It appears that everywhere I go, people are telling me how exhausted they are. I have also noticed a difference in my level of energy and I am looking forward to some time off this holiday weekend. There is a general state of tired across Ontario and if you are finding yourself feeling exhausted please understand that you are not alone.
Right now, we are living in uncertainty. Children go to school and are told that they might close at any moment. The media is escalating fears and we are unsure if new restrictions will be placed or if we will be shut down again. Then on top of all that, we have to decide how to stay safe this Thanksgiving weekend. All the stress of the situation is making our minds constantly stay active. Think about previous Thanksgivings, the discussion was not if we could see each other it was just when, where and what to bring. Comparatively a lot less thought went into the holiday. It was a time to celebrate and maybe have a family argument. Now it is a time to wonder if we are going to get anyone sick and cancelling plans which leads to disappointment.
Everywhere we go we are constantly reminded of the situation. The masks we wear are great at helping us stay healthy, but they are also a constant reminder that there is an awful pandemic happening in the world. Which also keeps our mind alert as it tries to keep us safe.
In the past we were able to take breaks from our problems and rejuvenate but now even if we are able to take a break, the situation is still present around us as we strategize on how to safely do it. Together, all of this causes emotional and cognitive strain on our system. How our body works is we are made up of different types of energy to help us deal with our daily life. There are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of us.
Think of these energies like gas tanks. When they are full, we are energetic and excited to do things. When we are empty, we struggle to get through the day or events. Its easy to understand the physical energy because we see the results. When we exercise, we know we need to let our body relax afterwards. But when it is our cognitive or emotional energies getting drained it is harder to see. Partially because the tanks are connected so how our system works is to pull the energy from another tank. Right now, all of us have had a change in our social life which is part of our emotional tanks. As that decreases it automatically pulls from the physical tank to help us continue to function. Which causes us to feel drained and exhausted.
The difficulty is that when we feel exhausted, we assume that it is a physical side affect, and we need more rest. But napping or relaxing is not changing the feelings of being tired. We wake up still feeling tired. Then if there is any other stress in your life such as work stress, death of a loved one, weddings, or relationship struggles, it starts to feel like it is hopeless and you will not be able to make it through. You might even find yourself having difficulty concentrating or find yourself forgetting things. All these are signs that your tanks are empty.
To refill your tanks starts with recognizing what is draining them. Ask yourself when you are doing activities, does this fill or drain. You can start to build yourself a list of activities that is customized to you. When you are going to do an activity that drains put an activity that fills right before or after it so that you have the energy to keep going.
If you are finding your emotional energy draining, it might be because of too little social interaction. If it is then its time to pick up the phone and call a friend for a chat. If you have a job that deals with people all day long it might be the opposite that you have been drained by too much social interaction and you need a night of doing something quiet like reading a book or watching tv. Our emotional part also includes our creative side so it might be that you have not been able to play or engage in a creative activity. Increasing your play time by having a family game night or learning something new. An example would be cooking, painting or anything else that helps your creative juices flow.
The mental energy is where we are utilizing our brains to problem solve and work out situations in our lives. There might be negative thoughts or worries that are causing a strain on your mind. You might notice that when your brain is overworked that you gravitate towards comfort food. When we drain our cognitive functioning, we need fun activities to provide our brain a space to enjoy without worries or problems. If you find that you have not been utilizing your mind very much it might be time to do a puzzle or crossword which will fill you as you exercise your brain.
The spiritual energy comes from how we connect with our world through our faith and connecting with nature. To refill your tank, its about reaching out to your faith community and reconnecting. As well as spending time in nature by taking a walk on our trails or go sit by the lake and listen to the sound of the waves.
The situation that surrounds us is draining us. By finding out what else might be causing you strain will help
you find ways to start filling back up. If you are struggling, sometimes it is helpful to have someone else help you discover what is causing your exhaustion or provide help with discovering new ways to rejuvenate. Our team of registered psychotherapists are here to help you discover what might be causing issues in your life. We are here to listen and help you through these times to help you find ways to refill and be energetic again.
I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend.