Do you feel tired and drained recently? It’s not a surprise. Most of us find ourselves in uncharted territory.
Never before have we been essentially forced to remain stationary. Never have we had to contend with the inevitable lonesomeness that results from extended periods of social isolation.
In such circumstances, it’s way too easy to fall into the habit of energy-sapping indifference.
We know when this happens, too. We’ll aimlessly browse the web, pick up the same magazine or book to put it right back down, walk into some room for seemingly no reason. We feel just sort of “Blah.”
Complicating all of this is the human tendency of subconsciously cultivating bad habits, which exacerbates that underlying restlessness. None of us are exempt from such criticism, either.
These habits drain our energy and render any positive feelings suppressed or mute. The current predicament has intensified these tendencies as yet another source of internal conflict.
Fortunately, the remarkable human mind has the ability, whether we realize it or not, to pull us out of the muck!
8 Habits That Make You Feel Tired
Let’s discuss the eight most common practices that make us feel tired – and how we might go about fixing them.
Habit #1: Identifying Thoughts and Feelings
To explain the difficulties caused when we take our thoughts and feelings at face value, consider the following questions:
- Do you know what your next idea is going to be like?
- Do you know the next emotion that you’re going to feel?
The fact is that our thoughts and feeling are driven by subconscious forces that we have very little control over. If these forces are adverse, negative thoughts and feelings will likely arise. We spend a ton of our energy on ruminating and anticipation. The result is mental exhaustion that makes us feel tired.
In itself, the surfacing of these thoughts and feelings are not the issue.
It’s our identification with these thoughts and feelings that causes all (ALL) of our problems.
In his book “The Power of Now,” Eckhart Tolle made it a point to title the first chapter, “You Are Not Your Mind.” Tolle explains:
“Identification with your mind … causes thought to become compulsive. Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal.” (Source)
When uncomfortable thoughts and feelings are perceived as ‘real,’ the automatic reaction is to push them away. The problem is that doing this gives the said thought or emotion more energy, not less.
The solution is twofold and consists of a short- and long-term practice. First, be with these (not ‘your’) thoughts and emotions. Let them come, let them be, and let them go. Don’t struggle.
Second, we must commit to live in the present. While this sounds simple, there is, in fact, nothing harder. It is the nature of the mind and brain to dwell on the past and worry about the future. The only time where real change can happen is now – so there is where you must direct and sustain your attention.
Habit #2: Too Much Sitting Around
Okay, so it’s maybe a wrong time to bring this one up! However, given that 25 to 35 percent of Americans are inactive, meaning that they “have sedentary jobs, no regular physical activity, and are … inactive around the house or yard,” it’s entirely appropriate.
We do have options, even during a pandemic. Here are some ideas off the cuff: drive to a park outside the city, go for a quick walk around the block, buy a few stationary weights and lift in the garage, do stretches outside or shoot some baskets.
Whatever you do, try to break a sweat. Too much of a sedentary lifestyle can quickly drain your energy. There’s also evidence that being sedentary for too long contributes to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Habit #3: Poor Quality Sleep
Okay, so this one is a given. But again, due to the nature of the current pandemic, people may find it even harder to get to – and stay – asleep.
As we all know the effects of poor sleep on energy levels, we’re going to jump right into the solutions.
In an article titled “Healthy Sleep Tips,” researchers from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), recommend the following for getting a good night’s sleep:
– Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
– Try a relaxing bedtime ritual.
– Avoid afternoon naps.
– Get some vigorous exercise.
– Evaluate your sleep conditions (room temp, mattress comfort, etc.)
– Sleep on a comfortable mattress.
– Avoid light in the evening and seek it in the morning.
– Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals before bedtime.
– Abstain from electronics before bedtime.
– Speak with a sleep professional.
Habit #4: Taking Things Too Personally
While social distancing can stoke feelings of anxiety, the situation is a perfect opportunity for some self-reflection.
You can reflect on many aspects of your life, including your relationships. Specifically, your interpretation of how others see you. Are you often told that you misinterpret what people say?
This is called taking things too personally – and it can wreak havoc on energy levels. Fortunately, you can do something about it.
How? One tactic of inestimable value is to understand the “Spotlight Effect.”
The Spotlight Effect is a cognitive bias (psychology’s equivalent of a facial tic) stating that we assume we’re being critiqued by others more than we are.
Habit #5: Overusing Social Media
Okay, so here’s a true story. (Please excuse the first-person dialogue.)
I recently (like, yesterday) canceled my Facebook account.
Because I didn’t like who I was “becoming” when I used it. You see, I’m an ardent meditator, which requires stringent principles concerning how and where I apply my attention. Moreover, my current academic and professional interests require long durations of unbroken concentration.
So, I was already on the brink. But it was the barrage of political and panic-driven coronavirus posts that did me in.
Okay, end of the story.
Social media can terrific for connecting with family and close (close) friends. The problem is when the medium becomes the hub of one’s social life, which it often does. Then, it begins to monopolize your attention and, therefore, your energy and make you feel tired.
Something that none of us should tolerate.
Habit #6: Bad Diet
Food is our primary source of energy. It only stands to reason that eating poorly will cause our energy levels to drop. Our standards of fatigue are often attributable to what we’re eating and how much water we’re drinking.
Unfortunately, many of us aren’t paying attention.
Per a study published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
– 75 percent of the population consumes a diet that is low in dairy, fruits, vegetables, and oils.
– Half of the population is not meeting total grain and protein recommendation
– Most Americans exceed the recommended intakes for saturated fats, sodium, and sugars.
Per an article published by Harvard Medical School’s publication arm, Harvard Health Publishing, certain foods are linked to enhanced brainpower, including berries, fatty fish, green leafy vegetables, coffee and tea, and walnuts.
Habit #7: Ignoring negativity bias
Negativity bias is another psychological tic that, if gone unnoticed, can quickly sabotage our energy (not to mention mental health.)
The negativity bias refers to the “proclivity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information.” In short, our brain is wired to devote more energy towards the negative than the positive.
Evolutionary biologists attribute this tendency to the hyperarousal required of our more distant ancestors when every threat – real or perceived – was worthy of attention.
Since the negativity bias is such a primal psychological mechanism, “switching it off” is not a conscious process. Be that as it may, it is entirely possible to reprogram the deeper layers of our mind by concentrating more on the positive. Practicing gratitude is an especially powerful way to “hack” our negative wiring.
You find little criticism from us about people who try to please others. These folks are usually kind, selfless, loving, and devoted. There are plenty of empaths to be found in this group.
The problem is that many either (a) take these people for granted, or (b) take advantage of them. This is especially common in the age of cutthroat competition, economic uncertainly, and prideful individualism.
Complicating matters is the fact that the psychological makeup of people pleasers tends to be fear-based. As such, they are more difficulty navigating the complex world of interpersonal relationships in particular, and the demands of society in general.
Difficult though it may be, setting personal boundaries is necessary for such people. Failing to do so often leads to anxiety, unhappiness, and regret.