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

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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!

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    Tips to Combat Exhaustion

    Featured photo credit: Mel Elías via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Tracy Kennedy

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

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