Fighting the Exhaustion Epidemic

Fighting the Exhaustion Epidemic
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I am always intrigued when I notice trends in my life. And I don’t know about you, but it seems like most people in my life are tired… all the time. There is this widespread exhaustion, which is perfectly understandable as we are still dealing with this pandemic that has had ripple effects in our work, home and social lives for well over a year. Calling it draining would be minimizing the experience for many people. So what can we do to fight this rampant exhaustion and reclaim our lives and sanity? Unfortunately, I do not have a three-step trick that magically fixes this. However, I will share with you tips that have helped me on my journey.

Run Diagnostics

First and foremost, we need to start by running diagnostics on the system as a whole. Sure, a bandaid can cover a festering wound, but it won’t heal it. It is necessary to take a step back and ask what is at the root of our lethargy. Is it work, fear of the pandemic, home life, lack of community, etc.? Next, what aspects of that problem do we have the power to change? As we talked about in last week’s article, there are always options. Even if we don’t like any of the options we have right now, knowing that we purposely choose our course can be empowering.

Additionally, we can start creating a new path moving forward that will give us better options down the road. Perhaps, for the moment, you are truly stuck at your job. By networking and upskilling, you might be able to broaden your horizons in the future. It most likely will not be simple, and we will have to put in the work. However easy or not, knowing that we are purposefully engaging with our problems can help provide fuel for the struggle. Acknowledging the pain and assessing our options is the first step towards reclaiming our energy.

Maintain a balanced mindset

The next tip is a saying from a wise woman, my own mom: “Whether things are good or bad, remember it is just a season.” So when things are going our way, be grateful, but keep in mind it won’t last. This doesn’t mean we should let future misery steal the joy of this moment. Instead, we should make sound investments with our time, energy and other resources, so we can draw from that when the hard times come.

Or, the more relatable option for many of us is, in the hard times, remember it is just a season. You have a demanding and ungrateful boss. It is a season. You are scared to leave your home. It’s a season. Your baby is colicky and won’t sleep. It’s a season. Remember, it won’t always be this way. While it lasts, keep fighting hard and do everything in your power to make it a short season. Long or short, this season will come to an end. And I know you can weather it.

Don’t undervalue the pick-me-ups

So, now that we have dug down deep and are putting in the work on the true issues, let’s look at the quick pick-me-ups. These absolutely have their place, and bring significant value. Sometimes these little tricks can give us the strength to keep forging forward with the heavy lifting. It might be too daunting to try to tackle them all at once, so maybe just pick one new habit and slowly build from there. Or perhaps when you are feeling particularly sluggish, come back to this list and pick an option below for some quick stimulation.

    • Start your day with water. A portion of our morning sluggishness is caused by dehydration. By starting with water and waiting one hour before you switch to coffee this can result in a more consistent energy level throughout the day.
    • Limit screen time. Many of us work in front of screens and then also use screens to unwind. The blue light shining from screens limits melatonin in our bodies, making it harder to get the quality rest we need. Additionally, most of us aren’t refueled when we veg out in front of a screen. So give some time to consider how you can fill yourself up on your downtime.
    • Get fresh air. Ideally this would mean getting outside, but I know each of us is dealing with the pandemic in our own ways. If you can get outside, awesome! If not, open a window. It’s not just an old wive’s tale. We all need fresh air and sunshine in our lives.
    • Review your color palette. As we have previously discussed, vibrant colors have been shown to energize us. So if you wake up feeling out of sorts, grab that emerald green shirt or that salmon dress and give your body a shot of stimulation.
    • If you haven’t laughed yet this week, fix that. Listen to a comedian. Choose to be friends with funny people. Or just hang out with a kid for a bit. They are so weird it shouldn’t take too long to elicit a chuckle.
    • Finally, we all know this one but get that body moving. Whether it is ten push-ups, five minutes of yoga, or going out for a jog — they are all steps in the right direction. As the saying goes, no matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.

If you are one of the many tired out there, I want to extend this invitation to you. Thank you for checking in on my column and reading this article, but please consider setting down your device now. Give your eyes a break from that blue light. Move. Laugh. Drink water. Heck, take a nap. Do what you need to and claim a bit of that energy so that you can dive into that actual heavy lifting. It’s not easy asking those hard questions and making those necessary changes, but that is precisely why we are here. Leadership is not an easy path, but we need to show up for the sake of those around us and ourselves.


Jacquelyn Adams is a storyteller and an award-winning CEO. She lives in a world of constant exploration, whether it’s summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, vlogging about the future of work… or discovering how she’d do in a chocolate eating contest (answer: last place). Find more of her Lessons on Leadership articles here or connect with her on LinkedIn here.


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