What is fatigue, and how to lift your energy level?
When our energy level is low, we feel demotivated, tired, and even forced to do the assigned work. Lack of inspiration and motivation may also lead to low self-confidence. This often happens in a work environment when we feel overwhelmed. Mindletic psychologist Veronika talks about how to lift energy levels and be ready to move heaven and earth.
Veronika is a certified European psychologist and has nine years of counselling experience in various education and support centres also in private practice. Besides conducting numerous training, she also leads group therapy sessions. Veronika has a master’s degree in psychology (Vilnius University) and is currently studying cognitive and behavioural therapy (LSMU).
What is fatigue? What does it feel like?
Fatigue is the feeling of tiredness resulting from performing some demanding activity. It is not the same as feeling sleepy, i.e., when we need to sleep because it is late outside. It also differs from the feeling of boredom, which results from a lack of stimulating activity. Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall sense of tiredness or absence of energy. E.g. we are doing a demanding task and put effort into it, but it usually stops when we finish it. And we again feel fatigued. The fatigue doesn‘t stop when we finish a task, and even when we finish our activity, we can still feel fatigued.
What are the most common signs of fatigue?
The feeling of fatigue is a feeling of tiredness, lack of energy, and motivation and impacts our mental processes. This means we will continue to engage in the activity but put less effort into it. We might also completely abandon activity and switch to doing something else: checking the phone, taking a coffee break, or simply starting to think about more pleasant things. Other signs of fatigue could be headache, dizziness, muscle weakness, irritability, slowed reflexes, and responses.
What kind of people are at risk of energy shortages?
In life, there should be a balance. It is essential to work and do your job correctly, but it is also necessary to have a break, rest properly, and relax after. Moreover, it is crucial to rest not only physically but also mentally. If you are resting after a hard day at work, but your mind is still spinning around the tasks to be done, you are still using your mental energy.
What causes fatigue?
There are many potential causes of fatigue. It is common to separate factors into three major groups. First of all, the tiredness could be caused by lifestyle factors:
- Physical exertion;
- Lack of physical activity;
- Lack of sleep;
- Using alcohol regularly;
- Consuming too much caffeine;
- Not eating a nutritious diet.
Physical health conditions could also cause it. Many medical conditions, like anemia, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc, can also cause fatigue. Therefore it is essential to talk about mental health issues. For example, fatigue is a common symptom of anxiety, depression, or personality issues like dysfunctional perfectionism or workaholism.
When is it time to see your doctor?
If your fatigue does not resolve with proper rest, relaxing activities, and appropriate nutrition, there could be an underlying issue. Therefore if you feel severe fatigue for a longer time with no clear reason what has caused it – go for it.
What are some lifestyle changes that can help reduce fatigue and lift your energy level?
We can do a few things to help us restore our energy and resolve fatigue.
- It is essential to practice healthy eating habits (eat energy-rich foods) and drink enough water.
- We should move our body - exercise regularly or go for a walk in the fresh air daily. One study found that even a ten-minute walk was enough to supply a feeling of energy and decreased tension.
- It is essential to practice good sleep hygiene. For example, it is helpful to set a regime for ourselves to try to go to sleep every evening at the same time.
- There should be a balance between our work and rest. Sometimes we should avoid work or a social schedule that is overly demanding. Making proper breaks during work and planning our daily tasks, activities, and time for relaxing activities, and socializing with others free of duties time.
- It is also essential to know our everyday stressors and avoid them when we have less energy.
- From time to time, switch off smart devices and have some time off-screen.
- Sometimes interactions with particular people could be too demanding. Avoid meeting them if, after the meeting with them, you feel emotionally drained.
- Lastly, limit or best abstain from alcohol, tobacco, other illicit drugs, and caffeine.
Would you like anything to add?
I believe, we should be more mindful of our feelings and body sensations. Sometimes when we feel so tired, it is time to say no. The fatigue is actually helping us. On top of making us disengage from the current task, fatigue seems to make us less likely to engage in any further effortful activity, at least for a little while. So its function is to stop us so that we could restore our mental storages. We should see resting as essential: relaxing or active free time activities are suitable too. It would help if we were unproductive to stay productive, as only after we are fully rested (physically and mentally) could we move heaven and earth again.