Advertising

Last Updated on December 17, 2020

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

Advertising
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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!”

    Advertising

    “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:

    Advertising

    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!

    Advertising

    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.

    12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness 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

    Trending in Restore Energy

    1 The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep) 2 7 Common Signs of Work Burnout And How To Deal With Them 3 7 Signs You’re Burnt out (And How to Bounce Back) 4 How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy 5 4 Things to Do When You Feel Burned Out And Tired of Life

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on September 16, 2021

    The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

    Advertising
    The Real Reason Why You Feel Exhausted (No Matter How Much You Sleep)

    I love my sleep. I always make sure to get at least eight hours each night. I’ll even leave parties early so I can get to bed at my usual time Yet, there are still mornings when I wake up feeling exhausted, even after a great night’s sleep. Whenever that happens, I run through a mental checklist, grasping at straws to explain to myself why I feel so groggy: why do I feel exhausted? Did I drink too much last night? Did I stay up past my usual bedtime? Did I hit snooze on my alarm twelve times? Eight hours of sleep a night shouldn’t result in chronic exhaustion, right?

    Regardless of how much quality sleep you’re getting, you can still feel mentally exhausted, burnt out, run-down, worn through—whatever you want to call it. Most of the time, you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the time or the sense to see it clearly.

    The answer is right in front of your face, but you haven’t had a chance to step back and analyze your situation. Maybe you hate your job, or you’re worried about paying rent, but you’re not actively thinking about it. How could you with all that’s going on? It’s planted in your subconscious, lurking there and eating away at your morale.

    That worn-down feeling is a cumulative combination of unconsidered stressful circumstances—an amalgamation of past worries and future anxieties. We aren’t talking about your regular physical exhaustion from a long day’s work standing on your feet. This is purely in between your ears. You’re overstimulated, and it’s dragging you down. But what’s the real reason behind this brain fog? Why do you feel exhausted?

    The first place to look at is stress,[1] which is the body’s natural response to a new challenge or demand. Where are you currently experiencing stress in your life?

    Most pain, exhaustion, or emotional fatigue is the direct result of stress. Daily life is filled with tiny stressors—running to catch the morning bus, praying you’ll find a parking spot, or worrying about the leak in your ceiling at home. As these small stressors pile on uncontrollably, you realize you’re white-knuckling through the day.

    Mental exhaustion,[2] simply put, is long-term stress. It’s having a day like the above over and over again for months on end until it weighs so much it finally drags you to the ground. You can’t keep living like this.

    You may have experienced this in the form of a “mid-life crisis,” or even a quarter-life crisis where you stop and realize you never pursued the things you once hoped and dreamed of. Life passed you by in the blink of an eye. What happened to the “purpose” you once wanted to get out of life? Maybe you wanted to be an artist and all of a sudden, you look down and you’re forty-three years old sitting in a conference room surrounded by suits and boring charts.

    You’re faking your way through life and you’re tired of putting on an act.

    Advertising

    Why Do You Feel Exhausted?

    “Depression, anxiety, phobias… so many things can be disguised in a way that gives a facade of normalcy over a person’s internal struggles.” —Morgan Housel

    There are many reasons why you may be feeling exhausted. There may be times when you had complete hours of sleep yet ask yourself after waking up: why do I still feel exhausted?

    Why? It’s because there are other possible reasons for this exhaustion other than improper or lack of sleep. Here are some reasons why you feel exhausted.

    1. High-Pressure Occupation (emergency responders and teachers)

    Working in a highly stressful scene like an ER or police department is an obvious input for stress. Long hours on the job and making high-level decisions in crisis mode need to be followed by a period of rest, relaxation, and debriefing.

    2. Working Long Hours

    Consistently clocking in 12-14 hour days for weeks on end can drag you down. Many occupations require this type of work seasonally, like accountants during tax season. But when you’re spending that much time at week year-round and there is no end in sight, mental exhaustion can become chronic.

    3. Financial Stress

    For obvious reasons, being in troubled circumstances with your finances can cause long-term stress and constant worries, which lead to feeling exhausted. How can you enjoy life if you can’t afford to do the things you enjoy? No matter how much you sleep, you will still feel exhausted if something is troubling you at the back of your mind like financial problems.

    4. Dissatisfied With Your Job

    When you ask yourself, “why do I feel exhausted?” Try also asking, “Am I satisfied with my job?”

    Many people slog through life in a job they hate. Whether it’s your unruly boss, the team that you work with, or the customers who you’re sick of hearing complaining, being stuck in a dissatisfying job can cause feelings of resentment in work and your personal life.

    5. Clutter

    Whether you’re naturally a messy person or life has become so frantic that you haven’t even had a chance to clean or organize, clutter plays a massive part in mental exhaustion. Having a clear workspace and a calm environment to walk into makes a difference in mental clarity. This can also affect your productivity and your attitude towards your job.

    Advertising

    6. Avoidance and Procrastination

    When you feel exhausted, it may be because something at the back of your head is troubling you. You may have some responsibilities that you should be doing or have done but still have not. Putting things off too long will cause hidden stress to climb on top of you like a monkey on your back. Avoiding your responsibilities and procrastinating are some of the possible causes as to why you feel exhausted.

    7. Living With Chronic Pain or an Illness

    Going through life with stress is hard enough. Add on top of that something like chronic back pain or a congenital condition and it’s like taking care of two separate people for yourself. This can also cause feelings of resentment, bitterness, and irritation around people you love, even those who support and take care of you.

    8. Death of a Loved One

    Losing a close friend or family member is something everyone has experienced, and it never gets easier. Many people try to play tough and portray to their loved ones that they are okay and dealing with it just fine. But the reality is that it’s weighing them down.

    Be honest with yourself about it, and have someone you can talk to. Experiencing your grief alone and not sharing it with anyone may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

    9. Lack of Purpose

    Life needs to have a purpose. Every individual has a purpose that is entirely unique to their circumstance. It can be guided by religion, occupation, or an ultimate life goal to strive towards, such as writing a book or owning a business. Without an ultimate purpose, it’s easy to let yourself slip into a depression that leads to mental exhaustion.

    What Should You Do When You Feel Exhausted?

    “When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.” —Nicholas Sparks

    1. Talk About It

    It may sound obvious, but talking through these struggles with someone is a form of therapy in itself. Chances are, someone has been through the same type of thing that you’re going through right now. Don’t hide it. Open up and learn how others dealt with it. It’s more common than you think.

    2. Find an Outlet or a Hobby

    One way to help find joy out of a life of exhaustion is to come home to a hobby. Unwind from the workday by doing something you love that’s also a bit challenging. Learn how to play guitar, play video games with your kids, read a book, or learn new recipes to cook for your family. Take your mind away from whatever it is you’re worried about. Focus entirely on the process and get out of your anxiety.

    3. Be Realistic

    You can’t do everything. Look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself and the people around you about what’s possible for one person to do in a day. You can’t change the world alone. Enlist the help of others and don’t be too proud to ask. Putting the weight of the world on your shoulders may be the reason why you feel exhausted.

    Advertising

    4. Arrive Early

    It took me years in life to realize how much being early can relieve stress. Waking up five minutes earlier gives me five minutes to relax and think if I’m forgetting anything before I head out the door. Leaving five minutes before I normally would for an event gives me five minutes to arrive and get a good seat, scope out the scene, or talk to someone and learn something about the place.

    Being early allows you to be relaxed and completely comfortable as opposed to running through life in a hurry. Settle in before anyone else and have the mental edge that you’re prepared for anything.

    5. Exercise More, Try Healthier Habits

    Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But have you ever regretted a workout? One hundred percent of the time it makes you feel better and gives you the momentum to have a great day.

    Try healthier habits. Go for a walk right when you get out of bed. Try a new vegetable once a week. Drink more water. Stand more. Replace dessert with fruit. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, try to go one day a month without coffee. Healthier habits ultimately lead to a happier life in more ways than you think.

    6. Journal

    Similar to talking about your problems, journaling is an excellent outlet for not only getting the thoughts out of your head but also to clarify your feelings. As you write, you’ll realize you actually didn’t understand what you were thinking. Writing helps that. Do it often.

    7. Take Care of Something

    Get a pet. If you’re not ready for a dog, then buy a few plants to take care of. This takes the attention off yourself and on to something that relies on you for livelihood. It will help put everything in perspective and relieve stress and exhaustion.

    8. Meditate

    This is such an overly-used cure-all, but meditation really does help with clarity of thinking and developing a sense of calm in your life. Researchers found that meditation “decreased symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.[3]

    It doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs cross, fingers in a circle, and saying “Oooommmmmm.” Meditating can take on whatever form you’re comfortable with. It can be taking a few deep breaths before you step out of your car, or it can be closing your eyes and thinking of your loved ones when you’re having a hard time.

    Sometimes before bed, I’ll just close my eyes and envision a future I want for myself. I picture the people I love hugging me and saying “Congratulations.” For what? I don’t know, but I’m putting myself in the mindset to succeed.

    Advertising

    Final Thoughts

    Dr. Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit:[4]

    “The more you work on systems for reducing stress and excess decision-making, the more mental energy you’ll have.”

    This is true in so many areas. Work on habits and routines that will eliminate the number of decisions you make. The more disciplined you are in these areas, the more freedom you will have to do the things you truly want and need. But also, understand how you are getting in your own way.

    Author Tim Ferriss likes to ask himself, “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” or “What are the stories I tell myself that interfere with self-love?”

    Take a look at the actions and routines you structure your life around. Are there small tweaks you can make to get out of your own way? What would this look like if it were easy? Sometimes, asking yourself questions like these can lead to surprisingly simple solutions and answer the question of “why do I feel exhausted?”

    As I said, everyone is struggling in their own way. How you manage your stress may differ completely from someone else. By being vulnerable and understanding that you have the ability to overcome this exhaustion, you can begin to find meaning. Exercise consistent positive habits and the momentum will attract more positive momentum. Oh, and get good sleep!

    More Tips to Help You When You Feel Exhausted

    Featured photo credit: Hernan Sanchez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next