A cloud of exhaustion has been creeping in on my world as of late.
I’m planning a break for early June, but in the meantime, I still have projects to work on, and my burnout has been getting to the point where I can’t remember meetings even if they’re written down in my calendar.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to be more proactive about curtailing the effects of the exhaustion that’s had the chance to build up over the course of months. Seems like a rather vital skill based on how often I find myself in this position.
To my surprise, a few key habits have started turning the tide of my well-being rather rapidly (I’ve experienced some results in a matter of days). They are as follows.
1. Walking 8,000 Steps Daily
For part of March and a good chunk of April, I had made it my goal to walk 8,000 steps per day, six days per week.
I was looking to cultivate healthy habits in my life, and I figured if I could sustain one for 30 days, I’d be able to begin adding in others.
I took a bit of a break from the 8,000 steps per day routine after April because of the velocity and volume of personal development and project work I’ve been engaging in. But I’ve been getting back into the habit again.
8,000 steps works out to roughly 115 to 120 minutes of walking per day, unless you’re speed walking or running.
This is quite a bit of walking, and it can be tiring when you already feel burnt out, but paired with other habits mentioned here, it can help to reverse burnout significantly.
2. 5 Minutes of Yoga
On a whim, I decided to add yoga back into my daily routine. It’s mostly been on hold because of the pandemic, especially since hot yoga is what I enjoy most.
But I thought, “Why not? Life just stays the same if you don’t try something new.”
To my surprise, five minutes of yoga is not only very doable; it stretches out your body and improves blood flow.
I’m looking to add some weightlifting into the routine as well, but in my experience, you don’t want to push yourself too hard when you’re recovering from burnout. So, for now, I’ve settled for some pushups to strengthen my wrists, among other things.
3. Drinking a Big Bottle of Green
My big bottle of green has consisted of different ingredients at different times, but the main ones I pour into an 800 mL bottle now are:
Barley grass juice powder
I’m not a health expert, but the combined benefits of these powders include achieving a more youthful appearance, detoxing, and even improved eyesight.
I always feel more energized after drinking my bottle of green, even if it doesn’t taste amazing. In my experience, some plant protein powder can improve taste.
4. 20 Minutes+ of Meditation
These days, I’ve been getting into hypnosis audios via Inspire3.
But there are a lot of great meditation methods and audios out there. The trick would be to find something that works for you. As a reference point, Kyle Cease and Dr. Joe Dispenza have some excellent resources.
The health benefits of meditation are far reaching, and I’ve even had some success recovering from emotional burnout using meditation.
Of course, I also try to get eight hours of sleep per night.
But don’t be surprised if you have some trouble getting the sleep you need if you’re already feeling burnt out!
5. No Caffeine
This has been a tough one for me, because when I wake up feeling exhausted, I tend to go looking for instant cures automatically.
But over the years, it seems I’ve developed a bit of a sensitivity to iced tea (it’s one of my favorites), so I’ve been keeping off it. I suspect I will be able to enjoy it again in the future if I cut it out for long enough.
Other forms of caffeine are also out, including soda that contains caffeine and energy drinks, even if they are the healthy ones.
Caffeine might give you a short-term boost, but unfortunately, it has long-term consequences that are less than pleasant, as I found out for myself.
Just because I do the above doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel like doing it. But I have a sneaking suspicion it will become habit, because the cumulative effects of these actions seem to support more energy and health overall, which is key to my ongoing efforts. Who knows? I might change things up a bit, but for now, this is what has been working.
I could feel my heart wake up. And it had a message for me. Something I always knew deep down but hadn’t been present to for years – probably since I was a child.
I spent the rest of the day in a state of bliss and love. My mind was present, but so was my heart. And I never knew that was possible.
Meditation had brought this moment to me. And I knew it could bring more.
How I Used to Think About Meditation
I used to think there were only two things you could accomplish with meditation:
Come away feeling refreshed
Get an answer to a question
When I sought to feel refreshed, although I’d often feel a bit better after 10 to 20 minutes of meditation, I would often be disappointed that it did not seem to work as a cure-all for exhaustion and tiredness. It was worth the effort, but the results were not phenomenal in my eyes.
And so far as getting answers was concerned, this often happened involuntarily, kind of like how when you go for a walk or a drive or a shower after a long day of work and suddenly new ideas come to you.
As you can tell from my attitude towards meditation at the time, I often had an on again off again relationship with it.
How I Was Introduced to Meditation
Meditation came into my awareness after I experienced an anxiety attack in 2008.
I started reading everything I could find on anxiety, and that’s when I came across meditation.
At the time, it probably would not have amounted to more than a to-do item. In the long list of things to do and not to do in coping with anxiety, meditation was just one item.
But the long-term benefits were there, and they seemed to stack over weeks and months.
How I Used to Meditate
As I was recovering from anxiety, I used to sit down, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing.
Anxious thoughts would sometimes interrupt, causing me to twitch or open my eyes momentarily, but I would give myself grace for “not doing it perfectly,” close my eyes, and start over. I was also assured that this was a normal part of the process.
Eventually, I figured out that you could meditate while listening to calming music, and that became my preferred way.
What I’ve Been Coming to Discover About Meditation
I’ve made many personal discoveries about meditation in the last year, all of which came through talking with others and finding new resources online.
Some of this is going to sound woo-woo, weird, or out there for some. Fair warning.
First, I began to learn more about chakras. Now, that term alone is controversial and depending on your religious or spiritual leanings, it’s going to prove impossible to accept.
What I can say is this – science is now catching up with what we have long known about the seven energy centers that run along our spine. And perhaps that term (energy centers) is a little easier to digest, even for those who experience some discomfort near it.
To bottom line it, I discovered that it’s possible to awaken and energize these energy centers through meditation. And much of energy healing work (like Reiki) also revolves around energy centers.
One of my friends brought up spirit animals in conversation, and while I’d heard the term before, I didn’t know much about it. I still don’t.
But intuitively I recognized that there were probably spirit animal meditations out there, and sure I enough, I found some on YouTube.
Using the guided meditation, I discovered that my spirit animal was a panther.
Meditation is a Catch-All Term for Something That Has Many Branches to it
Author, entrepreneur, and musician Andy Seth was on episode 200 of my podcast. He shared that meditation is a very general umbrella term, as there are many types of meditation.
He shared that asking someone whether they meditate is a lot like asking them whether they play sports. You’d need to drill down a little further to get a sense of what type of athlete they are.
“Oh, you’re a soccer player? What position do you play?”
You’d need to get at least that specific to know what type of meditation they’re engaged in.
I did not know any of this as I was getting started in meditation. But over time I learned about transcendental meditation, Kundalini meditation, Zen meditation, mindfulness meditation, and so on. And I honestly thought there were just a few different types.
But the truth of the matter is some of the meditations just mentioned are subcategories, while others are parent categories. And there are many more besides.
Yeah. It gets confusing if you let it.
Heart-Brain Coherence Can be Achieved Through Meditation
Earlier this year, I came across Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work, and that’s where things started to get especially interesting to me.
Dr. Dispenza’s studies and discoveries on meditation go deep. Not surprising since he’s dedicated his life to understanding it.
Many of his findings are compelling. The one that I somewhat took for granted, and didn’t entirely understand when presented with it, was that you can achieve heart-brain coherence through meditation.
When this state is achieved, you will experience life in an entirely new way. Because you will become more present to your purpose and reason for being here.
Many of Dr. Dipsenza’s guided meditations can be found on YouTube, and they are my go-to.
Sitting with Yourself Dissolves Emotional Pain
This year, one open door quickly opened to another. After I engaged in Dr. Dispenza’s content for a while, I came to discover Kyle Cease, whose work is also fascinating to say the least. Especially since he’s a comedian turned transformational comedian.
Cease does not advocate any type of meditation specifically. But he talks a lot about sitting with yourself and its benefits.
He shared that through the process of meditation, things arise within us – painful emotions, anxious thoughts, and so on. But they arise to be dissolved, and if we can sit with them, acknowledge them, and even love them, they will release.
What Works for Me
So, depending on your intent, what you’re looking to achieve, and what works best for you, there are many types of meditation you can engage in.
But at least for me, there is no right or wrong way. Only what works for you.
Because I’ve been asked before if meditation is about silencing the mind. And surely there are gurus or monks that will tell you that this is the case.
I’ve never thought of it that way, and it’s not the way I’ve been taught to meditate.
So, here’s an overview of what works for me:
Go into a quiet room
Put on some relaxing meditation music or a guided meditation
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position – these days, typically, I will meditate lying down
Close your eyes
Focus on breathing in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth
Thoughts and feelings will arise – there is nothing to fix, and most things only arise to be released
Do not add resistance to emotions or thoughts – just be present with them
Distractions and noises are common – these are also perfect, so do not add resistance to them
Stay with the meditation until the music ends or the guide asks you to open your eyes (I like my meditations to be at least 20 minutes, but at longest I have gone for 85 minutes)
It’s as simple as that!
And the benefits of meditation are far beyond what you might expect, with most articles on the topic extending well beyond 2,000 words in length. There’s even an article discussing 76 benefits of meditation!
“Meditation Feels Like a Waste of Time”
This is where things get even more interesting.
Because you might assume that spending so much time in meditation would be a waste. But there’s got to be a reason why gurus, monks, entrepreneurs, and those acquainted with ancient medicine and healing modalities spend so much time in meditation, right?
Think of all the things you would be doing otherwise. Most of them fall under the category of addiction:
Surfing the web
Netflix or YouTube
Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it allows you to remove yourself from addiction cycles. Further, it creates flow in your life.
Because if we were honest with ourselves, we’d see that most of our thoughts and goals and ambitions are trying to lead us upstream on the river of life, where we’ve already been. The things we desire to experience are all downstream.
When we go to sleep, we create flow. When we meditate, we create flow. When we focus on our heart and our personal development, we create flow.
When we get out of balance, work too hard, spend too much time in our addictions, and so on, we create resistance, and the universe has no choice but to restore balance and order. Which is why shrinking at the first sign of difficulty or challenge has a way of sending us back to square one in the game of achievement.
When I think of someone who waxes eloquent about age-related transitions, I imagine a grey-haired sage with glasses and a pipe giving a rare fireside chat.
Not a thirty-something digital nomad renaissance man who doesn’t have a singular focus but has tried his hand at a myriad of things – graphic design, web design, writing, podcasting, video, music, audio production, community, business, and more.
(That’s a wink to a dear friend of mine.)
So, what do I know about age? I know that I don’t know much.
Lately, I’ve been going through life confused as to why one moment is followed by another moment. I’ve been asking why it’s just a collection of sequential moments etched in memory.
Can’t life go on pause while I go and figure out a few things?
You can’t hold onto anything. So, why is it worth experiencing anything?
Clearly, I’ve had too much time to think.
(This is not said in defeatist or depressed kind of way – it’s said in a “wow, I didn’t realize this is what life was going to be” kind of way).
I have memories. I can remember a great deal about my past. But Dr. Joe Dispenza says we don’t even remember 50% of our past correctly.
It’s a wonder we rely on memory as much as we do, because it’s clearly not the most reliable source of information. It’s not even something as concrete as information as far as I’m concerned – it’s more like a dream.
What I’ve understood about age is this:
It goes forward, never backward.
You start as a child, not fully developed. In your first 18 to 21 years, your body develops fully.
By age 35, you are 95% set in stone as a personality. But you can tap into a new you using certain methods.
Every seven years, all your cells are completely replaced by new cells, and you end up with a new body.
We sometimes go through crises. The most documented is the midlife crisis, but we can have similar crises at other times (also known as quarter life crises).
Even these bullets are somewhat crude in understanding age. But we can use them as a starting point at least.
Would it be accurate to say there are seasons in a person’s life?
And would it be fair to say the masculine and feminine journey are a little different?
This is a heated subject nowadays, and while I don’t wish to open that Pandora’s box, or incite a mass of hate mail, it seems most appropriate to raise this issue in connection with age and transitions.
If I may offer a suggestion…
Perhaps read the following with a grain of salt. If we were honest with ourselves, we’d see that we’ve all benefited from being introduced to concepts and ideas which at first, we didn’t think would be of any profit to our entitled perspectives.
The 6 Stages of Masculinity
Author John Eldredge, for example, eloquently expressed that the masculine journey is made up of six distinct stages:
Per Eldredge, these stages can certainly overlap, especially the Warrior and Lover stages. If you don’t mind a religious perspective, then it’s certainly worth delving into Eldredge’s books for more insight, from which I have benefited.
The Boyhood and Cowboy stages have a limited lifespan, as a boy becomes a man and turns into a Warrior and a Lover. A Warrior always has a battle to fight, whether he faces it or not, and for many men it’s often represented by their ambition and desire to achieve in any area, grand or not.
Eldredge says not all men become a King, and nor should they. It’s a season or stage of life to be entered reluctantly because it means great responsibility over a greater number of people.
And a Sage is only a true Sage if he’s lived a life worth telling about.
Stages of Femininity?
Eldredge and his wife Stasi have also written on the heart of the woman, though I’m not sure they’ve defined the feminine journey in the same way they’ve done for the masculine journey.
I don’t think I couldn’t speak to it either way, but I want to emphasize that it isn’t any less important. Please, understand. I don’t wish to speak like an expert in a capacity where I’m starting from bush league.
And for anyone who feels excluded from this conversation, it was not intentional.
What might be wise is a conversation with a trusted mentor or even your grandparents if they’re still living. Asking them how they would define their journey. What stuck out to them. What seasons, stages, or phases, they progressed through. Getting a sense of where they feel they are now.
To me, that seems like a highly productive use of your time as it pertains to age-related transitions regardless.
Interpreting Transition Through Seasons
If we were to take for granted that every season is a transition, then it’s fair to say there are also mixed feelings marking each.
A transition from Cowboy to Warrior, for example, basically follows the progression from adolescence to manhood.
This would be a time of celebration. But also, a time for mourning.
Celebrate because you’re becoming a man. Mourn because your days of being a kid are over.
Which isn’t to say one must celebrate or mourn. But if we understood these transitions more clearly, we would also understand that some things are coming to an end, while other things are just coming to the fore.
None of it means we should give up something – like fun. Nor does it mean we should embrace something else – like duty and obligation (I have not known anything that sooner kills a person’s heart than duty and obligation).
But we can prepare for the journey ahead by pursuing the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of others.
I can only speak to what has made a difference for me. Depending on what you’re facing now, you may find my tips as useful as a placebo or band-aid.
I don’t know how much the cliché of buying a new car (“bicep extension”) helps with midlife crisis, nor do I know the aches and pains that apparently accompany seniority.
I have, however, experienced what I would describe as a quarter life crisis, shortly after graduating high school.
I never bought into the blatant propaganda of “these are the best years of your life, so you better enjoy them” (rather, I thought to myself, “these better not be my best years, because I had a miserable time thank you very much”), but in my eyes the end of high school signified nothing of especial importance. I didn’t even go to prom.
And what came after? More school? And then what?
Adulthood didn’t make sense to an 18-year-old, and while many see me as mature, I can promise that parts of me went severely underdeveloped and overlooked for years. I think I’m still working on that.
It’s entirely possible I will never “grow up” because I don’t know what that means, it seems rather boring to me anyway, and why is it necessary? I’ve learned that I can be as childlike as I want, so long as I am not childish (there is a difference).
Anyway, I’ve waffled long enough. Here’s what has worked with me in terms of handling transitions.
One. Find a counselor. I have personally worked with two psychologists, as well as a career counselor (or was it a marriage counselor? – either way, what we discussed was general life stuff) at different points in my life.
If nothing else, I was presented with an outside perspective. I may not have been ready to accept it at the time, or even the desire to move forward with suggestions offered, but we can’t underestimate the value of another’s advice.
Most of the time, I don’t heed advice given (or don’t feel able to), but I can also remember a time when my mentor told me to do something (“sell your house”) and I did so immediately. His counsel was spot on. If you’re going to hold it inside, anyway, find someone to talk to.
Two. Identify your regrets. Crisis has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with what you have, or haven’t done. Figure out what those things are. And, even if they involve people who’ve already expired or you’ve long lost contact with, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. You can confess or forgive in your mind. You can even write letters to them (no need to send them). And if your regrets involve passions or hobbies, then take it for granted that it’s never too late. Start now. Start today.
Three. Find something to get excited about again. As I turned 30, I wondered if there was honestly anything to look forward to in adulthood beyond what I was already staring back at.
Right around that time, I started watching the TV series Californication. Well, let’s just say the protagonist Hank Moody made adulthood look like a ton of fun to me. And something about the character resonated with me, even if he is an “asshole” (actor David Duchovny’s words, not mine).
Okay, so I don’t have an agent, I’m not a womanizer, and I’m not a parent yet, but I realized you don’t have to stop doing anything (especially having fun), just because you’re an adult.
Four. Meditate. Meditation has become kind of the catch-all answer throughout this series. That’s wasn’t necessarily my intention, but it’s fair to say, if you’re going to sit with yourself and your emotions and everything that comes up while you’re feeling whatever you’re feeling, then you may as well make the process as beneficial and enjoyable as possible.
Meditation has innumerable health, mental, and emotional benefits, and as Dr. Dispenza says, you can even achieve heart-brain coherence with it. What a gift.
Meditation isn’t the be-all end-all by any stretch of the imagination. But its value is not lost on me, and I can see myself meditating for at least an hour per day, if not two, as part of my regular routine.
Age, Final Thoughts
Life is inevitable. Aging is also inevitable. And the inevitability of it is part of the experience. During that experience, we will think and feel many things.
The roller-coaster ride is exactly what we signed up for. We can fear it. We can loathe it. But we can also enjoy it. Let it unfold and play out. There is no right or wrong in this sense, but there is a choice.
As you experience transitions, document them. And share them with others who would find them beneficial. There’s no telling what others might be able to learn from your experience.
What has your experience with aging been like? How have you handled age-related transitions?
Unless you have questions that need answering, this series on life transitions is about to reach a conclusion. Let me know if there’s anything I can shine a light on.
Leave a comment below.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.