Are you wondering why you are feeling so tired lately? Do you feel less motivated, lacking energy and unable to get excited about life?
In most cases during lockdown, people’s lives have slowed down, and with fewer external demands on our time, you may imagine that we are all feeling rested. Despite the slower pace, it seems that quite the opposite is true.
When the term fatigue is applied to materials like metal, it’s described as something that is caused by 'repeated variations of stress'. What better way to describe the cause of our worn condition? Given we are currently under stress in so many directions, it is no wonder we can’t easily pick up our energy levels and forge ahead.
What are the possible causes?
Lack of good quality sleep
Lately, a combination of stress, anxiety and late-night box-set escapism has meant we are all likely to be neglecting the one thing that can heal us the most. Longer-term sleep-deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
What can we do to help ourselves?
With all the ongoing low-grade anxiety in our lives, it’s no wonder we aren’t sleeping too soundly. To function well, we need good quality sleep and that requires good sleep ‘hygiene habits’.
Here are five habits to get you started:
- Timeframes work best. Try to set a reasonable and realistic time for going to bed and getting up in the morning
- Avoid caffeine after 4 pm, eating too late and alcoholic nightcaps. All have been proved to disrupt sleeping patterns
- If you need to nap in the daytime, keep it short. 20 minutes is restorative enough without disrupting your night-time routine
- Keep your bedroom cool. The body's core temperature needs to drop to initiate sleep, and cooler rooms help promote restorative, deeper sleep
- Give screens a rest an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from TVs, mobile phones and computer screens disrupts the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin
Constantly on edge
Being constantly on edge or in a heightend state of alert is energy-sapping. Our raised anxiety levels require a lot more effort, which burns more energy. We are exhausting ourselves looking for danger and fearing the worst. This is further compounded by our thirst for information; the rolling influx of stories on Social Media and news alerts pinging on our devices at every hour of the day.
Here are three tips to take control of your concerns:
- Stick to verified trusted news sources, and then limit your exposure to it. Turn off news alerts, especially in the evening
- Stay active – exercise releases endorphins, these natural chemicals in the brain enhance your sense of well-being
- Do something you love – engaging in activities we enjoy helps to distract from anything negative we are experiencing. Engaging in a hobby is a great way to calm our mind
We may stop feeling excited about life
When was the last time you looked ahead and felt excited? With all the events we had planned put on hold or cancelled it’s hardly any wonder we may feel we’ve lost our mojo.
Without the ability to move towards our goals, it can feel hopeless. Modern life has exaggerated our carrot and stick mentality, but with no carrot to chase what inspires us to keep going?
Try these five ideas as a first step:
- Practise mindfulness – mindfulness has been proven to alter our response to stress. Using our awareness to recognise even micro-moments of happiness all adds up and can promote a sense of wellbeing. Living in the present helps us make the most of our days, bringing our awareness back to the here and now. Here are five free meditations to try.
- Be inventive! Creating new rituals or habits that mark mini-milestones help us create a clear distinction between work time and downtime
- Rediscover what small things spark joy. Indulge in your musical guilty pleasures, set yourself realistic challenges, experiment with cooking, connect with friends, start small projects that have a beginning, middle and end for a sense of achievement
- Dare to dream, even if just a little. Talk about the near future, however uncertain it may feel and allow yourself to picture how you’d like it to play out
- Remind yourself of the good stuff – it’s not all bad news. Try the Action for Happiness monthly calendar which is packed with ideas for making the world a happier place!
Be kind to yourself, when we are low in mood, everyday tasks can feel like an uphill struggle. Simple daily practices are the easiest way to bring life back into focus.
Virus or no virus, we can all take steps to improve our wellbeing for life.
To keep track of your wellbeing you can join the Five Ways Challenge an essential self-care framework that reminds us of all we can do, rather than what we can’t.
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