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Fatigue: an inside job

Fatigue: an inside job

Fatigue: a modern day epidemic. Why is it a thing and how do we overcome it?

In the past few weeks the phrase ‘I am just so tired at the moment’ has been a common one. Friends, colleagues, customers in the café where I work; so many of us are feeling the seasonal drain right now and finding it hard to muster energy for even the smallest tasks. We all just want to be cosied up on the sofa with a hot water bottle and a comforting cup of tea right now, it seems. Or is that just me? This weariness, lethargy and general lack of oomph is a bit like a lacklustre filter. It colours our everyday and stops us from experiencing the joy and alignment we seek. 

So why is this fatigue so widespread right now? And how can we rectify it or at best, weather this drowsy storm?

The fact is the winter months often induce lethargy. We all know this. Months of enduring the cold and darkness, whilst simultaneously trying to defy nature by ‘pushing through’ and staying active, despite the invitations from nature to hibernate and rest, is an exhausting process. Add to this the biological fact that being deprived of vitamin D (which we get from sunlight predominantly) leads to fatigue, muscle weakness and depression, it is no wonder that we all feel depleted this time of year. We are all craving some warmth, some sun, some lightness and we just aren’t getting any of these right now, at least not in great quantities.

But, whilst these external factors certainly contribute to our tiredness, one of the biggest reasons that we experience fatigue is actually related to our mental state. Whether we are aware of it or not, a busy, preoccupied mind will use up energy. The more negative and consuming our thoughts are, the more energy we use up. When states of mind like worry, anxiety or fear overcome us, our batteries get depleted very quickly. When life is viewed through these negative lenses, life feels sticky, uninspiring and hard and we easily experience things like overwhelm, desperation and hopelessness.

This link between an over-active mind and energy-drain become very apparent to me when I sat my first silent 10-day Vipassana meditation course over a decade ago. My experience showed me the extent to which my thoughts were impacting my energy levels because as the retreat progressed I noticed two things happened: I felt more and more rejuvenated and less and less hungry. This was not because I was doing less (the schedule was exactly the same from start to finish) or eating more (my portions actually got smaller) - it was because my mind was gradually quietening down and my energy levels were aligning as a result.

This newfound mental space freed up enormous amounts of energy in my whole system and left me feeling more alive and invigorated. By giving my restless mind a point of meditative focus (breath and sensations) I was able to be fully present with what was actually unfolding and negative thought patterns that had previously consumed me just didn’t have the same hold any more.

So if you are also on the tired train at the moment too, take a moment to reflect on whether you are giving your mind the space it needs to rest and reset. A calm, balanced mind is a happier one and will provide the foundation you need to better manage your energy levels.  

Here are some questions to help you -


  • Does the exhaustion feel physical or mental?

If you feel that it is physical, find more time to rest your body. If you feel it is mental, maybe consider doing a short meditation (guided or other) or just sitting for a few minutes. This will allow the negative thoughts to settle and give you a chance to get objective about them. Are they real? And more importantly, are they serving you?

  • Are you giving yourself enough time to rest on a regular basis?

Life is busy and demanding and sometimes we are spinning more plates than we can actually manage. Is there somewhere you can take some pressure off yourself? Can you better manage your expectations of yourself and what is possible right now?

  • Are you getting enough time outdoors and in nature?

Aside from the vitamin D we get from sunlight, spending time outdoors in the fresh air is vital for our health; mental as well as physical. Can you get out for a walk on your lunchbreak or meet a friend for a weekend stroll somewhere beautiful? Invite in that invigorating and supportive energy of Mother Nature.

  • Are you resisting something right now?

Resistance is exhausting. You only have to go to the gym to know this. When we resist life and what is naturally flowing, we use up a lot of excess energy and make life much harder for ourselves. Is there something that you could benefit from allowing right now? Keep remembering to flow where it feels easy.


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