How Existential Exhaustion Could Be Causing Your Tiredness

It goes beyond tired, way past fatigue… it’s the very height – or should that be depth – of exhaustion.

It’s the type of feeling that makes you want to stay curled up in a ball each morning, beneath the protective shield of a warm, soft duvet.

It’s a weariness for life that follows you everywhere you go, like a second shadow stalking you, mirroring your every move.

Existential exhaustion.

Rather than wake up raring to go, you greet each morning with a gloomy yawn of despair. The day has only just started, but you’re already running on empty.

Coffee, 4 sugars: it’s the only way you can shake the cobwebs from your mind and function as a “normal” human being.

What’s gone wrong?

No Meaning, No Motivation

The answer begins with the very purpose of your existence.

Or the conspicuous lack thereof.

You haven’t yet figured out what you’re doing here. What you want to do here. You are sure, however, that what you’re doing now isn’t it.

You do find some enjoyment in your day. You haven’t yet slid far enough down the slippery slope toward a full blown existential crisis.

But the moments of joy and happiness are fleeting, and they aren’t enough to leave you meaningfully satisfied.

The emphasis on meaning was intended. This is at the very crux of your lack of energy.

You are getting enough nutritional energy each day, but you aren’t getting enough mental and emotional energy. And so, you feel forever drained.

Just as you eat food to replenish your stores of sugar, fat, and the other essential building blocks of your physical body, you need to consume the right sort of life experiences to top up your spiritual vessel.

These experiences are different for each of us, but they are packed full of meaning. It’s this meaning that awakens us from our slumber.

Meaning is the fuel for the soul, the spirit, whatever you want to call it. Meaning provides us with the motivation to embrace each day and the possibilities it might contain.

When meaning is absent, so is motivation. When motivation is absent, your existential battery is slowly depleted until you are forced into low power mode.

In this state of being, non-essential processes are switched off. You can no longer maintain a level of alertness, your imagination and creativity are taken offline, and your passion is powered down.

You go from thriving, to surviving.

The Symptoms

Chronic boredom ensues. With no mental energy, your emotions become dulled. Aside from those brief moments of enjoyment mentioned above, the rest of your existence is mundane, monotonous, stale.

Time ticks by slowly, and you find yourself wishing the minutes and hours away just to reach the comfort of sleep or the respite of the weekend.

You look at the years behind you and feel no sense of achievement. You cast your gaze to the future and see nothing but wasted potential.

Time, it seems, is of no importance at all.

If you work, you start making silly little mistakes because you can’t concentrate. You don’t volunteer for tasks and bemoan your luck when they are assigned to you.

You try to get away with doing the bare minimum that is required of you; just enough to not get fired.

Your physical appearance changes: your eyes lose their spark, dark circles appear beneath them, your shoulders drop, you stoop and slouch, your skin becomes pale.

Your immune system weakens and you often fall ill, which feeds into your already lackluster demeanor.

You start to question everything.

Is this how my life is going to be? Is there nothing more to look forward to? Am I destined to feel this way forever?

Am I…? Should I…? What if…? Why do I…? Is there…?

Your mind is looking for a solution. You search for the cure to your particular ailment.

You search so hard, in fact, that you contribute to your own sense of exhaustion. You wear your mind out by going in circles, asking the same questions over and over.

You yearn for the comfort of an answer, but rarely does one come.

Your relationships begin to suffer. Your fatigue and lack of enthusiasm for anything puts a real strain on the connections you have forged with others.

You no longer want to do anything because you simply don’t have the energy.

Most conversations seem like pointless wastes of breath to discuss nothing more than the senseless humdrum of life.

You start to find the company of dogs, cats and other animals more enjoyable than that of humans. You envy their carefree nature.

You see the endless stream of posts in your social media feeds and you cringe. Millions of little snapshots crammed together – is that what life is all about?

You self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, food, and TV, in whose company you can switch off completely. Anything to soothe your tired mind.

You need to recharge. But how?

Reenergizing Your Soul

Rather than rehash the same message again, I’d like to direct you to some of the other posts here on A Conscious Rethink.

In them, we cover topics that tie in closely with existential exhaustion and the quest to find meaning.

These posts contain countless important lessons and practical advice on how to pull yourself out of your slump.

But here’s one more.

Read. Listen. Watch. Learn.

You are not the first person to feel utterly depleted and directionless. You will not be the last.

Understanding your place in this world and making positive changes in your life is a long process, and one that you need a companion for.

Let books (here are some suggestions), podcasts, presentations, lectures, magazine articles, and every other form of information be that companion.

Take your mental, emotional, and spiritual health seriously. Feed yourself with the lessons and inspiration of others. Nourish your soul.

Slowly, but surely, you’ll see your energy levels rise and your motivation return.

And when you feel more alive, don’t stop the nourishment. Your body, mind, and spirit all need feeding on a daily basis.

Make this a lifelong commitment.

Remember: the first step is the hardest. You feel shattered right now, and this seems like just another waste of time.

It isn’t. Trust me.

Each step will energize you to take the next, and the next, and the next.

You have already begun. Keep going.

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