Chronic fatigue: why do I constantly feel tired?

This is quite common in every age.  We feel constantly tired without a visible reason.  There are different sorts of tiredness beyond sleepiness and lack of energy: lack of motivation, restlessness, and lack of focus, irritability, and bad temper to name a few. Sometimes we accept this, especially when our kids are small. Other times we genuinely wonder why. Let us brainstorm this challenge…

Chronic fatigue

It is normal to feel tired after some extraordinary effort. We kind of expect that. Some people feel rested after five days of work, others after two days of the weekend. If everything is good we feel energetic and enthusiastic when going to work and when coming home: each place offers a unique set of pleasure and challenges. To be honest, the periods when everything is good are rare, at least in my life.

Most of the time we have one huge challenge we focus on, and many small challenges we deal with almost mindlessly. Acquiring an education, finding a spouse, buying a house, raising kids are regular challenges for young people. A bit older new challenges appear: dealing with competitive and financial pressure, finding renewed interest in intimacy with the same spouse, teaching the teenagers who do not want to learn, helping aging parents. Still, later we need to deal with paradigm shifts at work, death of loved ones, and loneliness at home, weakening body. Or maybe something else: no two lives are alike.

Occasionally we feel chronic fatigue. Maybe there are too many challenges at the same time. Or maybe we fail to handle our main challenge. Possibly we simply cannot get rested. And worse, we may suffer burnout.

Poor sleep

The most common cause of chronic fatigue is lack of sleep. It makes sense to deal with the issue of sleep before trying anything else. Around 2% do not need a long night’s sleep, 98% have this need. Try to check for the following common mistakes:

  1. Prioritizing other rest and recreation activities over sleep. While socializing, meditating, or being entertained is good and important, none of these recreational activities can replace sleep. Moreover, sleep needs to be very orderly and follow a daily routine.
  2. Sprints of frantic activity, including certain sleepless nights. While certain situations do not leave another choice, these sprints can have a very negative effect on one’s resources. A long sleep during the weekend does not compensate for several sprints the day before.
  3. Poor sleeping environment. Invest in quality sound isolation, a good mattress, and quality linen, ensure proper sleeping pose. If you snore or grind teeth, or suffer from asphyxia during the night – your body will feel the pain, and you will get tired.
  4. Not dealing with age-related melatonin deterioration. Basically, when you are old you should take melatonin as a supplement, but when you are young you should allow your body to produce melatonin. This also applies larger windows or daily walks and exposure to sunlight.
  5. Obsessive thoughts. Do not carry your worries with you to bed. Consider meditation and sports as legitimate ways to clear your mind before sleep.
  6. Substance abuse. Alcohol or tobacco, or even late-night snacks are not your friends. If you consume them recreationally and occasionally, not a big deal. But if you need them to sleep, you have a problem.

Too many context switches

The next environmental factor to consider are context switches. Some people, possibly 2%, can multitask easily and happily. The chances are you are not in this group. For the rest of us switching from one activity to another has a toll. Doing multiple things at once has a higher toll.

The problem is quite simple. Our modern life with constant messaging and casual gaming requires frequent context switches. We can try to manage those by introducing daily schedules or fixing Pomodoro breaks, removing notifications, and asking the loved ones to be patient. The situation cannot be ideal unless you are a monk or a scientist dealing with pure research, but it can be manageable.

The test is simple. Do a digital detox for three days. If it had a WOW effect, your life is a mess. Reduce gaming and messaging, introduce media-free hours. Otherwise, you should look elsewhere once again.

Psychological pressure

Working with toxic people is a real source of psychological pressure. We all occasionally need to work with toxic people. The challenge is building a reasonable protocol. If you successfully construct such a protocol, the toxic person will not hurt you. In the worst-case scenario, you can look for a new job.

If you have a toxic spouse the situation is worse. You kind of need to work together to defuse the toxic stress. It is doable, but usually requires the intervention of qualified mediators, coaches, or therapists. The process tends to be long and tedious, typically taking two or three years. Typically you will need to adjust expectations, build new communication channels and acquire “soft” skills. On the positive side, you and your spouse will benefit from the new skills.

The toxic environment can go beyond certain people. Sometimes the entire cultural background is toxic. Periods of great calamities like wars, pandemics, and economical crises may generate a very toxic environment. Try to reduce exposure to news, especially hate talk in social media, but also in mass media. And remain optimistic, as negative global periods rarely last more than a couple of years.

Lack of motivation

This is my personal limitation. If I do not see a clear goal, a path to the goal, or the will to achieve the goal, I have very little motivation. Coming to the same place day after day simply to mark the end of the day is definitely not for me.

Being an entrepreneur is like a mental condition. People who have this condition will not be happy with anything else. Even though entrepreneurship increases risks, we accept the relevant risks, trying to mitigate the avoidable elements.

In a similar way, being a doctor, a firefighter, or a policeman is a calling. A person with a calling should not settle for anything else.

Most people are perfectly happy with science, art, sports, or volunteer work as a hobby. Very few people will be really happy from building the life as professional artists or lobbyists. You can make your life meaningful by doing the thing you love as a hobby, a second job.

And you probably should have a clear vision of your company’s goals, your career path, and your personal development path. This is not something trivial, but definitely doable.

Chronic depression

Depression can take many faces and have many reasons. It can even be a result of some chemical disbalance in one’s brain. Not all depressed people feel a lack of energy, motivation, and joy usually associated with depression. Clowns are energetic laughing individuals, yet many of them are chronically depressed and maybe even suicidal.

Some of the great leaders and thinkers were bipolar, or even chronically depressed. I think Lincoln is the ultimate example of how a depressed and suicidal individual can overcome personal limitations and make the world a better place.

Various schools of psychology and psychiatry propose different measures against depression. Each measure deals with specific kinds of depression, and diagnostic work is very difficult. A current consensus is a combined approach using everything that works in each individual case: positive self-talk, arts, therapy, and chemicals. In some of my courses, I provide several tools you can self-administer derived from CBT, NLP, ACT, and other clinically effective approaches.

The three resources to watch closely

Quite possible that your situation is a result of a lack of some basic resources. Often these resources are defined as trios, and each paradigm offers a different selection of trios.

For productivity, you should watch your energy, time, and focus. Try to choose the activities befitting your current status, allowing the resources to replenish.

For physical level, you should watch your safety, lifestyle, and sleep. Quite possibly you suffer from subjective feelings of danger, for example, if you think your boss will fire you.

On the spiritual level, you should be virtuous, enjoy the beauty, and focus on the process rather than its results.

Clearly, many other trios may be justified. For example, Jewish tradition praises work, learning and charity as the cornerstones of society. I think they can also be applied to personal gratification.

Beware of overinvesting

Time, energy, and money are the resources we often invest in our projects. Investing and contributing is a great strategy, just choose wisely how you do that. In any case, do not exhaust your resources.

In accounting, there is a huge difference between assets and cache flow. A company may have many assets, but if it cannot pay its debts it is often dissolved.

We should treat our own time and energy like we treat money. It is great to invest in long-term assets and projects, but the resource flow should be positive.

For example, our investment in the spouse and intimacy is huge, but the support we get from the spouse is usually significantly greater. We invest a lot in our kids when they are small, but this investment usually comes from our surplus resources: not many families today choose to have more than three kids.

Bottom line

If we manage ourselves wisely, we are less likely to experience chronic fatigue and more likely to be healthy and … happy (I do not currently have a better word for it). This management is not glorious, and it often looks like a sort of accounting, yet it is helpful in all of our activities.

Get 4 Free Sample Chapters of the Key To Study Book

Get access to advanced training, and a selection of free apps to train your reading speed and visual memory

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.