I wrote this blog post a year+ back but never published it. I was going through my drafts and decided to share it today.
The other day, I ran across this tweet I really like:
I got a question from a reader afterwards that asked what do you do when you physically feel like you can’t do that due to fatigue, illness or something else altogether.
I responded with a tweet storm but thought I’d share it with anyone on IMPOSSIBLE who’s dealing with similar issues.
So, without any further intro, here’s your simple action plan for when you feel like crap.
Maybe it will help.
Move Every Day
Sitting all day and feel weak? That’s because you’re sitting around all day feeling weak!
Your muscles aren’t doing crap, so they get worse and worse and moving every day is harder and harder. Soon, doing anything is a chore and everything is a big deal.
Easy fix: move every day.
Endorphins are real. Use them.
Run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, at least do something on your foam roller.
Cut Down On Sugar
Happy! Sad! HAPPY SAD HAPPY!
Ever feel like that?
You’re lacking emotional control, but your body is also screwing with you.
If you’re eating a normal diet, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re eating too much sugar and too many carbs.
They make you happy in the moment and screw you over in the long term.
Sugar messes with your body and screws with your mood.
Cut it down gradually.
Note that I’m not saying to cut it out completely. That’s because if you’re like most people, you’ll end up shivering in your closet like a heroin addict going through withdrawal.
But, cut it down over time and watch your moods level out, your mental clarity sharpen and you start to have greater control over your emotions.
Force yourself to laugh about something every day. Find 15 minutes of comedy on Youtube or Netflix and anything Bill Burr does. Anything.
Doing something that sucks? Find the funny in it. There’s always something funny.
Running an ultra marathon back and forth over a 1 1/2 mile course over and over again? Laugh at the absurdity of it.
Running up a hill 100 times in a row. Just because you can? Hard AF, but hilarious if you zoom out and you’re one of the people on the boat laughing.
If you look for it, there’s always something to laugh about.
Even if you just do the thing where you look at an meme online and breath quickly through your nose – that counts.
Remember: Pain hurts less when you laugh at it.
Do Something Meaningful
People are taught that happiness = lack of pain.
People say that “you deserve happiness” like you can sit on your couch and happiness just descends from the heavens around your head.
That expectation is making you miserable. Full explanation here.
Pain isn’t bad. Pain just exists. But you get to choose the types of pain you get to experience. The pain of getting worse sucks. The pain of getting better is awesome. Pain for something worthwhile is awesome.
In other words, the pain of sitting on the couch and feeling awful sucks. Your muscles will ache, your lower back will hurt as your muscles atrophy and get weaker.
But, if you go to the gym, you feel pain too. It’s hard. But the pain of a workout lasts builds towards something bigger (being stronger, having more energy, being better).
Find the things that have meaning. Find the pain of getting better.
Make SOME sort of progress each day.
Get Some Sleep
I like to think that I can get away without as much sleep as I need. Know what happens?
My body gets 8 hours of sleep. Whether I like it or not.
I can shortchange it for a bit – 6 hours here, 6 hours there – but after a while, my body gets 8 hours.
I’ll crash out for a 12 hour “nap” and my body will get the sleep it needs.
Want help falling asleep? Magnesium is your friend. Try it. It’s magical and you’re probably deficient in it anyways.
Still having trouble falling asleep – make sure you crossed off the something meaningful part on your list + push yourself physically (see the top of the post). Run a marathon and do something meaningful and still try telling yourself that it’s hard to fall asleep afterward. Good luck.
Naps Are Your Friend
Tired all the time? Sleeping too long?
Waking up at noon and feeling like SH*T?
Try this instead.
Sleep 7 hours. Then get your A$$ out of bed by listening to this.
Then get up, drink cold water and move immediately.
Start your day, get stuff done and then get tired as hell at 1 or 2pm.
When you do – take a nap. 20-45 minutes max. Use this app. You’ll feel like a newborn baby coming into the day.
While everyone else is dragging, you’ll be like a puppy running around the office.
Here’s how you take the perfect power nap #boom
Oh, you work and can’t just nap in the middle of the day? You get a 30 minute lunch, right? Power eat the lunch at your desk and then sneak off to your car or a dark corner and take the power nap. Sound weird? Do it anyways. I dare you.
Take Lots of Alone Time
People are exhausting. Take alone time – otherwise you’re gonna get cranky.
While you’re at it, be judicious about who you give your time to and make sure that they’re adding to your life and not just draining it of energy and purpose.
You don’t need to answer every phone call. You don’t have to hang out or go to every function you’re invited to – especially if the people are mean, uninteresting or draining.
You know what’s a great way to make NO progress?
Then forget about it.
Then try it again.
Then not do it for a long time.
Then give it another shot and realize it’s still as hard as it was the first time.
That’s a great way to feel like you’re putting forth a lot of effort but making NO progress.
By the way, despite it being just as hard every single time you “re-try”, you’ll get approximately nothing done.
Instead, be consistent.
Even if you’re not perfect every day, make sure you move forward and do something.
Yeah – that thing you’re avoiding because you feel like a slug. Go out into it, experience the sunlight and try to crack a smile.
Time that nap with some time outside – even better.
Now, you might be saying:
Hey Joel, I live in the Midwest, Canada or somewhere in Indiana. I haven’t seen the sun in 6 months and I’m not even sure that it is actually a real thing. I’m starting to think it’s a conspiracy designed to make me depressed until April.
Good point. I get it.
Here’s what you do: get a UV lamp. Stick it on your face. Brighten up buttercup. Winter will (eventually) be over…maybe (no guarantees if you’re in Indiana).
Also, if it gets bad, you can always move to a place with more sunlight. Seriously. That’s what I did.
DO NOT GIVE UP. Keep Going
Whatever you do, do not give up. Keep going.
If you’re not dead, the game is not over. It’s only “over” when you give up.
Failing, screwing up or having a bad day is not failure. It’s just a bad day. Calm down, pick yourself back up and keep going.
In an ultra-marathon, you don’t fail if you run slower than normal. You only fail if you quit, pack your bags and walk off the course.
You Got This
An object in motion stays in motion. It’s true for every object in the universe, and it’s true for you. Want to do more stuff? Starting doing more stuff (and then do more). Want to know why you feel so sluggish? It’s probably because you’re acting sluggish.
Act like the thing you want to be.
Act like it. Then be it.
You got this.
Now go do it.
If you’re interested, here’s the full tweet-storm that started this post.