Are you FILLING your life, or DRAINING it?

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.



“There’s never enough time in the day!”


Said many people (like myself…every day).



My day typically begins with a wakeup at 6 a.m.


By 7 a.m. I am out the door…and the fun doesn’t stop until about 11 p.m. or midnight that evening.


No joke. I put in long days—and quite honestly, love every minute of it…but some days, many days, it can be exhausting too.


I climb in bed every night, hit the pillow and am out like a light. Ready to re-generate for the next day.


My story is no different than yours.


You are just as busy as me.


Work. Meetings. Coffee dates. Commitments. Carpools. Kids. Obligations. Expectations. Schedules. To-do lists. Deadlines. Small groups. Social gatherings.


Blink for a moment and…life may very well pass you by.


And yet…even with as jam packed as we fill our days…there is still never enough time to ‘do it all’ in a day!




Sleep is inevitable, and try as we might to get by on the least amount as possible in order to get more done in a day…we crash. We burn. And we add to our to-do list for the next day; resolving that “tomorrow” we will get more done.


And the beat goes on.


Tuesday night, I was home by 10 p.m.—completely and utterly…drained.


Toting a few mid-week groceries, my backpack, several books, my purse, and my lunchbox from earlier that day, I felt like a complete Sherpa.


Walking through the door, I dropped it all to the floor, and siggggggghhhhheeeedddd.


Longgggg dayyyyy.


Dinner was on my plate by 10:30 p.m. while I finished writing an article I needed to get out by that evening, I hit the showers, then bed.


And while this may sound completely UNBALANCED (it is)…reflecting on many a long day got me thinking…







At least for those of us who don’t live in a bubble.


So, knowing this is the case…How can we prevent ourselves from getting completely burned by busyness?!


How can we bring more BALANCE back to our lives?


And moreover, what does BALANCE (and the illusive ‘work-life’ balance) even look like?!


Introspection, or self-reflection, often yields GREAT INSIGHT.


[After all, we typically KNOW the answers inside ourselves (for a host of our struggles, questions, and indecisions)…when we pause to take a breath for a moment].




At least in this lifetime.


As I sat at my counter, eating dinner, completely taxed from a long day, my roommate read me a post by the lovely Melissa Hartwig of the Whole 30 she stumbled upon on her Instagram feed.



In it, Melissa wrote: I don’t strive for work-life balance or “fairness,” because the very concept is unattainable, and the pursuit will leave you feeling reactive, inadequate, and powerless.


Preach it sister.


“Balance” is technically defined as the “even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”


However, given that our daily lives are in a CONSTANT state of motion, sprinkled with change and unforeseen ‘curveballs’ (coffee spills, traffic, fender benders, personality conflicts, pleasant surprises, etc.) in any given day…an “even distribution” is FAR FROM ATTAINABLE.


On this note as well—why do we need to find ‘balance’ in our work and in our life? Isn’t our ‘work’ really on this earth to ultimately…live our lives?!


Work does not just have to mean that J-O-B (not a four-letter word people)!


The ‘work’ of our lives…entails our job and ‘work’, but also entails our play, our relationships, our extracurriculars, our hobbies, living our dreams and passions, our educational pursuits, the way we spend our days and our time, and ultimately, our individual life purposes and missions (whatever that is for you).


Taking these insights in, and reflecting…oddly brought me a greater sense of peace after my crazy, long day…


Ahh…I could actually breaaaatttthhhheeeee…..and I realized two very important points to bringing more peace to your mind and your days:


Number 1: Be Present


Instead of letting life—and the hectic, crazy, busyness of each and every day carry me (or you) away….there’s no time like the present to practice the art of presence—being in the moment right where you are at right now…


Instead of planning, construing or already being in the next place, the next to-do…be where you are at, and choose to refocus and shift all your energy to being right there.


This could mean:

  • Striking up a conversation with that stranger in the grocery check out line or at a coffee shop;
  • Getting off that damn phone;
  • Deciding to go on a walk or run outside on a beautiful day rather than your usual dungeon gym routine;
  • Focusing on completing ONE task at a time, or prioritizing most important tasks first instead of hopping around from task to task to task with no completion;


Number 2: Live Out of Awareness Around Your “Fillers & Drains”


No matter what you’re called to do right now, or in this day, choose to invest your time, and your energy, and your brain power into things that fill you…instead of drain you.


In other words: Evaluate what it is that “picks you up”/makes you feel alive (“fills you”) and what it is that sucks all the energy out of you (“drains you”) in your daily life.


Chances are, the more “fills” you choose…the less drained you will feel—no matter how busy, or unbalanced, life gets at any one moment.


This looks like:

  • Taking a machete to the to-dos, the people-pleasing tasks, the habits and routines weighing on you;
  • Saying “No” instead of always saying “Yes.”
  • NOT doing things out of obligation, but desire;
  • Countering more taxing and draining tasks by intentionally carving out the time and space to: Regenerate, practice self-care (read a book instead of get on email, take some time to get quiet after a busy social night, aim to get a little more sleep, turn the TV off during dinner and actually enjoy uplifting conversation with a friend or family; etc.)
  • Asking yourself: Am I really doing what it is I love in my life? (Hello! Do what you LOVE, love what you do!—it’s my motto and it can be yours too).
  • And on and on.


Side note: Not sure what your ‘fillers’ are? What makes your cup overfloweth?


It’s time to get crafty!


Pull out a pen or some markers and paper, and get to writing, doodling, dreaming and creating…Put on paper what your mission and vision is in your life; the things that bring you joy and make YOU tick (i.e. happy); your idea of a perfect day—all to yourself…


Chances are, in this exercise, you will find some common themes and increase self awareness around the things that lift you up…and the things that weigh you down.


Align your to-dos and schedule with things that fit into your mission and vision.


We all have choices—choose life, and life abundantly!


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