087 – Depression Busters: Rest and Energy Levels

Rest & Energy Levels

Rest and energy levels are vitally important to your emotional health. Sleeping well, proper pacing, perspective pauses, intentionally managing energy levels in four zones, and balancing taking action and taking breaks. Many things associated with living, leading, and loving, cast a shadow across our joy and cause us to slide, or at least start sliding toward depression. In this episode we continue our “Depression Busters” series, as we discuss the importance of rest and refreshing.

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Depression Busters: Rest and Energy Levels

Last week we began a short series dealing with depression through depression busters. 

As we’ve mentioned many times, we’ve experienced depression through the grief process, but also depression associated with leadership and even spiritual leadership. 

A Recap of Last Week’s Episode

Here’s a brief recap of the first 15 minutes of episode 086 that lays the foundation for this short series. If you’ve not already listened to episode 86, you may want to go back and listen to that episode that, if we do say so ourselves, is a golden discussion about the importance of friends in the life of leaders and how to invest in friendships. 

Here’s the recap from the notes for episode 86:

Depression is a real thing for leaders:

  • we sometimes feel very alone and lonely…
  • we sometimes feel pressure to produce…
  • we are the answer man or woman…
  • we feel a need to compete with unreachable standards…
  • we live in the public eye and criticisms are sometimes directed toward us…

We want to take the next few episodes and deal with a few things necessary to live emotionally healthy lives. 

Last week, in episode 86, we discussed the importance of friends and friendship in rising above depression. This week we discuss the role of rest and refreshing in overcoming depression. When you get tired, your perspective and energy levels skew and depression starts flirting with you. It’s a real thing. 

In this Episode…

In the very throes of serious depression related to life altering realities, we’ve found that rest and refreshing is vitally important to your emotional health. Sleeping well, proper pacing, perspective pauses, intentionally managing energy levels in four zones, and balancing (or keeping tension between) taking action and taking breaks. 

It’s not only life altering tragedy that prompts depression, but many things associated with living, leading, and loving, cast a shadow across our joy and cause us to slide, or at least start sliding toward depression. 

Sabbath and Sabbaticals 

We beat the drum of “days off” and time away vigorously and regularly. I’ve actually been criticized for this a few times. Bi-vocational leaders have protested by rehearsing their schedule to show the impossibility of the luxury of a day off. I get that, I completely understand the challenge. 

Might I be so bold as to pose that a lifestyle pace that opposes scriptural principles and presses you toward depression and emotional fragility is a lifestyle that must be adjusted. Life is about trade offs. You can usually do anything you really want to do, but you cannot do everything you want to do. 

As we’ve navigated our new reality, and we are trying to figure out how to both make a living and fulfill our core passions and calling, I have an unfortunate tendency to gravitate toward the undoable. I have to keep checking myself to make sure I do not unintentionally build out an unsustainable life. 

Here’s the thing: I am slowly figuring out that all of the things in my heart to accomplish are not all “right now” things. They are to be built over the next decade. I want to get them all started right now. I want to set the wheels in motion for the entire dream. Rather, we must pace ourselves and bring things online one things at a time. We’ve got to trust that the things in our hearts will find room to surface, one thing at a time over a long period of time. 

I understand busy-ness. I understand why you feel a day off does not fit your reality. I also want to gently say that you are going to be well acquainted with depression because you are forcing your body to go against its design, and when you do that over a long period of time, it becomes bone against bone, and it will hurt you. 

We want to give you a free resource. This is a limited time offer because of the way we distribute resources, but I’ve written a Sabbath and Sabbatical resource. In Kindle format it is about 60 pages, but I’ve not yet e-published the book. We are going to include it in our weekly resource update as the “classic resource” for the month of October. If you are a subscriber to the Calibrate360 Weekly Resource Update, look for the link in our October updates. In the future we will edit the book and clean up a few things you will find as you read the book, but we are going to give our subscribers the PDF. Included is a short theological discussion about sabbath and a good bit of the book focuses upon our experience in taking a sabbatical. I wrote the resource to be of help to pastors and church boards who were considering a sabbatical plan. We believe the resource, particularly the first chapter, will help anyone exploring the concept of sabbath and the spiritual and emotional importance of taking a day off once a week. Just click the orange subscribe button below to sign up and look for the link in any of the October updates. If you are already a subscriber, just open the email and download the PDF.

By the way, be sure to “whitelist” the email address for the update by adding it to your address book. If you’ve subscribed and not been getting the update every Thursday morning, then it’s probably in your “junk” folder. 

We are a proponent of a 7-year sabbatical cycle. I’ve written a lot about it in the resource, so I will leave it at that. 

A sabbath, or a day off, is an unbroken 24-hour period devoted to rest and refreshing. 

May we pose that in our present culture and economy, we recommend a five day workweek. Five days to work hard, one day to take care of the myriad of personal business we all must tend to in our culture, and one day for rest, rebooting, and refreshing. 

A sabbath is a weekly selah. 

Selah: Learning to Pause

Selah is a Hebrew word often used in the Book of Psalms. Many of the psalms were mean to be sung or corporately read. “Selah,” was written in as as an instruction to pause and deeply consider the preceding passage. 

Appropriately resting, and thereby helping to control depression and emotional stress, is best layered into our lives. 

  • A seven-year pause called a sabbatical, when we take a longer break for reflection and redirection for our next life and leadership cycle.
  • A yearly pause, sometimes called a vacation. My practice is a couple of weeks vacation for emotional refreshing and family time, and a one-week strategy week to pause and calibrate the upcoming year. 
  • A quarterly pause. This is a personal observation, but there are four 3 month quarters in the year, and taking a long weekend every three months to either rest or reboot strategy is essential.
  • A weekly pause, which we have referred to as a sabbath.
  • Daily pauses, which you could call a “selah.” Taking a “lunch” break in the middle of the day. Taking a 15 minute break every couple of hours or between tasks to reflect and switch gears. Some take a 15 minute power nap mid-afternoon to recharge for a strong finish to the day. Sometimes you need to take a walk, step outside, eat some fruit, change up your pace, not only for productivity, but to keep from overheating your gears. 

 

I do not elevate Socrates to the level of the gospel, and Socrates actually said a few things I do not agree with, but one thing he said with which I do agree in part is, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Strong statement, but the core of the statement, to me, is we need to think about our direction, our purpose, and our pace often. The best way to do that is… Selah. 

Sleep

This is such a vital topic, as it relates to rest and busting depression, that we are opting to make it the topic of episode 88, to be published next week. 

Pace and Energy Levels

We just got back from India. Oh my. Door to door took about 32 hours. I am fried. This year we’ve been to South Africa, Paris, India, and I am preparing to go back to Paris for a meeting that will help define our future. 

I do not want to get on another airplane. Long flights over multiple time zones are killers. 

When I am exhausted I am susceptible to depression. The weariness in my brain and my spirit colors the world with a tinge of blue. 

Here’s what I’ve learned. I have to pace myself and give myself the needed number of days to recover. If I just keep pushing onward, something will brake. My weariness will lead me to depression. 

I will not be ashamed that I am fried. I will not be ashamed that I need to schedule time to catch up, to rest, to sleep, to recover from sleeping in economy airline seats and dealing with airports non-stop for over 30 hours.

Why do we think there is a trophy or a badge of honor for rolling on like everything is normal, when it isn’t?

We need to establish a healthy pace that works for us. My pace as a 25 year-old was different in a lot of ways than my pace in my 50s and presumably, that pace will need to continue to adjust throughout my life. It is not noble to be able to run like I once did until I am 100 years old. I must be in touch with my pace. 

We must embrace our reality, and live life accordingly, and that is called “pace.”

The Four Energy Zones

You have 4 energy zones. I want to credit Jim Loehr and Tony Swartz for initially introducing me to this concept in their book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. (Affiliate link). The concept is, there are four zones we must manage when it comes to living a healthy life:

  • Spiritual,
  • Emotional,
  • Intellectual, and
  • Physical.

Fatigue, and subsequently, depression gains a hold when one of these four areas is out of balance. Here are some practical things to think about:

  • How much spiritual energy am I expending or required to expend? What is a commensurate refreshing strategy?
  • How much emotional energy am I expending in this season of life? When we were wrecked in the grief journey I had very little emotional reserve. What is your season? What are your reserves? What is a commensurate refreshing strategy?
  • How much intellectual energy am I expending or required to expend? If you spend all day thinking, then you might not want to do crossword or logic puzzles in your free time. This is why I’m not a big strategy game player. My life is strategy, thinking, planning our next move. To play a game where I have to devise a strategy to topple a king or take over a continent simply does not refresh me. Manage your intellectual reserves and make sure you have a commensurate refreshing strategy. 
  • How much physical energy am I expending? If you labor hard all day, you might not need to run 4 miles when you get home. If you sit behind a desk all day, then a 5 mile run might be exactly what you need. Pace your physical energy and have a commensurate plan for refreshing. 

Rest and refreshing is not only about the time we take off, but it is how we pace ourselves. 

Taking Action

Wait, weren’t we just talking about rest? 

If all we do is rest, that could be laziness. If we get plenty of rest and plenty of refreshing, but we aren’t accomplishing anything, that too leads to depression. So much so that this is going to be another topic in this series. 

We will talk about taking action in a couple of weeks. 

Calibration Tools… Calibrating Our Lives and Lifting the People We Love and Lead

  • How are you doing on the Selah? What is your rest and refreshing strategy annually, quarterly, weekly, daily?
  • How are you managing your four energy zones, and more importantly, how are you recharging your four energy zones? Spiritual? Emotional? Intellectual? Physical?
  • How’s your pace? Is it realistic? Do you cycle back and forth on your energy zones between spending and refreshing?

Finally… 

Leaders are talking more about depression and battling depression than I ever remember before. Its a good thing to acknowledge that we sometimes struggle with feelings of depression. 

In episode 86 we discussed the importance of friends in overcoming depression, in this episode we’ve discussed the importance of rest and refreshing in keeping the right PERSPECTIVES and PACE. 

When we get worn out, the world takes on a blue tinge, its harder to see things as they really are. Rest doesn’t fix everything, but without it we can start to tell ourselves some pretty outlandish stories. 

Work hard, and rest effectively. 

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