How to combat tiredness?

Depression and stress can leave you exhausted. It feels like some sort of veil is being dropped over my brain and there is no way of reaching it, to put the ‘on’ button on on again. Last night I was so tired I forgot to close the tap in the bathroom before going to bed. In the morning I was met with a very unhappy boyfriend scolding me that the-one-who-always-wants-to-preserve-water isn’t following her own advice. And the dog vomited on the floor in the dining room. Welcome to a day in my life.

I’ve been dealing with fatigue for a long while now. First it was really really bad when I was too tired to eat and had to lay down with immense hunger in my stomach. After a long while, the help of medication and a night guard I manage to have a decent night of sleep. Isn’t the problem solved one might ask. Not really as I don’t feel rejuvenated after a 10 hours night’s sleep.

My doctor recommended more physical activity during the day, so I would be more tired at night. I started to use an app to undertake some exercising. That does help a lot and I slept better for a period of time. Then I guess I overdid it somewhere because I found myself depleted of energy even before starting to exercise. I gave myself a rest and plan to resume my fitness journey the month to come.

My physical fatigue seems to stem from mental exhaustion, better known as my old friend ‘stress’. The more continuous stress on my mind, the more combating I need to do to get ahead in life. This translates itself in a very heavy feeling in my legs. It takes effort to move ahead. The next best thing, would be to take some rest when possible.

I’ve noticed that I’m not that resilient anymore and that some small efforts can take a lot of mental resources. What I try to do to find a way around that problem is to be careful when and what I spend energy on. It is very tempting to ‘forget’ about your illness and struggles, only to find yourself at the bottom of the pit again.

For me it helps to keep a friendly routine and to stick with it. That routine means a fixed sleep schedule, three meals a day, household work and physical activity in the mornings and reading and relaxing in the afternoon. Off course, there are many appointments with doctors, job placement centers, therapists and the apothecary to attend.  And errands won’t do itself magically overnight.

As I’m managing, with the help of Pierre to actually eat three meals a day, I sometimes feel a little ‘dip’. Due to weight loss I try not to eat too much but I snack on fruit during meals to see if that can help me in the energy department.

As for extra physical activity I’ve found the active 10 app from the NHS. It is supposed to keep your brisk or not that brisk walks on track. You can get goals and adjust them. Me and Pierre also sometimes do a little dance in the living room as a dance party is forbidden due to Corona. It is quite important that moving is a part of your day and that it happens in a fun way.

I’m trying out if mindfulness can help me to let some of the stress go, to relieve some of the stress, to unwind the mind as much as possible. This takes practice and discipline. It promises good things and as long as I’m not met with adverse effects, I will see where that journey might leave me.

So those are my strategies to combat fatigue at this point in time. To recapitulate:

  1. Get to know where your fatigue is coming from. It can be from (mental) illness or stress.
  2. Care about your energy and spend it wisely. Be prepared to manage it like your household budget.
  3. A friendly routine can be your best friend. Get into healthy eating and sleeping habits.
  4. Move during your day. Fit some acts of fun activity in your schedule, do what you like.
  5. Try to unwind the mind at a set time. Be mindful about what is going on on the inside.

Have you ever dealt with exhaustion or fatigue? Have you discovered some tips to deal with it or even better, to improve fatigue? Please share in the comments what you think.

20 thoughts on “How to combat tiredness?

  1. I can totally relate!! I take an alertness aid. I’m not sure what causes my (unmedicated) fatigue, but it’s always been there, leaving me with needing, like, 11 to 13 hours of sleep a night without the alertness aid. With the alertness aid, it’s down to eight to 11 hours needed a night. It’s such a blessing, but it’s not a cure-all. I woke up a bit too early today at 9:00 AM, and I can feel the tiredness still in my eyes. I think I fell asleep around midnight.

    Another tip I have is to take mini-rests where you lie in bed and focus your thoughts on whatever it is that you want to accomplish next. With me, my thoughts will half-form or fly all around, and it can take a while to focus on how I want to clean the first floor next. So I just wait for the thoughts to come together. Power rest. This won’t work if you’re going to fall asleep all the time (although I encourage myself to nap as needed).

    I love your tips, and oh my gosh, I left the water running once too, and my dad had the same reaction!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the tip Meg, it’s a great one. I think it’s good to find a moment of stillness to regroup your thoughts. Mine can be flying around too! I’m going to add focusing on what I want to do next to my plan!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was very lucky that I never suffered with fatigue, not like some other people. I knew people who would, say, go to bed on Tuesday and not be able to get up again until Thursday, but I was never that bad.
    Of course I suffer fatigue when walking but again, that can to a large extent be managed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a very strange thing, fatigue. It can have multiple causes but once it’s there, it can be an true obstacle that needs attention.
      Glad that you don’t have it in that much. But I read that you also need to pay attention too it when walking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Did you ever ride a bike to the top of a hill? On the one hand, you’re tired and want to stop. On the other, if you stop, you’ll never get to the top. For me it is like that, those two competing trains of thought.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And not losing the balance while cycling towards the top 🙂
        I can see your analogy perfectly. It’s a hard one to balance but in order to make progress we need to challenge ourselves. Although I like to combine this with patience and kindness.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know I will sometimes find myself saying silly thinks. “Another fifty steps before I’m allowed to rest”, etc. In fact, when I was first walking, I used to time myself by the number of rests I had when walking to/from a certain place.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I remember very well walks that were not doable without resting. Now I have an app that tells me that I’ve walked an hour today.
        It’s like that with all things recovery, as long as we can strive forward and accept where we are, we are doing the best we can.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I suffered with burnout features similar to yours Kacha. It took a few years to recover but an existential crisis and spiritual awakening may have prolonged things.
    A quick PubMed search showed associations with HPA axis derangement, which I could relate to, and reduced Hippocampal cells. I am sure they are back to normal now.
    Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, advice from a sleep specialist, was excellent. I also borrowed a Fit Bit and looked at how I slept. Surprisingly well!
    Mental activity was draining my energy, I wished I had known that sooner.
    Yoga, to stretch. My teacher used to say “The issues are in the tissues.”
    I did something called Focusing to untangle my thoughts and find a sense of direction.
    My burnout signified a need to change the direction of my life. In her book ‘The Joy of Burnout’ Dina Glouberman also notes the need to change.
    I found no quick fixes. I think we grow out of burnout once the cause is removed. It can be frustrating, depressing and stressful, maybe with feelings of inadequacy, but I think it is important to be kind and patient with ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an thoughtful and hopeful comment, thank you so much! I’ve been looking into the HPA axis and hippocampal cells too. I guess my medication help my cells to regrow or to make stronger connections. I feel that it is helping me. Step by step and very slowly but progress is there.
      Mental activity is the thing to manage I’ve learned. Too much stress makes me very tired, there is an immediate response from my body and mind in the form of a foggy brain and fatigue. Stress is inherent to life but I need to take small portions of it or to manage it the best way I can.
      I really can relate to ‘the issues are in the tissues’ as I can feel them while stretching. I believe that the hip-motion reacts to our emotions 🙂
      Thank you for the tip about the book, I will definitely look it up at the library. Your last paragraph is the most telling and supportive to me. ‘There are no quick fixes’ but with kindness and patience with ourselves it is possible to grow out of it. I hope I’ll keep growing!
      Thank you again for your insightful comment, I learned a lot from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I find having a routine is a great support to spending my energy wisely. When I’m fatigued, it feels like I can only make so many conscious choices before I go into overwhelm. Having the basics on auto-pilot at least takes those out of my budget.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Auto-pilot saves a lot of people I guess. I’m grateful for my routines too, and the fact that I’ve made them flexible. It’s good to have something to fall back on when things fly out of the window.

      Liked by 1 person

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