For more than a decade of my adult life, I regularly woke up after a solid 8 hours of sleep feeling as if I hadn’t slept at all. I felt physically and mentally drained.
It was something that became a gradual pattern I didn’t really notice. Being consistently tired all the time no matter how much sleep I was able to get became the norm and I strangely accepted it as part of my life.
Asking the Hard Questions
After my medical scare with a life-threatening blood clot, I started to see several unhealthy patterns. I began questioning aspects of my physical, mental, and emotional health that I’d avoided for so long. “Why am I so tired all the time? What’s happening in my mind and body to leave me feeling wiped out?”
I’m sure you may feel the same, facing hard truths about your health, relationship, and career path may jettison you into serious chaos for a while but I can tell you (now that I’m on the other side of the raging river I crossed) that it will be absolutely worth it.
Being Open to the Answers
In your case, emotional pain and mental frustration may manifest in your physical life. An unhealthy relationship, doing work you’re good at but don’t love, and outright ignoring your own body could create the perfect storm of a health disaster.
Don’t think I arrived to this place of enlightenment on my own. If I hadn’t gotten dangerously sick, I might have gone on pretending everything was great for many more years. I told myself lies, was very convincing, and I believed them. I even convinced the people around me that “everything is fine.”
When I was unable to ignore my health for one more day, it forced me to confront the core issues. I was forced to face (and resolve) my problems and it changed everything for me.An unhealthy relationship, doing work you don’t love, and ignoring your body creates a health disaster!Click To Tweet
This process of understanding and change has been a slow one. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. One of the best results is that I’m no longer tired all the time.
I want to share the tips that worked for me and maybe they’ll help you, too. If you have a medical problem (such as a thyroid condition) that results in exhaustion, these steps will help you lesson the symptoms.
The improvement in my overall life impacts far more than my energy levels. I look better, feel better, sleep better, and have incredible mental focus I lost for a long time (and didn’t notice).
Facing Your Reasons for Exhaustion
• Unrecognized depression. I didn’t realize I was depressed until I stepped away from a bad situation long enough to breathe. When your emotional state is in upheaval, it’s almost impossible to focus on any other aspect of your life effectively. I had to confront an unhealthy relationship that sapped my energy so I could apply that energy to getting better.
• Out of control anxiety. When you have unhealthy people or situations that surround you, it feels like you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I worried about things that were unlikely to happen but could happen…and then turned to unhealthy “comfort” foods to help me remain calm. This anxiety followed me even into sleep, sometimes causing me to startle awake in a panic. I took control of my life, removed many toxic people/elements, and established a routine that I stuck to no matter what. Anxiety still crops up from time to time but being in control of myself and my life keeps me from succumbing to it the way I used to.
• Being completely sedentary. At work, I sat all day long. At home, I sat in front of the television. I didn’t walk unless I had somewhere to go so “working out” was far down my list of priorities. The few times I’d promise myself to “be more active” didn’t last long. I’m not going to lie to you now and act like I spend every day at the gym (I don’t). Most days, I forget to do a serious workout. I get busy and beat myself up for it later. However, the one habit I do every morning is stretching. I still sit all day working so light stretches and ten-minute yoga sessions keep me from being stiff and achy. I also take walks around my neighborhood at least once a week. It’s not fantastic but it’s consistent and that’s a big part of the battle.
• Chronic dehydration. There was a time my daytime beverage was coffee (to wake me up) and my nighttime beverage was a glass of wine (to try and relax). While the health benefits of coffee and wine are scientifically proven, they certainly do not hydrate your body. I didn’t eliminate them (because that would require superhuman strength I don’t have) but I cut back and gradually increased my intake of water (adding citrus to tolerate the switch). These days I drink between 60-80 ounces daily. I try not to drink wine a couple of hours before bed since the sugar content causes your body to metabolize at the wrong time, raises adrenaline, and interrupts quality sleep.
• Carrying around pounds that strained my body. When I was 100 pounds heavier, that weight made it difficult for my body to drop into deep slumber. After losing the first 20 pounds or so, I started realizing that the quality of my sleep was improving. These days, the eight hours I used to get (but still felt tired all the time) leave me feeling refreshed and recharged. The actual pounds lost led to the added bonus of being able to breathe easier and improved circulation.
• An absolutely horrid diet. To say my diet was unhealthy is a drastic understatement. Despite being an excellent cook, I often took the lazy way out and opted for junk food, fast food, and pre-prepared meals. My nutrition was deplorable and I was consuming incredible amounts of sugar in the form of refined carbs. I was deficient in everything I needed…including iron. As women, we require more iron during our years of menstruation and if you have excessive periods (like I do), getting this essential mineral is critical to your whole body. Iron is how your cells and muscles receive less of the oxygen they need.
• A “manager of the universe” attitude. This is the one that was really hard for me. As a perfectionist workaholic, I drove myself whether I was exhausted or sick. I set ridiculously high standards then berated myself viciously if I failed to meet them. I worked too many hours, too many days, checked my emails first thing upon waking, checked them right before I fell asleep, and even got on conference calls while on vacation. I was the person everyone asked for help and I never, ever said no. I allowed my schedule to overflow with cooking for this or that event, helping friends create a new website, or even rushing a project for work that didn’t need to be rushed.
Maybe your reasons for feeling tired all the time are a little different than mine. You might have small children or work the graveyard shift. No matter your lifestyle or work schedule, there’s no denying that improving your diet, getting even mild exercise, and lowering your mental and emotional stress will improve every part of your life – including your energy levels.
You require quality sleep. I ignored my body for more than a decade and sleep was one of many areas that suffered. I discovered what worked for me accidentally in the beginning and then I got serious about changing my life.
For more tips about improving your quality of life mentally and physically in about ten minutes a day, read “Vivid Living” right now. You don’t have to keep doing what isn’t working. You can change your path to the one that works for you.Your body requires quality sleep. #GoodnightClick To Tweet