Writing this column from the beach, I was enjoying the sunrise, waves crashing, rustling palm fronds, and reading a chapter in my book about workaholism and how peak performers have one thing in common: they rest.
Rest! It’s something I teach in my detox programs (detoxing from “doing-it-all”) and particularly with my mama clients. As a functional nutritionist, my work is to figure out underlying causes for fatigue and stress that ultimately affect the microbiome and brain, trigger nutritional imbalances or even lead to illness. As a single, working mom, my personal work includes figuring out how to rest.
The “work from anywhere” concept was enticing even before COVID turned our homes into offices, blurring the lines between work and life. My vision was the flexibility to enjoy life more. As it turns out, working from home means never-ending work: planning, preparing, organizing, cleaning, maintaining, mentoring, juggling and—just a few minutes most mornings—conscious breathing.
Each day is a repeat. Weekends are similar, squeezing in a bit of work before kids wake up. Like all moms, I need small or big breaks whenever I can get them!
With spring break on the horizon, I chose to take my kids on a much-needed adventure, knowing I’d be working simultaneously. While planning our trip (researching, packing, scheduling COVID tests, flights), I vowed to create balance between work and daily mom duties. Would it be possible?
I was exhausted before we left home and I’ve been up early every morning since (even weekends), working. Traveling fatigue is common; still it’s a symptom of living on overdrive, piled atop innumerable factors: emotional states, sleep, exercise, diet, medications, environmental toxins, lack of life purpose or spiritual connection—too many causes to mention here.
The point of vacations is rest, not recovery, and they’re disastrous when we don’t enjoy them. Single mom spring break with the kids is potentially ominous. Hence, I chose an island (naturally calming), booked no activities (eek!), and allowed the days to unfold. While my kids woke every morning to mama on the computer, I stopped, with unfinished projects, and we enjoyed the remainder of the day together. I cultivated an energetic break from the hustle, perfectionism, workaholism and freneticism, finding myself lost in many moments. Beach play, snorkeling and hiking washed away layers of stress.
We cannot resort to such extravagant releases on a regular basis. How else may we mamas address fatigue? “Quick fixes” like caffeine to find energy may help occasionally, but over time may lead to depletion.
In the meantime, feel free to start with coffee (heavenly). While reveling in it, choose one way to increase energy today. For mental energy, I choose meditation, gentle movement or hemp extracts. For physical energy, I may change tasks, go outside or exercise. To energize my cells, I eat fresh, whole foods instead of breads or packaged foods, and nourish my gut with live bacteria from yogurt and sauerkraut. I enjoy sugar and caffeine in limited quantities, eliminate alcohol (with a few exceptions), and definitely prioritize sleep. For a boost of energy emotionally, I call a friend or practice gratitude.
Considering all the possible physical, mental, environmental, emotional and spiritual underlying causes of fatigue, an entire life assessment may be prudent. For now, I implore you to seek rest, every day. It’s surprisingly uplifting.
Jamie Truppi, MSN, is an integrative nutritionist focusing on functional foods and family wellness.