Do you complain of feeling tired all the time lately? While there are many potential reasons for this, one of the most common complaints of Americans weathering the pandemic has been extreme fatigue. And emotional fatigue was only part of the challenge. Surely, decision fatigue and feeling mentally exhausted played a significant role. But many were surprised by the constant fatigue they felt in their bodies as well.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled, “Why am I So Tired?”, Maureen O’Reilly-Landry Ph.D. shares the following:
“Fatigue is a main symptom of the pandemic for many, whether as a patient, frontline worker, or member of the general public. This might be inescapable given what we know about the stress response and the costs of caring and empathy, but multiple strategies can be beneficial.”
There are various reasons why extreme tiredness happens, including pandemic fatigue (either due to physical or mental stressors). But most important to you right now is how you can get your energy levels back to where they used to be.
It can be scary when you feel like your get-up-and-go isn’t enough to consistently complete all the tasks needed each day. Here are some thoughts on why many are always tired since the pandemic’s start and what to do about it.
Too Much Change in Too Short of a Time
We like to think we’re adaptable creatures, but change still doesn’t happen without some amount of stress or anxiety. Stress by itself can be very healthy in reasonable doses. Think of a new job, child, pet, or relationship, for example.
Especially if these are transitions you’ve looked forward to, they can expand your mindset and personal growth as a person. They can also energize you because you feel like you’re progressing in life and accomplishing important goals.
On the other side of the spectrum, changes occurring that seem hostile to you can be especially trying. Think of losing a loved one, unexpected health concerns, or financial worries. Eventually, these struggles can expand your perspective and grow you as a person too. Still, it takes time to work through the grief, loss, and complexities involved.
What happened for many of us during the pandemic was too much change in too sort of a timeframe. Even a lot of good change at once can cause stress and anxiety overload for a while. Much of the pandemic stress felt more negative for many people, from economic unknowns, job changes or instability, school upheaval, sickness, and even death, making matters even more difficult. For some, these struggles have led to feeling tired all the time for months or longer.
What to Do About It:
There are plenty of aspects about a change you can’t alter. It can feel good when it seems like you’re the one implementing the change. But, much of what happened during the pandemic was out of our control.
Still, there is a lot you can do about transitions you perceive to have little control over. For instance, you can decide how you’ll think about them, choosing gratitude and looking for the positives that came out of it.
No, I’m not advocating toxic positivity, where you just pretend everything’s “great” when it’s not. At the same time, recognizing all the good and being thankful for it is incredibly healthy and a guard against ever-increasing fatigue.
That healthy perspective gives you hope. And hope enables you to go through life with more spring in your step, even if you wish your environment or circumstances were better. Also, in time, acknowledging how dire circumstances grew you as a person is meaningful and energizing too.
Besides that, you can develop a routine or daily “rituals” to better deal with stress-related fatigue. Especially regular meditation or exercise can be helpful. These practices can feed your body, mind, and soul, giving you more energy. Plus, making a routine more of a priority gives you some things that don’t change, regardless of what’s going on around you.
Choosing Unity over Division
It’s no secret that our country is divided at the moment, and our nation, communities, and families can feel fractured. It’s easy to see others as either all bad or good depending on whether they agree with our views or not. But this polarization leads to further splintered relationships, stress, and emotional exhaustion.
What to Do About It:
Your viewpoints may be very reasonable, but no one will be convinced by them if they come across as angry, aggressive, or unloving. A better way is to show genuine kindness to others regardless of your differences. Nothing will be more compelling of an argument than that. And a wonderful bi-product of this strategy is way less stress. And less stress means more happiness and energy!
Consider A Shift in Priorities
Perhaps one of the most positive changes to come from the pandemic is that people finally slowed down enough to think about their lives more. And what they saw bothered them in some cases.
Maybe they noticed they were too caught up in their careers, money, or materialism. Many also felt like their friends and loved ones were being neglected because of misplaced priorities. Still, others saw a career path that would be a better fit than the one they were currently in. Some also found troubling deficits in their physical, mental, or spiritual health.
These realizations can sometimes take years or decades to notice and work through during typical circumstances. Still, they happened much more quickly because of the pandemic. In the short term, that can lead to even more change stress. But in the long run, the stress of a better road taken sooner is more beneficial than the stress of not ever having taken that better path (or having delayed the positive change for much too long).
So, some of the constant fatigue you may feel could be due to positive changes you’re making to your life or thinking about changing.
What To Do About It:
If you feel strongly about some healthy changes you’re making lately, stick with them even if they seem stressful for a little while. Down the road, you just may find it was one of the best decisions you ever made.
We all need times of transition, growth, and change to be healthy. If you notice ways to change for the better, embrace the short-term stress for long-term gain.
Are You Tired All the Time? Consider Counseling
On the one hand, you certainly shouldn’t ignore physical health concerns if you think they may cause your chronic tiredness. At the same time, mental health challenges can also lead to extreme fatigue until they are resolved.
The pandemic has been mentally challenging for most people in some way or another. If you find your mental health declining lately accompanied by ongoing exhaustion, now could be a great time to reach out to an experienced therapist who can help.
The OC Relationship Center is here for your counseling needs. You are welcome to get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about how we can assist you. You can also schedule an appointment with us at your convenience.