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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

Why Am I So Tired Even After Rest?

Why Am I So Tired Even After Rest?

I used to go home and just lie on the sofa after work to rest.  Later, I wanted to spend more time for self-improvement. Unfortunately, the only time I had to cut into was my “rest” time, which I started replacing with actions like exercising and reading books instead. To my surprise, I didn’t feel more tired. It actually made me feel more refreshed!

When I looked into what “rest” really is, I found that it’s a poorly understood subject, and why many people often feel tired even if they “rest” a lot.

What Everyone Is Wrong About Resting

Letting your mind run free is the quickest path to exhaustion. Most people tend to define rest as:

  • Lounging on the sofa or laying in bed
  • Doing nothing (is that even possible?)
  • “Netflix and chill”
  • Not doing chores

And while your body is in a relaxed posture, your mind isn’t. Rest is a mental activity, not just a physical one.  When you engage in the activities like those in the list above, you encourage mental activity that is counterproductive to rest.

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Mindlessly watching television, browsing the internet or reading tweets isn’t mindless at all. This type of mental engagement and stimulation can actually leave you more tired than you were initially. Your brain is not only quietly processing all that you are taking in, it is also preparing for and encouraging you to socialize[1]. A recent study[2] found that when the brain isn’t actively engaged in a conscious activity, it shifts into a state of prep for social interaction with others.

Another important fact to consider is that the brain needs something to focus on in order to achieve a state of symbiotic rest. It needs a purpose.

Think about an activity requiring very little focus and attention–such as showering. Most times you are thinking about other things and your mind is busy working out problems and connecting dots. This type of mental activity is necessary and beneficial but it chases away rest. Letting your mind run free is the quickest path to exhaustion.

Human feelings are unreliable. When we trust our feelings, very likely we’d just lie on sofa after a day of work, even if we know for our health’s sake we should exercise for 30 minutes. On weekends, we tend to oversleep as we “feel” that we need more sleep, though that actually disrupts our sleeping patterns.

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Like taking rest, simply being yourself isn’t necessarily relaxing. When we rely on our feelings, we end up feeling more tired.

What Is Rest, Really?

Rest is an activity. It is not a state of “doing nothing”.  Below are 2 important ways to trigger your brain into actively engaging in rest. They directly oppose what society typically considers rest and relaxation but I challenge you to give them a try.

Switch Between Tasks That Are Opposite in Nature

If you are working at the computer, after a few hours, switch to a more physical task, or go for a walk or short run. If you are working on a very technical and detail oriented project, switch to working on something requiring a bit more creativity. After being in meetings all day or giving a presentation, work on a quiet task, alone that does not involve other people such as balancing your checkbook or prepping food for dinner.

As you participate in each activity, be sure you are practicing mindfulness — or being fully present — as you engage in each activity.

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The key here is to remember the brain needs and likes focus. After engaging in some of the tasks above, you are most often tempted to just “veg out”.  Giving into this feeling will sap you of the remaining energy you have left.

Have Light Exercise

Exercise is the cure for what ails us. Moderate exercise reduces stress,[3] increases productivity, overall health and wellness and prolongs life. Research shows that regular amounts of light exercise are one of the best treatments for those suffering from exhaustion and fatigue.[4]

This fact holds true for those with sedentary or physically demanding jobs. Whether you are in a tiny cubicle sitting all day or working at a dock loading and unloading heavy freight, studies show that light amounts of exercise beyond your daily routine helps your mind and body achieve rest.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia[5] found that moderate and low-intensity workouts increase feelings of energy.

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“A lot of people are overworked and not sleeping enough,” said Patrick O’Connor, co-director of the university’s exercise psychology laboratory. “Exercise is a way for people to feel more energetic. There’s a scientific basis for it, and there are advantages to it compared to things like caffeine and energy drinks.”

In the study, research subjects were divided into three groups. One group was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time frame and the third group–which was the control group– did not exercise at all. Both groups of exercisers experienced a 20 percent boost in energy levels compared to the group of non-exercisers.

Researchers also discovered that intense exercise is less effective at mitigating fatigue than low-intensity workouts. The low-intensity group reported a 65 percent drop in fatigue levels, while the high intensity group reported a 49 percent drop. It’s important to note that any exercise is better than no exercise.

Bottom Line

In order to truly feel rested and refreshed, it’s time to develop a new norm and give our mind and body what it actually needs to rest.

More About Restoring Energy

Featured photo credit: Rafal Jedrzejek via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 22, 2021

5 Simple Stretches to Boost Your Energy at Your Office Desk

5 Simple Stretches to Boost Your Energy at Your Office Desk

Everyone knows that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your body and your mind. Getting the blood flowing helps you stay fresh with creativity, boosts energy, and helps your body work more efficiently. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to get up and move around as often as we should, but simple stretches added in during the day can help.

Studies have found that prolonged sitting can lead to increased risk in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome. Sitting is also known to increase pain by tightening the hip flexor and hamstring muscle, as well as stiffening the joints. This can cause problems with balance and gait in addition to the obvious discomfort.[1]

One study found that “greater total sedentary time” and “longer sedentary bout duration” were both associated with a higher risk of death. Basically, those who moved around less were more likely to die from any cause[2].

While many of us have busy schedules that limit the amount of time we can exercise each day, doing simple stretches throughout the day at your desk can be a great option to encourage movement, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Here are 5 simple stretches you can do while sitting to improve your mind and body.

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1. Seated Twist

12 Chair Yoga Poses for Stress and Posture - PureWow

    Sitting in your chair while keeping a long, tall spine, place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Use that hand as leverage to twist to your left, and place your left hand as far to the right as possible to have something to hang onto while you twist. Now join it with your breath.

    Exhale as you move into your twist, and inhale as you ease off. Repeat on the other side. Repeat for each side 2-3 times.

    This simple stretch is great to offer a release for your back, neck, and shoulders. The twist will also help rinse out your internal organs, giving you a little boost of energy.

    2. Chest/Shoulder Opener

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    Blog: Simple Yoga Techniques to Increase Effectiveness at Work

      Sitting on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands behind your back, opening up your chest and shoulders. Inhale/exhale several times, noticing that when you inhale your stretch increases. Release and repeat 2-3 times.

      This stretch, while aimed at the chest muscles, can also alleviate some upper back pain, as we often feel pain in this area when our chest muscles are tight. This will also open up your lungs, allowing you to take some deep breaths, which can help reduce stress.

      3. Seated Pigeon

      Yoga In The Office: 6 Chair Poses To Improve Your Posture

        I call this one Seated Pigeon as it is a cousin to the yoga pose called Pigeon, which is performed lying on the floor. Clearly this isn’t an option at work. This Seated Pigeon version might not work if you are wearing a short skirt or dress unless you have an office to yourself!

        Sit on the edge of your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Be sure that your left foot is directly under your left knee and flat on the floor. Sit nice and tall, imagining a string is pulling the crown of your head up towards the ceiling.

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        This one is great for releasing your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, as well as your piriformis muscles. These are your hip abductors. These are usually what aches when you sit so much! Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, and repeat on each side 2-3 times.

        This will offer a great release in the hips, as well as create stability in the knee joint. Both of these will help you avoid pain once you get up to leave work for the day.

        4. Hip Flexor Stretch

        Self-Care | Stretching exercises, Hip flexor stretch, Exercise

          Sitting truly shortens and tightens your little hip flexor. This sits at the front in the crease of your hip. It runs through your pelvis to your back, so when it is tight, it often presents with an achy back.

          To lengthen this muscle while at your desk, sit at the edge of your chair, but shift to face to your left. Take your right leg and extend it behind you with as straight a knee as you can. Sit tall, and lift your sternum while trying to tuck your tailbone under, as this will deepen the stretch.

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          Repeat on the other side. Repeat for both sides 2-3 times.

          5. Hamstring Stretch

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            This is an easy one to do either just before you sit down or just after getting up. While standing, soften your right knee and extend your left leg in front of you with your heel on the floor. On your left leg, draw your toes upwards, keep your knee slightly bent so you don’t strain your ligaments behind your knee.

            You want to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle (that is, your mid-thigh, at the back of your leg) rather than behind the knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch to the other side. Repeat each side 2-3 times.

            Stretching out your hamstring can help relieve knee and lower back pain. It can also help increase your balance and range of motion. If you like to spend your free time running or jogging, your hamstrings will be grateful you took a moment to stretch them out at work as these muscles are notorious for tightening up quickly.

            The Bottom Line

            It isn’t necessary to do all of the stretches all at once. Take a stretch break every 45 minutes or so and choose a couple of different stretches. Next time, choose a different set of simple stretches. Ultimately, your brain and body will thank you for it!

            More Stretches for Your Day

            Featured photo credit: Keren Levand via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Harvard Health Publishing: The dangers of sitting
            [2] Annals of Internal Medicine: Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults

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