What do you do when you’re running on empty?

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It’s normal to feel tired from time to time, but what if you feel like you are running on empty?

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photo source: NZ Fisher

There are seasons in life when we’re full of energy, spunk, and go-get-em-ism. And there are days when the tank is empty, your well is dry, and you feel as if you’re running on empty. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’m still there.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to magically refill your tank. But, there are some things that you can do.

1. Go to bed early.

After years of nursing around the clock, waking with sick children, or staying up late trying to get something done because everyone was finally asleep, I reformed my ways. It started at changing my bedtime from 1 am to 11. My husband had to convince me that 1 am was not a good bedtime.

Seriously? Somehow I had forgotten that.

Slowly over time, I’ve dialed my bedtime back. It’s “late” if I’m not in bed before 9 or 10. I’ve found that the extra sleep helps me.

Wherever you are in life, find moments to sleep a little bit more. I’ve found the cat nap to be miraculous, but I had to train myself for months before I could fall asleep quickly. Don’t dismiss the practice until you’ve actually tried it for a week. I’ve found a 20-minute nap to be more invigorating than a cup of coffee.

While sleep is certainly not a cure-all, it can be one important thing that you’re missing. I know: the baby keeps you up all night. Sleep when your baby sleeps. That’s the #1 law of motherhood. Hard to keep, but helpful.

2. Examine your calendar.

Are you trying to do too much? Is every minute spoken for? It may be time to scale back and start saying no to lots of good things. It’s hard. Trust me, I know. Clear some space so you can think straight. And don’t worry about what folks think when you politely decline. Your health and wellbeing is more important.

weeping willow

photo source: NZ Fisher

3. Get some exercise.

It’s all too easy for us to become sedentary. Movement is good for us and good for our kids. Find a way to get some exercise, even if it means taking a walk.

Physical fitness is hard to pull off in the winter months if you live in cold country, but there are lots of stretches that you can do — and no end of exercise videos and apps — to help you loosen up your muscles.

4. Check your diet.

What in the world are you eating? If it’s lots of empty calories, sugar, and caffeine, you may be exhausting your body. Turn to whole foods and fresh produce as much as possible and look for ways to improve your diet.

Are you drinking enough water? Dehydration can contribute to feelings of fatigue.

5. Talk to someone.

So far, I’ve addressed simple, common sense, physical changes to your day. Our mental and physical exhaustion may go beyond diet, exercise, and sleep. Talk with your husband or a close friend to troubleshoot your situation. You may not see all that you’re doing — or how tired you are. Getting feedback from someone who loves you can be so beneficial.

Don’t dismiss talking to your doctor if your efforts aren’t producing change. It may be something simple that can be easily fixed.

6. Pray for wisdom and help.

Last but certainly not least, turn to God. He knows what we need and is more than capable of providing it, even if we don’t know what it is.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

God doesn’t always turn our situations around immediately, or in the ways that we hope for. But, He is faithful to be with us, no matter the circumstances.

What helps YOU when you’re running on empty?

How can we help you? How can we pray for you? How can we hold each other up?

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  1. I really enjoyed this. As a mom, it is SO HARD to justify stopping long enough to take care of yourself. Someone always seems to need you.

    I’ve started trying to find out what recharges me, something to do FOR ME, and ask for help so I can do that. For me as an introvert, I need time alone. I use that alone time for sitting outside on the porch, reading, writing, listening to music… For others it might be that scheduling time out with other people might be more relaxing.

    I also need to work on getting to bed earlier…I know that would help so much!

    1. I need time alone, too. I found that I was staying up late in order to get that. But, it was detrimental to my health. It’s hard to find the right mix, but it’s worth it.

  2. When I am feeling overwhelmed I ask my husband to take over for an hour or so and spend some quiet time alone. I often soak in a warm tub while reading a good book and sipping on a cup of hot tea. A little quiet time to meditate and relax is often all I need to reset and get back in the game.

  3. Thank you for this encouraging post! Although I rarely comment, I faithfully follow and enjoy both of your blogs and find helpful ideas, encouraging thoughts, tasty, yet cheap 🙂 , recipes and more, along with reminders of God’s loving hand in our lives.