The topic of many conversations as of late is that of feeling fatigued. Defined by Oxford as “extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.” You might identify any number of current stressors contributing to this state. Whether your particular brand of fatigue is related to zoom, e-learning, social distancing, overwork or dealing with physical illness, the outcome is the same. Feeling chronically tired, hopeless, experiencing impaired decision-making, and aching muscles are just a few of the symptoms.
I recently heard a psychologist explain fatigue as “feeling worn to the bone.” When we embody this state, it is easy to feel like everything is outside of our control. While it is a fact that there are many things every day that are outside of our control, it is also true that one thing we do have control over is ourselves.
We have agency over how we spend our time, our outlook on life, and in what ways we interact with the world. By shifting your focus to what you can do, you will increase your sense of self-agency. A sense of agency refers to the feeling of control over your actions and their consequences.
How to build agency when experiencing fatigue:
- Engage in self-regulating practices: Breathing, meditating, taking a walk, journaling
- Minimize unnecessary stressors: Set limits on the amount of news you take in and how often you engage with social media
- Stay connected to others: Following your local guidelines, decide what feels best for you be it socially distanced events or connecting through technology.
- Recognize “basic okayness” (Rick Hanson): Take time for gratitude for very basic things such as being alive, and being okay in the moment.
- Find pleasure in simple things: Enjoying a cup of coffee/tea, playing with a pet, watching the sunset, talking with your children.
You might notice none of the above suggestions are extreme or drastic measures. When feeling depleted it is okay to take it slow. Bruce Perry, well-known psychiatrist and trauma researcher reminds us, “When you learn to slow down, you go further.”