If you’re not tired, you’re not doing adulthood right, right? If I had a dollar for every time I asked someone how they are and they responded with some version of “Tired” or “Busy,” I’d have enough to buy a lifetime’s worth of sleep aids.
It seems like we all know one girl from high school who runs a wellness Instagram and she’s obnoxiously peppy even though she doesn’t consume anything stronger than herbal tea. But other than that, we are a society of the perpetually burnt out.
Certainly, humans have always struggled with fatigue. Recently, BBC Future pointed out that cases of exhaustion have always been a part of history. It would be fair to say that it’s a part of the human condition.
But that doesn’t mean that modern society doesn’t have its own special kinds of energy-sapping problems. When there are no filters strong enough to hide the bags under your eyes, then it’s time to take a stand and push back against the things that drain you.
After a nap.
And then we push back!
The FOMO Is Exhausting
Our preference for internet-based self-presentation over face-to-face relationships and reality isn’t good for us. We can be tempted to structure real life around perceptions based off of assumption. Guess what? That’s, like, super exhausting.
FOMO has been proven to result in fatigue, sleep problems, stress, and even psychosomatic symptoms (think mental factors causing physical pain). In their overview of social media and well being, Rutgers University notes that as many as 30 percent of social media users experience sleep disruption and a quarter experience depression.
Additionally, while the digital age allows us to utilize apps and social media to meet and connect with others, one of the effects of technology on romantic relationships is that we have more reason to question the authenticity of others. Who among us hasn’t lost at least a little sleep at the thought of potentially being catfished?
Some practical things you can do to make sure your social media usage is helping and not hindering include:
- Look at where the battery life on your phone is going to get a good sense of how much time you actually spend on social media.
- Use an app to set usage limits to protect yourself.
- Set goals for proactively pursuing real life relationships. Maybe it’s one friend date a month that you initiate. Maybe it’s committing to seeing your folks on a regular basis. Maybe it’s a little more hugging on the real and a little less “liking” in the virtual.
Lets just all agree being average in person is actually a lot cooler than being stellar online, okay? Okay.
The Division of the U.S.A.
Thanks primarily to my pilot husband, I recently found myself listening to a speech given by a veteran named Bud Anderson. Anderson is a decorated WWII triple ace pilot. He flew over a hundred missions in Europe, and he’s received many medals. Amidst incredible stories of war though, I found one of the most remarkable things Anderson said was that for those of us born after WWII, the unity among people in the United States during that time would be virtually impossible to imagine.
I’m not here to talk about why division is so prevalent in modern America. I wouldn’t begin to assume to have that type of wisdom. But, I can talk about the impact of living within a country where people have many polarized views.
It’s exhausting because we’re not just divided, we’re often out for blood. This summer Pew Research found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans have news fatigue. So while we may not agree on politics, most can agree that the tension they create make us feel overwhelmed and, you guessed it, pooped out.
In the interest of not being pooped out:
- Applying a lot of the tips for social media use will help with this since social media is a primary source of the news — both real and fake — overkill.
- A large part of the problem with how we relate to each other online is that we are far less kind and far less effective than we would be in person. If you’ve got a message to spread consider how you can do it in a better way than via Facebook shares.
Unpopular opinion that I can’t believe is unpopular: If someone has a different opinion, that doesn’t make them less valuable as a human being, it makes them different. And you know how people who value all the other humans as much as they value themselves sleep at night? Really well.
The Glorification of Busy
Here’s a shocker: Americans work longer days, take less vacation, and retire later than those in any other industrialized country. A big part of the reason we do that is because it is culturally applauded to do so. At its core, a solid work ethic is a good thing. I hope I’m able to raise daughters who work hard.
But, I don’t want to raise daughters who prioritize work above their wellbeing or the wellbeing of their relationships.
According to Liza Quast for Forbes, chronic busyness sometimes feels good because we get an adrenaline rush from the stress of moving from activity to activity. However, over-exposure to stress hormones disrupt your body’s normal function.
She writes, “Those stress hormones can increase your risk of health problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems and even memory and concentration impairment.”
To stop the glorification of busyness in your own life:
- Don’t compete with yourself or others to be busier or the busiest.
- If you’re working overtime and never taking vacation, take a minute to consider how a break in that pattern might benefit you.
- Speak well of rest.
- Do what you can to shift your workplace culture. Specific leadership styles are useful for combating specific types of workplace challenges. If you have any measure of influence, use it to encourage an atmosphere that values mental wellness and a work-life balance.
You’re a person, not a productivity machine. Machines don’t need breaks, but you do. So take one.
We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves
If you’re a caffeine-saturated, sugar-crazed monster, you’re probably already rolling your bloodshot eyes at me. I get it. Without the coffee and the sugar, the things stop happening. How could you possibly function without a heart beating like you just ran a marathon?
Roll those peepers all you want, because I’m still gonna say it: there is a ton of research that proves that bad lifestyle choices result in exhaustion. There’s a relatively straightforward way to make sure your lifestyle choices aren’t hindering your energy levels.
Don’t believe me? Then believe the pros my nap-deprived friends: according to Medical News Today the easiest way to get rid of an energy deficit to is make sure you have the right diet. If you’re not fueling the old girl up correctly, how can you expect her to run? Alright, no more dad jokes.
Additionally, studies have found that tired people who start exercising become less tired and that a single bout of moderate exercise can boost energy levels
It’s so true, it sometimes feels tired, — okay, that was my last dad joke — but you really can’t say enough about investing in your physical health in the interest of having solid energy levels. Even if you’re able to problem-solve all of the above areas, if you’re not eating and exercising correctly you’ll still be sluggish.
Since we know that all food is good in moderation, but not in excess, I’ll forgo the bullet points and simply say that if this is a tough area for you I urge you to find a buddy. If you’d benefit from some better recipes, ask some friends to come over prepared to cook their favorite wholesome dishes. Message that girl from high school and see if you can start meeting up on Saturdays.
Perhaps one of the lamest parts of our widespread tiredness is that it’s kind of trendy. If you’re not totally wiped out, it’s probably because you’re an underachiever or something.
Be a well-rested trendsetter. Be the person your burnt out friends turn to for guidance. Be an advocate for quantity over quality. Be an advocate for yourself. You deserve it, buddy.