As I get ready to start my last three months of nursing school, I have been thinking a lot about conserving my energy for things I love (yoga, my family, spending time with Parker, seeing friends), and over the last year and a half of nursing school I have learned some helpful hacks to increase my energy and feel less tired, all while balancing school and a family.
We all know what it feels like to be run-down, to feel like we are just going through the motions when it comes to our lives. I think the hardest part for me is coming home after a long clinical day and having to be “on” instead of getting to relax on the couch with a glass of wine. I am sure many of you feel like this after a long day at work, and I am sure this feeling will continue to occur when I start working too!
The truth is, the things that often exhaust us and make life a little more complicated (careers, children), often help us thrive and give our life meaning. We just need a little help along the way to balance our self-care with giving our energy to these important aspects of our life.
So here we go! A few tips and tricks for saving energy for what really matters!
- Make your bed in the morning. This may sound silly, but making my bed every morning makes me feel a) productive and b) is a concrete way to signal to my brain that sleep-time is over and I am ready to begin my day. I am also very grateful when I get home that my room is clean and the bed is made, and it provides a peaceful atmosphere that is easy to fall asleep in.
- Cut down on caffeine. This has been really huge for me in nursing school. I find that if I have more than one cup of coffee a day, I crash really hard in the afternoon. It also increases my anxiety and makes me jittery. I limit myself to one cup of a caffeinated beverage per day (either coffee or matcha) and then switch to something like a turmeric latte, herbal coffee, or Rebbl drink in the afternoon. I also elevate my coffee by adding collagen peptides, coconut oil, and adaptogens (herbs) to help clear brain fog and keep my energy levels more consistent rather than a huge spike of energy and then crashing. Read more about elevating your coffee here.
- Get outside. I find on long school days that I get really fatigued during the day if I stay in our building all day. Taking walks in between classes or during a day of intense studying and homework helps tremendously. There is something about the fresh air that clears my mind and wakes me up.
- Meal Prep. This has to be one of the MOST important and time-saving things that I do. Often after a long day spent in school, then picking up Parker and giving him a bath and making sure he has a snack, I am totally spent. I LOVE when I have a ready-made meal in the fridge that just has to be warmed up. We usually grocery shop on a Saturday, and meal prep on a Sunday. Think a pan of different roasted veggies, quinoa, chicken in the slow cooker, etc. Everything I make is super simple. I try to pick one thing to make in the oven, one on the stove, and one in the slow cooker for example, so I can do it all at the same time. I have also been using our instant pot a lot too because dinner takes 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes to an hour. We have one night designated to order in, which is such a treat because–no dishes 🙂
- Cut Down on Sugar. I know, I know. I hate to say it. I love chocolate and cookies just as much as the next girl. But I do notice that when I cut down on sugar, I feel much less lethargic during the day. For me, sugar gives me a burst of energy, and then shortly after makes me want to take a huge nap. I am trying not to use any sweetener in my coffee, just the dates that I use to sweeten my homemade almond milk. I do a 72% dark chocolate that has low sugar (Eating Evolved is the best!), and have been playing around with making my own sweet treats that have very little sugar. I also have fruit with a little protein like peanut butter, because the fruit itself has fiber and causes less of a sugar spike than say, a chocolate chip cookie. This is definitely something I am working on, because I love sweets!
- Split Up the Laundry. Before I had Parker, I always did all of our laundry on one specific day of the week. Now that we have one more person in our family, that is kind of impossible! I love to designate one day a week for towels, one day for Parker’s clothes, and another day for our clothes. It feels a lot less daunting to wash, dry, and fold on that day because there is just less volume. This has really helped things from piling up, and I don’t have to spend hours on one day doing laundry.
- Clean Up Before Bed. Every night before Parker goes to bed he helps us clean up all of his toys and puts them in their respective bins and shelves (or sometimes we end up doing it). We make sure the dish racks are all unpacked, the counters are clean, and the dishwasher is running. I can’t even tell you how much this helps to make mornings run more smoothly. It is so nice to come downstairs to a clean kitchen and living room. It helps me to feel energetic and ready to start my day, as opposed to overwhelmed from clutter and cleaning that I don’t have time for trying to get a toddler and myself fed and out of the house.
- Have a Bedtime Ritual. Once Parker is asleep, Ben and I wind down by watching a TV show (Top Chef and Designated Survivor are on the docket right now). We usually head upstairs around 8:30, because we like to read for a bit, and are both up anywhere between 4:30 and 7:00am depending on our schedules. I diffuse lavender and cedarwood, and often journal or listen to a meditation app. This nightly ritual is so important, as it helps us to leave the stress of the day behind, and have a truly restful sleep, which is KEY to relieving the exhaustion that being a parent can bring.
My Favorite Caffeine Free Beverages:
- Turmeric Latte (hot or iced!) made with Gaia Golden Milk Powder.
- Teeccino with coconut milk
- Any Rebbl drink! I love the Maca Mocha, and get mine at Whole Foods.
- Bone broth. This is soo good on a cold winter afternoon, and is great for your gut health! I love Bonafide Provisions
- Herbal Tea. My favorite brands are Mighty Leaf and Yogi. I love peppermint tea, Rooibos, or anything with lavender and chamomile in it!