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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

I’m Exhausted: The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever

I’m Exhausted: The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever

Do you say “I’m exhausted” all the time? Are you constantly feeling tired and looking for all that energy you used to have?

Fatigue shows up in many ways in daily life, including pure exhaustion, the inability to concentrate, anger, frustration, behavioral issues, weight loss (or gain), memory problems, decreased work performance, and slower reaction times.

Chronic fatigue has also been linked to medical problems, including obesity, hypertension, depression, diabetes, as well as increased automobile accidents.

We attempt to combat fatigue with coffee, sugar, energy drinks, vitamins, and a variety of other products that claim to increase our energy and stamina, but what if your exhaustion is trying to tell you something?

If you’re getting enough sleep and you’re still feeling exhausted, it’s time to stop, take a step back, and look at what else is contributing to your exhaustion.

Before you reach for that next cup of coffee, the 3 pm sugary snack, or the toxic energy drink, let’s look at some reasons why you might be tired all the time and what you can do about it.

Here are 11 potential reasons why you’re exhausted even when you get enough rest and what you can do about it.

1. You Are out of Alignment

If you’re saying “I’m exhausted” all the time, your mental, emotional, or spiritual energy may be out of whack. Essentially, you’re off track with who you are and what works for you. Maybe you’re unhappy, unfulfilled, stressed out, or just plain bored with some areas of your life. You might be in a relationship that isn’t working, a job you can’t stand, or a situation that drains your energy.

Think about a time in your life when you were in the flow, in the zone, and totally engaged and excited about what you were doing. How much sleep did you need then? Even after only a few hours, my guess is you probably found yourself jumping out of bed in the morning without an alarm clock, excited to embark on the day.

On the flip side, think about a time in your life when you were in a relationship or job that zapped your energy. No matter how much sleep you got, you probably found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and were tempted to hit that snooze button just a few more times.

We all have things that make us feel great and energized and things that completely zap our energy.

Maybe you’re someone who likes to move quickly but you’re drowning in detail; maybe you’re someone who thrives when you are on top of things and you’re feeling like everything is completely out of control. Or maybe you thrive on spontaneity and variety and you’re bored with your life.

I had a client share this sentiment recently as she described a period in her life: “My boss sucked, the work was boring, and it made me tired all the time.”

When you’re doing things that align with who you are and in environments that align with what you need, you will feel more energized and alive. On the contrary, when you’re in environments that go against your grain, you will feel drained and de-energized.

What Can You Do?

Take a step back and identify what’s not working. Figure out what you want and work towards it. Do things that give you energy.

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What makes you feel healthy and alive, energized, and excited? What gets you in the flow and makes you feel most like you? Aim to get more of that in your life.

Find more ways to be in alignment with who you are by reading this article: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

2. You’re out of Touch With Your Physical Body

When we are structurally out of alignment, it can cause all sorts of issues. When things aren’t moving properly, it makes it hard for your body to do its job. Not to mention, pain is exhausting and leaves you saying “I’m exhausted.”

Here’s what Chiropractor, Dr. Ruth Ziemba[1], who specializes in NSA (Network Spinal Analysis) has to say:

All of life is energy. We are energy. Any disturbance or blockages to the energy flow creates imbalances. Physical, mental and emotional stressors can cause subluxations (misalignment of the vertebrae) which interfere with signals getting clearly through your body. This can result in many health problems, including fatigue and insomnia.

Recently, I was feeling tired all the time – and felt like I was doing “everything else” right. So, I went to see my chiropractor and a cranial sacral therapist. Two days later, I felt much more energized and clear in my head.

I love the analogy I was once given by a chiropractor: “It doesn’t matter how well you can play an instrument if the instrument is out of tune.”

What Can You Do?

Try getting a massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki, cranial sacral therapy – anything that works for you.

If you don’t know where to start, ask a friend or colleague for a recommendation.

3. You Are Not Eating Right (or Enough)

What and how much you eat has significant effects on your energy levels.

While there are many different diet protocols, there is one thing all the experts can agree on: sugar and processed foods make you feel sluggish and exhausted.

They make your blood sugar go haywire, causing you to feel a brief period of energy followed by a crash. Paradoxically, those are the very things we reach for when we need to get some energy.

What Can You Do?

I’ve found two things to be consistently true.

One, you need to eat real, clean food. Avoid processed foods, and especially refined sugars. You’re going to feel so much better for it.

Next, find what works for you: Gluten-free, Paleo, Mediterranean, high-fat, plant-based, you name it. Experts and well-meaning friends and family may tell you what’s best, but no one knows your body as well as you do.

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Pay attention. Do you feel energized or fatigued after you eat certain foods? Our bodies have intrinsic wisdom if we are willing to listen and hear them.

4. You Are Not Really Sleeping

We’ve established that you’re (hopefully) getting enough sleep, but are you getting enough high-quality sleep? If you’re constantly saying “I’m exhausted,” you may not be.

Some of the top causes of poor sleep quality include being on electronics right before bed, interruptions, an uncomfortable mattress or the wrong pillow, grinding your teeth, an inconsistent sleep routine, or the fact that you’re not getting through all of the sleep cycles.

What Can You Do?

Start with the basics—get off your electronics at least an hour before bed, make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress, set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise, and sleep in a well-darkened room or wear an eye mask.

If you have difficulty falling asleep or have poor sleep quality, this guide will help you get a good night’s sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning.

5. You Are Stressed or Worrying Too Much

When you’re stressed, you produce more cortisol (the stress hormone), which can significantly affect your sleep and decrease the effectiveness of your immune system.[2] This is why one of the common side effects of long term stress is lack of sleep[3].

Stress and Sleep: Why You May Be Exhausted

    On top of stress hormones, excessive worrying can drain your energy. When you worry, you’re using energy.

    It’s like when you have an app on your phone that takes up a lot of battery and you have it constantly running the background, your battery will drain more quickly. Such is true with worry and stress.

    What Can You Do?

    Find things that reduce your stress levels. I’ve seen clients have great success with yoga, meditation, and exercise. If you’re worrying too much, get a clear plan in place to take action on what’s worrying you.

    6. You Are Not Breathing Deeply Enough

    Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. This increased oxygen content in the bloodstream leads to greater energy and healthier muscles, organs, and tissues, which can help you avoid those “I’m exhausted” moments.

    To highlight the benefits of deep breathing, I reached out to a longtime Yoga Instructor and Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, Vivica Schwartz. Here’s what she shared:

    “Most people breathe into the chest only (shallow breathing) and don’t allow the breath to reach deeper into the abdominal region, due to stress and anxiety. Shifting the breath down, so that it expands the belly (and all the muscles that comprise the diaphragm) is one of the best ways to shift our awareness, quiet the mind, release tension and increase our energy levels.”[4]

    What Can You Do?

    Make a conscious effort to breathe deeply more often. Try this from Vivica:

    1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower belly.
    2. Breathe smoothly in and out through the nose, noticing how your breath expands three-dimensionally in the ribcage.
    3. Now, begin to shift the inhalation into the lower abdomen first, so that the lower hand rises first, then fill the chest area.
    4. Reverse the process on the exhalation, emptying the chest area first, then the lower belly.
    5. Continue like this for a few rounds, visualizing the diaphragm contracting and pushing down and expanding the belly area.

    7. You Are Hanging out With the Wrong Crowd

    Have you ever known someone who “sucks the life out of you”? After spending time together, you feel tired, drained, and find yourself thinking “I’m exhausted!”

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    “Energy vampires” do just that—they suck your energy and throw your mental health out of alignment. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you’re getting. If you’re spending time with people who drain your energy, you’re going to feel tired.

    What Can You Do?

    Grab some garlic and your stake and ditch the energy vampires. Make a conscious effort to hang out with people who feed your soul and make you feel energized and alive.

    If you need a little help to spot these people out, you can check this article out: 15 Signs Of Negative People.

    8. You Are Not Moving

    A great deal of research suggests that physical activity and exercise improves energy and decreases fatigue.

    In a widely acknowledged 2006 study published in Psychological Bulletin, researchers analyzed 70 studies on exercise and fatigue which involved more than 6,800 people.

    Over 90% of the studies showed the same thing: sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to those that did not exercise.[5]

    What Can You Do?

    Get moving, and find ways to increase your exercise and movement.

    General guidelines are 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (or a combination of the two). This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking 20 minutes a day, or participating in a sport you enjoy.

    Here’re some tips for you: How to Instantly Fall in Love With Moving and Start Shaking off the Extra Pounds

    9. You Are Dehydrated

    The human body is composed of 50-65% water. Some parts of our bodies, like our brain, heart, and lungs are more than 70% water. This means even mild dehydration can cause your energy levels to fall and leave you saying “I’m exhausted.”

    Fatigue is a telltale sign you are dehydrated. In fact, in a survey of 300 doctors in the UK, 1 in 5 patients who saw their doctor for symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness simply weren’t drinking enough water.[6]

    What Can You Do?

    A simple rule of thumb is eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Before you reach for your coffee in the morning, reach for a glass of water first.

    However, doctor and hydration expert Dr. Zach Bush noted,

    “Proper hydration is not simply infusing your body with water. More specifically, it’s about getting the water inside your cells. To do that, you need to improve the electrical charges across your cellular membranes. Strategies that improve the electrical charge across your membranes include: reducing EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure, increasing electrolytes, and boosting your fiber intake.”

    Try this intensive hydration protocol:

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    Drink 4 ounces of water every 30 minutes from 7 am to 7 pm for 3 days. During this intense hydration, add electrolytes to every other 4-ounce dose. Then, give your body a break from food and water between 7 pm and 7 am.

    10. You Are Too Busy

    You know the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I say, leave the busy person alone. They clearly have enough on their plate.

    Whether you’re a busy parent trying to get the kids to their various activities, a young entrepreneur trying to get a business up and running, or a person with a fairly average job trying to deal with a family crisis or work through continuing education, a busy life can leave you saying “I’m exhausted.”

    I’ve been there and I have to be careful of this myself. As a working mom of three young girls, who also wants to be social and active in my community, I know all too well the life of being busy. I’ve had to reign it in, create strategies, and make very conscious decisions.

    What Can You Do?

    Look at your life as an outside observer.

    Do you notice yourself constantly taking on more than you should? Would it be good to learn to say no? Perhaps you need to take a step back and identify what’s most important or set boundaries. 

    Perhaps you need to delegate more, outsource, or just get some stuff off your plate! 

    Delegation can be a great resource here, so check out this article to get started with this helpful skill. 

    11. There Is Something Else Going on

    If you’ve tried everything above and are still saying “I’m exhausted,” you may want to see your doctor or healthcare professional to uncover any underlying issues.

    Among other things, medication side effects, a viral infection, heart disease, and other health concerns, including thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, anemia, and sleep apnea, can all cause fatigue.

    What Can You Do?

    If you’re sleeping enough and doing all the “right” things above and you still feel tired, it’s important to identify what could be the cause, so talk to a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

    The Bottom Line

    If you’re sleeping enough and still find yourself tired and saying “I’m exhausted” all the time, it’s time to step back and see which of these reasons resonate with you.

    To get a different result, you have to do something differently. In order to be more energized and less exhausted, you’re going to need to make some changes.

    Are you going to eat better, exercise more, stay hydrated, take something off your plate, reassess the job you hate, or get away from a relationship that’s draining you?

    Change takes action, and it’s time for a change. Take action now and your energy levels will be glad you did!

    Tips to Combat Exhaustion

    Featured photo credit: Mel Elías via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Tracy Kennedy

    Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

    How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 10 Powerful Ways to Be More Confident 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them)

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    Published on April 14, 2021

    How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

    How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

    You didn’t get to where you are in life without learning how to relieve stress along the way. But just because you’ve “been there, done that” doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be easier this time around. Granted life experience will likely have taught you the old refrain, “this too shall pass” but that same life experience will also likely have taught you something about the active role you need to take to combat stress from time to time and how we could all stand to benefit from a stress-busting reboot.

    I think we all know the dangerous side effects of too much stress in our lives. Stress is a major contributor to many poor health outcomes, such as diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, poor memory, and a whole host of mental health issues.[1] Therefore, how we manage the stress in our lives, needs to be revisited with a fresh and new perspective, in the same way, we need to clean out and freshen up our closet every so often.

    Below are my top 10 strategies to relieve stress and restore energy with a fresh look at some old favorites that are guaranteed to help you self-optimize for health and happiness in body, mind, and spirit.

    1. Compartmentalize—Prioritization on Steroids

    People think of the compartmentalizing tactic in different ways, and there are negative associations with this term. However, when I suggest that you compartmentalize to manage your stress—or better yet, relieve stress—what I am referring to is the idea that you block out certain parts of your life that are distracting you from what you need to do in your daily life.

    For example, you are at work but also have some extraordinary stress in your private life due to ailing parents with no siblings to share in the caretaking. Managing this alongside your own family and professional responsibilities, which were already heavy enough, places an enormous amount of stress on you.

    When you compartmentalize, you put up mental blinders to help you focus on the task in front of you with the knowledge that managing your parent’s living and financial situation will be handled in due time after work hours.

    Learning how to block out these different realms of your life will help you prioritize and manage the work that is in front of you.

    2. Get Outside, It’s Like Therapy

    Simply getting outside in the fresh air will automatically bring down your stress levels and restore some lost energy.[2] The research around this growing field known as ecotherapy is proving once again how powerful nature is and how we can improve our mental wellbeing along with our physical and spiritual health with time outdoors.[3]

    When you are outside, you are more likely to have increased activity levels and will be exposing yourself to the mood-boosting sun, which helps our body create vitamin D. Research on vitamin D indicates that those who are vitamin D deficient may be more susceptible to inflammatory illness, depression and lowered resistance to stress, and more and more of us are becoming vitamin D deficient across the United States.[4]

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    Spending as little as 10 minutes outside every day can be enough to improve mood, mental focus, and decrease blood pressure. Think of the increased concentration and improved efficiency you will get as a return on investment that yields way better growth on your aptitude and attitude for life.

    3. Do an Organization Reboot

    We all know the secret to success is largely due to organization or at least some form of it. I would argue that organization is a process. We build structures to organize information and life events based on our current demands. Over the course of your life, this will vary and probably increase as your life becomes more complicated, which will force you to innovate and change things up as you go.

    What was enough in college or your first job out of college may not be enough at this point in your life. Furthermore, many, many systems can help us organize, and too many can detract from their intended benefits.

    Assessing and weeding out the unnecessary systems or consolidating from the many to one might just be the answer.

    Is a family calendar on Google more efficient than the calendar hanging in the kitchen? Don’t just assume that the answer will be in tech. Sometimes the old-fashioned pen and paper is more practical and might also serve as a better physical reminder—think of the whiteboard in the kitchen vs the hidden “to-do list” on your smartphone with reminders that consistently fail.

    Another strategy for your organization reboot is an organization self-assessment. First, what it is that you need help organizing, and what the intended outcome is? Is it for communication purposes—to make sure that everyone is on the same page—or is it to help you process and think about the workload in front of you? Answering these 2 questions will help you move forward as you think about what makes the most sense for you, your family, or your team at work.

    Another way to approach an organization reboot is to ask other people how they stay organized. This is especially helpful when taking on new responsibilities that might come with a job change or a new family dynamic.

    I did this in a new position I recently took and by collecting data on how other people approached their work (think of the complex systems in public education), I was able to create “a best practice” that worked for me and that I could share with my colleagues. Something that could earn you some extra kudos is a bonus, especially when you are the new kid on the block.

    4. Engage Your Creative Brain

    When we engage the creative parts of ourself we tap into the part of our brain that releases dopamine, which has a naturally calming, therapeutic effect. Needless to say, this will almost immediately help us to relax and will lower our stress levels. One of the premises for which art therapy has been well established.

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    In one study, in particular, it was found that after just 45 minutes of engaging with artistic materials, regardless of the level of production or artistic talent the person had, there was a notable decrease of cortisol in 75% of the participants.[5]

    Music therapy is another form of creative art that can relieve stress and restore our energy.[6] Many of us use music to help us decompress or move into another part of our day or activity. Music also taps into this part of our brain that increases focus and can help us emulate the feeling or “vibe” we perceive in the music. As we know, upbeat music will help you feel more positive while slower music can help you feel more relaxed by easing some of the tension in your body.

    There are tons of great playlists out there aimed at stress relief. The next time you are on your preferred music streaming service, test out a few and see which works for you. Needless to say, music is one of those things that we can have in the background while moving forward with other parts of our day.

    Perhaps this is another area in need of a reboot that could enhance your stress relief routine.

    5. Do You Need a Vacation or Weekend Away?

    Vacation opportunities may not be as readily available as we would like. However, it doesn’t have to be a week in the tropics to feel the benefits of a short break from your everyday routine.

    If we are optimizing our time with some of the above strategies, perhaps we might be able to sneak in that weekend getaway or even just a day trip with the family. Getting out of your everyday environment, especially when trying to build in some respite and relieve stress, can do wonders for our mind, body, and spirit.

    We may love our homes, but they do represent the endless “to-do list” and remind us of all the things that contribute to our stress levels. Getting away from this environment where you can get outside and engage in some of your favorite activities with your favorite people will free your mind and your body.

    Granted, COVID-19 has definitely hindered our road trip or vacation opportunities. However, with a little creativity, we can build in the little breaks that we need to relieve some stress, reconnect with the people who are important in our lives, and help us to feel ready for the next hurdle in front of us.

    6. Meditation and Mindfulness, Make Them a Habit

    Meditation and mindfulness can offer endless benefits to us emotionally and psychologically, which will naturally relieve stress. Many of those benefits include increased focus, relaxation, and a decrease in the mental clutter in your head.

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    One of the biggest challenges with mediation or mindfulness is that to feel the impact, we need to practice it consistently, which takes discipline. The people who are most successful at integrating mediation and mindfulness into their self-care and stress relief routines are people who build it into their daily practices.

    And as is true with many strategies, we don’t need to spend hours doing it. Just 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a difference, but we do need to make sure we are doing it.

    Maybe there is a 5 or 10-minute window at the end or beginning of your day where you could fit this consistently? There are lots of great apps to help guide you through your mediation with music and visualization.

    7. Fight Off “Aloneliness” and Find Your Alone Time

    I read an article recently about “aloneliness,” which is the opposite of loneliness. As an introvert, I have always been that person who replenishes her energy from time alone but never quite thought about the craving as a likening to loneliness for the introvert.

    The benefits of alone time are science-backed and include those things that many times go out the window when we are stressed and overwhelmed—things like creativity, mental strength, and productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people without the opportunity to have their alone time, which could be another reason that you are feeling more stressed and less able to deal with your daily challenges.

    You might need to be strategic, but you could build some alone time into your life with a walk outside to get lunch for example, which will also be incorporating strategy #2 on this list.

    8. Find Balance in Your Life

    Stress can turn our lives upside down and throw everything off-kilter. Finding your equilibrium, getting your bearings straight, and finding the balance in your life between the many demands of family, partner, work, and friends is essential.

    If you are feeling increased stress, take a look at the demands around you and make sure that there is a balance between the different parts of your life—in particular, the areas where you find more nourishment for the soul.

    Incorporating the well-known life coaching strategy “life wheel” is a great way to think about the different parts of your life to ensure that you are giving all areas the time and attention that they need.

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    9. Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene

    It’s no secret that sleep can be your best friend or public enemy number one. As the saying goes, “what a difference a day can make” is in large part due to a restful night’s sleep. However, when we are stressed, sleep is one of the first things to get out of whack.

    If you are going through a period of high stress, you are likely feeling an increase in outside or family demands. Finding the time to fit it all in may naturally creep into your sleeping hours or, on the other hand, the stress might keep you from being able to get a restful night’s sleep. Either of these two scenarios is a case where it might be good to take a look at your sleep routine and force you to be a little more protective of it.

    Some of my go-to tips and strategies around maintaining healthy sleep hygiene are:[7]

    1. Plan ahead
    2. Maintain your physical activity
    3. Limit alcohol
    4. Sleep in a cooler environment
    5. Get plenty of fresh air

    So, before you get to thinking that you can sleep “later,” remember that healthy people and well-balanced lives have a healthy amount of sleep in their lives.

    10. Animal Love

    There’s tons of research out there about the benefits of having a pet, in particular, a dog or a cat. Taking care of a pet or any member of the animal kingdom can have such a positive impact on our mood and psychological well-being that our brain releases a hormone known as oxytocin, dubbed the love hormone.

    We get this hormone from other nurturing (human) relationships as well, but we cannot underestimate the impact this can have on us when we care for and connect with one of our four-legged buddies. A case in point is the fact that many pet owners report feeling a connection to their pet that rivals that of any significant human connection and, in some cases, can even be more significant than a human-to-human connection.[8]

    Additionally, having a pet will likely promote other healthy habits. Some of which I spoke about above, such as being outside more often and increasing your physical activity. On a social level, connecting with friends and neighbors about your pet creates a shared connection—another protective factor in the fight against stress.

    Botton Line

    Modern life places many demands on us which hits us in different ways during different periods of our lives. Maintaining our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being requires a fresh and renewed approach every so often.

    If you take the time today—to take care of yourself for tomorrow by revamping the old worn-out items in your self-care toolbox—you will reap the benefits 20 fold! Learning how to relieve stress from our life is a process that we will need to revisit time and time again, each time getting better and better.

    More Tips on How to Cope With Stress

    Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

    Reference

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