Welcome to our advice column where our editors offer thoughtful answers to your pressing inquiries. Head here to submit an anonymous question, and follow here for new Good Questions.

“How do you find your old energy and productivity after months sat at home? How do you overcome the brain fog?”

First, let me reassure you how normal this feeling is—whatever “normal” means now. For over a year, we’ve felt increasingly lonely and bored. We’ve experienced fatigue mentally, emotionally, and via the well-meaning Zoom. We’ve been inundated with cycle upon cycle of bad news. And many of us have experienced loss: of loved ones, of jobs, of sex drives. It’s no wonder we’re tired. So let’s first be compassionate with ourselves, and then let’s be patient.

Sure, we’re on the brink of reuniting with all of our communities, but doesn’t it also feel like we’re relearning ourselves? Instead of seeking our old energy, maybe we should nurture our new one. 

An object in motion stays in motion, so let’s start small and restore ourselves one step at a time.

We can look inward and ask ourselves what we’ve learned, are ready to release, or want to “keep” post-pandemic. It is a hobby? A changed perspective? Instead of becoming beholden to all of our old responsibilities all at once, we can identify a new single curiosity and begin to cultivate it. An object in motion stays in motion, so let’s start small and restore ourselves one step at a time.

To get back into the swing of things, we can set gentle, unproductive goals. Ones that aren’t rooted in efficiency and output, but in our interests. I aimed this year not to journal more, but to at least journal on my good days too, not just the bad ones. And since some of us do feel empowered by performance, we can thoughtfully tailor our efforts to our individual working styles. Creatives, curate an encouraging playlist! Busy-bees, monitor your pacing to avoid burnout!

We can regain our energy by doing something we enjoy every day. (And, remember, we don’t even need to be good at the thing.) Christine Morgan, chief executive of Australia’s National Mental Health Commission, said, “It’s not only okay to take time out to do something that brings you pleasure, it’s actually a really important way to help us rebalance and”—yup—“re-energize.” 

We must actively counter that which depletes us.

More simply, we can go back to the basics. Like, the science-backed basics. Our bodies get their energy from the carbohydrates, proteins, and fats found in the foods we consume. (They’re literally called “fuel” molecules.) So regaining our energy can be as attainable as eating mindfully. Additionally, movement, hydration, and quality sleep remain natural, time-tested sources. (They’re still being touted, even as recently as last year, by Harvard Medical School.)

In order to help ourselves, we must actively counter that which depletes us. So let’s reduce our news intake, swap out the sweatpants, and spend some time in the sun too. Slowly but surely, we’ll recognize our spirited selves again.

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Danielle Cheesman was born and raised in New Jersey, where she lived until moving to Philadelphia to study journalism at Temple University. She has spent her years writing and developing editorial visions for music, art, and lifestyle brands. Now residing in Los Angeles, you can usually find her taking pictures, making playlists, or cuddling her pup. Say hi on Instagram!