Managing life when you’re constantly tired

A couple of years ago I realised that I was always tired. Mentally, physically, perpetually tired. I often joke with friends that I need as much sleep as a teenage boy. But it’s not really a joke; After all, many a truth is spoken in jest. I typically need a good nine to ten hours of sleep to feel anything close to fully functional the following day and yet, I have often found myself on the cusp of dozing off at various points during the day. For a while I even believed I may be suffering from narcolepsy (don’t self diagnose!). A trip to the GP confirmed I did not suffer from the condition. However, I soon discovered that something else could potentially be responsible for my constant tiredness. Nonetheless, it isn’t wise to let life constantly pass you by. So here are a few tips and tricks that help me to get the rest I need and still manage to participate in everyday activities.

Go see a medical professional

There may actually be something going on with you that can be diagnosed, treated, monitored, and help with constant tiredness. In my own case, I’ve had bouts of anaemia starting from my early teens and now that I’ve settled into adulthood, I find it easier to pinpoint exactly when my iron levels are running low. Low iron levels often result in chronic tiredness. Thankfully, I was able to have this diagnosed at a fairly young age and I keep a good supply of iron tablets to ensure that my levels don’t dip too low. Historically I’ve not always been great at taking iron supplements and this has coincided with some of the most trying times in terms of not feeling tired. Of course, there could be a whole host of other medical reasons for chronic tiredness which is why seeing a medical professional should be the first port of call if you notice this is a problem.

Be intentional with your time

Once upon a not-so-distant-past it was not uncommon for me to spend every weekday evening engaged in some sort of activity away from home. This meant that I was always getting home past 10pm on a school night and would often also engage in multiple activities throughout the weekend. This impacted both my sleeping patterns which in turn affected how I was functioning during waking hours. As a result of this, I have had to learn to be very intentional with my time and the people and activities I spend it on. I try to think about it this way: There are commitments such as work and school that I simply must keep and they take priority. I also have a network of friends who I make sure to see (schedules permitting). On top of those, are other commitments that bring me a certain level of pleasure, and I will fit those in accordingly. Generally, I try to have at least three free evenings in any given week. This allows me to more or less keep a routine when it comes to bed times and evening activities.

Make time for things and people you enjoy

This one ties heavily to the point above and my logic goes something like this: although it’s important to be economical about how you’re spending your days, it’s equally important to not cut yourself off from the world. I know that any prolonged period of not engaging with things or people that bring me joy will severely affect my mood so being intentional with my time also includes setting aside some of that time to spend with people and activities I care about.

Exercise and eat right.

A few years ago I dabbled into pescetarianism. Prior to that, I was a die-hard meat eater. Even though I’ve gone back to eating moderate amounts of meat, I am now a lot more conscious about the kinds of foods I put in my body. Needless to say, I am not always very good at it and when I do slip up I realise just how much more tired and lethargic I feel. Likewise, as someone who has a job that requires me to sit for most of the day, I can’t stress how important regularly moving my body is to me. Long periods spent without regular exercise always leave me feeling out of ease in my own body. I also feel that there is a good correlation between me exercising and keeping to a healthy food diet. Needless to say, the benefits extend far beyond keeping in shape. Engaging in these two activities enables me to have greater clarity of mind.

Have a routine.

I have a bedtime routine, an early morning routine, and, time-permitting, a Sunday night routine for the week ahead. I’ll caveat that by saying that I’m not overly strict with any of these routines but they do help me to have some ‘me’ time where I can focus on taking my time and being intentional with whatever activity I’m engaging in.

Take the time to do nothing

Nothing else to say about this one other than you don’t always have to be busy. It’s nice to sometimes just sit and have a moment to yourself without feeling that you actively need to be doing something.