Last week I was exhausted. My routine was off, and while I had fun (date nights, wellness events, and a random afternoon excursion), I was exhausted. Then, while searching the Internet one night, I was elated to find an article roughly titled “Here’s Why You’re Exhausted.” Synchronicity! This listicle will tell me exactly what I need to do!
But no. It was an article extolling the virtues of superfoods, gluten-free grains, and a dairy-free lifestyle. Was this information important and valuable? Sure. Was it what I wanted? Not so much.
Could you make a case that my rekindled love of cheese might have played a role in my lethargy, and mild disdain, for the article? Absolutely maybe.
But what I really needed was for someone to sit me down and tell me exactly what I'd tell a client in my situation. Here are seven reasons you're exhausted all the time (that have nothing to do with food).
1. Your relationships suck.
No, not everyone in your life needs to go. You don’t need to start from scratch. You don’t need to write one of those overly-dramatic “I’m cleaning out my Facebook friends and you’ve made the cut” posts I often see (and always wish I hadn’t).
Maybe only some people suck. Or maybe you’re spending too much time with the people who drain your energy, and/or too little time with the people who energize you. If you’re feeling dragged down by negative people, it may be time to set some boundaries and do an energetic cleanse. Even if it’s just temporary, take stock, cut cords, and feel good.
Until you address your lifestyle, you'll survive instead of thrive.
2. You're not fulfilled.
Whether it’s your job, your relationships, or your downtime, we all need to find meaning at some point in our day-to-day. When you’re engaged and challenged, you’re more likely to feel fulfilled. You don’t need to save the world to feel good about what you do. But it doesn't hurt either. Start small: donate to a cause you care about, help a stranger, or simply call your mom and say "thanks!"
3. You don't make time for the good stuff.
Fun is as much of a priority as work, school, kids, and all the other things our parents and teachers drilled into us. Yet so many of us de-emphasize it in favor of doing these other things. But in fact, not prioritizing things that make you happy is a major cause for regret. So start thinking of your happiness as something you need to do ... for yourself.
4. You work hard, not smart.
If you’ve ever spent an entire day “working” but had nothing to show for it, I feel for you. I’ve been you. Sometimes, I’m still you.
The truth is that productivity all comes down to prioritizing productively. So pick the three things you MUST accomplish for the day and prioritize them. When I work with my one-on-one clients, I'm often asked, "But how do I know which three to pick? Why only three?"
Well, since my clients and I set goals together, I respond by teaching them to filter their actions by looking at their to-do list and saying "Will this action get me closer to or further from my goal?" If it gets you to your goal, it makes the cut. I always say start with three small wins. Anything you do after that is extra credit.
5. You don't have goals.
People with a sense of purpose and direction are often the most energized I know. If you feel like you don’t have direction, it may be because (1) The familiarity of playing small and following "the rules," makes finding a goal overwhelming. (2) You don’t feel like you’re worth it or you’re scared of disappointing yourself or others. (3) You aren’t ready to fully take responsibility for the role you’ve played in your life. To figure out an energizing goal, start asking yourself these tough, but inspiring, questions:
- What would I be happy to do and never get paid for?
- What excites me?
- What gift or experience do I want to share with others?
6. You’re using willpower instead of motivation.
Consider this equation: Goals - Motivation = Exhaustion.
In plain English, this mean that no one wants to take action toward a goal if they aren’t truly excited to do it. And while willpower alone may still get you there, you’re going to dread every step of the way. So how do you stay energized during this process? Find compelling, dramatic, and motivating reasons to achieve your goal.
7. You don't prioritize self-care.
It’s easy to prioritize work, kids, and Game of Thrones. The real challenge is scheduling in enough quality sleep and self-care to actually enjoy any of the aforementioned activities. So go ahead and get a little selfish.
Your energy is your responsibility. You can spend forever analyzing your food choices, but until you’re willing to address other lifestyle factors, you’ll likely survive instead of thrive. Which will you choose?
Ready to go from Exhausted to Energized? Download Amita’s Free Worksheet here.
Amita Patel, LMSW, is the owner and founder of AlignedHolistics.com, a coaching services company that empowers individuals to achieve their goals and make them stick. She received master's degrees from New York University in both philanthropy and fundraising, and clinical and medical social work. Today, as a coach, writer, and wellness expert, Patel works with individuals to break through their barriers and embrace lifestyle change from the inside-out. Her no-nonsense holistic approach combines nutrition, physical activity, relationships, career influence, and personal philosophy. She has been featured on CBS, NBC, and the Huffington Post.