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Last Updated on February 9, 2021

Too Tired at Work? 4 Ways to Regain Focus and Balance

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Too Tired at Work? 4 Ways to Regain Focus and Balance

I once heard it said, “No one gets a prize for burnout.” It’s a lovely saying, but how many of us abide by this ideology? Not many because if we did, Botox and wrinkle cream would be a thing of the past. We’re tired at work and because of work.

Since childhood, we’re groomed to work for the weekend, but working for two free days per week robs us from enjoying the other 260 days. None of us grew up with the mission to be exhausted, yet far too many of us have accepted this rat race as business as usual.

From Monday to Friday, we complain about the craziness, and then we escape on Saturday and Sunday with a pitcher of sangria. Isn’t this the way that life is supposed to be?

There’s nothing wrong with hard work. It’s what makes the world go round, but if our only moment of joy is zoning out to Hulu in our comfiest pajamas, we might need to rethink our chaotic schedule.

If you’re tired of grabbing your coffee on the run, yelling at the kids as you race to the door, and driving like a maniac to make it to your morning meeting, grab a nice glass of wine and enjoy this read.

In this article, I’ll reveal a couple of reasons why your exhausted and give you some practical tips to keep your sanity and social life without experiencing so much fatigue. Let’s get you started on this journey.

Why You Might Be Exhausted

Before I go to the practical tips, let’s first discuss the two main reasons why you might be tired, especially at work.

You Are Tied to Technology

According to Deloitte, most employees are exhausted. But more specifically, their source of depletion is tied to operating in an “always on” and “always available” work culture.[1]

Technology has removed all boundaries, and in many ways, it has removed an employee’s right to say no. Employees don’t feel like they have the option to shut off their phones, have a life separate from their job, or escape the piles of paperwork.

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This reality is leading to burnout and stress. Many employees feel like they can’t escape or even take a breath when they’re away from work because, in all honesty, they’re never away from the office.

Technology has made a business structure without walls, but that also means that there are no doors. This open concept of business is a blessing, but it’s also created a corporate environment that doesn’t respect personal boundaries.

This constant access to employees might work well for a company’s bottom line, but it will lead to higher burnout levels and employee dissatisfaction in the long run.

You Value Performance Instead of Purpose

Workforce Institute conducted a study and found that “95 percent of HR professionals perceive that employee burnout is sabotaging productivity” within the workplace.[2]

Repeat after me: “Life is more than the weekend.”

No amount of burnout will get you to the corner office. It doesn’t take higher energy levels to reach your goals. It requires making the right decisions. Remember, it’s not about working hard—it’s about working smart.

The hamster wheel will not get you to where you want to be. It will only lead you to more fatigue and frustration. If you feel stuck and tired at work, you’re not alone. You can shift your narrative and your sleep schedule, but if you want to change your life, then you need to change your habits.

4 Ways to Change the Way You Work

Change takes time. It also requires you to ask what you want out of life. When you take the time to know who you are and what you need, you’ll have the confidence to write your story. Pinning down your boundaries protects your purpose.

All of us experience exhaustion. But if you’re tired at work 99.9% of the time, then something needs to change, and it’s not always the job. Many times, the most significant change starts with us.

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You can regain your focus, but you need to take some time for personal introspection before experiencing higher productivity. Here are four tips that you can put into effect now!

1. Remember Your “Why”

What is your motivation?

When you were younger, you were compelled by your goals and driven by your dreams, but once you hit 30, you realized that you couldn’t pay the rent with pretend money or your 3-year vision board.

Sacrifice is a part of adulthood. After all, we’ve all learned how to pivot and survive the twists and turns. There’s nothing wrong with being responsible, but whether we like it or not, the strains of reality pop our bubble and push many of us towards burnout.

Stepping away from our foundational dreams comes at a price, which can include our health, our wholeness, and our sense of purpose. If we want to regain our focus, we need to take the time to rediscover what makes us tick. We have to make space in our schedules to work on our “why.” We can’t just be led by our “what.”

If we don’t take the time to remember the reason behind our work, we lose ourselves in it. If you want to regain your focus and stop being tired at work, you need to remember your purpose. Once you make that the foundation of your life, all of your decisions will center around that focus.

You can learn more about finding and sharpening your focus in this free guide: End Distraction And Find Your Focus

2. Recenter Your Life

One of the biggest things that you can do is to carve out time for contemplation. Now, I’m not talking about a quick morning ritual or a meditation retreat. I mean seeing yourself as a priority on your task list, not an option.

Too many of us sacrifice ourselves for the sake of deadlines. We spend days preparing our presentation and researching statistics, but we put off going to the gym or getting that extra hour of sleep. We worship doing more than being.

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Numerous studies have come to the same conclusion: We all need to put ourselves first if we want to thrive in business. But we don’t listen to the research. Too many of us continue to live off of coffee and spreadsheets regardless of the numbers. It’s not healthy, but it is tied to corporate culture.

Far too many companies reward this type of behavior. They expect their employees to be available 24/7 and bleed paperclips and printouts day-and-night. And it’s only gotten worse since we’ve started working from home.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “one of the best ways to manage through chaos is to anchor yourself in routine.”[3] Self-care has to be a part of our daily routine if we want to stop feeling tired at work. Regaining focus requires us to recenter ourselves. It demands that we place our needs into the equation without feeling guilty.

You can start by getting your blood flowing with exercise, drinking plenty of water, and taking at least 30 minutes each day to do something that brings you joy.

3. Rethink Your Expectations

We all remember the iconic line from Family Matters. Steve Urkel would hike up his pants, adjust his glasses, and utter those four iconic words that made him an endearing celebrity of the 90s.

“Did I do that?”

We can still picture his squeamish expression as he faced another kerfuffle that he had created. Many of us can relate.

After hours of exhaustion, we desperately try to keep our eyes open at work without running into walls. We blankly stare at the piles of paperwork, mindlessly nod as our boss asks us to add one more item to our checklist, and pray that we don’t drool through our endless meetings.

For many of us, this is our average workweek. We color-coordinate our schedules, add endless monotonous tasks to our week, and hope that we can balance everything without losing our sanity. What if there was a better way to survive?

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4. Reorganize Your Task List

If you’re continuously exhausted at work, one of the biggest things you can do to regain focus is to rethink your task list. You don’t need to accomplish everything, and even if you do, your task list doesn’t necessarily have to be solely done by you.

Before you begin the rat race on Monday mornings, use Sundays to restructure your work week. Write a list of people that you work with and their correlating skill sets. Then, look at your list of important tasks.

Break your task list into three columns. Fill the first section with tasks that only you can do. Then, fill the second section with functions that don’t need to be done or can be pushed to a future date. Lastly, fill the third section with tasks that can be done by others.

Adding items to your checklist might leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment, but if you continue to micromanage your task list, you won’t be able to move forward in the long term.

If you want to regain focus and stop being tired at work, start with your planner. Not everything needs to be crossed off or completed. Sometimes, the best way to meet your goals is to remove the ones keeping you stuck.

Final Thoughts

If you’re tired of being tired at work, take a look at these four tips, and implement one of these practices into your week. Remember, it’s not a race, and these tips are not just another thing to add to your task list. Their purpose is to help you understand your specific triggers that lead to burnout.

If you want to restore your joy, remember your why, and recenter your life—you need to understand yourself. Take time to implement boundaries that provide work-life balance. Make this the year that you enjoy your work week, not the year that makes you pray for the weekend.

More Tips For When You’re Tired at Work

Featured photo credit: Shane via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Colleen Batchelder

Diversity and Inclusion Consultant and Leadership Strategist | Executive Coach | Dr. Batchelder teaches business leaders how to create corporations where Millennials want to work.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

7 Reasons Why Your Body Feels Heavy And Tired

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7 Reasons Why Your Body Feels Heavy And Tired

Interestingly enough, this topic about our bodies feeling heavy and tired has been assigned right around the time when I have been personally experiencing feelings of such “sluggishness.” In my case, it comes down to not exercising as much as I was a year ago, as well as being busier with work. I’m just starting to get back into a training routine after having moved and needing to set up my home gym again at my new house.

Generally speaking, when feeling heavy and tired, it comes down to bioenergetics. Bioenergetics is a field in biochemistry and cell biology that concerns energy flow through living systems.[1] The goal of bioenergetics is to describe how living organisms acquire and transform energy to perform biological work. Essentially, how we acquire, store, and utilize the energy within the body relates directly to whether we feel heavy or tired.

While bioenergetics relates primarily to the energy of the body, one’s total bandwidth of energy highly depends on one’s mental state. Here are seven reasons why your body feels heavy and tired.

1. Lack of Sleep

This is quite possibly one of the main reasons why people feel heavy and/or tired. I often feel like a broken record explaining to people the importance of quality sleep and REM specifically.

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The principle of energy conservation states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It may transform from one type to another. Based on the energy conservation theory, we need sleep to conserve energy. When getting quality sleep, we reduce our caloric needs by spending part of our time functioning at a lower metabolism. This concept is backed by the way our metabolic rate drops during sleep.

Research suggests that eight hours of sleep for human beings can produce a daily energy savings of 35 percent over complete wakefulness. The energy conservation theory of sleep suggests that the main purpose of sleep is to reduce a person’s energy use during times of the day and night.[2]

2. Lack of Exercise

Exercise is an interesting one because when you don’t feel energized, it can be difficult to find the motivation to work out. However, if you do find it in you to exercise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its impact on your energy levels. Technically, any form of exercise/physical activity will get the heart rate up and blood flowing. It will also result in the release of endorphins, which, in turn, are going to raise energy levels. Generally speaking, effort-backed cardiovascular exercises will strengthen your heart and give you more stamina.

I’m in the process of having my home gym renovated after moving to a new house. Over the past year, I have been totally slacking with exercise and training. I can personally say that over the last year, I have had less physical energy than I did previously while training regularly. Funny enough I have been a Lifehack author for a few years now, and almost all previous articles were written while I was training regularly. I’m writing this now as someone that has not exercised enough and can provide first-hand anecdotal evidence that exercise begets more energy, period.

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3. Poor Nutrition and Hydration

The human body is primarily comprised of water (up to 60%), so naturally, a lack of hydration will deplete energy. According to studies, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.[3] If you don’t consume sufficient amounts of water (and I suggest natural spring water or alkaline water), you will likely have more issues than just a lack of energy.

In regards to nutrition, a fairly common-sense practice is to avoid excess sugar. Consuming too much sugar can harm the body and brain, often causing short bursts of energy (highs) followed by mental fogginess, and physical fatigue or crashes. Generally, sugar-based drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly.

I have utilized these types of foods immediately before training for a quick source of energy. However, outside of that application, there is practically no benefit. When consuming sugar in such a way, the ensuing crash leaves you tired and hungry again. “Complex carbs,” healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and thus, provide a slow, steady stream of energy.

4. Stress

Stress is surprisingly overlooked in our fast-paced society, yet it’s the number one cause of several conditions. Feeling heavy and tired is just one aspect of the symptoms of stress. Stress has been shown to affect all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.[4] Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands. This can lead to adrenal fatigue, the symptoms of which are fatigue, brain fog, intermittent “crashes” throughout the day, and much more.[5]

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It’s important to look at stress thoroughly in life and take action to mitigate it as much as possible. Personally, I spend Monday to Friday in front of dozens of devices and screens and managing large teams (15 to 30) of people. On weekends, I go for long walks in nature (known as shinrin-yoku in Japan), I use sensory deprivation tanks, and I experiment with supplementation (being a biohacker).

5. Depression or Anxiety

These two often go hand in hand with stress. It’s also overlooked much in our society, yet millions upon millions around the work experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Many that are depressed report symptoms of lack of energy, enthusiasm, and generally not even wanting to get up from bed in the morning.

These are also conditions that should be examined closely within oneself and take actions to make improvements. I’m a big proponent of the use of therapeutic psychedelics, such as Psilocybin or MDMA. I’m an experienced user of mushrooms, from the psychedelic variety to the non-psychedelic. In fact, the majority of my sensory deprivation tank sessions are with the use of various strains of Psilocybin mushrooms. Much research has been coming to light around the benefits of such substances to eliminate symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.[6]

6. Hypothyroidism

Also known as underactive thyroid disease, hypothyroidism is a health condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce sufficient levels. This condition causes the metabolism to slow down.[7] While it can also be called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism can make you feel tired and even gain weight. A common treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement therapy.

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7. Caffeine Overload

I’m writing this as someone that went from five cups of coffee a day to now three cups a week! I’ve almost fully switched to decaf. The reason I stopped consuming so much coffee is that it was affecting my mood and energy levels. Generally, excessive consumption of caffeine can also impact the adrenal gland, which, as I covered above, can almost certainly lead to low energy and random energy crashes.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing is to identify that you feel heavy or tired and take action to improve the situation. Never fall into complacency with feeling lethargic or low energy, as human beings tend to accept such conditions as the norm fairly quickly. If you’ve made it this far, you’re on the right path!

Examine various aspects of your life and where you can make room for improvement to put your mental, emotional, and physical self first. I certainly hope these seven reasons why your body feels heavy, tired, or low on energy can help you along the path to a healthy and more vibrant you.

More Tips on Restoring Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

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