Lately Google has been getting a surge of fatigue-related searches. Questions such as “Why am I tired all the time?” or “Why do I feel so bad?” There seems to be a shared sense of exhaustion among many of us and the search for a remedy is ever present.
Numerous factors play into how we feel, but one thing we share in common is the disruption that felt around the world with COVID-19. 2020 pulled the rug out from underneath us, forcing us to change how we work and socialize. We had to rethink how to perform some of the most basic tasks such as grocery shopping or visiting a friend. Many of us changed entirely how we went about work or school. And, just as we got the hang of it, and maybe even began to like this new normal … it all started to change again… back to our old normal, sort of.
Our bodies are designed to seek cozy homeostasis, which simply put is a state of balance and stability. When faced with extensive change and a lack of groundedness, processing what needs to be done to perform everyday tasks becomes more challenging. So, although it may look like we are doing all the same old things we’ve always done… work, kids, buying toilet paper… it’s in how we are going about it that makes all the difference. All these little elements that make up a single day can require a lot more mental processing, if the rules have changed.
Additionally, when changes in our surroundings occur, our brain is designed to automatically adjust as needed. If the change feels too big, our body may activate our fight or flight response in preparation for what could be seen as a threat. The body is amazing at recognizing these subtle shifts and it jumps in to prepare us for anything that comes our way that could potentially upset this homeostasis. This automatic response is happening all the time whether we are aware of it or not. We navigate through each day with this radar on, constantly assessing what is familiar and safe, vs. what could prove threatening. Along with this activation comes a release of cortisol – the stress hormone. If needed, cortisol can be a potent helper in protecting us against a threat, but in many cases our body is being flooded with stress hormones, prepping the body to fight a dragon that in most cases really isn’t real. This battle can manifest itself in the form of anxiety, depression, addictions, sleep disorders, anger, and the like. Sounds pretty exhausting, huh?
Although our fight or flight response can feel hijacked at times, the good news is that there are a number of ways to help calm the body and mind. Starting with the basics:
- try to avoid skipping meals
- get sufficient amounts of sleep
- find healthy outlets through exercise or recreation
Consistency is critical when other factors in life feel inconsistent. Hobbies, friends, and service opportunities can give us a sense of intentional living when other aspects of our lives are in disarray.
In addition to fatigue-related Google searches, we are also seeing an increase in people seeking more information on healthy living through mindful practices and finding ways to simplify their lives. Many have reported an increase in family connection and an overall sense of gratitude during the last 18 months. Sometimes just permitting ourselves to slow down can be one of the most effective ways to move forward. Although we cannot control what may be thrown at us, we can certainly choose how we will respond to this ever changing world we live in. And, if it still feels like too much to handle on your own, please reach out. You’re never alone.