We have been noticing how many people are describing a high level of tiredness and “running out of puff”, with conversations along the lines of, “I know it’s only April but I’m so tired it must really be December”.
There are likely to be multiple reasons for this fatigue and you may know what yours are. If you are not sure, or you would like some suggestions for how to improve it, here are some ideas that we find helpful at Umbrella:
- Get data – is there a pattern?
It can be useful to track whether you experience any variation in the tiredness stakes. Is it constant or does it vary according to what you are doing, who you are with or over the course of the day or week? If you’re not sure, try tracking and spotting over a few days or weeks to find out.
“Pace my day” is a handy app to do this (https://bestconnections.org/pacemyday-app/) or keeping a log in your calendar or in a notebook works just as well.
You may also want to track which activities/tasks in your day are energising for you versus which ones are depleting (of your energy) for you.
Once you have data, you are in a stronger position to change the things you can control that will reduce your tiredness or help you have more energising experiences in your day.
- Action recovery
Consistent scientific research has shown that we experience less fatigue and maintain stronger wellbeing when we experience stress or challenge for specific periods of time, then balance this effort with active recovery (when we purposefully recharge our mental and physical batteries). Oscillating between periods of challenge and periods of recovery is ideal, with planned and regular recovery as optimum.
Good immediate recovery strategies include:
- Slow down your breathing – check you are breathing from your diaphragm (belly breathing), not your chest, and take slow breaths for a few minutes. This helps to flip your body and mind into a restorative state
- Disconnect – take a “no technology” break (even 5 minutes is useful) to reduce mental fatigue
- Deliberately move more slowly – notice the urge to rush and resist it. Give yourself permission to pause
- Do something pleasurable – try the 5-minute quiz, or chat to a colleague you like, or plan something you enjoy for actioning later, as feel-good emotions provide recovery fuel for our brains and bodies.
Remember too – if you feel like you are too busy to take a recovery break, it’s a definite sign you need one!
- Prioritise wellbeing habits
Psychological science tells us to set up and practise wellbeing habits rather than to set goals, since established habits require less mental effort and energy. Use your daily routines, and reward your wellbeing efforts, to strengthen habits and make them stick. To reduce fatigue, try to action these everyday:
- Sleep well – try relaxation exercises or a meditation app, herbal teas and light reading to wind down ready for a restorative sleep, and have a consistent bedtime routine (this tells your brain it’s sleep time).
- Eat well – choose the most nutritious foods you can, as often as you can. Carry plenty of nutrient-high, energy-enhancing snacks with you and stay away from the processed, energy-sapping choices.
- Move more – be as active as you can, as often as you can. Plan to meet friends for a walk, swim, yoga or dance class. Ask colleagues to join you for fresh-air breaks, walking meetings or stair challenges.
- Connect with people who are important to you – share experiences, talk together, offer support to others and ask for help yourself when you need it. These connections will help to reduce your emotion fatigue.
- Increase your experiences of positive emotion – think of (or do) something that helps you feel grateful, content, hopeful or satisfied. These experiences help to energise us and buffer us when life, work (or both) are draining.