If someone casually asks you how you are, it’s likely that you’ll say, “Fine, how are you?”
But more and more, I hear people responding to that question with some form of the following:
“I need a vacation.”
“It seems like I’m tired all the time.”
And I’m one of them. For the past three weeks, I’ve felt like sleep is a drug that I can’t get enough of. Even as I looked for photos to go with this blog and saw images of people yawning, I yawned back and wondered if I have time to take a nap.
There are all sorts of physical reasons why we’re so tired. The documentary Sleepless in America says that 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived—a condition that may mean you have a new baby, work too much, drink a lot of caffeine or have an active mind that doesn’t let you rest.
Fatigue can be a sign of depression or physical illness, too, of course. Feeling sluggish about life makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Or your body might be fighting off a bug or dealing with something more serious. It’s something to check out if it goes on for a while.
But if you’re exhausted, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleep deprived or sick. Extreme fatigue can be symptomatic of energetic issues going on under the surface. Here are a few things to check.
You’re not tired from what you’ve done. You’re tired from what you haven’t done. In other words, we carry around a constantly regenerating To Do list in our minds—and on our shoulders, in our chests and our abdomens. No matter how many items you cross off in a day, plenty more immediately take their place. This can leave you gasping for rest, but unable to rest deeply even when you get the chance.
In this case, any form of meditation or centering prayer can make an enormous difference. By giving your mind and body a brief staycation, you’ll tune into your spirit, which knows it doesn’t have to do anything to prove its worth. Even a few minutes of this deep relaxation and connection to the Divine can help you remember that you’re more than your To Do list and get a better perspective about what’s truly essential in your life.
You’re not tired from what you’ve done. You’re tired in anticipation of what’s to come. I’ve found this is one of the most common reasons for a period of exhaustion like the one I’m experiencing now. Your soul knows when you’re about to go through an energetic growth spurt. So exhaustion can sometimes be the soul’s way of saying, “Take time to recharge now because you’re going to need reserves for what’s to come.”
This doesn’t mean that something dire is coming. In fact, it’s usually just the opposite. It means you’re at a turning point, you’re about to meet someone who will be important to you, or you’re unconsciously preparing for a growthful situation.
If you’ve been feeling tired for a while, pay attention to what’s shifting in your life. Give yourself permission to soak up extra rest whenever you can—and give thanks for whatever positive change is coming your way.
You’re tired from too much social media. Think about it. When you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or any kind of social media, you’re having conversations with hundreds if not thousands of people at the same time. That energy affects you—especially if you’re an introvert and need time away from social interaction to recharge your batteries.
If you’re feeling done in, disengage from social media for a few days. My friend Claire does this from time to time. She simply sends out a message that she’s taking a little break. That way no one feels offended by her absence or worries about her.
You’re tired of doing things that no longer light you up. If you’ve said yes to a lot of obligations, decisions, deadlines and details—even if they were a source of joy at one time—they may catch up with you. The words “no” and “delegate” come in very handy here.
Just because we’re no longer in school doesn’t mean we don’t outgrow life experiences. Maybe the volunteer responsibility you took on three years ago was exactly what you needed at the time. But if it feels like a burden now, it probably means you’ve gotten and given all you could, and it’s time to move on.
And remember that letting go of a responsibility gives someone else the opportunity to step up and handle it—which may be exactly the growth opportunity they need right now.
You’re tired of carrying other people’s energy. A few years ago I felt fatigued—and I was having back problems. One day I asked Spirit for information about the issue, and I got the message that I had a whole crowd hanging onto me, as though I was carrying a dozen people or more on my back. No wonder I couldn’t move!
This happens more than you think. There are people in the world who, consciously or unconsciously, will attach their energy to others. They do this because they don’t have the energy to handle their own lives or issues, and so they cling to you instead.
The day I got the message about my unwanted cargo, I got very clear about not needing or wanting to be anyone’s hero or host. Then I politely but firmly told the hangers-on that they were no longer welcome to feed on my energy. Did it help? Absolutely. The back pain cleared up that day.
So, a few quick tips…
- Get out of the Sherpa business. Let people carry their own energy.
- Clear your calendar of everything non-essential for a week or two. (And if you think everything is essential or the world can’t function without you for a little while, ask for that fear-based thought to be healed.)
- Give yourself a soul staycation. Reconnect to the outdoors. Read an inspiring book. Have a cup of tea with your best friend.
- And remember that your light never truly dims, no matter how tired you may feel at the moment.
Debra Engle is the author of The Only Little Prayer You Need. You can find her on Facebook and at debraengle.com.