I am exhausted.
Exhausted = completely worn out, having trouble thinking and concentrating, body and soul tired, running on empty.
I don’t get this way often, but it has been a particularly grueling month or so. A kidney infection that won’t go away (since August). A trip for Davis and I to say goodbye to my Granny while she was still somewhat lucid (Alzhiemer’s). A few days in the hospital for a migraine that is now on week 5. Launching a new blog (from a hospital bed, even). Bidding for a large project for my small business. A mad dash to the airport (with kids in tow) to make it to New Orleans before my Granny died. Her death. Helping my kids process their grief. Winning and staffing that new project. Two memorial services. Managing my own grief.
Those are just the highlights, because I still had all the normal stuff going on – managing a household, parenting, and running a small business. Like I said – I am exhausted.
This litany isn’t meant to be whiny or a pity party – sometimes life just piles on.
I know I’m not the only person who has ever felt worn out like this. You’ve probably been there too. A major project at work that is behind schedule, meaning late nights. The flu bug that slowly works its way through your entire family. The hot water heater that just went out or the roof that needs replacing. A tween who is just starting all those hormone surges. A best friend who is in the middle of an emotionally difficult divorce. A kid with 3 missing assignments – in ONE class. You know how it feels to be exhausted, too.
The specifics really don’t matter. The reality is that life can leave you worn out from time to time. Once you realize what’s going on, it’s time to do something about it. None of us like feeling beat down – so pick yourself up! Here’s what works for me:
- Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that this is a tender time. Don’t over-extend yourself. Say no. Make time to do the things that bring you joy and energy. Give yourself a break if something slips. Temporarily avoid people and situations that make you angry or upset.
- Hit the gym. Don’t overdo it. Raise your heart rate. Limber up those tense muscles. Release those endorphins that make you feel good.
- Protect your sleep. You know how much sleep you need to feel refreshed. Plan for it. Use good sleep hygiene practices (like no TV watching in bed, keep the room cool, etc… My sleep hygiene is awful and so are my sleeping patterns). Get your circadian rhythms back in sync – turn down lights a few hours before bedtime and open your curtains to let the sunlight help wake you in the morning.
- Eat. Put some nutrients in your body. When stressed and pushed for time, it’s easy to eat fast food. Stop! Go to the store and get some fresh veggies and lean proteins. (My favorites are zucchini, carrots, roasted cauliflower, beets or brussel sprouts, shrimp, roasted chicken, and grilled skirt steak.) Don’t make it complicated, just get some good vitamins and minerals into your system. You can even add a V8 or a nutrition drink like Boost or Ensure.
- Increase your H2O intake. Being low on water can make you feel run down. This is a no-brainer. Pick up the pace of your water intake. Make sure you aren’t unnecessarily adding to that exhausted feeling.
- Laugh. Call a friend your funniest friend. Scour YouTube for the most ridiculous blooper reel. Look at those stupid cat videos that make you giggle. Whatever it takes, do that one thing that is sure to lighten your mood, to make you laugh and put a smile on your face. Laughter is a great stress-reliever and mood elevator – take advantage of it!
- Get social. Call a friend to talk. Eek out a little extra time at lunch to eat with a trusted co-worker. Plan a couple’s date night. Being social can be a means for emotional support or just a well-deserved break.
- Plan a break. For whatever reason, your current routine has you run down and exhausted. Plan ahead for a time you can take some time off. It may be a short shopping trip on your own or a long vacation with your spouse. Plan something you can do this week, plan something you can do this month, and plan a longer break that you can look forward to in the future.
- Get outside. Sun. Fresh Air. It doesn’t take much time in the sun to boost your vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamins D and B can make you feel fatigued. You’re totally crammed for time, so combine your outside, sunshine, time with a quick walk or a easy meditation.
- Yoga. Meditation. A regular yoga or meditation practice can lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone), soothe tense muscles, improve functioning for people with chronic health conditions. Even if you’ve never tried yoga or meditation – check it out. Find a local class or a YouTube video or App that’s geared for beginners.
None of this is rocket science, but in the middle of major stress, simple reminders can be helpful. Making easy changes like this can lighten the load when you feel exhausted. Hopefully your recognition that you are exhausted, along with the help of a good friend and some simple self-care measures will have you back to normal quickly. If making simple changes, like these, isn’t helping, think about whether you may need a doctor’s help to feel better.
Exhaustion can be a sign of physical illness or depression, sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between them. Your doctor can help. Go get a check up. If you have feelings of sadness that last more than a few days and interfere with your ability to manage everyday tasks, especially sadness that interferes with sleep, eating, concentrating, physical aches & pains or are associated with feelings of hopelessness, talk to your doctor and ask for help.
Resources for Stress Relief:
Resources for Depression: