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Last Updated on May 7, 2020

The Causes of Lack of Energy (That Go Beyond Your Physical Health)

The Causes of Lack of Energy (That Go Beyond Your Physical Health)

Think about this: you just spent a day at work, and you’ve thought all afternoon about how you want to tackle a goal that’s been on the back-burner all week. As the day wears on and you make your way home, you tell yourself over and over like a broken record how you need to put your head down, so to speak, and finally get around to doing that one thing you need to do.

You get home, put your bag down, and… fast-forward a few hours. Before you know it, it’s time for bed.

What happened?

Well, you lost all the energy you needed; your mind effectively gave up before you even started.

A lack of energy can go beyond feeling physically tired. It can permeate into what’s known as “mental tiredness.” And it’s a real thing, affecting almost everyone for various reasons. But what if I told you it’s completely possible to tackle it? All it takes is identifying some of the sources of your lack of energy and finding ways to work with it.

Let’s go through the lack of energy causes and how to fix them.

1. An Unfulfilling Job

Everyone knows they spend at least eight hours a day at their job for generally five days a week. If you think about it carefully, though, you’ll realize that this 40 hours a week translates to about 88 full days a year you’re at your job.

We’re talking 88 straight, 24-hour days worth of work in a year. That’s about 25% of your entire existence, not including sleep, spent at your job. That’s a lot of time.

So if your job is unfulfilling to you, no wonder your mental fortitude takes the biggest beating.

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Unfulfilling can also mean several things:

There are many more situations, so inevitably the question gets asked: How do I know if my job is unfulfilling?

Do you feel drained? Do you dread going to work each morning? Do you often think about what you’d rather be doing when you’re at work? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you probably need to reconsider your career choice.

Why? A recent study found a direct link between job satisfaction and mental health[1]. Those who reported less satisfaction with their jobs suffered from higher bouts of depression and sleep difficulty.

How to Fix the Problem

An unfulfilling job is an incredibly common problem faced by people around the world. Some people don’t know what their dream job is, while others don’t have the skills to get into their dream job when they want to.

The first step would be identifying jobs that would feel fulfilling. Make a list of your skills and the topics you enjoy learning. Which jobs would those things serve?

If you already know what you want to do but don’t currently have the skill set for it, take small steps to get where you need to be. Take an online class, find a mentor, or go back to school (if you have the time and the means). Is there a related job you could do that could help you build the right skills? If so, start there.

2. Overwhelming Task List

Got stuff to do? Great, so does everyone else.

Got a lot of stuff to do? You’re not alone.

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Imagine this:

You open your task list, ready to start checking off items. You sip your coffee, sit down, and almost fall backwards off your chair when you realize you’ve got about 18 things to do in the next five hours.

And this may be a contributing factor to your lack of energy. Feeling overwhelmed is a quick way to feeling burned out. When we feel like we have too many things to do, we tend to freeze (or have what’s called workload paralysis[2]) because we don’t know what to tackle first.

This feeling continues, and before you know it, the entire day has gone by and you’ve filled your time doing everything except what you need to do; in other words, you do nothing of importance.

Then, as the days turns into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, you come to the harsh realization that you didn’t really achieve all the things you set out to do. It’s a defeating feeling when you don’t think you’re capable of achieving much.

The defeating attitude is a vicious cycle, too — you start by feeling overwhelmed, don’t do anything about it, then waste time before feeling defeated — and a fast track to a mental burnout.

How to Fix the Problem

Split up your list. If there are too many things to do in one day, move items to your “tomorrow” list, or even to a “weekend” list. Make your list achievable by writing a time limit next to each item so you can imagine how long a full list will take to complete.

3. Saying “Yes” Too Often

“Hey, want to go catch a movie?”

“Want to come over?”

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“Can you pick me up from the airport?”

“Want to grab dinner?”

If you’re a yes person, no doesn’t exist in your personal dictionary. The problem is, it should.

If you’re spending all your time doing everything everyone else wants but no time doing the things you want, you won’t get much accomplished in your life. Just like in the above example, when you realize months later you didn’t get very far, you tend to become defeated, which ultimately leads to feeling mentally exhausted.

The good news is you can become a “no” person whenever you feel like it, and in turn start accomplishing the things you want. But if you’re used to saying yes, it’s not an easy thing to suddenly switch gears.

Being able to focus on yourself gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment and in turn helps your mental state; it’s OK to put yourself first.

How to Fix the Problem

Saying no will likely be difficult at first if you’re used to always saying yes. Start by trying to say no to one thing each week. If you’re worried that saying no will affect how the other person thinks of you, this may be a problem related to self-esteem more than anything else. It may be time to do some self-reflection to see why you want to please everyone by refusing to say no.

4. Lack of Hobbies or Passions

Hobbies and passions are what fuel us to do great things. In many cases, they lead you to your life’s purpose. At worst, they give you an incredible sense of fulfillment and source of happiness in your life.

When your job gets tough, it’s important to have an outlet to focus on. When your job isn’t aligned with your passions or purpose, it’s especially important to have an outlet to apply your skills and excitement towards. In fact, having something to put your attention towards can help provide your life with direction and meaning.

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In a roundabout way, focusing on hobbies or passions can ultimately improve your work or family life.[3] All this is to say: you’re a much better person, especially mentally, when you apply yourself towards things that interest you.

When you don’t have any source of motivation to work towards, you become tired of dealing with the mundane things that life throws at you. And then you become annoyed and yet again, defeated. This frustration can lead to mental exhaustion if it continues long-term.

How to Fix the Problem

If you haven’t made time for a hobby in the past, it’s time to carve out some “you” time each day. Take an hour in the morning or evening to put toward something you enjoy doing. If you don’t have a favorite hobby, start trying things. Say yes to joining that tennis match with your friend or sign up for that free pottery class in town. You never know what you might end up enjoying.

The Bottom Line

Feeling tired from a lack of sleep is one thing. Feeling tired because work isn’t fulfilling, you have no hobbies or passions, you stretch yourself thin, or you feel overwhelmed is another thing.

It’s important to know the difference and work towards defeating the lack of energy you may be feeling.

The four sources listed above are a starting point for you in your quest. There are many more, but these comprise some of the most common. Once you’re able to identify the specific problem in your life, you can get yourself back on track and feel more energetic in your daily life.

More Tips About Regaining Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

Reference

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Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Cure Depression (Professional Advice from a Therapist)

How to Cure Depression (Professional Advice from a Therapist)

Did you know that most people on anti-depressants are depressed again a year later? And between 2005 and 2015, the number of people living with depression worldwide increased by a staggering 18.4%[1].

Even though people are taking more antidepressants than ever, depression is still increasing. It’s paradoxical to think that the estimated 264 million people in the world living with depression are actually together in feeling alone and hopeless[2].

What the pharmaceutical companies seem to make consumers think is that antidepressants cure a chemical imbalance in their brains. But if that were true, why aren’t we seeing depression disappear? That’s not to say antidepressants don’t reduce the impact of symptoms and act as a bridge to effectively address the underlying problems, but relying on them to “cure” depression is not the answer.

We know this.

So how to cure depression?

Johann Hari, a journalist and author challenging what we know about mental health, poses that depression and anxiety arise because our basic needs aren’t being met. He challenges the chemical imbalance argument and argues that masking the symptoms is not the way to cure it.

Overcoming depression starts by understanding that it’s not just a diagnosis but a signal that something bigger needs attention, that something is missing or off-balance. And just as we would do for a car or a computer, we need to look inside to find out what’s causing that flashing red light.

What Causes Depression?

Before we dive in, it’s crucial that you know these three things first if you’re suffering from depression:

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  1. You’re not broken.
  2. You can overcome it.
  3.  It’s probably a natural reaction to the environment you’re in and/or to the events that you’ve been through in your life.

It could be that you’re in an environment that is lacking basic needs such as connection, meaning, and passion, or that you’re holding irrational negative beliefs about yourself based on childhood or traumatic experiences, but one thing is for sure: whatever you’re feeling is real[3].

Whilst this article is not an exhaustive attempt to address all possible causes, we’ll talk about some of the most common causes of depression, namely the lack of meaningful connections and the negative beliefs that we hold from our past.

 

A Lack of Meaningful Connections

One of the most basic human needs is the primal need to feel connected, to be a part of something.

Our ancestral hunter-gatherers needed to be connected as part of a tribe in order to survive. Being rejected meant being exposed to the predators looking for weaklings, people who were alone and vulnerable.

Yes, times have changed, and we’re no longer expecting to be eaten alive in the middle of a city, but we still have that same need for a tribe, to have connection. The great irony is that we’re more able now to “connect” to humans all over the world, but we’re also lonelier than ever. We’re not getting as many real, meaningful connections.

The predators we face now are inside our own heads when we’re sitting alone in our flat feeling hopeless, sad, or (worst of all) feeling nothing. The predator is the belief that death is a way out, a way to ease the nothingness.

This is just one cause, but it’s a big one.

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This isn’t about just talking to or being in the presence of others. You can feel alone in a crowd, and you can feel alone in a marriage. It’s not the physical aspect but the other bit that we get when we form a tribe: the meaning and satisfaction we feel when we share things with others. When we contribute some part of ourselves and improve some part of someone’s something, that’s when we feel a real connection.

In the working environments we’ve created for ourselves, people are working long hours with little to no connection or fulfillment. Our ancestors never had to deal with this type of environment, and it’s something which we need to be acutely aware of so that we can recognize and respond to the signals when we see them.

Professor Caccioppo, previously a psychologist at the University of Chicago and an expert in loneliness stated that:

“The purpose of loneliness is like the purpose of hunger. Hunger takes care of your physical body. Loneliness takes care of your social body, which you also need to survive and prosper. We’re a social species.”[4]

We need these feelings to tell us something is off-balance. Feeling lonely and disconnected means you’re not getting enough of the human connection you need, so you need to change your approach. But if you don’t know that these feelings are signals, and you don’t take the right approach, it’s easy to just give up and say “I’ll never be able to solve this, I’m useless.”

Your subconscious mind believes the things you tell it, and if you’re telling it just how worthless you are, how useless and how unlovable you are, then there’s no wonder you’re feeling worthless, useless, and unlovable. This is another cause of depression: the scripts we tell ourselves.

Your Childhood Scripts

“I’ve always lived with depression, it’s just the way I am.”

Believing that you’re stuck or that you were born with depression is a major block stopping you from overcoming depression. If you’re replaying the same negative scripts over and over, scripts you’ve written for yourself and scripts that others have written for you, then it’s not surprising that your head isn’t an easy place in which to live.

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Not feeling like you’re enough. Not feeling like you deserve to be happy. Feeling like you’re a lost cause.

All of these types of beliefs are things learned over the course of a life, most likely when you were young. Your logical mind didn’t develop until your early teens, so when someone told you that you weren’t good enough or made you feel alone, different or weird, then your emotional brain took that to be the truth about you. But sometimes as adults, we need to revisit the stuff we let in when we were kids because it’s almost always irrational and illogical.

It’s absolutely not your fault that you have them, but it is your responsibility to find and remove them.

A client of mine believed that he couldn’t change because it was the way he’d always been. When we overcame that belief, the next one was that he didn’t believe that what he did was ever good enough. He tried to fit into a career that he thought he needed to, and when he couldn’t face it anymore, he told himself he just wasn’t good enough.

He didn’t contemplate that he was just trying to be someone that he wasn’t and that there were things at which he was amazingly talented. But the shift happened when he started seeing that depression was just a sign for him to keep searching to find his passions, not to settle for a career he hated and to make peace with the relationship he had with his father.

This is something all of us need to work on, and often it’s easier with a therapist who specializes in the subconscious mind (as that’s where it’s all stored), but ultimately you can do this on your own with some real introspection.

How to Cure Depression

By now you’re no doubt aware that there’s no miracle “cure” to depression, but hopefully you can see that depression is a very real and often understandable response to things you’ve been through or things (or lack of) in your environment.

It’s not a matter of just “getting support” or “finding more friends”; that won’t solve it, and it’s not really what you need. Here are some things that will help:

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1. Change Your Scripts

Overcoming depression starts by understanding how your brain works and how other people’s brains work. When you know that your pain has a purpose, that it’s a method of self-preservation, then you can start being aware of what it’s causing you to do and think. When you are aware, you can then change it and rewire it.

For more ways to shift your mindset and rewire your scripts, check out some tips here.

2. Build Meaning and Connection

Building meaningful connections with others will be easier by working on your emotional intelligence and communication skills. Understanding how to read people’s facial expressions, voice, and body language, and focusing on what that person is saying and feeling will help you develop these.

You’ll be able to get control over your self-preservation instincts causing you to feel threatened, and you can see people in a different light. When others feel heard, they’re going to want to hear from you. And if you actually open up, you might find that they feel the same or that you can show them a new perspective.

3. Do Selfless Acts

It has also been shown that we find meaning when doing something for others, doing something where you show human kindness and make a difference to someone. Start by passing on something helpful, or being there for someone, even if it feels really hard.

When you step up and show someone you care, or when you open up about your struggles and be vulnerable, someone who needs it (be it in your office, at a homeless shelter, or just a friend) you’ll be amazed at how good it feels. It’s small, incremental changes here that really help.

Final Thoughts

Depression is really signalling you to stop and take stock of what’s happening around you or what you’ve left unresolved from your past. Just know that you can work on it, that you can find out what ignites your fire and passion, and what makes you feel like you. Above all else, know that it’s all figureoutable and that you’re going to be fine.

More Tips on Dealing With Depression

Featured photo credit: Anastasia Vityukova via unsplash.com

Reference

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