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7 tips on learning how to switch off

How many times have you had that feeling where, as much as you know you need sleep, you just can’t stop thinking about your to-do list or worrying about chores and duties? 

I’ve definitely had my fair share of nights like that, and when I got diagnosed with chronic fatigue, I knew it was something I needed to tackle.

As someone who’s always been on the go, it wasn’t easy to retrain my brain to begin with! But after a lot of effort, I can now happily say that those ‘tired but wired’ times are now few and far between.

So I thought I’d share some of the advice I was given, and things I found helpful to get out of that zone, especially after the past year has left many of us drained and with more worries than usual, having a knock-on effect on our ability to switch off and get that much-needed rest. Here are some hopefully helpful tips:

  1. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have had is to look at your energy as similar to your bank account - so the more you use, the further down into your overdraft you go. This really helped me to realise how important it is to restore energy, just as you would add more money into your account or stop spending as much when you got into your overdraft. Once I’d been told this, I found I then got a bit better at mapping out what was going to take a lot of my energy on a particular day or week, and then reviewing things that I could do - or, often, not do! - to counteract some of that energy being used.

  2. Another valuable tip I was given was to add your relaxing activity onto your list, so that you start to see it as just as much of a priority as some of your chores. This was useful for me, as I’m a keen list-maker! Suddenly, seeing ‘read magazine’ or ‘paint nails’ on the list prompted me to actually make sure I was doing something relaxing.

  3. I was also encouraged to not always do all the chores before my relax, and instead to mix it up a bit so that sometimes I opted for the relax ahead of the chores. This wasn’t easy at first, but I am now much better at sometimes leaving the dishes/hoovering/food shop etc and recharging first. I used to find that, by the time I’d finished my chores list, I was so wiped out that I didn’t end up enjoying my ‘relaxed time’, whereas now, I definitely feel much more relaxed.

  4. I began to give my ‘down-time’ activities a rating in my head too, so that I have a range to choose from, dependant on my energy levels at that particular time. For example, I love deco patching (decorating furniture with patterned paper), but that does take up a fair bit of my concentration, so that’s on the higher-end of the list, compared to watching The Chase, which is my ultimate ‘I’m too tired to do anything’ option!

  5. My next tip isn’t one that came easily to me…learning the art of delegation! I used to feel the burden of all the tasks, and would feel guilty for passing them on elsewhere - a trait that I think is common for mums and stepmums - but I came to realise that my dip in energy was too detrimental to warrant keeping all the tasks to myself. Nowadays, I’m a huge advocate of sharing the load, and am not afraid to ask for help, regularly passing tasks like loading the dishwasher and changing the bedsheets onto someone else!
  6. I’m queen of list-making, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to see an enormous list, so I’ve now learnt to split the lists up - I feel like everyone has an optimum number of tasks that they can think about doing before they get frazzled, and this will differ from person to person, but I found it really helpful to separate more urgent tasks from those that could wait, and to split larger tasks - eg ‘declutter kitchen’ - into smaller chunks like ‘sort glasses and plates’, ‘clean the oven’ etc etc.
  7. My last tip is to try and give yourself at least a tiny amount of time before bed to switch off, rather than going to bed with a full head! I know this isn’t always easy, but my 10 minutes of treating my face to a Lush face wash has honestly helped me feel much calmer climbing into bed than previous times…

…so now, I find I’m still tired but not so wired - and the difference is definitely positive!

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