Fighting Fatigue

head down

Lately, I’ve had a real lack of energy. I just feel tired and no amount of sleep seems to help. Fatigue can normally be traced to one or more of your habits or routine. In my case, I think it’s work stress and the increase in exercise I’ve been doing lately. I’m assuming my body will get used to the extra exercise eventually (even though it has been a month already!!), but there’s not much I can do about the psychological fatigue from work stress. Research is research after all. I’m sick of dragging myself around, so I’m looking for ways to help myself. Here are the tips I’ve come across to reduce fatigue.

  1. Drink Water. Dehydration zaps energy, compromises physical performance and decreases alertness and concentration. I think I drink enough when I am working from home, but not at work. At work, I’m busy, I just don’t think about it. I also hate public bathrooms. If I were drinking the right amount at work, I’d have to make a lot more trips to the bathroom…yuck!
  2. Limit Caffeine. One to two caffeinated drinks boosts energy while excessive consumption leads to anxiety, irritability and reduced performance. I’m usually pretty good at this. I have one or two coffees in the morning and switch to decaf if I decide I want one in the afternoon. I wish caffeine information for coffee was more readily available. I guess in the end, I have no idea how much I’m really having.
  3. Don’t skip meals. especially breakfast. I like food too much to skip meals, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. The brain and body relies on glucose for fuel. If you don’t eat, the body has no fuel. Breakfast is especially important because you’ve been fasting all night.
  4. Don’t eat large meals. Large meals take a lot of energy to digest. It’s better to keep blood sugar levels even and not waste energy on digestion.
  5. Go to bed early. The leading cause of fatigue is lack of sleep. I don’t think I fall into the majority. I go to bed ridiculously early. If you are part of the majority, napping can help. A ten minute nap plus a cup of coffee is recommended to boost energy. A nap longer than 30 minutes is no good though, that could interfere with sleep at night.
  6. Avoid sleeping pills. I take the drowsy-type Gravols once and a while, but not real sleeping pills. I know they are only a temporary solutions.
  7. Don’t smoke. The carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen circulating in the body. Less oxygen means less energy.
  8. Increase physical activity. Check!

For the most part, I’m already doing these things. So why am I still exhausted?! Maybe I need to find some more abstract ways to get around my problem. Here are some of the new tricks I’m going to try. They probably wont kill the fatiguw, but they’ll wake me up more when I need it.

  1. Mint. It’s supposed to invigorating, so I’ve bought myself some mint lip gloss. Let’s see if this works.
  2. Cold Water. There are a lot of nerve endings in your wrists, so if you run cold water over them, it should wake you up. Same goes for your face.
  3. Jump. Literally. Gravity-defying exercise increases your heart rate which helps wake you up. Jumping also stirs up childhood enthusiasm which gives you a bit of adrenaline.
  4. Nix indecision. Go with your gut. Spending time trying to make the right decision instead of going with your first instinct causes anxiety which is draining.
  5. Time Out. Take a break. All that work will still be there later, but after taking a break, you’ll have more energy to be more efficient.
  6. Social Network. A few minute on the phone, Twitter or Facebook can be rejuvenating. I always feel like I shouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff at work. If it can make me more productive though, why not?
  7. Colour Therapy. Warm colours are more energizing than cool ones because they are attention grabbing which activates the brain. It is recommended to wear orange on a dreary day. The blend of red (adrenaline) and yellow (exuberance) can boost energy. Orange just makes me look orange all over, so I think¬† maybe I’ll keep something orange on my desk. It should have the same effect.
  8. Yoga. Any exercise is normally good, but is especially good for boosting energy. A British study has shown that after 6 weeks of classes, volunteers reported boosts in energy and confidence. I guess I could try a yoga video at home. I always feel so silly in classes when they tell me to let my skin melt off my bones. What?!
  9. Learn to relax. I NEED to do this. I find I can do something relaxing, like draw or watch something, but I’m never truly relaxed. My mind is still going and fretting over all the nonsense going on. It’s kind of silly, but when I need to sleep, I go through the alphabet and list my favourite names starting with each letter. I have never made it to Z.


Why Can’t I?

This lack of motivation and inspiration is starting to seep into all parts of my life, not just work and being healthy. I’ve been having trouble drawing and blogging the past week. These are usually my outlets. I am already feeling quite low, so not being about to do what I normally enjoy is just going to make it worse. I’m trying to make myself do the things I supposedly enjoy anyway in hopes of it helping.2014-05-30 12.51.47

Have you ever tried Art Journaling? I think it’s a beautiful form or expression. It combines mixed media art and writing your thoughts down. I find it quite intimidating as most of the pieces I have seen are quite beautiful. So I decided to start small and I bought a book, “Art, Doodle, Love” by Dawn DeVries Sokol. It provides pre-made backgrounds and writing prompts to help you get started with art journaling. I have really been enjoying it. Art journaling doesn’t seem quite so scary now.

I’m relying on this book to give me some inspiration for a post. One of the pages from the book is called “Why Can’t I?” It asks you what holds you back from fulfilling your dreams. You’re supposed to answer the question with doodles and photos, washi tape, whatever you feel like. I thought this was good to think about.

In order to make changes in life, you have to disrupt your routine. It’s different for all of us, but a routine is normally good for me, it keeps me functional as opposed to freaking out or being unable to get out of bed. Changing a routine and remaining functional requires a lot of effort. It’s not that I don’t want to put in the effort, it’s just that I feel like I already have enough on my plate. This can be overwhelming. Feeling overwhelmed is your body’s way of telling you to dial it down. This creates an internal conflict. You want to make improvements, but you’re completely overwhelmed.

When I thought about it, besides being overwhelmed, I realized everything that holds me back is self-imposed. Things like waiting for the right time, assuming I know what the outcome will be, negative self-talk, comfortable habits, thinking that I have to be the best, fear of failure….the underlying reason for all this is the belief that I am not good enough.

It's not who you think you are that holds you back, it's who you think you are not.

I hate those infomercials that say you can be anything you want as long as you think positive and visualize success. It’s not that simple. Sure, that’s part of it. Research has shown that success has more to do with attitude and motivation than raw talent. Everyone doubts themselves once and a while, but for people like me and many others that have depression, not only do we have to think positive which is unnatural, but we have to find the motivation (which is lacking) AND we have to overcome core beliefs that we are not good enough and don’t deserve success. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m just pointing out that it’s exhausting. Fighting against beliefs that make you who you are is hard work.

So ignore everyone else when they say you aren’t trying hard enough. If they haven’t been there, there’s no way they can understand how difficult it can get.¬† Be honest with yourself, are you genuinely trying? Yes? Good! It’s ok to collapse from mental exhaustion once and while. Just don’t forget to pick yourself back up again.

artdoodlelove Why can't I 1 artdoodlelove Why can't I 2


Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?

snap out of it

Why is everything so difficult to do? Why does everything require so much energy? Am I really depressed or just lazy? I often wonder the answer to these questions. Some people choose to be lazy and live perfectly happy lives. Others are completely mentally healthy but have trouble with will power. You can be lazy without having depression. I think the answer lies in motivation and discipline. Both are required to meet a goal and having difficulty with either one of them results in failure or delayed achievement of said goal. Because both have the same outcome, it’s hard to tell the difference between lazy and depressed from the outside, but there is a difference. After all, depression is a clinical condition, laziness is not. I think if you are lazy, you have trouble with discipline, if you are depressed, you have trouble with motivation.

What is the difference between motivation and discipline? Discipline is the course of action leading to a certain goal. You use reason to determine the best-course of action for the long-term. It’s the assertion of will power over basic desires. Motivation is the inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner. It’s the “why” behind a goal. Motivation is based more on emotion while discipline is based more on reason. Motivation and discipline work together. Motivation sparks interest in a goal initially when that wanes, discipline takes over to achieve the goal.

I have no trouble with discipline. I know what I should do to better myself or to reach my goals. My problem is motivation. Motivation is the fuel you need to be disciplined. I have trouble finding the motivation to do anything, even the things I enjoy, like drawing. I know I should get out of bed in the morning, it’s the right thing to do for me, but there is no motivation behind it. I am disciplined though, so I get up and do the right thing anyway. It’s like this with everything. I force myself to do things because I know it’s what I “should” do. Forcing myself to do every little thing is exhausting not to mention miserable, so sometimes I just can’t push myself. Then I start thinking I’m lazy and I don’t want to be a lazy person, and that starts the negative self-talk cycle.

Why do I have trouble with motivation? Because I do have depression. A common misconception is that people with depression are sad all the time. That’s not the case. Part of depression is the inability to feel emotions, it’s emptiness. There’s no happy, no sad, no drive or interest, it’s just numbness. Motivation is based on emotion, no wonder we have trouble with it!

What I’ve been doing to help with this problem is to keep a routine. In a routine, you decide ahead of time what you are going to do. In the moment, it is much easier to react, than to respond. A reaction is an automatic action influenced by an external situation, like a routine. A response requires more thought, reason and control of your emotions. If you are already committed to do something, then you react by doing it. This is hard at first, but after a while, a routine becomes automatic and you start to think about it less and just do it. It allows you to rely more on discipline than on motivation, which works well for people with depression. Lately, this hasn’t been working for me. My supervisor is notorious for being unorganized and now that she is back on the grid, my life is changing at a moment’s notice. It’s really hard to keep any kind of routine. So now I’m looking for another method to help with my motivation problems. I’m going to try a few different things. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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