Refocus and Renew Yourself

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by Kim Davis

I often hear people say,” I just don’t have the energy to exercise, go for a walk in the park, cook a family meal, or read a book for pleasure.”  Consider this, if you do not take the time to nurture your spirit and work on improving your health, no one else will. Some time ago I read an article in O, The Oprah Magazine,entitled “Oprah Energy Policy” that I related to back then and feel the advice still holds true today.

Too often we place our needs at the bottom of the list. How many times have you made a to-do list and managed to complete the last task? Not often. Let’s reverse the order of the list. Place yourself at the top and everything else down on the list. I assure you, you will be more productive, have more energy and more time to engage in activities that are pleasurable to you. As women, we have been socialized to take care of everyone else’s needs and problems before addressing our own. Make a promise to yourself today to make a change for the better.

We can all learn a few lessons from Oprah’s Energy Policy:  Reserve, Restore, and take off Sunday’s. Oprah realized early in her career that she had only a certain amount of energy and that she needed to conserve and restore it. So do we. What do you do to give back to yourself – to refill your tank? For Oprah, she always takes Sundays off as a spiritual base of renewal. Think of what will work for you and start immediately. A car without gas cannot go far. Likewise, a body that is exhausted and fatigued will not work properly.

My challenge to you this week is to institute your own energy policy. I hear someone wondering, “what can I do to boost my energy level?”  I have the answer. I want you to challenge yourselves to take a radical step and simply REST. Yes, REST. Instead of pushing yourself or cramming more into a day simply call it a day and relax. I know this is shocking to some of you high-energy people but I want you to give yourself permission to REST.

Women, I challenge you to leave the office early, arrive home before your husband and children, light a few candles, put on some soothing music and take a relaxing bath. Once the husband and children arrive home, announce that today it’s their turn to plan, prepare and fix dinner (or order out), clean the kitchen and wash laundry. Tell them that you are off duty and you’ll be relaxing in the “queen’s chair” reading a good novel, watching a couple of old movies, etc.

O.K. men, I haven’t forgotten you. For your relaxation, change your normal routine. Instead of heading for the recliner to watch the news or read the paper, try going to the gym or simply take a walk in the neighborhood. You might even engage in activities that involve the children. For example, take your son or daughter fishing, shoot a few hoops of basketball or go bowling. Kids really enjoy doing things with their parents. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of bonding with your children and learning about their activities and friends.

I know this is not easy to do because there are so many legitimate demands to meet. But Oprah said it best. “Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus”. That means asking yourself, ‘Is what I’m doing part of my overall plan – and can I release the energy I’ll need?’ If the answer is no, simply REST and try again tomorrow.

Thoughts to ponder:

Things do not change; we change. ~ Henry David Thoreau

It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. ~ James Gordon

Christine Smith, M.S., is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU, Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.

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