I don’t know about you, but fatigue is real.
As if there wasn’t enough to overwhelm us, it seems like the collective world stress is unrelenting. Are you tired? What kind of tired?
Emotional/Mental exhaustion – feeling “all the feels” and absorbing pain. Emotional exhaustion occurs when we experience fatigue from being emotionally overloaded. Our pain, others’ pain, and collective pain all combine to create an overwhelming feeling of tiredness that has accumulated. Feeling worn out and drained from the totality of emotions.
Here are signs of emotional exhaustion from The Mayo Clinic:
Emotional symptoms include:
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling powerless or trapped
- Lack of motivation
Physical symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite
- Sore muscles or muscle tension
Performance symptoms include:
- Failing to meet deadlines
- Lower workplace commitment
- More absences
- Performing work duties more slowly
Physical exhaustion – our body’s perception of fatigue. Our body feels physically exhausted when the cumulative fatigue and persistent tiredness catches up with us. The physical sensation that our body functioning is compromised.
Here are signs of physical exhaustion from Better Health:
- Chronic tiredness or sleepiness
- Sore or aching muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Slowed reflexes and responses
- Impaired decision-making and judgment
- Moodiness, such as irritability
- Impaired hand-to-eye coordination
- Appetite loss
- Reduced immune system function
- Blurry vision
- Short-term memory problems
- Poor concentration
- Reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand
- Low motivation.
Values Disconnect Exhaustion – A third type of exhaustion that many providers are experiencing is called “values” exhaustion. Kamal Sarma describes this type of exhaustion, “values disconnect exhaustion,” as more subtle and insidious than other forms of deep tiredness. Values disconnect occurs when a person has to compromise their own character and beliefs in order to meet the expectations placed on them. Over the past two years, there are few other professionals that have been impacted as greatly by values disconnect exhaustion than providers. Moral distress exemplifies values disconnect exhaustion (oh, if you want to learn more about this, sign-up for next week’s free workshop for medical providers!).
Symptoms of Values Disconnect Exhaustion:
- Lack of purpose
- Feeling disconnected and detached
- Covering or masking feelings
- Pretending to be well
Regardless of whether you’re physically exhausted, mentally/emotionally exhausted, or disconnected from values (or a combination of several), the first step is to recognize what’s happening in your body. Because the last two years have created constant demands, pressure, and isolation, we often overlook symptoms of fatigue because we become accustomed to overwhelm. We have consistently felt like we “can’t go on” only to be pressed into continuing for days, weeks, and months more than we should endure.
The second step is to figure out how to rest. In our westernized view of rest, we hold a myopic view: rest equals sleep. But sleep is not the only way to rest. In fact, our bodies and minds require different forms of rest. And morally, we need rest as well. For a great reflection on rest, watch this Ted Talk: https://youtu.be/ZGNN4EPJzGk
I want you to begin to ask yourself – what kind of fatigue am I experiencing and what type of rest is my body asking of me?
Tell me. I’d like to hear what you’re experiencing and what’s helping.