New Leaf Blog
Feeling tired sucks. Except when it doesn’t.
You know that wonderful kind of tiredness that you feel when you have exerted yourself and you have had some satisfying physical or mental exercise? I call that ‘energetic tiredness’. Isn’t it great? However tired you are, energetic tiredness comes with a glow of satisfaction, a feeling of achievement, a sense of progress, fun or connection
And your body responds to that with deep refreshing sleep, so you are ready to do it again. Even when you push yourself further than you have before, if you do it energetically, tiredness is just part of the natural cycle of exercise and recovery.
But tiredness comes in many guises.
‘Stuck tiredness’ is an energy drainer. It arises when much or all of what you do feels pointless and hard. It doesn’t necessarily link directly to the amount of energy you are expending on activity, because it arises whether you are busy or under-employed, generated by the feeling that you are stuck and feeling demotivated, overwhelmed or stressed.
A symptom of stuck tiredness is that however tired you are, you never seem to be able to get enough sleep. You may find yourself staying awake from worry or stress. Or you may fill your time with so many activities that your nights are short and the adrenalin pumping round your body keeps you awake. Or perhaps you feel that you are sleeping all the time, but you still can’t seem to throw off the tiredness.
Being tired can become a way of hiding from the dissatisfaction and an excuse for not having time or energy to deal with the things in your life you know deep down need sorting. Whether it be a career change, increased exercise or more time with your family, tackling these seems impossible because you are so tired, and getting out of the tired feeling may itself seem impossible, when in fact it is exactly what needs to happen.
Getting out of stuck tiredness
The first step is to make the decision to concentrate on self-care. This may involve saying ‘no’ (at least temporarily) to the very demands on your time that you crave to have more time for, and saying a big ‘yes’ to sleep, moderate exercise and nourishing food. These may seems simple and basic, but they are the fundamentals of life and people who feel stuck and overtired often neglect them.
Having chosen to take the time and space to look after your needs, give yourself some space to look at what you are avoiding. What makes you feel ashamed that you need to tackle? Or makes you want to avoid it most. Is there something that you are finding it hard to admit to yourself because it seems so scary. For career changers , it is often that you hate your job but fear leaving it too. Hard as it might be, unlocking these Pandora’s boxes can turn fear into action, and tiredness from stuck to energetic.
But there is one more way you might be tired
I call this last one ‘transformation tiredness’ and it turns up in everyone’s life at some point, when you move from one part of you life to another to territory that is new and unfamiliar. Teenagers feel transformation tiredness as they move from child to adulthood – and, boy, do they need to sleep a lot as a result.
But the same thing happens to us all when we encounter change – even change we desire. Starting a new job, for example, is a classic example which makes us feel much more tired than we used to. Or when we are asked to give a speech to a huge group of people and we just want to fall asleep in the days before the speech. Or for entrepreneurs, when our business moves to the next level, gaining more customers and demanding new ways of working.
Anything that challenges us to be more than we had previously allowed ourselves to be, however much we wanted that ‘more’ to happen, can send us into a deep kind of tiredness. It can be disorienting and frustrating, but I like to think about it as a sign that we are like the caterpillar, going into our cocoon and getting ready to emerge as a butterfly. In time it will pass.
Reading the signs
So, next time you feel tired of your work, just notice. Is it a sign that you are alive and loving it, that you need a change or that change is already happening? Whichever it is, take care of yourself in the ways your tiredness is asking you to.