How to conquer fatigue; Physical, Mental and Spiritual

How to conquer fatigue; Physical, Mental and Spiritual
Print from wood engraving, “A Dull Book” published in the Illustrated Australian News, Dec. 1, 1892, via State Library of Victoria

I don’t know about you, but I am really tired. I need to know how to conquer fatigue. Not just the physical fatigue that’s at the root of it, but mental and spiritual fatigue too.

Here’s what I know:

  • When you have an old dog, you are always getting up a couple of times a night to let it out so you don’t have to clean up after it first thing in the morning (before coffee).
  • There’s something inherently tiring about cold and dark days – some race memory of the time when you went to bed when it got dark.
  • I have been working hard trying to catch up on business administration. Oh, and writing book number three.
  • I’ve been feeling like I’ve been coming down with something for weeks.
  • It was poor Aunty Katy’s birthday the other day and the first anniversary of her death is not far off.
  • Pretty sure I haven’t been eating enough vegetables or moving enough.

Seemingly this is not uncommon. Huge numbers of us feel exhausted because we aren’t sleeping well, aren’t eating well, are allergic to something, have gum disease, are stressed or anxious or dehydrated.

And the recommended fixes include getting eight hours uninterrupted sleep, giving your house a good clean, eating the right amounts of good quality food, cleaning your teeth properly, getting a physical with full blood work up (then taking your prescription pills), and scheduling relaxation time!!! There’s a lot of fluff advice out there.

But it does make sense to stop and take stock of your physical and mental well-being, and that feeling of intense fatigue seems like the right trigger to do so.

Conquer Physical Fatigue

If we go right back to the beginning of Project Worthwhile Life, I argued that looking after your body well required a system to feed it good food, make it move well and often, and prioritise medication as part of a sustainable long-term plan. Plus an amount of mind development to aid decision making. And when fleshed out, this meant a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, taking regular exercise (pilates, yoga, weights plus some cardio), and finally, good sleep habits.

And oddly enough, that’s the stuff I just called fluff advice.

Dr Holly Phillips adds breathing deeply, moving regularly throughout the day, cultivating good posture, and making time to release the tension in your muscles. All good additions in my opinion as someone perfectly capable of sitting still for eight to ten hours.

Conquer Mental Fatigue

Weirdly most articles about mental fatigue and work stress focus on the fluff advice for conquering physical fatigue. I expect that when you are chock full of well-being you get less stressed. But sometimes it’s your work stressing you, not your physical condition decreasing your ability to cope.

Michael Schechter (website shut down) writes a long list of all the personal and professional things he needs to do. Then he delegates and discards what he can, develops a plan of attack, and gets it done. But he also adds more rest into his plan so he doesn’t wear himself out too quickly.

These are all things I like to do for a general sense of control in my work. My Project Management background lets me focus on just the next task, not the whole project. I keep a short to-do list, but some tasks are quite big and need several days to do. I’m still working on creating a hard line between work and home, but I’m usually quite good at finishing work. (Still wish there was a door to shut).

I think for me it might be a big picture thing. When I used to work for someone else, the big picture goals and objectives were developed for me. I just went to business planning conferences to clarify how my team was going to implement them. And I know that I have been flying by the seat of my pants, which is a little stressful. Maybe it’s time for a business review and planning session to clarify where I am going. I’m also finding that a lack of structure makes it difficult to know when to do what. I’m not sure how to make the best use of my time either. So some serious thinking about productivity could be in order too.

Conquer Spiritual Fatigue

Going back to the project again, I laid out some foundation principles for friendship, including that they are mutually beneficial, healthy and independent relationships. And that you can have them with people you don’t know, creatures and the planet. Clearly, that level of friendship is going to be draining and needs to be managed more than I anticipated.

And right now, there are a lot of friends out there in many different states of need, and the majority of them I cannot help in any useful way.

The advice for this includes sleeping, avoiding difficult people and the news services for a time, being still in silence, meditating, laughing, spending time in nature, and having a massage.

Which seems to reinforce the techniques for physical and mental fatigue.

Conquer Fatigue

So it appears that to conquer fatigue, you must wrestle with yet another tangled up ball of string. Eat well but not too well, move enough but not too much, be still but not too still, be with people but not too many people.

Perhaps it’s more a case of doing the opposite to what you feel; if you want a nap move instead, if you want coffee then drink water, if you want chocolate eat fruit.

Regardless of how you tackle fatigue, it’s going to be something particular for you and your circumstances, so you must be guided by your intuition. I’m going to start by making Beef Stroganoff for my tea, watching a feel good movie, finishing with an early night. And maybe tomorrow I’ll look at that business plan.

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