Unit 3: Energy Maintenance: Lesson 4: Maximizing your Energy: Topic 1 – Being Tired is Normal Copy

August 19, 2022 By AM

Some days, you’re on fire — others, you’re burned out. Trouble is, that to-do list isn’t getting any shorter. We tend to make things worse when we’re feeling down by beating ourselves up about what we haven’t done. But our inner critics aren’t good motivators. If you want to learn how to increase your energy and motivation, there are gentler, more effective ways.

Being tired is normal

The fact is, modern life isn’t really conducive to getting a good night’s rest. Although most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, finding someone who actually gets that much sleep is rare. According to the Sleep Foundation, 35.2% of adults average less than seven hours each night. More than half of Americans report being plagued by daytime drowsiness at least once a week.

When asked why they’re not sleeping, most adults would point to their obligations. And there’s some truth to that. It’s difficult to balance work, family obligations, and still have any semblance of social life. However, we may be intent on keeping ourselves on the hamster wheel for other reasons. 

Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown documents being “crazy-busy” in her book, Daring Greatly. She says that it’s great “armor.” If you’re always doing to the point of exhaustion, it stops you from having to deal with the emotions under the surface.

While this works as a strategy for some time, those negative emotions and discomfort don’t really go away. They continue to draw on your emotional resources, sapping your vitality and motivation. Emotional clutter and staying “crazy-busy” is a fast track to mental exhaustion and burnout.

If you’re just not feeling like yourself lately, here are some possible reasons why:

7 reasons why you might not feel on top of your game

You’re not getting enough (quality) sleep

This is the biggest and perhaps the most obvious reason you might be feeling tired. Sleep deprivation impacts far more than how “awake” you feel. Just one night of poor sleep can affect your mood, memory, and cognitive performance. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and a compromised immune system.

You’re not drinking enough water

Water does a lot more than quench your thirst. Researchers have linked mild dehydration to low mood, forgetfulness, exhaustion, and headaches. The rule of thumb is at least eight glasses of water per day, but the actual amount you should be drinking is likely higher than that. And if you’re waiting until you feel thirsty to drink water, chances are good that you’re already dehydrated. 

You’re not listening to your body

If you’re routinely pushing yourself to just do “one more thing” at the expense of your well-being, it will start to catch up to you. Overdoing it — whether at work, home, social engagements, or other responsibilities — will start to make you feel exhausted. Early signs of this kind of stress are body aches (including headaches), irritability, and feeling overwhelmed. Keep going, and you’re on your way to burnout.

You’re anxious or depressed

If you feel like you’re exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, it might be time to reach out to a therapist. Depression and anxiety can affect both the quality of your sleep and how awake you feel during the day. This can be exacerbated by the side effects of certain mood-regulating medications. If you take medication for either condition, check to see if sleep disturbances are listed as a side effect. 

You’re spending too much time indoors

Sunlight plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm. If you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, the lack of sunlight and air may be messing with your body’s cues to produce serotonin. This can affect your mood as well as your ability to focus. You may also experience fluctuations in productivity and mood if you have seasonal affective disorder.

You’re getting sick

You know that run-down feeling you get when you’re coming down with something? That’s a sign that your body is diverting its resources towards fighting off a bacteria or virus. If you’re trying to push through a meeting, thinking “Why can’t I get myself to focus?” take a hard look at your health. Some conditions (like chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, most autoimmune illnesses, and even sleep apnea) can leave you feeling drained. It might be time to schedule a check-up. 

You’re not listening to your heart

It could be you’re feeling stuck in a rut, not stretching out of your comfort zone and bored with your routine, or you’ve been stuck too long in a job that doesn’t fit your values or no longer feels meaningful or fulfilling. Few things will sap your energy levels faster than a lack of engagement. Even if you love the work you do, it’s normal to have days where you just don’t feel like doing it. But if you find yourself having more “off” days than not, you’re probably ignoring signs that you need change.