Tell me how you have evened out your biorhythms/energy swings.
November 7, 2014 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I noticed something about myself yesterday that I think I need help with. Basically, no matter how happy I am at the start of the day, I am often emotionally and physically depleted by the end of it. How can I maintain my 8:30am levels of optimism, competence and energy so they're not completely gone by the afternoon?

If it matters, I have a stable family I adore, and a desk job I have come to only mildly dislike, although it started off on a bad note. (Today is an unusual day in that I can take the time to write this post.) My nutrition has been pretty bad this past year, as I have turned to the comforts of sugar and big portions to lend some pleasure to otherwise very dull days... I get so hungry when I try to cut down. I exercise a bit, but not much -- generally only if I can get to the gym at night, which is rarely.

I start most days happy and well rested. AT 8:30am, if it's a sunny day and I'm not on a call, I'm usually smiling and even if stuff in the office is bugging me, I usually have healthy perspective on it. But throughout the day, not only my physical but my emotional and mental energies get more and more depleted, so that by 5-6, I'm DONE. I am often too tired to engage with any sort of decision making that I might want to talk to my husband about; I am often too tired to even watch TV. It's not uncommon for me to need to go to bed at 9, because somehow even though it's just a desk job, my eyes and my brain are so tired that they will let me body fall asleep and often even sleep through the night.

And worse... at the end of the day I have no emotional resilience, like, none. A stressful work interaction that might have just annoyed me in the morning will send me into a spiral of sadness if it happens at 4. I obsess sadly all evening on every criticism I've ever gotten, despite the overall preponderance of excellent feedback that I get, and basically I lose all perspective. And even if I can list out, rationally, the reasons to not feel bad, I feel bad anyway. And if nothing's happened to make me sad, then often I'm angry. And even if I'm not sad or angry, I'm usually terribly, terribly tired.

I know that there are elements of my job which have combined to make me not my best self this year. Actually, I took some of the harsh advice from this prior question and have obtained a new role, which I will be starting soon, having vetted out the company culture, the role, and the general match much more carefully than I ever did with the role I'm in. I desperately want to start it on the right foot and succeed long term and I think evening out my biorhythms could play a big part in that. So... do you know what I'm talking about, and if so, what has worked for you to prevent a major downward swing towards the end of the day?
posted by fingersandtoes to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
How long a lunch break do you give yourself?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

You mention your nutrition not being great... what exactly are you eating? If it is lots of carbs and sugar supplemented with lattes I could see that greatly contributing to your fatigue. Not saying you shouldn't have comfort food, I'm firmly pro-carb and ate a cinnamon danish at work just this afternoon, but perhaps you need something more sustaining as well. Whole grains, greens and proteins. Lots of water too.
posted by mymbleth at 10:49 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nutrition and exercise, even if it's just going for a walk at lunch time or after work.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:11 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Go to bed early enough. Drink plenty of water. Eat whole foods. Take a vitamin D supplement. Don't drink caffeine or alcohol. Get plenty of day light and go for walks outside.

The hardest of those things for me is going to bed early enough. I miss staying up and watching an episode or two of something before bed. But my priorities are just different these days. And I'm not a young twenty-something anymore.
posted by jillithd at 11:15 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This sounds a lot like me when my blood sugar is whacked out, for what it's worth. After years of not feeling super-great at work, I learned that I have to be a lot more careful about eating protein-heavy, fat-containing, no-sugar-or-white-carb foods often during the early part of the day. Cereal in the morning, in particular, tended to start a pretty bad cycle where I was tired and foggy as soon as I got into the office--and the more caffeine and snacks I had to combat that, the more I felt like an overly-sensitive slug at the end of the day.

These days I start my mornings with scrambled eggs, and will eat something with protein every 2-3 hours (a cup of yogurt at 10am, some soup at noon for lunch, apples and full-fat cheese at 2pm, etc). If I'm feeling tired or foggy, I block out my calendar for 30 minutes and go for a quick walk outside rather than eating something or drinking coffee. (I almost always need a walk around 2pm, so I try to not schedule meetings then.) The difference this has made in my energy levels is pretty astounding.

Once you get past the 101-level food stuff, I found that mindfulness practice and meditation have become useful as a way to identify/observe my physical feelings like tiredness and not have that ruin my day. But honestly, getting my blood sugar leveled out was like 95% of the battle, this is just sprucing things up around the edges.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2014 [25 favorites]

My moods and energy changed for the better when I went low carb, drank more water, and tried to get better sleep.

When I'm carby, I'm much moodier, and then I'm chasing that high blood sugar to stay coherent.
posted by PlutoniumX at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2014

Extreme (and extremely emotionally draining) mental exhaustion at the end of the day was one of the worst problems of my unmedicated ADHD, but ymmv depending on a variety of other factors.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Okay. I am feeling pretty fantastic these days and this is what I am doing:
-being assertive and not taking on more than I can handle
-I eat oatmeal and scrambled eggs for breakfast, whatever healthy thing I fancy for lunch-usually small. And protein and mashed veggies for dinner. (when I mash my veggies with the handblender I end up eating twice as much)
-monday-wednesday Mr. Catspajammies and I go for a half an hour run in the morning before work and then 12 minutes of lunges and crunches etc.... those evenings are also reading nights- we don't turn on the television and we make time to read. We are usually fast asleep by 10. Thursday and then Friday are a breeze because we get a lie in and the week is almost done.
- I am working on MENTAL DISCIPLINE. If I start to get overwhelmed I come up with one liners to move off into a different direction. And also I have some positive thinking exercises that work really well for me (memail me, they are hard to explain)
- I cut down to one LARGE cup of coffee in the morning, tea until noon, and then NO caffine. This has made my digestion happier and lessened my anxiety.
-And finally, leaving facebook... and avoiding websites that trigger negative thinking.
posted by catspajammies at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]

Could a nutritional problem be the culprit? I dealt with a mild iron deficiency for years, and tackling it made a huge difference in my mood and energy levels.
posted by noxperpetua at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2014

Yeah, it's all food for me. When I eat carbier than usual, I get super cranky and sleeping in the mid afternoon. When I was doing a low-carb/high fat diet....I had NO SWINGS. It was absolutely the best part of the diet - my mood was stable, I felt just as able to do stuff in morning/afternoon/ evening...and I even slept less. It was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, carbs are easy. ;( I really need to get back to adding more fat and protein in my diet, I know I feel better when I do.
posted by aggyface at 4:45 PM on November 8, 2014

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