Why am I so tired all the time? It’s a question I must have asked myself a thousand times over. The reality is there is no one definitive answer to this question. But one of the most likely explanations is that you’re feeling exhausted because you’re stressed out – which is usually the case here.
And, as you know, stress can have a negative impact on your overall health and wellbeing. So if you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to take some self care measures to reduce your stress levels. With that said, here Dawn Symons from First Aid For Stress and Maga Therapy and creator of the First Aid For Stress Program for people suffering from Fatigue / ME / CFS / Anxiety / Depression and Chronic Illness helps us get to the bottom of this billion dollar question.
If you or a loved one is always asking “why am I so tried all the time” then I’m here to give you some advice. Why, you might ask, am I giving advice on being tired? For most of my life being tired/ fatigued has been something that I have had to deal with, and at one point to a very severe level, I was even made homeless due to fatigue at one point in my life.
At 34 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / ME. Dealing with fatigue has been a lifelong struggle for me, yet, on that journey, through trial and error, I have learnt a lot about fatigue and I now coach and support others who are experiencing tiredness/fatigue. So, I not only have my own experience to share but the experience of others too.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if you feel tired a lot of the time it is because you have a chronic illness like ME. In this article, I am going to offer you many potential reasons and causes for your fatigue. Fatigue lives on a spectrum, the body gives signals which let you know that there is something wrong.
If you don’t respond to these signals, this is when short-term fatigue can turn to burnout, which is a more severe version, and if you do not recover from burnout, this is when you can end up with a chronic illness like Chronic Fatigue / ME.
My goal is to speak with as many people as possible who are in the early stages of feeling tired and worn out. At this stage, it is possible to correct behaviour, whether that is psychological, physical or lifestyle choices in order to protect the body and mind and avoid more severe fatigue.
I still deal with fatigue, it is something I have learnt to manage. But manage it I do, I now run a busy massage clinic in Cornwall as well as offer my coaching programs. This wouldn’t have been possible without the many lifestyle changes I’ve had to make. I hope this advice can help you identify some of the key reasons you might be feeling tired or fatigued.
I’ve found it’s really important to have good sleep hygiene practices. A normal, healthy adult needs between 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. If you are a busy parent, getting up at all times of the night to feed or settle your child, 7 hours of unbroken sleep might not be practical. However, for everyone else, it should be achievable.
Having a busy job, a hectic social life or binge-watching Netflix until the early hours are lifestyle choices you’ve made. It’s very important to get super honest with ourselves about our lifestyle and what we are prioritizing. Ideally, you should get to bed early enough to give your body the rest it needs.
So, the time you go to bed is dictated by the time you start work in the morning. Working back from there, good sleep hygiene in the evening signals to the body that you are getting ready to go to sleep, and that it’s time to start relaxing so that you aren’t lying awake, worrying about all the things you need to do instead of drifting off.
Stress puts an enormous amount of strain on the physical body. There are also different types of stress, there is Acute stress which is short-term stress which helps us to respond to danger such as if a car beeps its horn and you hit the brakes. This is short-term stress that you recover from.
There is also long-term/chronic stress which is when the body is on high alert for a long period of time. When you experience chronic stress you are operating from the threat system, one of the 3 emotional regulation systems, identified by Psychologist Paul Gilbert. The body is continuously activating the fight, flight, freeze response which releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones have a significant effect on the major systems in the body including the digestive system.
There are also Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and Chronic Unpredictable Trauma & Stress (CUTS), you can read more about that here, this post also covers the physical symptoms of stress which is important to be aware of so you can identify if you are experiencing stress so you might want to check it out. Stress has a physical impact on the body and can cause tiredness and fatigue so it’s really important to have a plan in place to help you manage your stress.
Dealing with Addictions
Often addictions form as a way of helping us to cope with symptoms we are experiencing whether they are physical, mental or both. We might binge drink at the weekends in order to forget about the stressful job we have to go to during the week. The only issue with using substances is, they cause the body to work even hard which can lead to worsening symptoms.
We might smoke cigarettes throughout the day to calm our nerves at work, or perhaps we smoke before attending a social event because we are nervous about socializing. A common reason for addiction to substances is fatigue or tiredness. We may misuse substances to cover up the fact that we are feeling tired as the substance gives some immediate relief.
Addictions form because something which started off as an occasional use has turned into a habit. The occasional social cigarette turns into several a day and then ten a day or more. The occasional glass of wine in the week turns into daily drinking and then binge drinking at the weekends too. There are many people who don’t even notice the addiction is getting worse until the addiction is at a severe level and is worsening their health.
Aside from these three primary areas, there are also physical reasons for fatigue such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is common in the winter because your body is getting less light. There are certain nutrient deficiencies too which can cause tiredness and fatigue, so it is always worth going to your GP to get some blood taken to check if you are getting the right amount of nutrients. Your GP can also rule out common illnesses as well because sometimes tiredness and fatigue can be due to an underlying illness. I always recommend that you go to your GP if you are worried about anything at all.
In this article I have given three common causes for fatigue however these are not exclusive. Every single person is unique. Dealing with fatigue requires a holistic approach and a wide-lens view. The most important thing is to listen to your body and if you are feeling tired make small, positive improvements in your health choices.
If you need support on your journey please get in touch. I offer private coaching and group programs that can help you manage the three areas discussed today and so much more. For more information please check out my site, the link is in my bio.
Dawn Symons from First Aid For Stress and Maga Therapy. Dawn has lectured and written widely, specialising in tension & stress reduction irrespective of the cause, applying the latest scientific thinking to provide logical, effective & progressive results. She facilitates the First Aid For Stress Program for people suffering from Fatigue / ME / CFS / Anxiety / Depression and Chronic Illness.