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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

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 October 6, 2020

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

Is it time to make some changes in your life? It just might be. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.

Here are some signs it’s time to change your life.

1. Every week, you cannot wait for Friday.

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    Fridays are fun, but one thing I’ve discovered in my quest to find and do work I absolutely love is that almost every day can be really fun. If you’re saving all your living for the weekends, it’s time to truly think about your lifestyle and consider making some changes. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have plans you look forward to on the weekends, but what if you could have that excited Friday feeling most, if not all, days of the week? It takes a lot of self-discovery and work, but it’s truly possible to live a life you love—even on Mondays.

    2. You live for your vacations.

    Vacations are great, but what’s even better is building a life you don’t need to take a vacation from. As Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Vacations are fun and exciting, but even better is building a life where you have the potential to do what lights you up many weeks of the year, not just your two allotted vacation weeks.

    3. When you stop and think about it, you’re really not focusing your life on your priorities.

    Write down your 3 top priorities. Then write down the 3 things you focus most of your life on. Are you spending your time living your top priorities? Consistently spending time doing what matters most to you is one of the keys to feeling fulfilled in your life. If you’re not focusing your life on what’s important to you, it’s time to make some changes.

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    4. You have no idea what lights you up, and you don’t have the space in your life to discover it.

    If you haven’t found your passion in your current life, you’re not going to find it if you continue to do your same routine, over and over, year after year. In order to discover what lights you up, start by creating the space in your life to seek it. Give yourself time to figure out who you are, what your strengths are, and what picques your interest. Experiment with learning new things, spending time with inspiring people, and doing more of what excites you and less of the things that suck your energy.

    5. You’re frequently jealous.

    If you find yourself frequently feeling jealous of someone, there are 3 changes to consider making:

    1. Make a point to focus on your path instead of his or her journey. Sometimes this involves taking a break from social media.
    2. Get inspired from the person you’re jealous of, and work toward a similar goal in your life.
    3. Decide what the other person has is not something you are willing to put in the effort to achieve, so you’ll cheer him or her on but choose to not be jealous.

    When you are feeling jealous, consider why you want what the other person has, and what your motives are. Living a life on your terms, focused on your priorities, passions, and strengths, will provide you with much more fulfillment than trying to be somebody else.

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    6. You can’t remember the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone.

    According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Your life can become even more amazing if you stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you’re not sure where to start, try the tips in this article about small ways to step out of your comfort zone.

    Life is too short to spend your years not living to your full potential. If you decide you’re ready to change your life, I encourage you to start taking small action steps toward the life you want to live. Keep moving forward.

    Check out this video if you’re ready to make a change in life:

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren McKinnon/https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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