I hate being exhausted.
If I could have things my way I would wake early with energy, glide through my day, and only feel exhausted when my head hit the pillow at night.
This would happen everyday – regardless of circumstances.
But, last week I felt so exhausted that walking upstairs for my daughter’s bedtime felt like walking uphill in sand. Then I fell asleep in the middle of story time – while sitting up.
What the heck is wrong with me? I wondered.
How long is this going to last?
Part of me wanted to find any possible cure from being slapped in the face to injectable caffeine, but instead I went a different route: I embraced feeling tired rather than fighting against it.
We live in a sleep-deprived culture that despises laziness. Tired? Throw back some Red Bull and keep going!
Ever despised your exhausted body for not keeping up with the demands of life? (My hand is raised).
It's ludicrious. We’re not machines. We’re animals and have a natural cycle of energy and fatigue, like we see in the seasons or in the cycle of each day.
The key to the fatigue cycle: You gotta lean into it.
Fighting against fatigue or looking for the easiest active escape route is exhausting. It will only leave you feeling more tired and extend the cycle of exhaustion.
Here’s how to lean into exhaustion a little:
1) Give yourself permission to be tired
You might say something to yourself like this:
I’m tired and it’s okay. This is a cycle and it will pass, but for now I’m going to allow myself to feel tired and it's okay.
2) Become a sleep slut
Last week I went to bed at 8:20pm, slept until 6:00am and got out of bed around 6:30am. It felt so wrong and so good at the same time. Sometimes, nothing passes for sleep but sleep. So sleep.
BUT I KNOW THAT CAN BE EASIER SAID THAN DONE FOR SOME, SO SEE WHICH CATEGORY YOU'RE IN HERE:
If you could easily fall asleep right now, try this: Set an early bedtime alarm for one night and stick to it. If that feels good, extend it to a week.
If quality sleep feels as familiar as seeing a unicorn in your neighborhood, try this: Consider spending an hour before bed doing something restful like reading, meditating, taking a hot bath, or listening to sounds of nature (here's one of my favorites: naturespace.com).
3) Cancel stuff
If you’re in the cycle of exhaustion right now fill in the blanks below.
1) One easy thing I can eliminate doing today is . . .
2) Looking at my calendar this week I could cancel or reschedule . . .
3) What I really want to do right now is . . .
Once you’ve done the first two you’ve just budgeted time to do what you really want to do, so go ahead and do it.
Long cycles of exhaustion suck, and can be an indicator that something – perhaps your health, your passions, or truth – is being ignored.
Try leaning into it a little and if that doesn’t help, consider seeking out some additional support from a health professional or coach.
I’d still rather not experience a cycle of exhaustion again, but leaning into fatigue made this cycle feel nurturing, short lived, and dare I say a bit enjoyable.
Lean on in to fatigue. It may end up being far more delightful and short lived than you imagine.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Post a comment below!