Our bodies are sending us signals – by way of symptoms, feelings, cravings and reactions – all the time. As part of the mindfulness coaching work I do with my clients, I teach them how to first listen to and then interpret these signs so that they can bypass the suffering that weighs so many of us down. In doing so I show them how to meet their deepest desires and needs before their bodies and minds start to break down.
Fatigue is the most common complaint I hear from women – and yet, fatigue is a vague term used to describe a whole raft of emotions, physical symptoms and mind imbalances. ‘I’m tired’ is a catch cry of our busy generation – and yet rarely do we give ourselves time to truly reflect on the root causes of our fatigue nor do we truly understand the complexity underlying that one, simple phrase.
As a social scientist with a public health background, I am always looking for patterns in my conversation with women – particularly those who are driven or harsh on themselves with whom I have an affinity for working with (hey, it takes one to know one). These patterns form the evidence base for the development of my new programs and workshops and when I’m reading widely and learning new modalities, I am always referring back to these patterns and refining them.
In this vain I have, over the years, developed several ‘root cause’ theories for women’s fatigue – the stuff underneath the surface complaints that we rarely get insight into, or give ourselves space to come to truly understand. Getting a hold of the patterns that keep us tired can help us to refine the actions we take and, importantly, prevent us from taking action which further fatigues us, rather than the other way around.
So without further ado, here are five things your fatigue might be telling you:
1) Slow Down: I know you know it. We all know it. And yet knowing it is different from actually heeding the advice being screamed at you via your ailing, aching body. Without a doubt, fatigue is the body and mind’s way of saying that there is simply too much clutter in your life. Be it material clutter, scheduling clutter, relationship clutter or over-thinking clutter. Spaciousness is an antidote to fatigue – so find out where the clutter is, and start to take a broom to it.
2) Nurture your feminine: we live in a highly masculine world – where punctuality, productivity and power are revered over the more feminine qualities of receptiveness, intuition and empathy. Fatigue can often demonstrate an imbalance in those qualities within you, and is best rectified by indulging regularly in acts that bring your inner self back into equilibrium – getting out in nature, creative exploits, rhythmic dancing + music, connecting with other like-minded women and reflecting/meditating. For more info see this podcast episode and blog post.
3) You are enough: if there’s one simple thing that you can do to address your fatigue it is this – stop hating on yourself. That inner critic that keeps pushing you and judging you and analysing your every action? She is EXHAUSTING you. Starting to gradually change the language you use about yourself can have drastic effects on your energy levels since that inner critic is causing the activation of your fight or flight (stress response) which, when chronically activated, can lead to that dead-weight-limbed exhaustion. The limiting belief that you are not loveable/not enough is without a doubt the number one emotional cause of deep, long-lasting exhaustion that I see in clients and, to the contrary of what you might think, is not serving you one iota.
4) Reconnect with your innermost needs: fatigue, anxiety and depression can also signal a deep disconnect between the person you are deep down and the person that you are portraying to the world. Decades of following the extrinsic (external) rewards given from others leads you away from your own intrinsic (internal) desires. As the gulf between these two worlds widens it’s harder and harder for you to apply to the mask that you need to put on daily to the world to be loved. It’s deeply painful and exhausting to continue to portray someone that you are not – and bringing back the lost parts of yourself – perhaps the creative type, or the sensitive type, or the cheeky fun type – will help you to shed the layers of expectation and realise that you are loveable NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. The energy that is freed up when you go through this process and start honouring your needs is truly massive.
5) Plug the energy leaks: There’s no getting around the fact that if you are tired, the chances are you are spending too much time doing things that drain your energy and too little time doing things that fill up your energetic cup. Plugging the unnecessary energy leaks in your life requires you to truly get to the bottom of what it is that is important TO YOU (not to the person you follow on instagram) and to start honouring those desires. Yes, this will require boundaries and probably pissing people off – but there’s no two ways about it. You can’t continue to give energy out to everything and everyone out of fear, obligation or habit without expecting consequences in the form of fatigue.
Fatigue is one of those things that we need to get more specific at describing. Yes, diet and exercise can help treat the symptom of fatigue, but to get to the ROOT of it, we need to have the support to go deep and ask ourselves what our body is really telling us. This is a long process and not one that can be accomplished overnight – but let me reiterate to you that a way out of fatigue IS possible – and it starts with a beautiful dose of compassion, love and acceptance of where you are right now. Your body is doing an amazing job of telling you where your work is right now… perhaps it’s time to enter into a dialogue with it and see what changes await?
It’s also worth noting that I’m not a Doctor. In addition to slowing down and letting go of the stressors, It’s worth working with a good health professional to rule out any nasties and address any issues that might be affecting your energy levels.
Do you want to join me on a three month mindfulness coaching program? Doors for Love Yourself Well are now open and I’d love you to join the community of women searching for more fulfilment, wellbeing and energy. With weekly audio lectures, workbooks and meditations as well as group coaching calls, this program brings together heaps of wisdom on stress, fatigue, body image, purpose, mindfulness, compassion, connection and play. It’s your invitation to learn what truly lights up your body, mind and soul, so you can start aligning your outer world with your inner one. Click here to join.