AND why when we feel so tired, do we feel guilty about it?
Surely being tired is OK? It is allowed isn't it?
Yet for some reason, we dismiss it, diminish it, hide it.
<< I'm fine, just a bit tired today >>
Why are we scared to tell the truth, that we are feeling so utterly exhausted that we can barely drag ourselves through the day, that every thought requires a superhuman effort, that just moving from one room to another could reduce us to tears?
Extreme fatigue is not just a symptom of chronic illness, but also of depression. However, you don't need to have any illness, mental or physical, to feel from time to time that you are running on empty and have nothing left to give.
At the time of writing this, we are in the middle of August, a time when we are all juggling a multitude of obligations that have the capacity to take their toll on us, between school holidays, family visits, child care issues, heatwaves, work stresses, and of course, this year, 2021 has us still reeling from the effects of the Co-vid virus. Feeling tired is normal. Feeling run-down is normal, feeling exhausted is normal. Having a relatively brief interlude of exhaustion can be normal.
"It is easy to think that fatigue is born just of physical activity, but we should remember that emotional tensions and stress can cause just as much fatigue as running a marathon.
And if you ran a marathon in August, you'd allow yourself to take a rest afterwards surely?"
Give yourself permission to feel tired and allow yourself the time and space to recover: - be kind to yourself.
Introduce some simple techniques to bring some calm into your life, create moments when you can just close your eyes and let the world drift away. Whilst additional sleep may seem like the answer, it is actually that serenity that you need to help rebalance your mental and physical energy levels.
Start by trying to schedule a couple of hours or an afternoon to yourself, even if you have to add it to the family agenda and underline it in red. Take a hot bath, have a nap, read a book, listen to your favourite album, whatever relaxes you, do it, and ask, beg, barter or plead to have that time uninterrupted.
Once you've kickstarted the process of relaxation, you can begin adding a few minutes of down time into your daily routine:
If you are in the car headed to another stressful meeting, or yet another supermarket run, and you hear your favourite song come on the radio, pull over and listen to it with your eyes closed.
Take an extra few minutes in bed in the morning or the evening for some deep breathing and full body stretches to relax your muscles.
When you finish a work call or meeting, spend a few minutes afterwards doodling and letting your mind wander, this may seem counter productive, but actually lets your brain process what you have just discussed and provokes clarity in your thought processes.
Remember that staring at screens is not relaxing for your eyes, so close them, or turn away from the monitor, put down your phone and look into the distance, or up at the sky.
Take a walk just for the sheer fun of it, no pedometer, no distance goals, just stroll slowly spending time looking at and listening to the world around you.
Spend time with your pet, groom them, stroke them, try to teach them a new trick, or just be with them.
These are just a few examples, however it is worth remembering that any physically repetitive or familiar activity is restful for the brain, so things like knitting, kneading bread, gardening, painting, will all help your mind detach and create calm, helping you to overcome those feelings of exhaustion.
Under normal circumstances, these feelings of exhaustion will dissipate by themselves as your work / life balance shifts around, but there are times when it persists and then it may be time to call on additional help. See your doctor to make sure that you are not suffering from anaemia or a vitamin deficiency, discuss the possibility of depression with them, consider a talking therapy to help identify the possible emotional causes and triggers of your exhaustion to combat it.
Remember that there is help out there.
See below for guided relaxation sessions, available on line now.