Have you ever felt so tired that you can’t focus during the day but it doesn’t go away regardless of how much you sleep? Do you feel sluggish during the day? Do you feel like your mind is racing and you can’t reconcile everything going on in your mind?
That was me last month.
I was exhausted and could not figure out why. Sleeping 8-9 hours a night didn’t help and I was at a loss. I was sitting in a class at work when I realized I was stressed out and that affected my quality of sleep and quality of life during the day. I got to work figuring out how to change that.
Whether you are going through some stress in your life or just want to take your quality of life to the next level, you should do a few things–increase your quality and quantity of sleep, exercise regularly, practice deep breathing or meditation.
I have always been a huge proponent of sleep, primarily because I am cranky and less productive when I have less of it. But after reading Thrive by Ariana Huffington, I really began to think more about the benefits of sleep and why it should be something I focus on.
According to Dr. Merril Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist, when you’re tired, you can’t function at your best.
“Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving and attention to details.” So, simply put, tired people are less productive at work. Sleep also affects other parts of your body. Your brain and body are working while you sleep. Your sleep affects “growth, stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.”
Sleep affects everything and quality sleep can be a game changer for you and your life. So, how does one get quality sleep?
Turn off your screens at night. I know this is hard, but those darn blue lights are awful for us. So instead of being on the phone right or watching TV before bed, read a book, meditate, color (adult coloring books are my new favorite thing). Do something that can calm your brain down while also giving you some time away from your screens.
Create a routine and go to bed around the same time every night. This will help train your brain. When you start your routine, your brain will naturally begin to calm down and prepare for sleep. This will also allow you to go to bed quicker when you actually get in bed. Also, get up at the same time or around the same time every day (even on weekends).
Sleep in a dark, quiet environment. Make sure all the lights are off and that your room is set up for quality sleep. This also means turning off the TV before bed (something that is hard for me on weekends).
For some of us, we will exercise to lose weight, to create healthy habits or because we enjoy it; but we should also think about the additional benefits to exercise.
Exercise improves mood. We all know that line from Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.” The scene was comical, but part of it is true, exercise increase your endorphins, our brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
Exercise boosts energy. “Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissue and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, exercising helps increase our quality of sleep.
Exercise comes in various forms, but ultimately, you should find something you enjoy. Getting a gym membership can help create motivation, but many gyms also have group fitness classes. These classes can be a fun way to get a really great workout in. Zumba and yoga are my personal favorites.
Meditation and deep breathing have as many benefits as sleep and exercise, but combined with the two can literally change your life. I know it sounds crazy, but taking time to sit, focus inwardly and breathe deeply can have a huge impact on your life.
The Art of Living lays out all the benefits of regular meditation, but some of my favorites are: increases energy level, improves the immune system, increases creativity and increases metabolism and helps you lose weight.
I am just beginning the journey into meditation; it can feel bizarre at first, but if you can get in the habit of taking 10 minutes a day to do deep breathing and check in with yourself, you can begin to reap the benefits of meditation. Celebrities like Oprah, Katy Perry, and Ariana Huffington make time in their day to meditate, it tells me that not only is it meaningful, but I surely can find 10 minutes a day to do it.
Even if you can’t meditate, you should do some deep breathing during the day. Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, wait 4 seconds and repeat 3 more times, for a total of 4×4. We do this a lot at work (I work at a hospital). The deep breathing helps to give oxygen to your brain and can help you to feel a bit more relaxed.
Related: Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Work
[clickToTweet tweet=”Feeling unfocused and stressed out with no clue why? ” quote=”Feeling unfocused and stressed out with no clue why? “]
These three habits: focusing on getting better sleep, exercising and beginning to practice mindfulness, can help to make you a better, happier person and better employee. Who doesn’t want that?