup holders and a pouch that fits a good sized picnic are also a plus.

I would love to hear about all the little happy things that bring joy to your lives, especially on those slumpy days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution: How I Stopped Worrying And Embraced The Fight

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Conflict ResolutionBeing a parent is not easy on a normal day. But then, there are those ‘other days.’

If you have not had a day where you wanted to take an ice pick to the ol’ retina, then my friend, you have not been tested like I have as a parent.

And, trust me, I am a proponent of parenting. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Sure it’s also the most challenging thing. But, nothing is quite as good without the challenge, or at least, that’s what the inspirational memes say on Google, the ones I seek out at 11:30 at night to reassure myself.

If you have multiple kids, then you know all about conflict. There are conflicts, many conflicts within a day.

Conflicts can eat you alive if you don’t have a plan. I can’t tell you what is best for you, but I do have a plan, and these next words may seem crazy, but stay with me:

EMBRACE THE CONFLICT

It is going to happen, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, as sure as we need nutrients to live (unless you’re a 5-year-old that can live off a strict diet of graham crackers and peanut butter), it is known that my son will snatch my daughter’s favorite possession right from her hands (which then becomes the only toy in the house and the last toy ever made) and run. I know my daughter will chase after him, yelling and screaming. It will happen.

What to do? Take it all in. This is really what having a sibling is after all, and the kids relish it, so why shouldn’t I?

APPROACH CALMLY

After I hear a conflict, I first check to see who’s going to be the adult to mediate, if I hear the wife’s footsteps, then I back out like a dump truck on a crowded street. (beep, beep beep).

But, if it’s me, I approach willingly. Take a deep breath, hold it in, and gently breath out. If I do that before I get involved, two things will happen:

  1. I will not burst out laughing at the (occasional) absurdity of the situation.
  2. I will keep my own emotions in check – allowing their emotions to be at the forefront, and leaving my own frustration back on the couch where I belong.

ACKNOWLEDGE AND VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS

As easy as it would be to set up a judicial system, with myself as the supreme overlord, it would not help my children understand why they’re fighting, and it teaches them nothing about how to handle an argument down the road, when they are adults.

Most importantly, I want my kids to know that their feelings matter. I want them to learn empathy, so model it I must. Therefore, at this point, the only questions is “You look really upset, what happened?” I really try to feel the feelings of my child. This shows them that they are entitled to whatever emotion they are having. Young children don’t always recognize their especially powerful emotions, so once we can suss out the emotions being felt, I try to label those feelings for future reference.

Many of these feelings, I, as an adult, don’t have much anymore. Try and imagine the last time you actually cried because someone at work had something for lunch that you wanted and you will see what I mean. It’s important to try and be in touch with these feelings, for their sake.

GATHER MORE INFORMATION

Once the emotions have been appropriately labeled and validated, the children are more likely to be forthcoming with further information. So I listen closely, then restate what I hear “So, your brother put your cereal bowl on his head and wore it like a hat, is that what made you upset?” This is called Sportscasting and a quick Google will give you further examples. I try to be as impartial as I can be. I don’t want to take sides, or lay blame. I try to direct all the dialogue to the other child, “tell your brother, not me.”

HELP THEM FIND A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM

When I was a child, the solutions to conflicts with my brother were easy. There were only two possible solutions:

  1. Run for my life and find my parents
  2. Run for my life and not find parents (be pounded by big brother)

As a parent, I want better (and more) solutions for my own kids, and I want my kids to learn to be the ones to find these solutions.

This requires the largest commitment in this process: Patience. You may feel the urge to quickly drop down some solutions so you can move on. Fight this feeling – remember – you’ve embraced the conflict and here is your reward: you get to hear your kids come up with some ways to fix it – and here’s the beauty – It doesn’t even have to be fair. Nope, you don’t have to look out for the underdog. If they both agree to it- then you’re golden!

Finding a solution may take time in the beginning, depending on the severity of stubbornness of your child (My son is at a nuclear level) and that’s OK. You can suggest ideas after they’ve had time to come up with your own. But eventually, it will be fast: “Take turns.” “Set a timer!” – to referee the length of said turns – and oh the glory of it!

BE PREPARED TO BE A LIFELINE LATER

When are you most likely to get a speeding ticket? 3 blocks from your home. What is the hardest part of your Everest adventure? The way down.

When is it most likely to have a reoccurrence of a conflict? Within 1 minute of solving the problem. So, don’t go screaming “home free” yet. Stay around for a minute –or-2, and consider yourself a resource in this time. This is such an important time, where the solution goes into practice. Try to regale in this victory, and congratulate your kids on their victory in problem solving. Live in the moment, because guess what? The conflict will return. Only in time, you’ll love it (see step 1) and your children will be a bit more prepared for it each and every time.

{The teaching application of conflict resolution via HighScope can be further researched in the book: You Can’t Come To My Birthday Party!I think this is also a great resource for parents.}
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Fight Flight Freeze

Fight, Flight or Freeze. My Responses to an Attempted Assault.

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Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I decided to take a break from writing about parenting. Instead, I wrote about an experience I had pre-children.


Fight Flight Freeze. Response to Attempted Assault.

Five guys in a car. Two in the front, three in the back.

My friend and I walk alone on a Sunday night. It is 10 pm.

We knew better than to walk alone. In this particular South American country, where I have been living for three years, women don’t walk alone on a Sunday night when the bars, restaurants and stores are closed. We tried to call a taxi, but it didn’t show. Usually, there is one on the street, but on this night, the streets are desolate. Six blocks we walk. We talk about the academy awards, which we have just seen at a friend’s apartment with cable. These are the days before everyone has a cell phone, internet, and live streaming technology.

A half block before the street dead ends at my front door, we see the car—a red, Mazda sedan. A friend of mine drives the same model. I think it is my friend as the car slows. Gliding close to the curb, the door opens and a foot hovers above the sidewalk. A man suddenly stands before us. There is an empty parking lot to our right. “This is not good,” I say to my friend before the man steps closer. “I know,” she replies. And that is the last sound I consciously process. In memory, the rest is silent.

April is sexual assault awareness month. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 women in the United States and 1 in 59 men have been raped in their lifetimes. Because rape often goes unreported, the statistics are probably higher. While many women fear the possibility of a sexual assault while walking alone in a parking garage or on a desolate street, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that most victims know their attacker. Many times, the perpetrator is the victim’s friend, classmate, neighbor, coworker, or relative. Because victims are still sometimes blamed for the assault, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center points out that “it doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, no one asks to be raped.” It is also important to highlight the fact that no one knows how he or she will react in a dangerous situation.

childreninhellIn my own dangerous situation, my reaction boiled down to a concept I learned in Psychology 101: Fight or Flight. Basically, my consciousness reverted to survival mode. I stopped thinking, my autonomic nervous system took over, and I ran. I didn’t even realize that I had run until my consciousness returned, and I was no longer standing in front of the man. I was in front of the car, probably trying to cross the street, so that I could reach the one or two bars/hostels open on a Sunday night. My logical mind had returned, because I had a decision to make. Two of the other men were getting out of the car to get me. I turned away from the men, and I saw my friend. She hadn’t fought or flown. She had frozen. The man held her close by the shirt with one hand and was repeatedly punching her in the face with the other. Without thinking, I threw a 64 ounce water bottle at the man. Known for my clumsiness, I could never make a basket or play any kind of sport, but the bottle struck him straight in the head, stunning him for a few seconds. The next thing I knew, I was back in front of the man pulling his arm away from my friend so that he couldn’t pull her into the car. I was in fight mode, and none of my actions stemmed from conscious decision. Suddenly, the man released his grasp, and he slipped back into the car. And just like that, the car was gone.

When my friend and I looked up, we saw a guard from one of the neighboring hotels. “Run! Get to your homes! They’ll be looking for you,” he said. Within a minute, we made it to my apartment, locking the large wooden door behind us. My friend’s face was bloodied and badly bruised, but we were safe. Both of balconyus, even my friend who had received the brunt of the attack, were lucky.

Later, when talking about the incident to my neighbors, I discovered that I had screamed repeatedly for help. They told me that they recognized my voice, and that all the neighbors had gone out to their balconies to yell at our attackers. The guard had obviously heard the commotion and come to help. While I may have briefly tried to help my friend, my neighbors and the guard had truly saved us. After all, without anyone’s help, those five men could have easily forced both of us into their car. I was truly grateful to all of them.

I do not know if men intended to rape us, but the possibility was there. It was a close call that changed my life. To date, I never walk alone after dark. I am more aware of my surroundings, the cars passing, the people surrounding me, the avenues to safety. My friend, who had only lived abroad for a few months, cut her trip short and returned home. I didn’t blame her. She didn’t have years of positive interactions to counteract such a negative experience, and she had been the true victim in the attack. For me, I viewed the experience as an unfortunate blip in an otherwise rich experience. People had generally treated me well during my time abroad. Women, who ran food stalls, invited me to their homes for dinner. People had kindly listened to my broken Spanish, encouraging me to learn more, teaching me with patient corrections, and painstakingly pieced together my ill-formed communications. Others had directed me and lent a hand when I had gotten lost. My neighbors brought me fresh mint, chamomile and lemon grass when I got sick. For the most part, other than a few incidences of being pick-pocketed, I had felt relatively safe. After all, the city where I lived had a much lower violent crime rate than a city of comparable size in the United States. The attack could have happened anywhere in the world.

What shocked me about the experience is that I didn’t have any control over how I reacted. While I had previously imagined how I might react to an attack, that imagined reaction had little to do with reality. Again, because a victim has little control over a crime, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of not blaming the victim. It is also important to define what that crime means. The National Sexual Violence Center defines sexual violence as an incidence where “someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent.” In crimes of rape, the concept of whether or not someone gives consent is essential. In our situation, because the perpetrators were strangers, most people would view us as not giving consent to our assault. However, in situations where the victim knows his/her assailant, the waters unfortunately become murkier in the public’s view.

People not only question the behavior of the rape victim prior to the crime, they also question their reaction to it. In 2012, a Superior Court Judge in California was reprimanded for claiming that a woman wasn’t raped because she “didn’t put up a fight.” Jenny Wilkinson bravely narrates her own rape and discusses her critics, who blamed her for the rape because she had been drinking and didn’t fight back. The fact that her rapist had drugged her did not matter to them. However, even if a victim isn’t drugged, neuropsychologists discuss the complex chemicals that get released in the brain when presented with trauma. This is why police officers often don’t believe a rape victim. In her presentation of the Neurobiology of Sexual Assault, Rebecca Campbell discusses how various neuro-chemicals cause rape victims to have lapses in memory or even act loopy (the body releases its own natural opiates to protect the body from pain). During the attack, as discussed above, the brain and neuro-chemicals can prompt a person to fight or flee. However, the hormonal activation by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenals can also trigger an entire shutdown in the body. In other words, the victim shuts down as a reaction to trauma and physically cannot fight back. This was my friend’s reaction to her assault in South America and many victims’ reaction to a rape. They simply freeze.

If I had never been in any kind of traumatic situation, I wouldn’t have fully understood just how out of control you are. While I both fought and flew during the assault that night in South America, I cannot promise that I wouldn’t react differently in another situation, on another day. I cannot promise that I wouldn’t freeze.


References:

The Transcript from “The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault,” by Rebecca Campbell, P.h.D.

Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

Statistics: CDC, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN

Types of Sexual Violence

Ways to Get Help Following Assault

National Sexual Assault Hotline for the US: 1-800-656-HOPE 

Feeling Exhausted?

Feeling Exhausted? Try These Quick Pick-Me-Ups

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Feeling Exhausted?

I am exhausted.

Exhausted = completely worn out, having trouble thinking and concentrating, body and soul tired, running on empty.

 

I don’t get this way often, but it has been a particularly grueling month or so. A kidney infection that won’t go away (since August). A trip for Davis and I to say goodbye to my Granny while she was still somewhat lucid (Alzhiemer’s). A few days in the hospital for a migraine that is now on week 5. Launching a new blog (from a hospital bed, even). Bidding for a large project for my small business. A mad dash to the airport (with kids in tow) to make it to New Orleans before my Granny died. Her death. Helping my kids process their grief. Winning and staffing that new project. Two memorial services. Managing my own grief.

Those are just the highlights, because I still had all the normal stuff going on – managing a household, parenting, and running a small business. Like I said – I am exhausted.

This litany isn’t meant to be whiny or a pity party – sometimes life just piles on.

I know I’m not the only person who has ever felt worn out like this. You’ve probably been there too.  A major project at work that is behind schedule, meaning late nights. The flu bug that slowly works its way through your entire family. The hot water heater that just went out or the roof that needs replacing. A tween who is just starting all those hormone surges. A best friend who is in the middle of an emotionally difficult divorce. A kid with 3 missing assignments – in ONE class. You know how it feels to be exhausted, too.

The specifics really don’t matter. The reality is that life can leave you worn out from time to time. Once you realize what’s going on, it’s time to do something about it. None of us like feeling beat down – so pick yourself up! Here’s what works for me:

  1. Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that this is a tender time. Don’t over-extend yourself. Say no. Make time to do the things that bring you joy and energy. Give yourself a break if something slips. Temporarily avoid people and situations that make you angry or upset.
  2. Hit the gym. Don’t overdo it. Raise your heart rate. Limber up those tense muscles. Release those endorphins that make you feel good.
  3. Protect your sleep. You know how much sleep you need to feel refreshed. Plan for it. Use good sleep hygiene practices (like no TV watching in bed, keep the room cool, etc… My sleep hygiene is awful and so are my sleeping patterns). Get your circadian rhythms back in sync – turn down lights a few hours before bedtime and open your curtains to let the sunlight help wake you in the morning.
  4. Stop Feeling ExhaustedEat. Put some nutrients in your body. When stressed and pushed for time, it’s easy to eat fast food. Stop! Go to the store and get some fresh veggies and lean proteins. (My favorites are zucchini, carrots, roasted cauliflower, beets or brussel sprouts, shrimp, roasted chicken, and grilled skirt steak.) Don’t make it complicated, just get some good vitamins and minerals into your system. You can even add a V8 or a nutrition drink like Boost or Ensure.
  5. Increase your H2O intake. Being low on water can make you feel run down. This is a no-brainer. Pick up the pace of your water intake. Make sure you aren’t unnecessarily adding to that exhausted feeling.
  6. Laugh. Call a friend your funniest friend. Scour YouTube for the most ridiculous blooper reel.  Look at those stupid cat videos that make you giggle. Whatever it takes, do that one thing that is sure to lighten your mood, to make you laugh and put a smile on your face. Laughter is a great stress-reliever and mood elevator – take advantage of it!
  7. Get social. Call a friend to talk. Eek out a little extra time at lunch to eat with a trusted co-worker. Plan a couple’s date night. Being social can be a means for emotional support or just a well-deserved break.
  8. Plan a break. For whatever reason, your current routine has you run down and exhausted. Plan ahead for a time you can take some time off. It may be a short shopping trip on your own or a long vacation with your spouse. Plan something you can do this week, plan something you can do this month, and plan a longer break that you can look forward to in the future.
  9. Get outside. Sun. Fresh Air. It doesn’t take much time in the sun to boost your vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamins D and B can make you feel fatigued. You’re totally crammed for time, so combine your outside, sunshine, time with a quick walk or a easy meditation.
  10. Yoga. Meditation. A regular yoga or meditation practice can lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone), soothe tense muscles, improve functioning for people with chronic health conditions. Even if you’ve never tried yoga or meditation – check it out. Find a local class or a YouTube video or App that’s geared for beginners.

None of this is rocket science, but in the middle of major stress, simple reminders can be helpful. Making easy changes like this can lighten the load when you feel exhausted. Hopefully your recognition that you are exhausted, along with the help of a good friend and some simple self-care measures will have you back to normal quickly. If making simple changes, like these, isn’t helping, think about whether you may need a doctor’s help to feel better.

Exhaustion can be a sign of physical illness or depression,  sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between them. Your doctor can help. Go get a check up. If you have feelings of sadness that last more than a few days and interfere with your ability to manage everyday tasks, especially sadness that interferes with sleep, eating, concentrating, physical aches & pains or are associated with feelings of hopelessness, talk to your doctor and ask for help.

Resources for Stress Relief:

30 Guide to Getting Started with Yoga – Men’s Health

Yoga Basics – REI

13 Foods that Fight Stress – Prevention Magazine

12 Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep – Harvard Health

Resources for Depression:

What is Depression? National Institute of Mental Health

Depression Overview – National Alliance on Mental Illness