If you’re constantly feeling tired and run down, it may not be for the reasons you tell yourself. You’re probably not lazy or boring. Nor are you suffering from caffeine deficiency. The reality is, many of us are fatigued, yet we don’t always have a window into why. At the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, we think it’s time to see more of the big picture when it comes to our experience of low energy.
Here are 3 surprising reasons why you might be tired:
1. You’re Not Sleeping Enough
This may seem obvious, but many people are sleep-deprived and don’t even know it – nor do they even think to look at this simple solution.
It’s easy to feel like we need to keep pushing through our tiredness because we have to get everything on our to-do list done, but we simply need more sleep.
Most sleep research points to 8-9 hours as the optimum and required amount of sleep. For some people, simply switching to this number of sleep hours is enough to make a huge difference, even after just a single day.
It’s fascinating to note that going for 72 hours without sleep is enough to encourage a psychotic break in even the soundest of minds. We need sleep to repair body tissue, recalibrate our organs, and reset our chemistry. And just as getting stronger happens in the recuperation period after a workout, sleep and rest help us absorb and integrate our experiences so that we learn and grow. We need sleep to help us feel recharged and rejuvenated for the next day’s activities.
So here’s the bottom line: If you’re tired, make sure you’re getting enough sleep!
2. You’re Avoiding Food Because You Want to Lose Weight
Many of us want to lose weight, and so we adopt a strategy of eating as little as possible. Well, not only is this proven to be a completely unsuccessful weight loss approach, it also has some very unwanted side effects – most notably fatigue.
Plenty of research from the field of Mind Body Nutrition demonstrates that lack of nutrition – calories, essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals – can make us tired. Starving ourselves only slows our metabolisms and robs us of the energy we need to for a well-lived life. Our bodies simply need nutritional fuel. Without it, fatigue is predictable.
Specifically, one of the main signs of both protein deficiency and fat deficiency is fatigue. The same with deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and others.
So if you’re trying to lose weight on a very low calorie diet AND you’re feeling fatigued, it’s time to make a change. Sustainable weight loss happens when we eat regular meals. And so does sustainable energy. Instead of avoiding food, be smarter about it. Give yourself enough.
3. You Don’t Have a Clear Purpose for Your Life
Oftentimes, when we don’t have a mission, a great reason for why we are here and how we want to spend our life force, we get a little down, sluggish, apathetic, or even depressed. This makes us feel tired and we think the issue is fatigue itself — but the fatigue is really a symptom of something larger, not the problem itself. The fatigue may be illuminating a dearth of meaning. When we don’t have a clear purpose, we spend our energy looking for meaning in many places, only to be left dissatisfied. We’re not being fed by what we value most.
Slow down to listen to what’s important. When we know what makes life meaningful for us, we can prioritize where we spend our energy, and that keeps us in a vital state of being. Our choices are informed by what we value most, and this continues to energize us. When we’re motivated by a purpose, we are selective about how we spend our energy. We honor the limits of our embodied form and allow sleep, nutrients, and valued living to fill us up.
If you are unsure of your purpose, ask yourself what you would prioritize if you only had a month to live. What would be easy to let go of, and what would you hold onto for dear life? What stamp do you want to make on the planet in your lifetime? What gets you fired up for change?
Each of us is unique in what we value, but we know we value something when we feel empty without it, and energized when we prioritize it. Once you know what your purpose is, go live it! Or at least, take steps toward it. You’ll be amazed by how much energy is freed within you.
Oftentimes, when we don’t feel a sense of mission or purpose, we can get a little down, sluggish, apathetic, or even depressed. This makes us feel tired and we think the issue is fatigue itself — but the fatigue is really a symptom of something larger, not the problem itself.
Without a greater purpose, life can feel tiresome. Without goals or dreams that inspire us, it’s easy to feel run down.
With our purpose clearly in our vision, we become more energized and alive. Plus, when we’re motivated by a purpose, we’re smarter and more selective about how we spend our energy.
So if you’ve been feeling fatigued and can’t find the energy that you know you should have, it might be time to look at the bigger picture of your life.
Slow down and listen to what’s important.
If you’re unsure of your purpose, ask yourself what you’d do if you only had a month to live. What impact do you want to make on the planet in your lifetime? What gets you fired up? What inspires you? What’s a secret dream that’s been calling you?
Each of us is unique in what we value, but we know we value something when we feel empty without it, and energized when we prioritize it. Even if you don’t know what your purpose is, keep asking the question, keep searching, and keep taking baby steps. You just might be surprised by how much energy is freed within you.
Become a Mind Body Eating Coach
Summer 2023 enrollment begins soon.
Make real, lasting change - in your life and the lives of others using eating psychology coaching tools.
Subscribe to The Psychology of Eating Podcast
Get notified when new episodes go live.