Monday, May 6, 2013

Life Changing Advice for the Exhausted and Irritable: Stay at 60%

This morning, my friend tells me her secret for sanity in the midst of pursuing a Ph.D., raising young children, maintaining a great marriage, and hosting neighborhood events.

"I live at 60%."

"What do you mean?" I turn to her, curious and confused.

"Some women live their lives at 90% capacity. They are already nearly at their energy expenditure limit each day. So when a new stressor adds into the mix, they explode. They go ballistic. They're atomic bombs that go off in their own homes."

"That was me last night," I confessed. The tiniest comment from a child set me off into tears.

"But if you live at 60% of your energy capacity, you're ensuring you have buffer for emergencies and any changes. You're able to deal with life as it happens. You have reserves."

She walks on, smooth and carefree, while I'm chasing after her to learn more.

"How do you live at 60%? What's the secret?"

"Well, I was chronically ill for six years, so I know how to ask myself what I have to offer energy-wise each day. Then, I do even less to protect myself from what might come. I say 'no' a lot. And I know what I need to reenergize."

She lives less than what she's actually capable of each day. Instead of do more, it's do less.

I live at 99%--nearly maxed out, wild, multi-tasking, over-producing, checking-off-my-to-do-list kind of living.

I want to live at 60%. I need to live at 60%. I think I need to slow my own children down as well.

I don't want to snap at my family because I have no reserves. I don't want to raise my voice because I'm maxed out. I don't want to fret when the car needs repair, if dinner burns, or if a supervisor gives me a new assignment.

Today, I slow down. I don't jam everything in. And sure enough, at 2:00 PM, a neighbor calls with an emergency. I was ready. I had energy to spare.

The Robin knows this. I check the nest today, and she has stopped laying eggs. The nest, with four gorgeous eggs, is at capacity. Natural processes tend to stick within their boundaries. Animals rarely do too much on purpose.

Living with flair means living at 60%.

What do you think about this advice?


Lori said...

So true. I too live with chronic illness. I know that in a flare state I cannot do more than 2 hours of high level stress a day. But it took a lot of crash and burn scenarios to learn that. Better to live slow and enjoy

Kathy R. said...

I love this.
Your blog is the first I read in the morning because it is refreshing, honest, original, insightful and spiritual. Thank you.

LivewithFlair said...

Thank you, Kathy! I'm so glad the writing encourages you! Have a great day!

Rita Arens said...

A few years ago I started really trying to manage my anxiety disorder proactively. I was tired of the flare-ups, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling the adrenaline constantly downloading. And I was really worried about giving myself a heart attack or something. I started practicing self-soothing a lot more and trying to adjust my high expectations for myself. In this culture we treat high expectations like they're everything, and they're not. It's fine to have them in one or two areas of life, but you just can't be all things to all people. Love the robin's nest metaphor. Great post!