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Sweet biscuit sugar plum. Halvah chocolate bar jujubes. Dragée donut candy.

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Why am I so tired?

Exploring the effects of anxiety, stress, & trauma in the body

Do you feel exhausted constantly? Are you eating well, getting lots of sleep, exercising regularly but you still feel tired all the time? You might be experiencing emotional exhaustion. Almost always, when we suppress our feelings and emotions, they tend to manifest in many different ways. Our unaddressed anxiety, stress, and/or trauma can manifest as tension headaches, body aches, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.

Can you take a moment to think back to what feelings or anxieties you might be suppressing right now? Are you in a stressful living situation? Did you recently experience a breakup? Are you feeling the lasting effects of the pandemic, election, or racial injustice? It’s okay if you aren’t able to put a finger on the exact “reason” or specific anxiety, stressor, or traumatic event that is being manifested outwardly. Today we’re exploring the signs, symptoms, and coping tips for emotional exhaustion on the body.

5 signs you are emotionally exhausted

1. Chronic sense of fight, flight, or freeze

Do you feel anxious more times that not? Are you always stressed out? Maybe you’re having a tough semester, experienced a death in the family, or live and chronically stressful situation, or maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it. Whatever it is, your mind is constantly active, no wonder you’re so tired! When we feel threatened, either consciously or subconsciously, our bodies go into a state of fight, flight, or freeze mode to protect itself. If your mind is constantly being triggered into overthinking, and fixating, you might be spending too much time in these trauma responses which can lead to the crash of fatigue.

2. Constant body pain/stress

Take a moment to do a body scan. Notice any feelings or energy that might be present throughout your body. Do you have head tension? Is your jaw clenched? Do you experience chronic pain in your back or shoulders? Because our bodies and minds are connected, a lot of the time, when we experience chronic pain it’s connected to a mental issue like unaddressed stress, anxiety, or trauma. Ask yourself where you’re holding this distress. Sometimes trauma experiences can stay in your body even if your mind isn’t thinking about it so remember to be gentle and non judgmental with yourself.

3. chronic fatigue

Do you still feel exhausted no matter how much rest you get? Do you sleep all day and still feel tired? Chronic fatigue or chronic tiredness is one of the core criteria for a person to be diagnosed with depression along with sadness, apathy, and loneliness. Although it isn’t necessary to label ourselves in order to heal, if you resonate with this list of criteria, we do recommend checking in with yourself and with a licensed health professional for further treatment.

4. You’ve neglected self-care

One major sign that you might be experiencing emotional exhaustion is neglecting your self care. Have you stopped making time for things you enjoy? Have you lost touch with yourself or your friends and family? Not eating well, not staying hydrated, and neglecting sleep can all lead to chronic fatigue. Try to recognize and acknowledge if you have been neglecting self-care. This can be a huge step in enacting change.

5. You’re experiencing Racial Battle fatigue(rbf)

Many Black, Indigenous, People of color experience the sociological and racial concept of racial battle fatigue. Racism, microaggressions, and marginalization can have an effect on the mind and body. As we know, when we feel threatened or live in a chronically unhealthy or unsafe environment, our bodies go into fight, flight, or freeze mode which leads to exhaustion. RBF is something that many BIPOC experience daily, especially if they have to be in an environment where there are predominantly white people like some universities, neighborhoods, or work environments.

3 tips to stay rested

1. Allow yourself to feel

When we don’t allow ourselves the space to feel all emotions, they are forced to manifest anyway. As we know, this suppression can lead to so many uncomfortable symptoms. When we allow ourselves the room to feel and have the experience, we are able to disrupt the cycle. How can we allow ourselves to feel? Try these 3 things

  • Shake it off (literally)! When you feel a built up of energy (negative or positive) try literally shaking, wiggling, or dancing. This allows the energy to be released away from your body and clear the discomfort.

  • Journal or talk to someone. If your mind is racing or worrying, try putting those words to paper, or ask to speak to a compassionate friend or licensed therapist. Unpacking or venting can feel extremely healing and help us track certain mental patterns to gain self-knowledge!

  • Exercise. This can be hard, especially if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue and depression, and getting out of bed to shower is a struggle in itself. Be gentle on yourself. You don’t need to run ten miles (or go for it if you want to!). Try taking a walk around your neighborhood, doing jumping jacks, or yoga. Like shaking the energy off, exercising alleviates mental, emotional, and physical symptoms of built up energy.

2. create a self-care toolbox

What would your self-care toolbox look like? Think of what makes you feel good, relaxed, and rested. This can include things like reading, writing, drawing, and making a list of people who you feel good around that you can reach out to in difficult moments. List out meals, movies, and places that comfort you. Sometimes when we find ourselves in a deep rut, it can be hard to remember the things that we love so make these lists with your future self in mind. How would you take care of them? Here are a few things from my own self-care toolbox

  • My trusty gratitude journal

  • My trustier venting journal

  • Taking small hikes with my dog

  • Asking my best friends to check in on me, and do the same for them

  • Calling my mom

  • Making soup or a hot comforting drink like spiced hot chocolate or tea

  • Watching movies I loved from my childhood

3. practice self-compassion and self-acceptance

We are big advocates for practicing self-compassion and self-acceptance. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel, it’s okay to struggle, and it’s okay to not be okay. There is no rush to healing and you are exactly where you need to be in your journey. The better we are at allowing ourselves the space to feel without shame or guilt, the better we are at spotting those discomforts in the future before the get out of hand. For more on how to cultivate self-compassion and the beginning of our 4 part self-compassion series click here! Or click here to try our free 5 day self-paced self-compassion journal challenge for guidance along your journey.


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