Think about this: you just spent a day at work, and you’ve thought all afternoon about how you want to tackle a goal that’s been on the back-burner all week. As the day wears on and you make your way home, you tell yourself over and over like a broken record how you need to put your head down, so to speak, and finally get around to doing that one thing you need to do.
You get home, put your bag down, and… fast-forward a few hours. Before you know it, it’s time for bed.
Well, you lost all the energy you needed; your mind effectively gave up before you even started.
A lack of energy can go beyond feeling physically tired. It can permeate into what’s known as “mental tiredness.” And it’s a real thing, affecting almost everyone for various reasons. But what if I told you it’s completely possible to tackle it? All it takes is identifying some of the sources of your lack of energy and finding ways to work with it.
Let’s go through the lack of energy causes and how to fix them.
1. An Unfulfilling Job
Everyone knows they spend at least eight hours a day at their job for generally five days a week. If you think about it carefully, though, you’ll realize that this 40 hours a week translates to about 88 full days a year you’re at your job.
We’re talking 88 straight, 24-hour days worth of work in a year. That’s about 25% of your entire existence, not including sleep, spent at your job. That’s a lot of time.
So if your job is unfulfilling to you, no wonder your mental fortitude takes the biggest beating.
Unfulfilling can also mean several things:
There are many more situations, so inevitably the question gets asked: How do I know if my job is unfulfilling?
Do you feel drained? Do you dread going to work each morning? Do you often think about what you’d rather be doing when you’re at work? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you probably need to reconsider your career choice.
Why? A recent study found a direct link between job satisfaction and mental health. Those who reported less satisfaction with their jobs suffered from higher bouts of depression and sleep difficulty.
How to Fix the Problem
An unfulfilling job is an incredibly common problem faced by people around the world. Some people don’t know what their dream job is, while others don’t have the skills to get into their dream job when they want to.
The first step would be identifying jobs that would feel fulfilling. Make a list of your skills and the topics you enjoy learning. Which jobs would those things serve?
If you already know what you want to do but don’t currently have the skill set for it, take small steps to get where you need to be. Take an online class, find a mentor, or go back to school (if you have the time and the means). Is there a related job you could do that could help you build the right skills? If so, start there.
2. Overwhelming Task List
Got stuff to do? Great, so does everyone else.
Got a lot of stuff to do? You’re not alone.
You open your task list, ready to start checking off items. You sip your coffee, sit down, and almost fall backwards off your chair when you realize you’ve got about 18 things to do in the next five hours.
And this may be a contributing factor to your lack of energy. Feeling overwhelmed is a quick way to feeling burned out. When we feel like we have too many things to do, we tend to freeze (or have what’s called workload paralysis) because we don’t know what to tackle first.
This feeling continues, and before you know it, the entire day has gone by and you’ve filled your time doing everything except what you need to do; in other words, you do nothing of importance.
Then, as the days turns into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, you come to the harsh realization that you didn’t really achieve all the things you set out to do. It’s a defeating feeling when you don’t think you’re capable of achieving much.
The defeating attitude is a vicious cycle, too — you start by feeling overwhelmed, don’t do anything about it, then waste time before feeling defeated — and a fast track to a mental burnout.
How to Fix the Problem
Split up your list. If there are too many things to do in one day, move items to your “tomorrow” list, or even to a “weekend” list. Make your list achievable by writing a time limit next to each item so you can imagine how long a full list will take to complete.
3. Saying “Yes” Too Often
“Hey, want to go catch a movie?”
“Want to come over?”
“Can you pick me up from the airport?”
“Want to grab dinner?”
If you’re a yes person, no doesn’t exist in your personal dictionary. The problem is, it should.
If you’re spending all your time doing everything everyone else wants but no time doing the things you want, you won’t get much accomplished in your life. Just like in the above example, when you realize months later you didn’t get very far, you tend to become defeated, which ultimately leads to feeling mentally exhausted.
The good news is you can become a “no” person whenever you feel like it, and in turn start accomplishing the things you want. But if you’re used to saying yes, it’s not an easy thing to suddenly switch gears.
Being able to focus on yourself gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment and in turn helps your mental state; it’s OK to put yourself first.
How to Fix the Problem
Saying no will likely be difficult at first if you’re used to always saying yes. Start by trying to say no to one thing each week. If you’re worried that saying no will affect how the other person thinks of you, this may be a problem related to self-esteem more than anything else. It may be time to do some self-reflection to see why you want to please everyone by refusing to say no.
4. Lack of Hobbies or Passions
Hobbies and passions are what fuel us to do great things. In many cases, they lead you to your life’s purpose. At worst, they give you an incredible sense of fulfillment and source of happiness in your life.
When your job gets tough, it’s important to have an outlet to focus on. When your job isn’t aligned with your passions or purpose, it’s especially important to have an outlet to apply your skills and excitement towards. In fact, having something to put your attention towards can help provide your life with direction and meaning.
In a roundabout way, focusing on hobbies or passions can ultimately improve your work or family life. All this is to say: you’re a much better person, especially mentally, when you apply yourself towards things that interest you.
When you don’t have any source of motivation to work towards, you become tired of dealing with the mundane things that life throws at you. And then you become annoyed and yet again, defeated. This frustration can lead to mental exhaustion if it continues long-term.
How to Fix the Problem
If you haven’t made time for a hobby in the past, it’s time to carve out some “you” time each day. Take an hour in the morning or evening to put toward something you enjoy doing. If you don’t have a favorite hobby, start trying things. Say yes to joining that tennis match with your friend or sign up for that free pottery class in town. You never know what you might end up enjoying.
The Bottom Line
Feeling tired from a lack of sleep is one thing. Feeling tired because work isn’t fulfilling, you have no hobbies or passions, you stretch yourself thin, or you feel overwhelmed is another thing.
It’s important to know the difference and work towards defeating the lack of energy you may be feeling.
The four sources listed above are a starting point for you in your quest. There are many more, but these comprise some of the most common. Once you’re able to identify the specific problem in your life, you can get yourself back on track and feel more energetic in your daily life.
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Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com