Lethargy can set in anytime, especially while we’re in this phase of the national shut down and quarantine!
For some of you, it’s been business as usual, maybe even more ramped up than usual. For others, you find yourself with absolutely nothing to do. Then there’s a whole slew of people in the middle who have switched gears. They are at home doing a job they typically do elsewhere, though maybe not as effectively.
I’ve been reading a book called Creativity by Philippe Petit, a high wire artist who has been successful in many endeavors. Mr. Petit has won national acclaim for his feats, such as walking on a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center back in the 1970’s (he made eight passes between the two towers before they were officially opened). In this book, he shares his method for fighting lethargy.
What is Lethargy?
What does it mean to be lethargic? As a medical term, lethargy can result from something underlying and more serious. For this, you must seek professional help.
For those without medical conditions, lethargy can be a momentary or seasonal lack of energy or enthusiasm from circumstances. In that case, these ideas may be helpful. They also remind me to be mindful of how I keep the energy up and going.
Rules for Fighting Lethargy
The author writes about his three rules while teaching his classes of high wire stunt students. 1) No leaning. Don’t lean on chairs, walls, or tables. 2) Do not yawn. 3) Never yawn while leaning on something!
The principle is that by eliminating symptoms, you begin to eliminate the disease.
Horseback riders, violin players, dancers, models, and golfers all pay close attention to posture and stance. If you control your posture, you introduce more balance in your life. If you begin your day, “commanding yourself” to sit up straight, you begin your day believing you have important things to do and you must be ready.
Mr. Petit’s three rules apply well to a class of people learning to walk on a tight rope. You don’t want to lean while you’re way up in the air on a tiny little wire. But what about the rest of us who don’t need to walk on a wire? What rules would you add to maximize your energy?
These might be some of my rules:
No phone until 9:00 am
I already know that my best energy is from about 5 am to 9 am each morning. Most of my blog posts are written during this time. Why waste precious time laying in bed scrolling when I can get up and do something productive? The little cat pictures and personality tests can wait until later. The only exception is reading Scripture, which I read from my physical Bible or iPad (I know that’s a technicality for not picking up my phone, but it works for me). On a side note, I also charge my phone in a different room from where I’m sleeping.
Smile and Listen
When you attach a smile to your listening, it activates you. When you’re scrolling through your phone, a relatively low quality leisure, you don’t usually have a smile on your face; more likely, your forehead and eyebrows are forced and wrinkled. Smile when you listen to others. Smile when you talk on the phone to others.
This rule might apply to me now because I want to invest some of this unusual time in listening more to my family. When I follow this rule, I’m more likely to smile, relax my face, and have eye contact with my wife and children as they tell me this or that!
Stick To A Schedule
Sticking to a schedule, even one with flexibility, is helping me during this season.
My normal schedule begins with my morning routine of writing, reading, walking, and getting ready for the day. This usually happens between 5 am and 7:30 am with time in between to talk and visit with my family. I go to the office before 9:00 and leave around 4:30 or 5:00. Being at home changes this physically and mentally. I find myself starting at 5 am and plowing through all morning until lunch or doing the opposite. I do my usual routine and don’t get back to the grind until just before lunch with not much to show for the time. Setting a mental and physical workday is a rule to help me keep from getting lethargic about the projects that need to be done.
Fight Off Lethargy With Balance
Your rules for fighting lethargy during this unusual season or any season may be different from mine. They might include: Getting up at a certain time. Adding in exercise. Shutting off all screens by 8:30 pm. Taking a shower and getting dressed every day. Going for a walk every day.
As a reminder, our bodies need rest. We’re not machines. Laying on the couch, watching a movie may be just what the doc orders at times. But I think most of us can tell when we’re resting and when we’re being lazy and lethargic.
Whatever rules we follow to fight lethargy, we need balance in our lives. In the end, balance is achieved by simple things: setting a schedule, making time for the most important things, and doing the most important things first.
I like how this guy worked in a simple rule, “don’t lean on things,” as a way to teach his students how important balance is in life.
Here’s a link to his book, Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe Petit (2014).