Why Chronic Fatigue Doesn't Make You Useless: 4 Ways to Be More Productive with Less Exhaustion

 

I think it’s easy to get stuck in this mental trap of believing that our current reality is our forever reality.

Logically, you know this isn't true, but when you take a look at your actions, you find that you’re behaving as if it is true.

You put so much pressure on yourself to be everything to everyone, and I get it. You're thinking, "If I don't pick up the slack, who will?"

Ready for the answer?

He will, she will, and they will. I promise. When something needs to get done, it will get done, even if you’re not the one doing it.

It is not up to you to do everything, so please stop trying. Doing one thing, and doing it well, is more useful than doing 20 things at once.

Your partner, your kids, and your friends will thank you for keeping these tips in mind:

 
 
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1. Let go of perfectionism.

A term that used to be praised as an almighty super-power. Now, however, we're starting to realize the pitfalls of this mindset. 

Perfectionism is often

  • a way to procrastinate

  • a byproduct of caring too much what others think, or

  • a way to dominate and control situations.

Ask yourself what truly needs to be top-notch quality, and what can be done with a little less precision. 

If the effects won’t matter in a week from now, let it go.

Perfectionism causes you to miss out on life, and it leaves you exhausted.

By doing this, you also give your friends and family permission to not be perfect either. In other words, you allow them to be themselves and not a robot. It’s a win-win.

imperfect, broken fence

2. Ask for help, and help others in return.

People with chronic health conditions often get stuck in one of two camps. You are either the helper who takes care of everyone else, or you require help from everyone else. 

The beautiful fact is that we can actually be both, and we should be. Studies have found that helping others brings us joy and purpose, but over-helping can leave us depleted. So we learn how to balance the art of “give and take.”

Step up, and do the tiny tasks for yourself. If you have the ability to do it, then do it. Don’t ask for it. If you need help, however, then you owe it to yourself and to everyone around you to ask.

Pro tip: Ask your partner what they actually enjoy helping you with and what they really prefer to not have to do. Enter this conversation with curiosity and a willingness to make some changes.

  • Does your partner really hate making dinner? If so, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she should just stop. But it does mean there’s room for something to change.

  • What can you do to make this task easier on your partner?

  • Can you swap some tasks?

There are thousands of possibilities here, as long as you can an open, non-defensive mind. This is how we stop feeling guilty, relieve our partners’ burden, and make everyone (including ourselves) happier. 

a girl sitting, looking at her phone in front of a wall saying "The best gift is you."

3. Focus

Now you're thinking, "Focus? How can I focus when my brain fog is at it's worst and I just want to go to sleep?"

What I mean is, stop multitasking. While it may seem like the right thing to do, it's actually depleting you. Take everything off your plate, and then add things in one piece at a time. 

When you're answering emails, JUST answer emails. Don't check your phone, don't talk to your co-workers, and don't make your kids breakfast. 

Prioritize these tasks, and block out time to only do one task at a time.

When your mind starts racing, just breath. Bring yourself back to the task at hand.

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4. Live in the present, every. single. moment.

When you wake up feeling like a truck just hit you, what's your first thought? Most likely it's something like, "Well today is going to be hell." 

The truth is, it's not going to be hell, as long you don't let it. That moment feels like level 10 hell, but what will the next moment feel like? Pay attention to what you notice in your body as you slowly start to move. That level 10 becomes a 9.75, then a 9.5, then a 9, and so forth. The changes are subtle, but they’re there. Pay attention and acknowledge them.

Watch your levels rise and fall throughout the day. Accept each level as is, without trying to change it or figure out how to keep it forever. Both options are impossible, and fighting a futile battle will only drain you more. 

What you can do in that moment to gain momentum. Can you

  • start moving your fingers and toes to get the blood moving?

  • pick up your phone and play an upbeat song you love?

  • visualize that morning cup of coffee or tea that you love so much?

Start small, and work your way up. You can and will get through this. You’ve done it before, and today is no different.

fatigued girl lying in bed
 
 

Action Steps

  • Each morning, write down one to three things that you absolutely need to focus on. Cut out the rest. You can only manage so much in one day.

  • Move slow, and build momentum.

  • Focus only on the task at hand.

  • Tell yourself "this level of fatigue is temporary, I'll feel a different level at some point today."

RECAP

Fatigue and energy come and go, it's just not as predictable or as balanced for some of us as it is for others. That's okay... we don't have to be able to predict, we just have to be able to cope.

Don't let go of necessary quality, but remember that "done is better than perfect."

You're going to figure out who is able, who is willing, and who should be picking up the slack. You just need need to give it all a chance.


“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” Bruce Lee


Changing tides, one wave at a time, together.

 
Destiny WintersComment