Fight the Fatigue
“Don’t confuse the need to rest with the desire to give up”
- Craig D. Lounsbrough
Noun: extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.
Verb: cause (someone) to feel exhausted.
How many times a day do you say “I’m so tired”? Many of us will have suffered from fatigue. Many more of us will tell ourselves repeatedly that we have it. Sometimes it as a sign that we need a holiday or a break. Sometimes it is an habitual practice.
It is important to understand that fatigue is a symptom of many different factors. Some of these are lifestyle choices including poor diet with yo-yoing sugar levels, alcohol, erratic sleep habits, dehydration, over-consumption of caffeine or energy drinks, daytime napping and not enough physical activity.
There are medical causes such as iron deficiency anaemia, an underactive thyroid, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, heart failure, grief, sleep apnoea, COPD, COVID, liver failure, kidney failure, fibromyalgia, cancer and some medical treatments such as chemotherapy. Anxiety and depression can certainly contribute to fatigue and in turn when we are fatigued our anxiety and depression may be worse.
Other causes are more social - for example jet-lag, shift-work or parenthood. Fatigue is a key symptom of burnout at work.
There may also be internal factors at play when we feel fatigued. We have spoken before about the core beliefs that we hold. They are the lens through which we see the world and so they influence all our responses; our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We have also discussed how affirmation can create and reinforce those beliefs
When we continually tell ourselves we are tired, we are affirming that this is true and we drive this deep into our subconsciousness. We come to believe it and so we identify as fatigued. We give fatigue our attention and allow it to shape our responses.
Our thoughts become “I’m so tired”, “I don’t have the energy”, or “I can’t be bothered”, leading to feelings or body experience such as weakness, a fuzzy head, a dull pounding headache or muscle aches. In turn our behaviours change; we don’t make the effort, we say no to events, we succumb to a daytime naps, we comfort eat, we give in to the inertia.
These thoughts, feelings, and behaviours can cycle round and around enhancing each other and driving the fatigue further.
Sometimes saying how tired we are has become a habit and in fact we have plenty of energy but because we constantly declare our fatigue that is how we come to feel.
We can learn to use fatigue as an excuse when we don’t want to do something.
The run up to Christmas can be extremely hectic. Some may feel ground down by the pressure of creating the perfect day; having the decorations just right, selecting the perfect gift for everyone, making other’s dreams come true.
Some of us may be anticipating the usual family tensions and psyching ourselves up to cope. Bickering and passive aggression are incredibly tiring.
During the festivities we do often spend more time with loved ones. We might be asked to intervene in confrontations or take sides. This drains us of our energy and when we empathise and absorb the pain and sadness of others we are giving it away.
Just thinking about the big day can become fatiguing.
It does not, however, need to be this way.
We can notice when we are affirming tiredness and we can reframe what we say to ourselves. “I’m so tired” can become gratitude… “thank you for reminding me to rest”.
Take a look at the list of lifestyle factors that contribute to fatigue and make some small, sustainable changes.
Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
Whenever you feel yourself dropping off in the afternoon, get up and do some physical activity, even if it is just some simple stretches.
Make sure you are drinking enough water.
Create a positive bedtime ritual that will encourage quality sleep.
The tool this week is a specific meditative exercise designed to help you re-charge your energy levels when needed.
Time to recharge
Sit in a quiet comfortable spot with your feet flat on the floor and your spine straight
Start by focusing on your breathing
The tidal in and out of your breath
As you breathe, allow the out-breath to become a little longer than the in-breath
And on the out-breath feel tension leave your body
Now focus your attention to the very centre of your being
Your life force
See this as a source of beautiful iridescent light
How are your energy levels?
How bright is your lifeforce?
Is there a need to recharge?
Now take your attention to your feet
Feel connected to the Earth and all the nurturing life sustaining energy it contains
Next imagine a silver thread from the of your head connecting you to the infinite cosmos above
Here in this place connected to the Earth and the cosmos
You have access to all the energy that you need
Feel it rise up and flow down
See your lifeforce grow brighter and brighter
As you do feel yourself filled with the boundless energy of the universe
Take what you need
There is an unlimited supply
And know that you can come to this place of power whenever you need to recharge