We’ve touched upon the symptoms of emotional burnout, and by now, most of us know what it feels like to barely have the strength to stand, let alone sprint forward in life… but many don’t quite realize just how many factors can contribute to feeling totally depleted of energy.
We’re not talking about anemia or B12 deficiencies here, nor a lack of proper sleep after running a marathon. Nothing physical, nothing that taxes the vehicle of flesh and sinew that houses the person you are.
We’re talking about the reasons why you may find yourself curled up in a ball on your bed with leaden limbs, feeling like you don’t have enough energy in your entire being to move a single muscle.
Any (and all) of the following five issues can contribute to that feeling, and all are serious situations that really need to be addressed. Check out the list below and think about whether any of them would explain why your energy level is hovering somewhere around Antarctica.
1. Job Dissatisfaction
Do you find that trying to build up the energy to get yourself to work is damned near impossible? Or that once you’re at work, you just stare at whatever it is you’re supposed to be working on and can’t bring yourself to do it because it just seems pointless and awful?
Yeah, those are pretty strong signs that it’s time to get a new job.
When you’re dissatisfied at work, you may feel overwhelmed with depression and panic attacks, and that can also manifest as unbelievable exhaustion: not tiredness, not like you’ve run a marathon, but a soul-deep weariness that makes it difficult to perform even the most basic tasks.
It literally feels like your will and light have been sucked out of you, and no amount of coffee or other stimulants will jolt you into being able to do anything.
Work that you don’t enjoy feels like slavery. It really does. It’s a mindless slog of drudgery that will make you sit back and wonder why the hell you’ve been given the magical gift of several decades’ worth of life on this glorious planet, only to waste it doing the mind-numbing crap you’re doing right now. Day in, day out.
There’s always a way to change your work circumstance to something you truly want to do: it just takes some planning, and courage, and some time as well. But once you decide to make the change happen, you’ll have a goal to work towards, and you’ll find that your energy builds back up again because you can see light at the end of the tunnel.
2. Unhealthy Relationships
A lot of people stay in romantic relationships much longer than they should because they’re comfortable and complacent, and are content to maintain the status quo.
…or so they try to convince themselves.
When you’re in a romantic relationship that just isn’t working anymore, for any number of reasons, you may feel like you’re slogging through each minute. You may want to sleep a lot (possibly as a form of escapism), spend a lot of time alone, and get irritable when you feel any sort of obligation to do anything with your partner.
This isn’t just limited to intimate relationships either: you might live with housemates who absolutely suck your will to live, either because they’re psychic vampires or simply because they’re not part of your “tribe," so you feel alienated and out of sorts when you’re in their presence.
This can happen with family members as well: just because you share DNA with people, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to bond well with them, or even resonate on the same frequency… and having to spend a lot of time with people whom you’re expected to get on with, but don’t, can be completely exhausting.
On a similar theme…
3. People Pleasing
When it comes to things that drain us of energy, one of the worst contenders is being in the situation of doing our best to please others, at a detriment to ourselves.
Problems arise when we’re doing our best to get positive reinforcement and validation from other people by doing what they expect of us, or what suits their vision of who we should be.
This is basically just playing the part in a masquerade you don’t honestly want to be involved with, but if you’re a person who’s conflict avoidant or prone to anxiety, you’ll likely keep playing that role and hate every second of it.
Pretending to be something you’re not takes an extraordinary amount of energy. Actors who are playing roles for TV and film need to take a lot of down time in between shoots just to be able to recharge. They’re basically people who are pretending to be entirely different people, for hours at a time.
Those who are living lives to make everyone happy except themselves are actors as well, but the role is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No breaks, no time to recharge. Is it any wonder why there’s no energy to spare after trying to maintain that charade?
If you’re a perfectionist, you’re likely your own worst enemy as far as energy loss is concerned. You probably spend far more time than is needed making everything you do as “perfect" as possible, causing yourself all manner of anxieties and utterly wearing yourself out in the process.
Perfectionism often goes along with people pleasing, since those tendencies originate after having dealt with very critical people. In trying to gain approval, one often believes that only being “perfect" in said person’s eyes will make them show love, appreciation, even respect. As you might imagine, that’s damaging on countless levels, especially since it causes the perfectionist to deplete their own energy reserves in an attempt to reach an unattainable goal.
There’s no such thing as perfection, and striving to achieve it will do a hell of a lot more harm than good. That’s not to say that it isn’t good to be ambitious or driven, but rather to try to do so in a healthy, self-affirming way, rather than trying to attain another person’s standards of perfection. That’ll never happen.
5. Toxic People In Your Life
When you have people around you who drain all your light in an attempt to sort out their own messy lives, you may end up feeling that even an hour in their presence will leave you a depleted husk of your usual self.
You’ll know that you have people like this in your life because as soon as you see a text or message from them, part of you feels like it wants to shrivel up and die. You may resign yourself to answering with a deep sigh, bracing yourself for whatever may ensue, but wishing that they’d just leave you alone.
If you react this way to the people close to you, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate their role in your world.
There was an interview with Robert Downey Jr. in which he said that it was actually quite easy to turn his life around and stop doing drugs, etc. What was difficult, what was extraordinarily difficult, was making the decision to do so. There will always be excuses and rationales for not taking action to change your life for the better, but the only person who will end up suffering in the long term, is you.
What kind of life do you truly want to lead? Be honest with yourself. What changes do you need to make in order to live that life and be happy and fulfilled?
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.