I Might Have Escaped Too Hard

Once again, I am confronted by the weirdness of the time I write these posts versus the time I post them. It’s a bit different this time, though, since I’m writing this only two days before it goes up. There will be no gap in post coverage, but it has been almost a week since I wrote my last blog post. I respect the break I took because I do feel better rested, but I also don’t want to not have blog posts for six days. Also, I have a lot to say since I did that thing where I escaped with a variety of activities and did a lot of thinking in the background while I kept my fore-mind busy. I’ll skip this upcoming weekend, but I’m going to get a couple extra posts written this week to fill in the gaps I created while I rested.

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Musing About Being Thirty

Day 2 of my stay-cation is here and I wonder how it’s going. Writing things a week ahead of time and trying to reference the actual days that pass or will pass makes for some odd verb tense problems at times. I usually catch them all in editing, but it’s easier to avoid the problem by not writing about the day the post is going up. Today, though, as I’m going through my last full day of work for the week prior (I have a 4 ten-hour day schedule at work, with some overtime on Friday if I need/want it), I’m imagining being able to rest and relax. To sleep in. To lose myself in a game coming out on the day this posts…

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I Need to Rest Sometimes. I’m Not He-Man, After All

As time passes and the vagaries of life interfere with the plans I’ve made, I’ve thought long and hard about what I would do if I didn’t write a blog post one day. I had originally planned to write every blog post a week in advance, try to avoid referencing anything time sensitive unless I was going to insert it ahead of other posts, and not sweat it too much if I didn’t have a post for a day. After all, this is supposed to be fun for me, right?

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A Late Post

My grandfather was prescribed Hospice Care today. That bit of news, accompanied by the tidbit that his tests all came back saying he wasn’t a match to the genetic profile they needed for a last-ditch treatment effort, has thrown off not just my plans for today but my plans for the next few weeks. When I found out he had only a few weeks left unless he was a genetic match for this special treatment, I planned on heading back to Chicago at a moment’s notice in case something happened and that I’d spent at least one day every weekend in Chicago, visiting family with a particular emphasis on my grandpa. Now I’m planning the same thing, along with preparing a long-term bag that I’ll keep in the trunk of my car and getting my computer area reconfigured so I can dismantle it quickly for travel so I can work remotely if I wind up staying in Chicago for any length of time. We don’t know for sure how long he has left, but it’s probably more accurate to measure in weeks than anything else.

It’s difficult to focus on writing anything, right now. I’ve been trying all day to get my mind into gear for this and it’s basically just grinding the gears rather than actually slipping into gear. Trying to make myself write anything is doing more harm than good and I wasn’t able to create the stockpile of blog posts I wanted to have finished by now, so I’m going on hiatus for a bit.

I hate the thought of stopping, honestly. This decision has been tearing at me all day, despite the fact that it’s been lurking in the back of my mind every time I’ve gotten to my daily writing time and felt the black wave of grief and exhaustion (which are all I have left at this point) wash over me. I want to write more, but trying to make it happen is just making things worse on myself. As is the thought of stopping something I’ve done for four hundred thirteen consecutive days. I’m immensely proud of that streak of daily posts and the daily writing they represent, but I’ve pretty much run myself to the point of a breakdown and I can’t afford to have one of those right now. My stress levels are higher than they’ve ever been, I’m dealing with difficult emotions, I constantly feel run down and exhausted no matter how much rest I get, I’m pretty sure I’m currently sick and only not laid up in bed because I can’t afford to be, and all I want in the world is to keep writing and updating this blog because at least then I can point at it and say “look what I’ve done.”

This past year has been pretty awful for me and it has taken every scrap of willpower I have to make it this far right now. Choosing to take a break feels like giving up and writing this post, making this decision, feels like I’m rolling my soul in a pile of broken glass because daily writing and daily blog posts was all I fucking wanted out of this year. That’s it. My one goal for 2018 was to update this blog every day, write every day, and do whatever it takes to keep those things going. Just thinking about it and everything I’ve worked through up to this point makes me want to delete this entire post and re-write it as a “I’m not going to let this stop me” post. I’m not going to do that, though. I’m going to take a break. I’m going to stop making myself do this every day. I’m going to go back to journaling extensively every day. I’m going to reflect, try to deal with my emotions, deal with my anticipatory grieving, deal with my regular grieving, and then try to come back to this in the new year once I’m no longer traveling every weekend or constantly fighting back exhaustion that makes me want to just dissolve into a puddle of tears on my bed when I get home from work.

I am tempted to leave myself wiggle room for musing posts over the next few weeks, like I did seven or eight months ago when I was stressed and trying to figure out what was going on with my emotions. That might allow me to continue updating every day without the stress of creating new fiction, poetry, and reviewing things, but I think I really need a break from the internet in addition to every thing else as well. I don’t know if that’s going to mean deactivating Facebook and removing Twitter from my phone, or if that’s just going to mean I spend more time away from the computer, but I think I need that right now. Beyond the grief and pain I’m dealing with right now, I haven’t taken a break in over a year. Even the planned breaks wound up not being breaks because I was always working on something during that time. I had a project to do or some writing goal to accomplish. Whatever it was, it pretty much negated the whole point of the break, even if I tried to convince myself otherwise.

So I get I’m concurrently going on vacation and taking a hiatus. The vacation will end on the second of January, so that’s the earliest I’ll be back to writing. The hiatus will end once I’ve dealt with my grief enough to not feel like I’m shaving years off my life and pulling off splinters of my soul to sit down and make something specific. I’ll probably keep writing, but that’ll be expressive stuff rather than following the planned posts ideas I picked out a few weeks ago. I’ll be exploring my emotions and trying to cope with what’s going on rather than writing about pre-established fictional characters or creating parodies of famous poems.

See? I can’t even take a break without planning something for me to be doing while taking said break. Whatever. The point is I’m taking away the obligation and drive parts. I’m just going to create if I feel like and catch up on my giant collection of unread books if not. I’m going to try to figure out better routines for myself, ones that incorporate better physical self-care, and see if I can finally do something about the burn-out I’ve been fighting for almost an entire year.

Or maybe two weeks will pass and I’ll still be tired. Who knows. All I know is that writing feels incredibly painful today and I need it to stop feeling painful. Even if I want to write, even if I’m willing to put up with the pain (which I clearly am, given this blog post), I don’t think it’s going to be healthy to pull more than this out of my for the next couple weeks, at least. Catch you all later. You know how to reach me.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Day -335 (Saturday Morning Musing)

I did it. I broke one hundred thousand words in a single month (since I wrote this post last night). I ended this post with a total of one hundred thousand eight hundred thirty-five words for the month and I am immensely proud of myself. I even bought a bottle of champagne–excuse me, sparkling wine–to pop as soon as I finished this post and, while I’m too cheap to buy good champagne, it was nice to just have something to pop at the end of the day. It tasted alright, too, but I can’t really tell the difference between various wines and I don’t really care that much about it so I’m cool with that.

It was nice to actually manage this goal, given how my month went. So much happened…  Honestly, I’m pretty curious about how much I could accomplish in a month if I didn’t have to spend a lot of it learning to cope with my grandfather’s mortality and the constant stress of trying to lead my team at work into a new process I developed. If I actually had energy when I got home from work… The thought of just how much I could get done is staggering. I’ve done an average of three thousand three hundred thirty-three words a day and yet my actual median is about five thousand. If I could do that every day, I could do fifty percent more words in a month, and that’s at my current pace with my current levels of energy. If I keep up this writing thing, I might be able to get even more written during a focused hour than my current record of two thousand words. If I get a better handle on my mental health, especially my anxiety and depression, I’ll have more energy and get even more done in a day. There’s always room for improvement and I’m excited to see how I continue to improve.

While I’m sure plenty of people write more than I do, even if I do get up to one hundred fifty thousand words a month, I’m not looking to compare to them. Personal accomplishments count more to me, anyway. I’d rather beat my own record than compete with someone else for the high score, in both video games and my personal life. I love a challenge, I love having a rival, but I’m more about support and helping each other achieve new heights rather than trying to out-do each other or trying to be top frog in the well. As much fun as it might be to say I’m the best, that’s not really what motivates me. Striving to be the best is a journey with an end. Striving to be better is a journey that can take you from the day you start to the day you die. I’m all about the long-term, really, in everything thing I do. Finances, career, self-improvement, romantic/platonic relationships… Everything. I’m good at predicting outcomes and I rely on that skill to guide me. Trying to always be better than myself only ever leads me forward and upward.

As much fun as this was, though, I’m really looking forward to a thirty to fifty thousand word month. I need some rest and the winter holidays are going to be stressful enough without trying to spend every second writing. I mean, I’m not going to stop myself from writing when I want to, but I’m not going to force it again. I need a break to rest my mind. Since your brain is like a muscle, in that it gets stronger the more you use it, it is just as important to give it a chance to rest after pushing yourself to new heights. So I’m going to let my brain rest and recover these next few weeks and then we’ll see just how much stronger it’s gotten as a result of this month by trying some new personal challenge. Or, you know, just adding a reasonable amount of book writing in addition to my blog writing. It doesn’t need to be another month of one hundred thousand words. I’ll probably just aim for a thousand extra words a day of book writing. That seems reasonable but also ambitious enough to keep me moving forward. I’ll probably aim for a total over a month rather than a daily limit so I can deal with busy days that don’t leave me room for writing without feeling stressed out about missing a thousand words.

Honestly, as much as I really want to outline my plans for the next year, I think I need to rest before I do that. It’s not even nine and my brain is already so fuzzy that I have to go back and read through sentences I just wrote to figure out what I’m trying to say as I write them. I’m also looking forward to sleeping in. And an end to stress headaches…

As much as I want to keep going, I think I’m going to call it here. It’s time to rest and, while I plan to continue to update my blog every day, I think I might take an entire day off of writing for the first time in several months. Just… play some video games or something. It’ll be nice. Thanks for taking this journey with me and I hope something I posted was of use to you. I also hope you’re continuing to write. It’s a pretty great feeling to see your words on the page or screen, so I hope you get to enjoy that for a while longer.

Today is day -335 of #NaNoWriMo2019 and I’m excited about next year already! Really, though, this is a Saturday Morning Musing post and I wrote 999,999 words last month so I’m gonna rest now. I’m so tired.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 19 (11/19)

I meant to only do my daily minimum and then go to bed, but I wound up staying awake super late as I wrote an extra fourteen hundred words. I hadn’t done much writing yesterday since my ill-fated trip to a coffee shop ended in disaster. Not a real disaster, mind you, just the “I wasted an hour and a half of my time on this” kind of disaster. The place was super crowded, full of kids, and louder than I thought possible. By the time I’d realized how bad it was–it takes a while for noise and crowd levels to permeate my pre-caffeine brain–I’d already ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich, so I couldn’t just leave. I had to sit and wait for them to come up, eat them, and then figure out what I was going to do about the crowds and noise. Which was leave. I wound up leaving after trying to write and complaining to my friends about the noise for a while.

I was then going to go home and write at my desk, but I started playing Pokemon Let’s Go and got caught up in that until it was time to run Dungeons and Dragons. I was going to stop it at eight, but they were making such good progress I extended the session until ten. Then, finally, after six hours of Dungeons and Dragons, I finally got down to writing. Except I got super caught up in trying to get my iPod to fully back up on my external drive and subsequently spent an hour fiddling with its settings and some of the songs on it that stalled the backup process. The hour was spread out over three, from ten until one. I was going to go to bed at that point, but I told myself I’d just round my word count up to the nearest thousand since I was only three hundred words away. The next time I checked my word total, I’d written more than a full-page and was fewer than five hundred words away from three thousand, so I just rounded up again and went to bed.

It was an experience. A good one, mostly. I forgot how tiring Dungeons and Dragons can be since it’s been almost three months since I ran this particular campaign, but it felt good to run it again. I missed playing with those guys and the story we were telling. Pokemon was super fun and very relaxing, since it has a lot of the elements of the game that I enjoy plus some new interesting mechanics behind finding shiny or rare Pokemon. The only problem is that there’s a monetary restriction on how much leveling up you can do since getting XP from wild Pokemon encounters requires catching Pokemon. Poke Balls are cheaper than ever, but they still cost a lot and I’ve already gone through over one hundred of them and I only just got to the first gym. The catch combo mechanic the most fun since it increases the amount of XP you get per subsequent catch of the same Pokemon and because it also increases the chance of encountering shiny Pokemon. It will also make rare Pokemon start to spawn if you get it high enough, like my beloved Cabbage the Bulbasaur from the Viridian Forest. I’ll go into it more once I’ve gotten a chance to play more of the game and have the time for reviews on here again.

Honestly, the only part of this past weekend that rankled was the fact I stayed up until two in the morning last night and the absolutely unproductive nature of my Sunday coffee shop trip. The first was good, if not terribly productive, because I got to spend some time with my friend, but the second just felt like a waste of time since I pushed myself to get up and out the door in the morning for what turned out to be nothing but noise and chaos. I have coffee, breakfast foods, and apple cider I can heat up at home. There was nothing I gained by going out except for being able to say I left my home at least once yesterday. That’s valuable, sure, but there are other places I could have gone, other things I could have done that would have added more value that sitting in an overfull coffee shop in the sunniest table I’ve ever found inside a building.

It’s really quite difficult to try to manage my time without descending into panic and neurotically measuring the time I spend on everything in such a way that I never actually enjoy anything I do. If I’m super litigious about how I spend my time, I get stressed out and wind up getting nothing done as all my time goes to analyzing how I spend my time, recriminating myself for wasting time, and breaks from all that to browse the internet since I’m clearly too stressed out to work. If I’m super lax about it, I don’t do anything until the last-minute and wind up sacrificing sleep. It’s funny, actually, since I’m doing a project at work about increasing efficiency and managing our processes so we never wind up pushing up against our deadlines in such a way that we need to cut things in order to make it. I really should treat my life-like this work process stuff, break it down, and figure out what is keeping me from actually making timely progress on any of my projects. It’s definitely not a result of a lack of planning and preparation on my part.

It’s probably the fact that I tend to be impulsive when it comes to spending my own time and I’m the first to sacrifice my own sleep on the altar of getting something done, even if that something is video games. From there, it devolves further because even a single night of inadequate sleep makes the next day more difficult and time-consuming. It reminds me of something one of my professors in college said. “If you do you best work the night before your paper is due, you don’t do any work at other times.” I heard it enough times that it stuck and discovered, in my senior year, that I was way better at writing papers if I spread them out over the course of a few weeks than if I crammed them into the last couple days before they were due. The same is true of sleep. I’ll probably be a lot better at writing and being productive if I’m well-rested.

That’s kind of the theme of my blog lately, isn’t it? “I need to sleep more! But I’ve got so much to do! I’m not doing a good job of staying focused while I work on all of these projects, I wonder what the reason is for that?” I know the reason, I just don’t like admitting I need rest. I also extremely dislike laying awake at night, unable to sleep, with nothing to contemplate but my life, existence, and the universe. That is one of my least favorite things. I even wrote a whole poem about it. I wouldn’t mind a less complicated relationship with sleep, that’s for sure.

Anyway, I hope your day is going well! I hope you’re making good progress on your writing goals and that you’re staying strong as we approach the end of the middle third of the month. We’ve got twelve days left for writing, so keep it up! You’ve still got plenty of time left. Good luck!

 

Daily Prompt

Do the characters in your world us the bathroom? A lot of stories tend to gloss over things like toiletries and waste disposal, but not all of them do. Maybe their use of a bathroom is a setup for someone catching them unawares because people are often are their most vulnerable when they’re eliminating waste. Maybe no one uses the bathroom in your world because that’s just not how humans work. Maybe it’s not really something you care about and just want to avoid it because it’s often an unimportant detour (I’m looking at you, Wheel of Time series. How many times do people need to brush their teeth or hair while they dissect everything that just happened to them? I mean, I usually turn my brain off and just veg while brushing my teeth or combing my hair after my shower to the point where I sometimes hit places twice because I can’t remember if I’ve gotten that particular spot yet. I know a lot of people probably think, but no one reflects on the minute details of the past two weeks of their lives while poking at their teeth with a friggin soft/green twig. Jesus.). Whatever you decide to do, try to avoid inspiring rants like that one.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Lately, I’ve been revisiting an old favorite TV show during my relaxation/recovery hours. Community, an amazing show recommended by my friend Carolyn (mentioned a few days ago) follows the exploits of an unlikely group of study partners at a local community college. They bond over all the things that make them the same despite being a diverse group of races, political alignments, religions, and mental aptitudes/wellness. They struggle with the same kinds of problems we are struggle with when we’re part of a group that spends all our time together and, despite being characters, feel remarkably human. The show is a comedy, but that doesn’t stop it from telling some really great stories about the human condition and how we all just want to connect with each other. Honestly, the first three seasons are some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen and, while the show runner was brought back after a disastrous fourth season, there was no real recovering from it. It took two more seasons after that for it to die.

 

Helpful Tips

Being able to manage your diet and caffeine intake is incredibly important if you have a marathon of high-stress like National Novel Writing Month done in conjunction with pretty much anything else. Knowing what kind of fuel your body handles best can mean the difference between being sleepy after every meal or spending all your time between meals snacking. I need a decent amount of protein every day to stay full and empty carbohydrates like most snack foods and breads don’t keep me feeling full for very long, so I try to avoid snacking on anything that isn’t meat. Preserved meats like jerky and the various “snack sticks” are my go-to. When it comes to caffeine, you really need to do some experimenting yourself. Finding out how much caffeine you need for a reaction varies from person to person. For instance, my roommate drinks a cup of coffee and that’s all he needs. He even has to drink it slow to stay sane. I drink a cup of the same coffee and need another. At the same time, he doesn’t react any differently with a soda but I can’t drink soda for anything but caffeine withdrawal relief because it hits me quick and then leaves. Once you know how much caffeine you need, you should set some rules on it and stick to them so you don’t start wrecking your ability to sleep or making yourself unable to function because you’re constantly flirting with over-caffeination.

 

Fall

Dawn in Fall is my favorite time of day.
The soft, warm colors paint the sky

As I clear the sleep stains from my mind
And my eyes gradually adjust
To take in the waking world.
The crisp chill air fills me as wind blows
The orange and pink splattered clouds
From one horizon to another.

Dusk in Fall is my favorite time of day.
The bright colors of late afternoon
Drain from the sky as my work worn eyes
Slowly adjust to the fading light
And my exhausted mind stirs anew.
The smoke scented air hangs heavy and cool
While heavy cold blues appear, descending
Until day has stilled and night reigns above.

The start of Fall is my favorite time of year.
The memory of heat and humidity lingers
Like a sheen of sweat on your forearms
And even the heavy frost of frozen mornings
Is a welcome reprieve from the cloying summer.
The quiet skitter of leaves on breeze
As the world begins to fall asleep
Lets me know that I can finally find peace.

The end of Fall is my favorite time of year.
The advent of snow and blistering cold
Wakes my mind like a dip in a frozen lake
Because there’s something in the failing fall
That tells me it is time to start moving.
The heavy weather gives me something
To push against as my mind roars a challenge
At the quietly dying world,
­­            As if to say “Not me.”

­­­                       “Never me.”

Saturday Morning Musing

When this post goes us, I’ll be busy attending to my soul and mental well-being by going on a hike with a small selection of my favorite people. After several weeks of being too tired to do much and a constant lack of days we can all gather, those of us who are available tomorrow are just going to do something regardless of the fact that half our group is missing. It isn’t ideal, I’d rather spend the day with all of them, but I need to get active and to spend time with people who help me forget myself for a while. With all the stress and anxiety that have been building the past three months, I need to ignore my desire to stay home alone to work on processing review suggestions and actually go do something I know I’ll love.

I’ve always enjoyed walking. I like losing myself in my gait as I wander from place to place, maybe listening to music or just taking in the sounds of wherever I’m at. Hiking is a sort of extension of that, because it takes me out of areas that always grate on me, cities with the constant hum of cars and neighborhoods with the quiet noises of people going about their daily lives. If you pick the right hiking location, you can go the entire hike without encountering anyone. You can embrace the quiet of nature and the irritating hum of modern life that most people only notice when it’s gone disappears completely. You can lose yourself in trees and the quiet emerald peace of a nature at its strongest. If you’ve picked a place with some nice elevation changes, there are a ton of great places to stop and admire the world around you. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the horizon and having an unobstructed view of the sky and there’s just something wonderful about getting both of those things as a result of being on top of something that rises above the area around me. Only in hiking trips can I get all of that at once.

Even though I’m going with my friends, I’ll be able to enjoy that. These are all people who know me well enough that there are no awkward silences to fill. I don’t need to worry about how to maintain a conversation or how to segue from one thought to another because they all just get how my mind works enough to not always need an explanation. I can just be myself around them and their presence doesn’t intrude on my sense of peace and quiet. For the past several years, we’ve always done at least a couple of hiking trips every month, though we’ve been doing fewer of those lately because of how busy everyone has been. They’ve been some of my fondest memories and include some of my favorite pictures. All of the background pictures you’ll ever see on my blog are pictures I’ve taken while hiking. If I could, I’d do all my thinking and writing in a spot that overlooks the surrounding area and has an unobstructed view of the entire sky. My dream house idea focuses mostly around a taller tower with what is essentially a glass dome on the top so I can sit up there and read or write as close to the sky as I can get. Heck, the whole thing might just be a tower of some kind. But it would have to be on the side of a mountain or on the top of a tall hill somewhere. That would be amazing.

After hiking, I’m planning to do the Pokemon Go Community day since I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the game now that I don’t have my ex to give me a reason to keep playing it. I don’t really feel like it “our thing” anymore, thankfully, but I still wonder if I’m just wasting my time on something that isn’t really adding anything to my life since I have a tendency to play the game alone and let it distract me from the main purpose of my frequent walks. It’s so easy to bring alone and leave running in my pocket, but I’m not good at ignoring it when it’s in there and will start to feel anxious if I don’t check it for a while. It works the same way as notifications on my phone do. If I know they’re there, it will always cause me more stress to just ignore them than to skim through them and either open them or dismiss them. In order to save myself from needless stress, I’ve started disabling certain notifications on my phone and setting up hour-long notification silences so I won’t notice when they show up until the hour is over. I’ve also removed most time-waster games from my phone for the same reason. I also repeatedly install and uninstall Imgur as I cycle between just needing something to kill some time and realizing that I’ll just sit on the couch and browse through Imgur for an hour instead of going to bed or starting my writing. Which is why I’m still on the fence about Pokemon Go. I definitely benefit from still having Sudoku on my phone because it often works as a way of doing some mental stretching when I’ll feeling particularly tired or fogged up from how focused I’ve been on my work.

It’s a really nebulous balance and I’m probably going to be working on it my whole life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to just figure out how much work to do and how much relaxation to put in and when it’s already to simply escape instead of doing something genuinely relaxing. Even though I love writing and reading, they’re still work. Even though I’m super excited to start reading all of the amazing books people have written and mentioned to me on Twitter, there’s still a lot of work to do just to find all the links, titles, and authors. I want to just wake up in the morning and dig right in to my to-do list, but I need to take time to relax and hike and let my to-do list remain undone. I’m still doing at least four hours of writing or book recommendation collation a day, so it’s not like I’m slacking off, I just always feel like it’s hard to justify taking the time to wander through the woods or spend a few hours walking around the city with some friends while we catch Pokemon. I’ve only got so much time, after all. I want to get the most I can out of it and it’s, no matter how long I live, I don’t think it’ll ever be clear how to do that.

 

How to Cope with Exhaustion

Feeling like you’ve scraped the bottom of the energy barrel to the point where the barrel no longer has a bottom? So tired you just kinda want to cry and find somewhere dark to curl up in the fetal position so you can finally let your exhaustion overwhelm you? Feeling like you’re stretched beyond the point of recovery and to the point where all of the stress has invaded your dreams so now you have to deal with it while your awake and asleep? While none of these things is a good position to be in, we often find ourselves in them when the shit hits the fan and we focus ourselves on simply doing everything one step at a time until we’re finished. Or until we collapse from exhaustion. I’ve done both, and neither one works out well in the end because we’re ultimately taxing our mind and body to the point of damage.

There are ways to help prevent some of the damage, or to mitigate the negative aspects of trying to buckle down and work through long days, busy weekends, or months of ceaseless stress. None of them are guaranteed to work and they’ll all need to be tweaked to fit your specific needs, but the core concepts should definitely work for you. I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with various forms of exhaustion thanks to insomnia in high school, business and insomnia in college, and stress and business after college, so I feel like I’m pretty qualified when it comes to figuring out how to cope with mild to extreme exhaustion until you’re capable of resting.

The first thing I’m going to say, despite it making me feel like a total hypocrite, is that these sorts of situations are best avoided. Even short periods of exhaustion or sleep deprivation can interfere with your short-term memory, inhibit the formation of long-term memory, wreak havoc on your immune system and muscles, and will for-sure exacerbate any health issues you have, be they physical or mental. It is good to know your limits and to be able to push past them when you need to, but there’s a pretty big difference between “I need to just push through this” and “I think pushing through this is going to yield the best results I’m going to ignore options that would leave me feeling more rested.” I guarantee that you will always have better results if you can rest first. You can’t always rest, but you should when you can. If you rest up or take good care of yourself, you will see your best results in the long-run.

If resting up isn’t an option, you should really figure out which type of energy you’re going to be running short on. If you’re physically active during this period of low sleep or high stress, you will be short on physical energy. If you’re stretching your skills and abilities in new ways or being forced into new situations without much time to prepare, you’ll run out of mental energy. If you have to take care of people or deal with people who don’t want to be dealt with, you’ll rapidly run out of emotional energy. If you’re doing something that involves all three, then I feel so sorry for you and I wish you the best because most of my strategies for coping with a low energy of one or two types requires relying on the other(s) to help carry the weight or be turned into the type that’s running out.

If you need more mental or emotional energy, some quiet meditation or music is usually very helpful. Something that will help you feel a certain way or that will help you process the feeling you’re dealing with at that moment. Maybe you need something to make you feel powerful or something to help slow you down to alleviate some of the mental strain you’re experiencing. If it’s physical energy, I suggest taking it easy by sleeping, playing games with friends, or watching something while you let your body rest. Even a couple hours of any of these activities, while you continue to work on other things, can help get you back to a point where you can make it through the day. I’d recommend against anything that might be destructive, like excessive eating, alcohol, or drugs. I haven’t got much experience with the later, but I’ve seen enough people make that mistake to have learned the lesson.

Additionally, a change in your diet can help keep you going. Avoid too much sugar since that is going to just set you up for a terrible crash later, unless you’re eating natural sugars from stuff like fruit or vegetables. I recommend eating plenty of both to keep you going since it helps to have something to do with your mouth while you’re trying to focus. At the same time, having an idea of what kinds of foods provide the most energy for you will help a lot. I know my body processes protein very efficiently, so I can delay encroaching exhaustion by eating a lean, protein-rich diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit. It’s not really going to make you feel energized, but it’ll keep you fueled and prevent your body from taking too much energy away for digestion. Throughout it all, avoid sugary sources of caffeine. Stick to things like coffee or tea and don’t add too much sugar to them or else you will get an immediate boost followed by a crash when the caffeine kicks in so you’ll feel exhausted and be unable to rest it off. Also, drink more water than usual. A good goal for water consumption is to drink half your weight in ounces of water. If you want something a little easier, I suggest going for at least three quarts or liters. It’ll help keep your mind clear and hydration is key at all times.

The last thing, and the most effective, is getting organized and writing things down somewhere. The exact methods for doing so depend a lot more on how you think and how you tend to organize information, but it’ll help if you do it, regardless of how you do it. For instance, the only reason I’m still sane and productive these days is because I’ve taken to writing to-do lists and journaling things as the day goes on. Not only is it helping my emotional energy, but it’s take a constant source of mental energy drain (trying to remember everything) and offloading the work onto a notebook. I can write down not just how I’m feeling, but also what my thoughts were on whatever meeting I just had, save ideas for later, and get a little mental clarity when I set everything else aside for five minutes so I can write things out. For people who don’t have issues with remembering things that only exist electronically, there are a ton of applications and programs out there, most of which you can get on your phone. Heck, even Google Now does a lot of that stuff.

Like I said earlier, it is best to avoid pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, but hopefully these tips will make it easier to cope when you don’t really have any other choice. Good luck!