Ever found yourself feeling like your social battery is running on fumes and desperately searching for the “recharge” button? We’ve all been there. It’s like your inner introvert is waving a tiny white flag, signaling for some well-deserved downtime.
For the last two weeks, I’ve been on the road. Blackhat, Defcon, and a team-building week with our new CISO at Reddit. Vegas for Blackhat and Defcon is something I look forward to all year. Some of my favorite people are there, and I make new meaningful connections each time I attend. It’s exciting and inspiring. And holy shit, if it’s not exhausting.
The days are long and filled with meet-ups, coffees, dinners, talks, exhibits, parties, and just about zero time for yourself.
Followed that whirlwind up by catching a plane to San Fransisco, where we did a fair bit of walking around the city, dodging human excrement. Plus, they crammed our schedule from 9 am to midnight! Again, really enjoyed our conversations, the brainstorming, the new leadership, and the time to connect with my team members, but coming off of Blackhat week - I was running on fumes.
Being on the road, away from family and routine, is challenging. Even when the events or engagements are fun, exciting, and full of good things, I can still find myself wishing I had a pause button to catch my breath.
Finally made it to the airport to return home and my flight got canceled, so I spent the final hours of my trip in the busyness of an airport, waiting in lines to talk to agents and refreshing my phone every five seconds to see if any new flights opened up. Long story short, I made it home, but not without some tears and my favorite four-letter words from my New York vernacular.
Over the next few days, I will be prioritizing my own rest and recovery, and I invite you to try these seven refreshingly necessary ways to bounce back from social exhaustion and restore you to your, well, typical levels of exhaustion.
7 ways to rest & recover
1 - Social media break/limits
Social media can give your brain an unintentional marathon workout, leaving you mentally sprinting from one post to another. By taking a well-deserved break from socials, you’re giving your mind a breather from the constant chatter and comparison games. Instead of refreshing feeds, I’ll be refreshing my connections. Trading virtual interactions for genuine moments with the people closest to me. My brain and heart will thank me for the downtime.
I learned a new term recently that resonates: “Dopamine Hole” - I think we can all relate to what that means. The best advice to get yourself out of a dopamine hole is to do the first small thing that you need to do. Maybe that’s just “sit up from a laying position,” or maybe it’s brushing your teeth. Seemingly small things can help you build momentum away from the doom scroll and into your life.
2 - Tend to My Basic Needs (Eat, Sleep, Hydrate)
My goal here is to cook and eat at least two meals daily. Cooking allows me to spend valuable time with my family and get more nutrient-dense foods into my body. Twice because, well, it’s better than zero times or 37 times a day which is often the case when I am on the road.
I will be unconscious for what might look like an insane amount of hours. I’ll be turning in around my kid’s bedtime and waking up after a minimum of 3 snoozes. My new sleep mask is working wonders, and I am so looking forward to testing it out some more.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I know that travel is dehydrating. I drink tons of water at the first sign of my body and mood going out of whack. Hoping that this trio of basic human needs does the trick and gets me feeling more like myself again.
3 - Watch feel-good movies/shows
Laughter jolts the brain with feel-good chemicals as if the neurons bounce around a Taking Back Sunday mosh pit (IYKYK). So, instead of thinking about literally anything, I am going to catch up on the new Justified, the latest in stand-up, and probably the Witcher because my wife has been (im)patiently waiting for me to return so we can watch it together.
4 - Take a day off work
Taking a day off work isn’t just a break; it’s an act of self-compassion. It’s a commitment to mental and physical health. Respite reboots the brain, boosting creativity and productivity when returning to work. While I recharge and recalibrate, my perfectly competent and capable team will be ok. It is for my mental health that I take this day off. Once I do, I will be more fueled and energized to tackle new projects.
5 - Take my daughter on a date
During this trip, she noticed my absence, and I felt hers. So we are going to soak up a full day together. I will do my best to keep my phone in my pocket and my eyes on her. I’ll let her tell me what games we’re playing and buy her all the rainbow popsicles her little heart desires. And it’s the hottest day on record in Austin, so hopefully, this date will be under water.
6 - Schedule alone time
Get. Me. Away. From. Everyone. - 60,000 Covid infected DEFCON attendees right into four 12+ hour days with my team in the same conference room. Needless to say, I could use some time between me and a tree. Connection with others is just as important as connection with myself, so I am really looking forward to this one.
7 - Read a fucking book
This is how I plan to shed the weight of conversations and crowded spaces. Curling up in a cozy corner of my couch and flipping pages. The more mindless read the better for this weekend so give me your best suggestions in the comments! Or, as always, you can ping me on Twitter. I refuse to call it by any other name. I’m currently reading Mistborn and it is my first Brandon Sanderson novel, I know I know. Better late than never, right?
Prescription for Recovery
Let me share a story about why it’s important that we share our experiences with each other in the name of building resilience.
One day a friend of mine who had been struggling with depression shared that she started taking Lexapro and was seeing an actual improvement. The not-so-metaphorical fog was lifting. The future seemed bright. Her relationships were thriving. Her specific struggles hadn’t gone away, but she could cope with them. Bye bye, depression.
My only experience with medication up to this point was the zombie my cousin had become whenever he was prescribed anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety pills. It was sad and hard to watch. He became a shell of himself; quiet, subdued, and not at all the obnoxious, talented, and funny guy I considered a brother.
So, when this friend approached me, and I could see how much she still seemed like herself, I started to feel hopeful that there was something out there that could help me.
My depression was unbearable, and my doctor agreed that Lexapro was a good fit. It was almost immediate. This indescribable fog in the center of my head, between my eyes, was just… gone. It felt really good to be able to trust my own mind again.
A story for another day is why I chose to go off SSRIs, but for now, just know that her willingness to talk freely about her mental health challenges and support made all the difference for me. Without seeing her experience and hearing about her successes and struggles through the process, I’m not sure how or when I would have taken the brave step to get help.
I’m thankful she shared. And I’m thankful I took the leap.
Consider this your invitation to share with me! What are your go-to strategies for recharging your battery? I’m always in the market for new strategies. Bonus points if the strategy also fills my desire to have a hyper fixation.
Bonus Content: What I won’t be doing
Focusing on what we are going to do helps the brain. The brain tends to respond more positively to intended purpose, such as “I will start running every day” instead of statements phrased in the negative, like “I won’t be lazy anymore.” This phenomenon is rooted in the brain’s preference for focusing on constructive goals and actions, leading to improved motivation and outcomes. So the heart of this blog is what I will be doing, but these are definitely things I won’t be doing.
- I won’t be meditating and doing yoga. Don’t come at me. I know every blog tells you to meditate and do yoga, and if I found that remotely enjoyable, I’d be the first on the mat.
- I won’t be taking a long drive with the music up and top off my Jeep - which is truly my favorite way to decompress. This is because it’s Texas, and my face melts off the second I step outside. It’s unbearable, and I will continue to complain about it until I leave this hellfire of a state.
- I won’t be harshing my own mellow by thinking about all the things that I am not doing while I am resting. Rest is time well spent. Period.
- I won’t be making a lot of phone calls and scheduling time to hang out. It’s ok to say no to plans to do nothing instead, especially after socially exhausting events.
- I won’t be reminding myself of how many days I missed the gym and how many meals I ate out. It’s quite literally none of my business at this point.
- I won’t be lounging by the pool so don’t come say hi.