Why am I always tired and stressed?!
Updated: May 18
If you're anything like me exhaustion and stress are easy to come by...yay. The ongoing question you may have is, why? Why am I always so tired and stressed?
Well, here's the classic counselor answer, it depends (you're welcome). Before you throw your hands up and say..."Thanks, I could have told myself that!", let me elaborate. We often attribute stress and exhaustion to our circumstances, but that is not the entire picture. If you find yourself having to pick yourself up off the floor and slog through life there are some habits and practices you should examine.
Consider your sleep hygiene. This may seem obvious, but often people are unwittingly contributing to a lack of sleep with specific habits. It is key to have a consistent rhythm to your bedtime and time you wake up. If you're able to keep them as similar possible your body will get into a steady rhythm. Also, setting screens down at least a half hour before bedtime is helpful, the blue light sends signals of wakefulness to your brain as opposed to calming it for sleep. Consider enacting a soothing bedtime routine that expresses to your body that it is time to wind down for sleep. An example would be: gentle stretching, a bath, putting on your favorite lotion, and reading a book (paperback, hardcover, or a Kindle without backlighting would be best). The more you soothe your brain and body the better chances you have of drifting off. If you are having a hard time getting to sleep get up and exhaust yourself more instead of just lying there. For example, do a jigsaw puzzle, craft, or sudoku. Again, staying up to watch TV will signal wakefulness as opposed to exhausting your body with tasks that will ready you for sleep.
Make sure you hydrate. A lack of water can lead to discontent and a lack of energy. Especially as we head into summer months ensure that you are drinking enough to send signals of satisfaction to your body. If you aren't a huge water fan consider adding in lemons, limes, or fun flavor combos like strawberry and basil. Make it appealing!
Examine what you eat. I do not in any way subscribe to dieting. I am a firm believer in the tenants of Intuitive Eating. With that said, your body gives you signals regarding hunger and it is key to pay attention to have consistent energy. Have you eaten enough? Your body starts to shut down without enough food. Have you been eating a lot of food that spikes your energy and then you crash soon after? There is a time and place for sugar and other play foods. However, if that is our consistent source of energy it is no wonder we feel tired. It is important to eat a variety of foods and a lot that release energy more slowly and consistently. Examples would be fruits, vegetables, protein, fats, and whole grains. Again, this is in no way an endorsement of dieting, but paying attention to the needs of our bodies is key to feeling energized and rested.
Rest. Seriously! We were made to rest. Also, rest is not the same as bingeing Netflix for hours. That can be really fun and has it's place. However, rest is intentional. What are some hobbies that are utterly different than what you usually do? Examples might be crafting, baking, or playing games. Rest also looks like being in nature. Taking walks or hikes and breathing deeply of the outdoors soothes our bodies, minds, and souls. Plan restful activities. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but letting a day pass you by without rejuvenating activities (like the ones I mentioned above) doesn't always feel restful.
Exercise...in ways that you actually like! I have done all the exercise things...trust me. Some have been great and others have made me monitor the clock with the ever circular thought, "When will this torture end?!". Joyful movement, during the day or early evening, can lend to a sense of peaceful exhaustion that leads to sleep. So, what lights you up with movement? If you're thinking to yourself, "Ugh, nothing!", you're not alone. The best place to start if you despise exercise is with walking, outdoors is best, but indoors works if you prefer. Ways to enhance your motivation for this are to listen to a much anticipated audiobook or podcast. Yoga is fantastic to keep your body limber and your mind cleared. Weight lifting is amazing...full stop. There is nothing like pushing the limits and feeling like a superhero at the same time! Dance can be really fun too. I love FitOn, Dance Fitness with Jessica, and searching YouTube as free ways to do workouts. If you're a people person you may consider going to a local class and make some new friends along the way. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and help your body feel taxed enough for sleep at night. Win win!
Spend time with your support system. Who are your people? Find them and spend time with them regularly. Stress and exhaustion can have roots in isolation. We need connection to people that see, hear, and know us. When all we do is ruminate in thoughts on our own it's no wonder all we can feel is stress. We were made to share our burdens...and to carry our loved one's burdens with them as well.
If you're feeling like you can't possibly handle anything more and your eyelids are constantly drooping consider these areas of your life. There is no perfect formula to feeling energized, but tackling these habits can certainly help. Here's to us...figuring it out together! :)