Signs You Might be ExhaustedAug 03, 2022
Blog by Gem Fadling
I’m wondering if you’re wondering why I’m taking the time to describe the symptoms of exhaustion. You likely know firsthand what it feels like to be exhausted. But this idea arose a few weeks ago when someone asked me about the symptoms of being overwhelmed.
It got me thinking about how sometimes we continue to function on autopilot or run on fumes and we don’t take time to notice how absolutely exhausted or overwhelmed we are. We continue to push through because we don’t feel we have a choice.
I acknowledge that life circumstances may come into play here. For example, taking care of oneself falls dramatically to the bottom of the list for those who are single parents.
Many of us, however, forget that we indeed have a choice. We are not good at taking time to first notice how we feel and to then care for ourselves once we recognize our exhaustion. We tend to put other people’s feelings, schedules, and needs ahead of our own.
It’s easy to miss hints that you might need to ease up and rest, so today I want to briefly list a few symptoms that may reveal your level of tiredness:
- You find yourself complaining a lot. Everything bugs you.
- You have a decreased ability to concentrate. Brain fog is diminishing your focus.
- You have a shorter fuse. You notice your angry outbursts are increasing or intensifying.
- You find that your creativity is waning. The well feels dried up.
- You find that your numbing habits are increasing (e.g., eating, drinking, shopping, media consumption).
This is not an exhaustive list, and it is intended to be anecdotal, not prescriptive. Even though there may be a cluster of reasons you are experiencing these symptoms, tiredness is usually one of them.
So, what can you do if you you’re experiencing any of the dynamics we’re talking about? You may have guessed that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Some of us might have deeper issues at play, and the season of life we’re in usually imposes certain demands. But for general exhaustion, we’d like to offer some ideas that might aim you in the right direction.
Notice that not all of these ideas address physical exhaustion. Sometimes what we experience is mental or emotional exhaustion, and these need to be dealt with in their own way. Here’s our “rest and refresh” list:
- Take a nap.
- Stroll in beauty.
- Practice breath prayer. This is where you say a phrase on your inhale and another on your exhale. A great example is this: on the inhale say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and on the exhale say, “I have everything I need.”
- Unpack your thoughts and feelings with a trusted, safe friend.
- Move your body. This one can help with mental exhaustion. Get out of your own head and move.
- Pause and take three deep breaths, focusing on the exhale.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings.
- Listen to soothing or inspiring music.
- Begin taking a weekly sabbath rest.
- Engage your favorite creative hobby.
- Practice contemplative prayer.
The list could go on. The main idea here is to do what brings you real rest. Rest of body, mind, and soul. What does that look like for you?
Give yourself permission to engage these restful behaviors often—and I mean often. Here’s a pattern that might help: small practices daily, medium-sized practices weekly, and large practices monthly.
Bless yourself and others with the gift of a rested and refreshed version of you. It will truly make a difference.
- Identify which symptom of exhaustion you might be experiencing right now.
- Acknowledge how tired you are and grant yourself some grace by saying, “I see you.”
- Choose one idea from the “rest and refresh” list and try it on this week.
This won’t magically erase your exhaustion, but it will be a nice step toward caring for yourself. If you keep at this, you can begin to turn the tide toward becoming a more rested and sustainable version of yourself.