Do you ever get restless when it comes to body, mind, and spirit? And if so, is it a good thing or not? Lately, I’ve been dealing with restlessness internally and have been trying to process it that past few weeks, figure out why, and how to use it to my advantage. In writing this, I am hopeful that I might be able to help some of you deal with restlessness in a productive, positive way, recognizing when it is too much, and how to rid ourselves of some of the excess restlessness that accumulates.
What is restlessness? For me, it’s an internal sense of discomfort and a strong desire to to move, whether that movement takes the form of running, walking, or another athletic activity. At least sometimes, restlessness can be related to inadequate rest and relaxation and/or making poor nutritional choices, creating internal imbalances in the body. There is clearly a comfort zone that we seek safety in from time to time. But restlessness results in the realization that we are outside of that comfort zone or box and sometimes cannot even see it any more. Not much growth can occur in comfort zones, we just keep going in circles. We must have the courage to make changes sometimes, to venture beyond our comfort zone, to lose sight of the shore. And if we wander? J.R.R. Tolkien famously wrote: “Not all who wander are lost.”
What causes restlessness? Sometimes it is from missing goals. For example, I set a goal of running 200 miles this month. Unless I run 38 more miles today, I’m going to miss that target. A hamstring injury forced me to back off this month. But I still feel restless, like I should go outside now and make up the missing mileage. I’m going to have to accept and appreciate the 162 miles I did run this month. And I’ve run 508 miles so far this year, but it’s 25% of my Run the Year 2016 goal. Fitness routines require delicate balancing and smart, intelligent adjustments.
Sometimes the cause of restlessness is simple. For example, it can be just a desire to run and/or exercise more. If it seems to be a healthy sense of restlessness (restless legs that want to run), listen to it.
However, sometimes restlessness can be created by the impact of others, even our pets: our dog is restless and wants to run, therefore, I feel the same way. Like today when Misty ran around the house making me want to run, too.
Or we are driving/riding in a car or traveling and see people walking and running and this creates a strong desire to walk or run. Sometimes we simply have to be patient before we can walk or run (tough to do on an airplane or in the car).
At times, restlessness can be caused by overtraining (exercising too much and/or not taking rest(ful) days). Or by undertraining. If we remain inert too long, the inertia can accumulate into the desire to (visualize with me) become a rocket ship and blast off with a fun run. Or restlessness can mean we need to insert a walk break into a workout or press pause to hydrate and/or rest for a little while.
Restlessness in the mind can be caused by taking on too many commitments or activities or multitasking too much. Let’s face it, it’s tough to say no sometimes when we are asked to do something. But every no creates a well-rested safety zone of sorts from which to complete a meaningful project or activity. When we multitask too much, the focus from our work disappears and we produce a lower quality product or service. Try focusing on one thing at a time if possible for at least an hour. Then take a break! Don’t forget to take breaks, even it it’s for 5 minutes or less. Traveling though life at a 100 miles per hour will only result in burnout, heartache, exhaustion, and more restlessness. We need to slow down and recognize certain days we will not have the energy, creativity, or strength that we do on other days and adjust accordingly. Those adjustments can make or break our ability to balance our lives, our priorities, reserving enough time for rest and relaxation. And fun! Don’t forget to have a little fun every day.
Restlessness is common when we arrive at transitional points in life and cannot seem to quickly move to the next stage. Patience, my friends, is a virtue and I would argue a critical one that we should work daily to cultivate. If we find productive outlets for restlessness like running, walking, writing, other creative outlets, it should restore us to a healthy place of having a “normal” amount of restlessness (meaning not excessive).
How can we handle restlessness productively? First, learn to intuitively sense when you are restless. It takes practice (ask your friends and family or they might tell you that you seem a little restless). Second, run off your restlessness in a disciplined, intelligent way ensuring that you are not overtraining or undertraining. Third, recognize if the restlessness is due to inadequate rest, relaxation, poor nutrition and/or hydration and make adjustments. Fourth, if the restlessness is due to disappointment like a missed fitness goal, let it go. Set a new goal and reach for it. Fifth, it’s okay to be restless from time to time and to recognize that not everything is within our control. If it’s overwhelming, get some help from a coach, a friend, a family member, or a confidante, someone you trust that can provide you with some expert help, guidance, wisdom and counsel. Sometimes that encouraging positivistic input and adjustments suggested by someone else will be enough to cause sufficient course correction to help you be the trailblazer you were meant to be. Yes, you are a trailblazer in your own unique, powerful way! You are awesome! Let the RESTLESSNESS be your fueling fire that propels you forward, igniting your internal flaming fireplace hearth, and helps you set the world ablaze with your passion, joy, and positivity of living an amazing, inspired life.