Have you ever wondered why you feel so lethargic, heavy and sluggish every day?
Have you ever felt so weak and exhausted that you feel like an empty, lifeless shell of your former self?
What happened to those years when you were bursting with vibrant energy; those years where you could run around all day and not get tired?
What happened to those years when you woke up refreshed and went to bed satisfied with your day and all that you had experienced?
The reality is that the faster, more efficient and more demanding our society becomes, the more pressure we experience in our work lives.
As job security, aimless reverie, and quality family and “self” time becomes a thing of the past, we feel increasingly crushed, burdened and squeezed into the tight little molds that the corporate world prescribes for us.
Not only that, but the busier we are, the less in touch we are with our bodies, our loved ones and our deepest dreams for life.
Like you, I have experienced extreme fatigue for long periods in my life. It has only been through some earnest inner work that I have managed to tap back into my innate wellspring of livelihood. Today I want to share with you how I did that.
5 Causes of Extreme Fatigue
In order to understand why you are so chronically exhausted, you need to first understand some of the main causes of extreme fatigue that you might be experiencing.
Below I elaborate on 5 of the main sources of mental, physical and emotional tiredness.
Please keep in mind that extreme fatigue is not simply something of the body; it is a condition of the mind and spirit as well.
1. Unexpressed thoughts and emotions.
When we are not transparent with our thoughts and feelings we grow resentful, bitter and oppressed, feeling misunderstood, taken for granted or treated as worthless beings by other people.
Although we might blame other people for their insensitivity or intimidating personalities, it is really our choice not to express our authentic needs, desires and opinions.
However, don’t mistake sharing your thoughts and emotions with slamming them in other people’s faces angrily or obnoxiously.
To openly express our feelings and opinions we need to be firm but approachable, vulnerable but self-possessed.
Solution: Learning to be assertive and learning how to communicate openly but confidently is a vital life skill which will prevent you from repressing your authenticity. I highly recommend this book for starters.
2. Refusal to face or process uncomfortable feelings.
What happens when you refuse to fully experience your grief, shame, anger or other fierce emotion? The answer is that it creates an immense amount of psychological burden as it is buried deep down within you, bubbling away in the dark like a volcano waiting to erupt at any moment.
For a long time I refused to face and process my rage, pushing it down into my shadow self where it lurked for years. As a result, I experienced immense fatigue on a daily basis, and could hardly stand being around people because of the brimming hatred I harbored all the time.
Eventually I learned that it is not a “bad” or “evil” thing to welcome uncomfortable and dark emotions, as no emotion within us is innately “good” or “bad,” just pleasant or unpleasant, constructive or destructive.
Solution: Pay attention to your dreams which express repressed and hidden emotions in endless arrays of symbolism and metaphor. Perhaps you always dream of falling, which might represent unacknowledged fear? Perhaps you frequently dream of fire or different forms of destruction, which might represent unacknowledged anger? Once you have discovered what you are repressing, approach your healing process slowly and gently. What healthy ways can you find to express your hidden feelings?
When we betray ourselves we refuse to acknowledge our hopes, dreams and desires for life as valuable or worthy.
Additionally, when we let ourselves down we listen solely to the voice of the rational and linear mind which tells us to “grow up,” “be responsible,” “do your duty,” and “be a good citizen” rather than balancing this with the voice of the heart which tells us to “follow your bliss,” “enjoy life,” “take that risk,” “be free.”
Thus, when we betray ourselves we end up doing what everyone else says we should do; namely to get 9-5 jobs, buy into debt and center our lives around buying, consuming and upgrading what we materially possess.
Self-betrayal is essentially replacing our authentic needs with the expectations, judgments and demands of others.
Solution: Ask yourself, what would you really prefer to be doing right now with your life? You might even like to reflect back on the past and rediscover a lost dream which you sacrificed on the altar of “acceptability” and “normalcy.” What emotions arise when you realize that you have betrayed yourself, and what can you do to face these realizations with courage and humility?
4. Disconnection from one’s body.
When we are out-of-touch with our feelings, thoughts, needs and desires, we are also naturally distanced from our body’s requirements as well.
Our fast-paced lives, materialist society and family structures rarely encourage the development of self-awareness, and yet self-awareness is perhaps the most vital life skill one needs in order to function in a healthy way.
I always assumed that I was a pretty “self-aware” person before I started suffering from chronic fatigue, health problems and anxiety a few years ago. But I had to face the hard truth: I was completely disconnected from my body, and I was suffering so terribly as a result of this split.
Solution: Like me, you might like to work on changing your diet, learning about your food intolerances (such as gluten), getting more sleep, removing yourself from unnecessary stressful situations and people, and committing to exercise every day. You might also like to get back in touch with nature, which is an immensely powerful way to recover from your extreme fatigue.
5. Too much noise, not enough solitude.
How often do you get to sit down, relax, and not have to worry about anything or DO anything?
How often do you get to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and the singing birds?
How often do you get to introspect and reflect on your life or what means the most to you?
Please keep in mind that while watching the TV or browsing the internet is enjoyable, it is not what I define as “solitude” or “me time.” Why? Because these forms of entertainment are largely used as forms of escapism or addiction.
In solitude we get to be still with ourselves, the present moment, and the present state of our lives. In solitude we get to reflect on our past actions and choices, and our future direction. In solitude we get to consume ourselves in our creative passions and dream-driven pursuits.
When we fill our lives with too much mindless noise and commotion, we lose touch with the center and soul of who we are.
Solution: What time in your day can you make to spend time alone, without stimulation or escapism? What can you do, or not do, in your solitude to get back in touch with your soulful center?
There are many causes of extreme fatigue and all are linked to your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being as we have seen above.
Beginning the journey of healing really starts with the development of self-awareness and the willingness to be honest with yourself.
Taking self-responsibility was the number one way I learned to overcome my extreme fatigue, and I encourage you to take the same courageous path as well.
This helps so much, thank you
So pleased to have found your website, and your wisdom! Jh
I’ve recently been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and although there are several factors I believe have contributed to my illness (childhood trauma, a tripped fight or flight response, death of my daughter, work as a counsellor), the factor not often talked about is being an HSP and/or empath. I think that as a somewhat unregulated empath, I’m contributing to my chronic fatigue. In the process of researching how this gift can be used to enhance my life, but still have a long way to go. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts around this?
Thanks for the well written article! Allow me to add a few more – shallow breathing (from too much screen time that we spent hunched over), improper posture, overindulgence in sexual activity (especially for men). I too suffered from CF once and resolved this by learning to ground myself and to stay centered in my physical body. As you rightly put it, most if not all causes of chronic fatigue stem from alienating ourselves from Nature and thus from our own bodies – we no longer honor the seasons, our own circadian rhythms, etc… Again, thanks for the great article and amazing blog!
Also would like to add ‘hormone levels;’ low estrogen in women and particularly low testosterone in men (usually after a 40s or so but should do a panel around that age if need be) and also certain food sensitivities/allergies can cause it as well. An ALCAT test is not cheap but very worth finding what these foods are. A good article. Also, is there a way to stop the numerous pop ups on the page? I have signed up for the newsletter but it still happens and gets a bit frustrating. Thanks