Ever have those days where it feels as though you’re trudging through sand just to get from point A to B. You wake up when the alarm goes off, and even though you slept through the night, your body is tired to the bone. It feels defeating knowing you have no other option than to push through it and get through your day with no way to relieve your fatigue.
If it feels like recently you’ve had more of those mornings than you can count, there’s a good chance your body and mind are feeling the effects of fatigue. More than just being tired, fatigue is ongoing and more debilitating. Rather than being relieved by good night’s sleep or a nap, you may feel worse after waking up. It’s as though you’re body is being filled with cement.
I understand how frightening fatigue can feel. I have been there in that place that feels like utter defeat where simply showing up for daily responsibilities is more than difficult, it feels almost impossible. Feelings of lethargy, anxiety, and depression almost always follow. Your performance at work or your presence in your relationships declines and no matter how badly you want to change that, the fatigue seems to always win. It’s hard to explain to loved ones because, well, they can’t see the pain you’re feeling and may tell you to simply get some rest.
I also know that more than a nap is in order. I do have good news. You are not completely at the mercy of your symptoms. I’m going to share with you how to identify your unique experience with fatigue so that you can respond in a way that honors your mind and body.
First, the more you understand your personal experience with fatigue, the sooner you’ll be able to respond and prevent the escalation of symptoms into other ailments.
When I work with a new client experiencing unexplainable fatigue, we start with symptom-awareness exercises. When it comes to fatigue, there are a series of experiences that show up before the total body breakdown occurs. The sooner you recognize what’s happening ahead of time, the sooner you can respond.
When fatigue is fully present here are common symptoms:
- Chronically feeling tired yet sleep doesn’t make it go away
- Ongoing headaches or brain fog and inability to concentrate
- Feeling dizzy or weak while doing the very minimal movement
- Moodiness and increased irritability at the slightest of frustrations
- Loss of appetite or an increase in cravings
- Reduced immune system
- Lack of concentration for more than a few minutes at a time
- Weakness in muscles to the point that walking feels impossible
Everyone’s experience will be slightly different. What’s most important is that you start identifying yours.
A great way to do this is by keeping a daily journal for at least a week. You don’t have to write out long entries. You can even make notes on your phone. Start noticing the symptoms you personally experience and make note of
- The symptom
- The time of day
- Any events that led up to that moment
This simple act goes a long way to tune your mind into your body. A key strategy in mind-body nutrition. The more body awareness you have, the more likely you’ll notice the hidden reasons for your fatigue as well as your personal solutions.
After you know more about how your body experiences fatigue, you can respond to the earliest symptoms before they build up and result in complete burnout.
There are so many reasons for fatigue to present itself. For some individuals, it’s a chronic condition that requires management and a lifestyle of prioritizing self-care. And in most cases, it’s a symptom of something else:
- Chronic stress
- Emotional concerns
- Other illness
I work with people who carry on fast-paced lives keeping up with the pressures of a demanding work schedule while also trying to meet family needs. At the end of the day, their own wants, feelings, and desires are often brushed aside to maintain things as they are. They may take minimal breaks, and when they do, they’re still multitasking or worrying about what needs to get done.
Sound familiar? We start there and look at all the moments they ignored arising symptoms of fatigue. You can start by practicing by taking the time to notice how your body feels throughout the day. For example, when you wake up and check your email first thing, do you feel a knot in your stomach? Or, is your head already starting to spin at the thought of everything you have to do that day? Before your mind has had a chance to enter a new day, it’s already reeling.
That is actually the first moment of fatigue! It hasn’t escalated yet, but it will.
So you learn to respond. You notice that looking at your phone first thing creates more unnecessary stress. Therefore, in the morning, you commit to a slower routine. You allow yourself to wake up, splash water on your face, get some coffee and breakfast, and sit down and let yourself arrive.
You’re moving slower and therefore slowing down the surge of symptoms. Fatigue is more often a response to going too quickly and ends up ultimately taking you out of your day completely. If you can practice responding to it with more mindfulness and slowness, you’ll get ahead of it before it completely takes over.
Longer-Term Solution: Go Deeper
The one thing I always tell clients is “the only way out is in.” When it comes to discomfort, we instinctively want to do whatever we can to avoid pain. We push it down, cover it up with pain relievers, drink more caffeine, and turn to food for comfort.
It may be a temporary strategy. Down the line, it always catches up. The excess caffeine only adds to adrenal fatigue, new symptoms present themselves, and your relationship with food and your body suffers. You can try to numb and ignore it, your body can’t.
I invite you to consider one of the most powerful, and life-changing strategies I teach my clients: dive deeper into and find the clues to your healing in your story.
Not many children report feeling fatigued. When they get tired, they fall asleep, and usually wake up feeling like themselves again. Therefore, for most adults, fatigue is something that showed up after more of life happened.
Where in your story did it become more present for you? Can you recall the first time you felt your body breaking down? Do you remember what happened before then? Was there conflict? Were you being asked to do something that felt out of integrity for you? Did you crave comfort and security? Were you hungry for connection and meaningful relationships?
Did you find ways to respond that relieved what you were feeling? Spending time with friends? Taking time off? Quitting a job that drained you to the core?
Don’t rush. This is a process. It’s about becoming more aware now so you experience longer-term, more sustainable relief from the effects of fatigue. You will also have a lifelong tool at your disposal to use anytime new symptoms show up for you. Rather than fearing the symptom, you respond to them as much needed feedback that somewhere in life is asking for your attention and adjustment.
And, the most effective way I know to take a real deep dive into one’s story, and to do so honestly, is to work with a coach who has the training to help you get there.
If you’re curious about how it works, I encourage you to set up a consult.
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I’ve been in your shoes.
I know on a deeply personal level just how true it is that the only way out is in. Transformation is in the exploration…