Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finding Your Energy

Nneoma commented that she liked my posts on work-life. I responded that learning to balance my work life (which has gone into overdrive this year) and my ORE time has been a project that I've been ardently working on.

And so true that it. This year, I had some major changes in the NGO which I run. I admit that it initially threw me for a loop, but I got things moving again and I feel that the organisation is much better for it. My sis and I also re-opened a family-owned bookshop, which was a monumental project. You know how they say that setting-up a business is like giving birth to a baby? Well, I've never given birth, but the process of bringing this shop into the world was as ridden with the anxiety and good old grunting (minus the pain, though that was not always true) that I imagine delivering a baby must feel like.

Most days this year, I've woken-up with a furrowed brow as I furiously recount all the items on my never-ending To Do list. Then I drag myself out of bed and push through the day with varying degrees of energy. Most often, I was just flat-out tired and struggled with the creative and problem-solving aspects of my work.

For at least the last 10 years, I've been quite dedicated to my physical health and fitness, working out at least thrice a week. From this January, all that flew out of the window, because I was too swamped with work to even have time to go to the gym.

I promised that when my work let-up just a bit, I would be back at the gym. It would be my treat, my reward to myself for persevering and pushing through the mountain of work.

How could I have gotten it so wrong?

So, my schedule did ease-up a teeny bit and, as planned, I was back to being a bonafide gym member. Since my days tend to end late now, I decided to switch my work-out times from the evenings to mornings.

So, the first day of this new schedule I tentatively got my things together in preparation to hit the gym for 7am - unheard of for me - and worried that I might not be able to hack it.

So you know what it feels like to find out that you couldn't have been further from the truth in your assessment of a particular situation?

That. Was It.

Not only was I able to complete 7am Yoga class, I was able to spend 30 minutes on the elliptical afterward. Not only that. The energy carried me through the rest of the day. Although I had a very busy day, I did not succumb to my usual bouts of fatigue.

So, my conclusion is that exercise really does energise you. I've heard it said for so long that I started to believe it, although I wasn't sure that was the case for me (I think working out in the evenings may produce different results ..... or maybe it's different for individuals).

However, I can see that when you're busy - especially when you're so busy that you scarcely have time to sit and think - it's crucial to make time to work out. It'll do so much good for your mind and body.

This concept is discussed in How Remarkable Women Lead, a book I referred to in an earlier post, as a strategy to re-energise yourself and manage stress.

- In one chapter of the book, one of the women leaders interviewed stated that when things got especially hot in the office, she headed for the gym. After that, she was sufficiently calm and able to see the problem through fresh eyes.

- Another woman spoke of the therapeutic effects of long walks when she's faced with a crisis situation. By the time, she's done with her walk, she's figured out how to solve the problem.

- Another lady spoke about how her martial arts training since she was a girl had helped her learn to celebrate victories and accept defeats - a quality which was invaluable to her in the boardroom because the reality of work is that you win some, you lose some but you need to keep moving despite what comes your way.

So, as much as possible, I won't be putting myself last - easier said than done, right? Ah well, I can try very hard.

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