It is not uncommon for us mothers to wake up tired even after a good eight hours of sleep.
Not having the vitality to do our daily tasks – let alone extra activities – can be discouraging and even isolating, as low energy levels can prevent us from spending quality time with our families, going out with friends and doing all the things we used to enjoy. How can we regain our energy?
After ruling out any serious health problems that may cause a lack of vitality, it is worth pausing to consider what habits, activities or beliefs may be draining our energy.
1. Sleep and rest
If you’re a new mum, you’ve probably realised you’re not entirely in control (if at all) of your schedule. Especially after having a baby, some mothers don’t sleep or rest well until their baby’s first and even second year of life, so it’s normal to have a momentarily poor sleep pattern and therefore feel drained during the day. If sleeping through the night is currently difficult because the baby wakes up, try to find small moments throughout the day when you can relax your body and mind.
The expectation in industrialised societies to get back into pre-pregnancy shape can create pressure to exercise even when you are truly tired. Sleep and rest are more helpful in reducing weight naturally and regaining strength and vitality than returning to extenuating physical activity too soon.
If your child(ren) is older, make sure you do everything you can to get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed and get up early. Check your sleep situation: Are there any noises that can be disturbing your sleep? Is there too much light? How is the temperature in the room? Are you too hot or too cold at night? Making a small change, like switching to a lighter or heavier blanket, can make all the difference.
Drinking just before bedtime increases the chances for you to visit the bathroom during the night, and not giving the mind a break before bedtime (watching TV, reading the news, or scrolling through social media) can also keep you from sleeping.
Remember, getting enough sleep is essential to keep the engines running. If you want to learn more about ways to improve your night rest, check out this blogpost.
Moving your body and engaging in energetic activities can help you regain vitality. Unless you are ill, staying in the same position, lying on the couch for several hours or watching series non-stop, for example, increases the chances of becoming more tired and sluggish.
According to yoga philosophy, one of the three Gunas or energy forces that govern the universe is Tamas. Tamas is the quality of inertia, inactivity, dullness, or lethargy. A good way to overcome listlessness and regain the desire to do things is to go for a walk, alone or with your little one in the carrier or pram for at least 15 minutes. Going outside, changing the scenery, breathing fresh air and getting the juices flowing can be extremely beneficial.
If you prefer to do something more vigorous, try shaking your body, jumping up and down or dancing to a couple of upbeat songs. Overcoming inactivity takes a bit of will power but is rewarding and has many benefits.
On the other hand, if you are truly exhausted and you feel you’re over-active, choose a guided meditation or breathing exercise (Pranayama) that you can do while feeding your baby. In the first few weeks after birth, breathing deeply and consciously helps tone your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, which are fundamental for your physical recovery.
3. Nutrition and hydration
Choose nourishing, good quality food. If possible, make your own meals with whole, organic ingredients and keep a balanced and healthy diet.
The salt, grease, and refined sugar present in processed food are not nourishing and can leave you hungrier. Try to consume mostly vegetables and fruits, but also carbs and healthy fats in smaller amounts.
Reduce the intake of caffeine in all forms. Drink around 2 litres of plain water per day and avoid carbonate drinks. Herbal teas are a wonderful alternative, they can be consumed hot or cold and the herbs can add various benefits to your overall health.
4. Restorative practices
Yoga Nidra, the yoga of sleep, is a wonderful way to rest the mind and body. Choose a guided meditation to calm the nervous system, and a restorative yoga pose such as legs up the wall or supported reclining butterfly as an invitation to let go and collect yourself. Any type of asana that encourages drawing the focus inwards and makes you feel calmer can help you compensate for a lack of rest and replenish your strength and increase your vitality.
5. Doing too much
We can’t do everything in one day. Choose only three tasks or set a couple of realistic goals for the day. Divide and conquer: break down big projects into smaller steps and simplify as much as possible.
For example, instead of setting out to clean and tidy the whole house, decide to focus only on reorganising the wardrobe or even a single drawer. This way you’ll feel the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done some of what you intended to do, without completely exhausting yourself.
6. Behaviours and relationships
Some tasks (including those we choose to do), habits and people deplete our energy. Is there a way to “neutralise”, minimise or exclude them from your routine?
One energy-draining habit can be working late every day or even on weekends. Although it gives the false impression that it “saves time”, taking regular breaks is not only key to our overall health and well-being, but it can also inspire us and provide us with creative solutions that we might not otherwise think of.
Some colleagues, family members or even friends can consume our energy. If possible, choose when and how you interact with them. If this has never been your forte, know that you have more power than you think when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
In a nutshell:
Even if you have a busy schedule, make sure you find small moments throughout the day to rest, do something fun or fulfilling and nourish yourself. Examine different aspects of your life to find possible causes of burnout. Review your eating habits, always choose rest over exercise, set realistic goals, create boundaries and exercise self-forgiveness often.