This month has been uncharacteristically filled with social events for me. Life is like that, isn’t it, at times very calm and other times not at all. At least mine is.
These social events have all been very pleasant, doing things I like with people I love. But the fact that they come one after another like this isn’t good for me. I need my rest, time to be alone and recharge.
My fatigue syndrome has made this very clear to me. I think I’ve always functioned this way, but before I could ignore it for a while and still be OK (until I ignored it to long and ended up burned out, of course). Nowadays, I feel that my energy level works much like the battery of my first Nokia phone did at the end: it takes a longer time than most to recharge, and then holds the charge very badly so it’s often on the verge of being empty.
All of these events were planned well in advance, so I’ve been trying to balance them up by being extra vigilant about rest and sleep. But lately I’ve had to remind myself to breathe as well – a sure sign of overload. There are still a few things waiting to happen, a couple of more events during the next couple of weeks and after that a totally empty calendar all the way to Christmas (no Thanksgiving in Sweden). So how am I planning to make sure to recharge enough that I manage to make it all the way there?
First by making sure I really do rest on the un-social days. I have the “no Internet after 6 pm” rule from this month’s challenge, that’s a part of it. That means that I can’t fill my head with new ideas or interesting facts, which my brain loves but burns a lot of energy while processing.
Same thing goes for my phone – all notifications by sound or light are turned off. I check for updates when I want to check, not when somebody else wants to inform me or the world of something. My friends are aware of the fact, and know that a delayed response doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring them, I’m just taking care of myself.
To help with the “no Internet after 6 pm”-rule I use an app called Offtime, which works great (for Androidphones, they are working on a version for iOS as well). It allows me to take precise control over what I can do with my phone at any set time: which apps I can use, if it can connect the Internet or not, even block incoming calls with options to let certain people through or sending them an automated message that I am offline but will be online again at the set time. These various settings can be saved as Profiles, so they can easily be started for a time I choose. And I can set a schedule in my calendar for when each set of Profiles should start automatically, which I have – automation is another help in saving energy.
(I’m in no way connected to this company, except by using the app, and have no economical interests in telling you about it. In case you were wondering.)
Currently I have my phone completely offline (even for calls) at 9 pm to 7 am, and 9 am to 1 pm (while I’m at work). And between 6 pm and 9 pm it’s open for calls only, and the use of certain apps: calendar, camera and photo-related, writing-apps – I do a lot of my non-longhand writing on the phone. (Note to self: Not very ergonomic. Maybe something to work with another month?).
I haven’t been watching TV or news for years now – all that random information about things I can do nothing about? Just stressinducing.
So what do I do? Take my evening walk. Do household chores. Hang out with the cats, and Mr Livslevandes when he’s not working nights. Listen to music. Read books. Write, both for this blog, but also as a way to focus my thinking on what’s important to me, right now. I sing in a choir, so practice for that takes some time. And I follow a couple of tv-series (a good story is a good story, in any form), on web-based services so I can watch when it suits me.
I also aim to get to bed in time. This time of year I need more than 7.5 hours of sleep (in the summer I can make do with 6.5-7, in the darkest winter I need 8 – and I try to follow my rhythm). Since I need to get up at about 7, and it takes me some time to actually fall asleep after I go to bed, I need to be in bed by 10.30 pm at the latest… I usually read for a while before I go to sleep.
It’s a very quiet life – but right now that’s what I need in order to have enough energy to truly enjoy the un-quiet times with my friends and family. And it’s also a very inexpensive way to live – good for the goal of frugality as well!