“Why am I feeling so exhausted?”

This one’s coming up a LOT recently. Are you feeling it too?

One big factor I’ve noticed is all the stuff we’re starting anew. New school year. Return to the office. In person events. Weddings (so many weddings!)

There’s a certain intensity to doing new things. We know that. But we forget this can also apply to old things we haven’t done for a while.

My husband found this on his first visit to the new office after starting a new job during lockdown. Commuting is something he’s done for years, yet this time he said it felt like he was going to a high stakes job interview. The nerves took him completely by surprise.

I found this too after going to a wedding. It was so lovely to see old school friends and celebrate the happy couple, but boy did it wipe me out for the rest of the weekend and beyond – and I don’t even drink so can’t blame it on a hangover!

Then of course there’s the amount of stuff we tend to cram into this time of the year. Whether it’s the change of seasons, the start of a new school year, the return from holiday or the run up to Christmas (yes I said it!) there’s a certain change of pace that often happens in the autumn.

Add to that a few broken nights’ sleep (probably due in part to the change in season and rhythm) and it’s no wonder we find ourselves exhausted, when it feels like we’ve only just gotten started!

Here are three thoughts to help:

1. Sleep affects everything

If you’ve not slept well recently, be aware that your lizard brain reactions are going to be heightened (fight/flight stress responses, road rage / email rage, reactive fire-fighting, emotional sensitivity).

Think HALT. It’s an acronym that tells us to avoid making decisions when we’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. It’s also a really useful reminder to just stop. Pause.

How we’re feeling right now might just be because we’re tired (or hungry, angry or lonely) rather than the thing that’s triggering us.

Whatever your lizard brain’s telling you: Do this. Fix that. Back off. Cancel. Confront. Jump on it. WTF?! How dare they? Oh sh*t. What’s wrong with me?

Wait a minute. What if it doesn’t mean all. that. stuff? What if it just means I’m tired?

2. The Morning After

Sometimes our feelings tell us about what where we’ve been, rather than what we’re going through now. I write about this in Struggle, in a section appropriately titled “When we’re spent”

What this means is there might be nothing you need to do here. Nothing to fix or rectify. Just space for recovery.

3. Already Got Loads On vs Gotta Make Stuff Happen

If you’ve already got loads on, your definition of productivity right now might not be “gotta make things happen”.

It might be more:

  • How do I make space to do this well?
  • How do I want to show up?
  • What will help me with that?

This changes our focus, our perspective and what we add to, or take away from, our to-do list.

What helps you when you’re exhausted?

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