“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I am no stranger to fatigue. I have been tired for longer than I can remember being not tired. The sad reality is, sometimes sleep just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the fatigue is so oppressive, you just wish you didn’t exist at all.
I’ve spent the past three years looking for solutions for fatigue, since the birth of my youngest daughter. I am getting there. It’s getting better. But I have had to take a hard, long look at the things I was doing. Was I resting in the right type of way?
My sister noticed that I had not been myself for a while. I was so bogged down by exhaustion that I was not functioning well. She introduced me to a book last year that I really got a lot out of. It’s called Sacred Rest by Sandra Dalton-Smith.
“How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In SACRED REST, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.
Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. SACRED REST combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.
By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, SACRED REST gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.” (Amazon description for Sacred Rest)
The 7 types of rest
Like I said above, sometimes you just feel like sleep isn’t enough. You can get enough sleep at night and still spend the next day feeling worn, like you’re dragging your legs through a pool of molasses. If that is the case for you, here are some action steps you can take to help feel less burned out. Dalton-Smith fleshes the ideas out better in her book (it is a must read!) but here is a basic breakdown of a few of the 7 types of rest she discusses.
Sometimes, we simply need physical rest. Our lives get hectic. We work too much, we take our kids to too many places, and we push ourselves too hard exercising.
This goes beyond not getting enough sleep at night. The book makes an important distinction: sleep is not rest. Getting enough sleep in between grueling day after grueling day is not a solution.
So, what can you do? Cut back on activities to the extent that you can. You can also implement a weekly “do nothing day.” Pick a day of the week where the entire family can commit to not going anywhere and not engaging in strenuous physical activity.
Also, I always recommend asking for help. There is no shame in it. The pace of life can be hectic, and even the best parents and employees occasionally need to call for reinforcement. Take this time when you have help to get some self care.
This is very common in people that have been working really hard, and especially in parents. Our jobs get too overwhelming, whether that is a job outside of the home or you are a stay at home parent.
Do you find yourself having too much on your mind? Too many worries? If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you might be experiencing fatigue, and could be in need of mental rest.
If you think this is the case for you, your to-do list might need a tweak! Make it a habit to cross 2-3 things off of your list each day, and put them off for another day. We try to do too much, and there is a good chance that a couple things on your to-do list can wait until tomorrow.
You can also try meditation to help quiet your mind. Set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to relax and enjoy some time calming your brain and ignoring as much outside stimuli as possible.
Is your heart weary in a hate-filled world? Are you looking for answers, or meaning, or validation? Many people find themselves run down when they are not getting enough spiritual rest. I certainly feel this way in today’s political climate. Things seem hopeless, filled with constant tension from all sides.
If this sounds like you, journaling might be a really good fit. Truthfully, I think it is a good fit for everyone! Take even 5 minutes each day to write down your worries, and then take sometimes to come up with a positive counter-statement.
It could also be helpful to explore a spiritual path. This does not have to be the Christian conception of God. (I’m not a Christian, and that’s not the purpose of this blog.) But there are many different paths to choose from, and you might find that one of them can bring you comfort.
In a way, this one goes hand in hand with the one above (Spiritual rest). My heart has been incredibly heavy this past year. I’m still grieving the loss of my grandmother, and this season of parenting has been challenging. Apart from that, I live with anxiety and bipolar disorder. All of those things add up to a pretty potent emotional cocktail.
If you are like me, I definitely recommend seeing a therapist. Therapy is a game changer. These licensed professionals are trained to think outside of the box, and come up with coping strategies that you might not be able to think of yourself.
Maybe your emotional health has gotten to a point where you need professional help. Try not to worry. Yes, it might seem scary, but I promise, help is out there. And you are definitely not alone.
Get the rest you need
Self care is essential. You might get enough sleep and still find yourself tired. Burdened by your day to day routine. So sluggish and unmotivated that you can’t manage to get out of bed.
My top three tips are:
- Cut back on your day to day responsibilities.
- Ask for help in whatever way you can.
- Read this book. It was really helpful to me. Take some time to identify what kind of rest your body needs, and then make sure you take action.
“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” (Ralph Marston)
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