Whenever I’m feeling completely exhausted, I typically inform my friends & family over the phone or while we’re rolling out our mats in the yoga studio by saying something along the lines of, “Ugh—my tank is just on E.” I don’t know when or why I started referring to my emotional or mental state as being “empty,” but it got me thinking that other people may feel this way from time to time, too. Perhaps you’re feeling like you don’t have anything else to give, or you’ve exhausted your mind’s ability to think straight. Maybe you’re in a relationship funk. Or perhaps you’re like me and you’ve got no real explanation for why your tank is empty, but you feel completely and utterly spent. Depleted. All used up.
Lately, I feel like if the wind outside got too strong it’d knock me right over. It’s as if I’m hanging together by a single thread of my discount TJ Maxx sweater.
I can’t explain it, but for some reason there are periods in my life where I just get... weak. Do you ever feel this way?
When I’m in this frail state of mind, it’s like a mediocre day can send me into instant tears—for really no reason at all. And a bad day? It sends me right to my bed, with nothing but a tear-stained pink satin pillowcase and a gut-wrenching emptiness in the pit of my stomach… that is, until I grab the pint of Ben & Jerry’s. I’ve been here before, but my bubbly and happy-go-lucky outlook on life usually shines through this dark storm cloud that occasionally decides to hover above me. However this week, my tank is just empty. I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m anxious, and I just want some ice cream—although I know I really shouldn’t given my two-month binge of eating whatever I want because, I deserved it. Ugh.
There’s always going to be ups and downs; that’s just life. And sometimes we’re lucky to go through periods of time where there’s more ups than downs like when things in your relationship are going great, you’re finally in a good productive groove at work, or when you haven’t had to cross your fingers upon swiping your debit card at the grocery store. But just as life can sparkle brightly, it can get so dull in what feels like a single episode of Vampire Diaries or rather—one unexpected bill in the mail, one cheat meal that turned into cheat week, or one icky friendship fight.
When my tank is empty, I first call my mom to cry in the car and vent about my problems. But after that, here’s what helps me fill back up:
1. TAKE A MINUTE TO BREATHE.
Actually pay attention to your breath. Do you even notice yourself breathe throughout the day? I know I don’t, but connecting your mind to your body is such a powerful and grounding practice. This week when you’re feeling overwhelmed or weak or empty, try sitting with your eyes closed and bring your focus to your breath. If you’re feeling really ambitious, google some breathing exercises or find a video on YouTube that fits your fancy. I’ve been doing this bedtime yoga sequence right before bed lately and it literally sends me levitating into dreamland.
2. PRIORITIZE YOUR PRIORITIES.
When the to do list takes a high-maintenance turn, take a step back to assess your situation. Which things have deadlines? Do those first. Last week I was moving, so that took up the majority of my time. I also had a freelance project due that I knew would take a few hours of my nights, so that also needed to be squeezed in. Unfortunately this meant I wasn’t able to make it to yoga after work and I opted for takeout Thai food a few more times than I’d like to admit. I also wasn’t able to work on my blog or other side projects, which contributes to my gloominess because it’s my favorite thing to do. But you have to remember that you’re not going to be drinking your green juice before working out every night after killing it at work 100% of the time. It’s just not realistic to be on all the time. When you’re drowning in deadlines and obligations, organize your list of to do’s and be content with the ones you have to ignore. Surely I’ll be back on soon enough, right? Here’s to hoping…!
3. GIVE YOURSELF A LITTLE GRACE
I’m so impatient. If I’m being honest, it’s probably one of my worst qualities. I am almost never content with where I’m at because I’m always looking ahead to where I want to be going. I have the idea to write a book? I start the Google Doc and am plotting out chapter titles before bed. My friends and I talk about how fun it’d be to book a weekend getaway? I’m pulling out my phone to search for flights at the dinner table. I have an absolutely grueling week that causes me to question everything I’m doing? I want to run from every responsibility I have because I’m no longer living up to the standard I set for myself. It’s exhausting and annoying, but I’m slowly learning to give myself a little bit of a break.
My boss recently gave me great advice in one of our one-on-one meetings. She said,
“Give yourself permission to figure it out. You don’t need to have all the answers right away.”
She was referring to work related tasks and client projects, but it spoke to me on a much deeper level than nailing a proposal. I am so quick to scold myself for struggling, when really I should be allowing myself to grow. My internal dialogue is almost always negative—getting annoyed with myself for a mistake or being ashamed of not knowing more. I really am trying to give myself more grace and patience, especially when I’m having a rough week. I’m still figuring out what that looks like exactly, but I think telling myself, “Hey sister! You’re doing just fine” is a good place to start.
4. FIND A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.
I’m nothing if not a girl who lives for the promising hope of a vacation. Who doesn’t love a vacation, right? Whether it’s a week-long beach getaway with the girls or a quick trip home to see family, hard weeks become easier when I have something fun to look forward to. I cling to the exciting anticipation of the upcoming event - What will I wear? Will my hair cooperate? Will pasta be on the menu?
I know we all can’t have vacations and trips lined up regularly, so if traveling isn’t your thing or your next trip is months away then consider switching up your normal rituals. If you’re always up early on Saturdays, try sleeping in this weekend and cherish your morning coffee in your PJs. Choose a fun new TV series to watch with your significant other or friends, and make it a big spectacle—pizza, popcorn, and extra wine.
Adventure is fun and having something to look forward helps me keep my sanity when the current situation involves too many tears, not enough sleep, and literally not a single vegetable in 9 days… working on that one.
So whether you’re hoping to keep your great week going or you’re like me and have nowhere to go but up, take a step back and put this day, this moment, this feeling into perspective. A difficult season of life does not define us, but rather - the way in which we push forward in times of distress are what truly builds our character.
You can either lean into uncomfortable, messy, or difficult situations - or you can run from them.
Which are you choosing today?