Being Tired—When Fatigue Is Holding You (Me!) Back
Fatigued? A little overwhelmed? A little underwhelmed? Feeling “off”? Yep.
“Do you ever think maybe we’re rushing too much?” I asked Peter as I tried not to grump at him from the passenger seat of our van, as we ran a few minutes behind to get … somewhere?
Guys, the cyclocross season started less than a month ago and I am tired. I was tired before the season started. (I wrote about a feeling similar to this—overwhelm and underwhelm colliding, earlier this summer and a lot of people seemed to really, really relate.)
I don’t often talk about stuff like this on here, because it implies that I can’t handle everything that I’m trying to accomplish. So before I dive in, I’ll make my disclaimer so I don’t bum myself out too much. I can and am handling all of my various obligations and work stuff (both my obligations for my own writing and my professional ones). Things are, objectively, going really well.
I’m just so freaking tired. An I think that happens to all of us, no matter what we’re doing for work, for sport, for life. There’s just so much *stuff*—even if all you’re doing is watching the news, you end up feeling exhausted and bummed! Ironically, I just posted another article about when to recover with running, and I’m having similar feelings about life in general. And guess what? So are literally every other person I’ve talked to lately. And the people I talk to are seriously high achievers, so if they’re feeling like they’re walking the edge of burn-out, I have to assume it’s pretty damn widespread.
The other day, I was in the car feeling kind of crappy, and I started to self-talk myself into hardening the F up, pulling myself together, etc. … And then I stopped. Because at that moment, I didn’t want to just HTFU. I wanted to let the feeling of fatigue sit there for a minute. I was just so sick of doing the makeover-montage-style “I got this” moment. Sometimes, I think it’s OK to not have it, and to just be processing and feeling that way.
So… Because I can’t handle just writing about the feeling itself, I wanted to write about what I’m doing about it. Because while I think I’ve realized that I can’t just bury said feelings, I can be proactive (but reasonable, and with self-care as the priority, not just HTFU-ing!)!
This may seem counterintuitive, adding something while I’m already feeling the pressure and overwhelm hitting me hard. But adding yoga has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done lately. I’ve been doing a quick morning routine for THREE YEARS now (whattttttt) but adding in another 20-60 minutes per day of a routine has made me feel so much better, on every level. At Charm City, just a couple weeks in, I heard from a bunch of people that I was looking a lot fitter, and even though my time doing hard workouts has decreased, the way my posture has improved and my overall tone is just so much better. (And I think I just feel better, and that translates outwardly.) It’s been hard to fit it in, but even when it’s been a packed day, adding a couple extra 10 minute blocks has made a big difference. When I finish a routine, I generally feel like this:
Letting Go of *Some* Things
Right this second, it’s not time to start an intensive training plan, or work on a book idea that’s been brewing for a few months. If I have the inspiration and need to get something out, that’s great… But having it on my to-do list hasn’t been helping. So, I’m trying to take a page from the experts that say the best thing you can do is pick a couple of things that have to get done for the day and focus on those, and cut out the noise. When you work for about 15 different outlets and people, all of whom have deadlines and expectations for you, this changes slightly, but I have found that taking a minute in the morning to go through my daily to-do list on my ToDoist app, and rescheduling non-urgent / non-important / stuff or stuff that I just know isn’t going to happen today—effectively shortening the list before the day starts—has made it seem less frantic and less impossible. If extra time appears, great—I’ll get ahead. But I’d rather be getting ahead than feeling like I’m falling epically behind. (In a similar vein, I’ve been trying to zero out my to do list by rescheduling un-done things at the end of the day, so I don’t start each morning 8 tasks behind.)
Embracing My Inner Introvert
People who’ve met me in the last couple years would likely not guess that behind the scenes, I’m actually an introvert. The travel and constant events make it seem like I’m more extroverted, but while I love hanging out with great people, I generally get my energy from time spent alone. (OK, maybe some of you would guess that. If you spend any time with me, it quickly becomes obvious.) So, when I do get pockets of time, even small ones, where I can embrace that, I have been. The last 12 hours are a great example. I had a whirlwind 10 days: Baltimore for Charm City, home to my parent’s to catch up with them, my sister and my best friend, NYC to emcee an event, the Bicycling office to jam with co-workers, then Gloucester for more racing (and since both race weekends are close to home, I love seeing tons of friends at each event). By Sunday night, I was emotionally pretty drained, even though everything was super positive and I was feeling happy with how everything went. So, instead of crashing with friends to get dinner/breakfast before driving to Ontario, I opted to stop at a motel en route and enjoy being solo for a hot minute. A full night sleep, a morning sitting at this desk in this extremely bland room, and I’m feeling a lot more recharged. So, if you do recharge with time spent alone, make sure you have pockets of it, however small.
Now Is the Time for Rereads and Re-watching
Confession: I love Rick Riordan’s YA novels about Greek gods. (I do have a YA series coming out, so it kinda counts as research, right?) I also really, really love Frasier. So, when I’m feeling extremely fatigued and close to burning out, I don’t read new books or get immersed in new shows, I go back to my old favorites. It’s relaxing, and frankly, it calms my brain down. Maybe that’s a little couch-potato-y, but when I get stressed, yoga and meditation are great, but sometimes, you just need to watch Niles and Daphne finally get together.
…And Asking for Help
I finally was talking to Peter on the phone a couple days ago and told him I was just starting to bonk at life. I shouldn’t have been surprised that his reaction was to simply ask how he could help, but I kind of hadn’t thought of that. Even though I didn’t have a specific thing he could help with, just knowing someone was around to help if I needed it was a huge weight off my shoulders.
Anyway, long story short, I’m dealing with it. It’s never easy to admit you don’t feel like everything is under control, but honestly, I think it happens to all of us. So… with that said, how’s everyone else doing? Any other tips for dealing with a bit of fatigue?
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