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How Do We Deal with Overwhelming Exhaustion? Part 1

When I initially sat down to write this blog post, it was early in the first week of January. I had been hearing from clients returning from break that their breaks were not as relaxing and rejuvenating as they’d hope they would be. It was the first Monday of the year and they were already exhausted, tired, and wondering how they were going to make it to Friday. Honestly, I was feeling the same way. I had taken some time off but wasn’t feeling as rejuvenated or reenergized as I’d hoped I would be returning back to work. Typically, after taking time off, I return with more energy and ready to dive back into the daily grind. When I heard my clients all expressing similar feelings, I paused to check in with myself. When I realized I was feeling the same way, I decided to dig into what we can do when we’re feeling overwhelmed with exhaustion. Then, Wednesday, there was a domestic terrorist attack made on our Capitol. If I thought myself and my clients were exhausted and tired at the beginning of the week, I clearly had no idea how exhausting an attempted coup could be. Many of us hoped and dreamed for things to be better in 2021. I still strongly believe they will be. However, with the pandemic continuing and political unrest growing, I felt it incredibly important to figure out why and how we can deal with the overwhelming level of exhaustion many of us are feeling. Below are some actionable ways to combat exhaustion. 

The most important place to start is simply admitting you’re exhausted. Many of us, myself included, have the mindset of putting our heads down and pushing through to make it to the end of the week, month, year, etc. The daily grind doesn’t stop so why should we? The simple answer is because we’re exhausted, and we don’t need to be. This nonstop go go go culture we’ve created isn’t necessary and is actually counterproductive to reaching our goals. Simply ignoring exhaustion doesn’t make it go away and working in this headspace can lead to decreased productivity, lesser work quality, resentment and frustration. When we come to the realization, we’re exhausted we require a moment to pause, reflect, and breathe. This can look like journaling, meditating, going for a long walk, practicing mindfulness, coloring and spending time just being. Use this time to think about what is and is not working in your life and identify the adjustments that are needing to be made.

After acknowledging the exhaustion and identifying necessary adjustments, it’s necessary to commit to making these changes. If you have a to do list, go through it and see what can be pushed to a week or two in the future. If you’re like me, there may be things on your to do list that you don’t actually need to do in the first place. Then go through your calendar. See if there are meetings or events that can be switched to a different day or simply cancelled. Maybe there’s one of those meetings that really could just be an email. Who knows, maybe the person you’re cancelling on is exhausted as well and you’re gifting them with more time to focus on themselves.

Once you’ve given yourself more breathing room, time and space, bring awareness to what you’re consuming and switch it up. I know for me, the news has been on way too much in my home lately and if I’m not watching the news I’m seeing clients, working on my to do list, or running some sort of errand. It seems there’s always some “breaking news” grabbing my attention and I find myself hooked, not wanting to miss a thing. However, I’m very aware a constant stream of news, listening to podcasts about current events, and sharing memes about the latest political actions will drain my energy and likely drive me insane. So, instead, I’ll put on FRIENDS or whatever Netflix’s newest release is, will switch to comedy podcasts and will once again stick to sharing pictures of dogs on Instagram. Whether it’s watching tv, a movie, reading, listening to an audiobook, podcast or music, change what you’re consuming to something that will fuel you not drain you. Living through a pandemic is draining enough.

I’ll leave you with these three action steps for now… stay tuned for a few more tips in part 2, coming soon!

If you’ve found yourself struggling with feelings of exhaustion, feeling drained and unable to focus or be present in your life and work, it may be useful to try talking to a professional counselor. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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