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Summer Inertia

Dr. Laurie tells us how to overcome summer lassitude.

Maybe it’s the July heat, or maybe the summer quiet, but most of my clients and friends are talking about inertia.

You know inertia. The lack of energy, the feeling that I just can’t make myself get up and do anything. Even things I need to do – or want to do.

My client Deborah talked about how she wanted to get to a yoga class. She knew she would feel better if she got there. But she just could not make herself get up and get out the door.

Another client told me he was waiting for a burst of energy to propel him into a work project that needed attention. “Maybe if I drank some coffee”, he mused. “Or….”, he wasn’t sure what he could do next that would “make the energy come.”

A friend described her “get better” project. She was finally going to change doctors, and see a nutritionist. It was time to deal with the fact that she didn’t like her doctor so rarely went, and therefore skipped important appointments. But she couldn’t get to the step of looking up her insurance and finding names.

Does any of that sound familiar? We not only can’t get ourselves to do something we don’t really want to do – we also can’t make a move towards something we want. Even something fun.

Over time, I have come up with three tips that my clients use for getting yourself un-stuck, and in motion towards where you want to go.

  1. Make your first step as small as you possibly can. We often feel like if it’s small it doesn’t count. Nonsense. Inertia is a force field, and the amount of energy it takes to get in motion is far greater than what it takes to stay in motion. So, make your initial step small and easily doable. Laughably do-able. My client Deborah and I decided that the first step was simply to put the class in her calendar. To write it in for every week. That was enough. Over time, she got motivated to put her yoga mat out with her go to work essentials. She took it along.  You get the idea. Baby steps.
  2. When you are felled by inertia, choose a fun thing to do first. Don’t try to get over the hump by approaching a sticky work project, or something you loathe. That will not help at all. Pick out something that sounds vaguely enjoyable, and enlist help. Find someone else who might go with you, listen to you chart out a plan, or who will sit by your side as you make the call.
  3. This is an essential but often overlooked strategy. The inertia is telling you something. Maybe you need to surrender to it instead of fighting it. Perhaps you need some down time, or limbo time to go with the flow and let yourself be. We do not always need to be in motion. We do not always need to be at yoga, or creating a project or fixing the world or ourselves. Sometimes we need to let summer lassitude rule. Stretch out in a hammock.  Let it go.

Let me know how it goes for you!

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