I study a lot. I spend at least 4 hours of every day learning something new. That means that in the average month I spend at least 5 full days, more often 9-12 because of weekends, cramming new things into my brain. Yes, that is a LOT of learning and free time spent on improvement. And sometimes it just burns me out.
Regardless of whether you are learning new skills, dealing with people all day even though you are a hard core introvert, or partying all night because you can’t imagine a world without all the crowds, sometimes you just need a break. Your nervous system and brain need time to recharge. That is a completely natural thing, and should be honored.
People have limited capacities for everything they do. Think of each of these capacities as a tank of fuel. You have a tank for niceness, a tank for learning, a tank for spending time with people, a tank for helping others, etc. Every day you wake up and start draining the tank. Most people are not aware of the fact that their tanks exist, let alone that they are using the gas inside. Where the problems start happening is when you hit empty and don’t stop to refuel.
Fuel can look like food, sleep, exercise, sex, time in nature, sleep, time with friends, time alone, sleep, time listening to music, sleep, fill in whatever recharges your batteries.
Each one of those things will recharge at least one tank, and must be done at regular intervals in order for you to be in good shape. The intervals are personal, so you need to figure out how often you need what. You may have noticed that I listed sleep several times. That is because sleep happens to fill multiple tanks. Sleep is actually the fastest way to fill as many tanks as possible at once. It may not get all of them, but it will definitely fill many. How often do you go without enough sleep? How often do you feel run down and burned out?
Another essential tank filler is nothing. Yes, NOTHING. Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing. The Italians even have a term for it. Dolce Far Niente. Every few months I reach a day when I just can’t take another minute of learning. The things I study are subjects that I enjoy and am very passionate about. They make me happy, and they never feel intrusive on my time. I never study anything that does not bring me intense pleasure. I left that obligation behind the second I finished my degree. And yet, every so often the thought of hearing one more syllable about something just makes me cringe. That is when I shut down. I turn off the info and stop. I let my brain relax and assimilate.
Something else that many people don’t think about is the fact that your brain needs time to process, absorb and file away the data. Kind of like an assembly line. If you keep loading things onto the conveyor belt, but don’t bother removing and storing them at the end, the conveyor belt will stop working. You will just make a mess. Down time, or as I like to call it “Holy shit no more, NO, STOP.” That feeling means that the conveyor belt is full, and things need to come off the end.
I learned something very useful a long time ago, and it has served me well ever since. Any time I come across someone who is unhappy, stressed, or bitchy, I wonder how much sleep they have had, or how much food they have eaten. I recognize that they are not bitchy because they are horrible people. They are acting that way because their tanks are below empty, and they have no idea. They don’t know how to fill them up. Perhaps they know and can’t figure out how to do it.
Be patient. Remember the tanks. Take care of yourself. And if the conveyor belt is overloaded, just hit the off switch. It will be OK. Everything will still be exactly where you left it when you get back. You will know when it is time to restart the machine and go again.
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