Sometimes you describe this as just not having the energy or desire to get up, or it feels like your body is weighted down and every movement is exhausting. Lack of energy makes you want to sleep more which can mess up circadian rhythms. It also contributes to feelings of apathy…you just don't have the energy to do things important to you. It can also negatively impact your work and relationships, so… what do you do?
While these symptoms can be caused by insufficient or excessive sleep, they can also be caused by thyroid issues, a lack of motivation and reward, lack of movement or fear. You need the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinepherine to feel motivated and energized. If it is not there, you may not have the desire to do anything. Insufficient dopamine or norepinepherine can be caused by a poor diet, being stressed out for too long, or even “living” on caffeine.
When your body is sedentary it gets stiff and it feels more difficult to do daily activities. (A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.) Sometimes if you get up and move a bit it will help. Try to do something for 10 minutes to see if you can get into a groove.
Your thought processes, especially a fear of failure or rejection may cause you to feel anxious and your body to maintain a constant level of low grade stress (which is exhausting). Over time your body desensitizes to this stress and the fight or flight reaction is replaced with exhaustion.
Your body adjusts to its current conditions. If you have low levels of get up and go chemicals, or a lack of calories (energy) your energy will be low. Lack of energy keeps you calm, and minimizes energy expenditure allowing the body to devote scarce resources to rebuilding and basic functioning. In the case of fear/anxiety, lack of energy and motivation may be designed to keep you from encountering threats.
How You Cope
- How do you get energy/motivation when you don’t have any?
- How do you get started on a task when you don’t want to do it?
- What doesn’t work?
Some simple-ish interventions
- Sometimes just getting up and moving around can help. Try doing whatever it is for 15 minutes. Once you get started it usually isn’t so bad.
- In order to get energized, you have to increase the motivating chemicals by having some successes. Motivation is your body’s response to a reward. When something good happens it wants to do it again. So, create rewards for accomplishing small parts of larger tasks. You can also combine things you don’t want to do (laundry) with things you enjoy (Netflix binges).
- Get an accountability buddy—someone who will cajole you into getting your butt off the couch and getting started.
- Identify any fear or depressive thoughts that may be dampening your energy, and think the opposite. For example, instead of “Nothing I do ever turns out right.” Think “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill
- Try identifying a few things that have turned out right and tell yourself “I am not perfect at everything, but I try, and I learn from my mistakes.”
- Negative thoughts that can keep you paralyzed are often called “irrational thoughts” and “cognitive distortions.” Research on the internet what they are, identify which ones you use, and address those thinking errors.
- Get a physical to rule out any hormone imbalances or physical causes such as nutritional deficits, apnea or hormone imbalances.
- Make sure to drink enough water and eat relatively healthfully.
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