Encouragement for Exhaustion
Have you been feeling tired and weary lately? I don’t mean the kind of tired you get after a late night with only 3 hours of sleep. I mean the kind of tired that just hits you like a ton of bricks in the middle of the day and leaves you feeling as if you just can’t go on. Oh sweet sister I’ve been there. There was a season in my life where everyday at 3pm the wave of exhaustion would overwhelm me. My eyelids felt as if they weighed 1,000 pounds. My legs felt like steel beams that just wouldn’t move on their own. It took every ounce of strength I had left in me to just get through the rest of the day.
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Most of you mamas know that the afternoon is when all the excitement happens. The kids get home from school and are ready to tell you all about their day. They want to play out in the yard or go to library. It’s time to make dinner and do the laundry. Maybe you pack lunches for the next day or iron your husband’s work clothes. Maybe the late afternoon is when you have your Bible study and your exhaustion makes it hard for you to just get out the door. And forget about working out in the afternoon. You’re just too darn exhausted.
If this sounds like you I wish I could hug you right now and surround you in prayer. I wish I could schedule a nap for you while I watch your kids. I wish I could tell you that it will all be ok. And, I know in the end it will. But for today I can offer some hope. I offer this from a place of experience. I can offer options and encouragement as you rise up out of this season and onto a season full of energy and excitement.
I came to the conclusion that there are 3 types of exhaustion; emotional, spiritual and physical. Continue reading as I share how I experienced each type and what I did to overcome them.
I was emotionally exhausted. I had experienced a lot in my life leading up to my season of weariness. Besides my marriage falling apart, one of the biggest emotionally draining life experiences was going through fertility treatments. Struggling to conceive by itself is a monstrous energy sucker. Adding in hormone altering injections and pills every magical number of days made me an unstable emotional rollercoaster. The thing that I never chose to do through it all was to face my feelings. I was really good at hiding them and pretending as if everything were okay.
Most recently I was talking to a good friend who had asked me if I ever grieved my loss. It never occurred to me that it was okay to grieve something so intangible. I realized that grieving is what I needed to do. I needed to grieve the loss of something I had hoped for since I was a little girl. I never allowed myself to truly feel each emotion that went along with the grieving process. I had always felt selfish for feeling the way I did about something that affected only me.
Do you hide emotions like I do? Unfortunately, hiding emotions can drain your energy. It can also cause your stress levels to increase and your blood pressure to rise. It can lead to physiological disturbances in your body that will eventually lead to disease (dis-ease). Our emotional health is so tightly interwoven with our physical health. God designed it that way because I think He knew that we needed a reminder to lean on Him during the tough times.
Tip #1: Face your feelings.
Here’s the process I took to do that.
First, I got a journal and I wrote down this question – “What does infertility feel like.” Then I answered it in detail. I wrote pages and pages of thoughts and emotions and feelings. It made me finally face feelings that I didn’t want to face and feelings I never even knew I had. Some examples of what I wrote: it feels like heartburn, it feels endless, it feels so much that it almost doesn’t feel like anything, it feels like I got the wind knocked out of me, it feels too broken to repair and it feels like failure. I’m sure there has been an experience in your life that has caused you to feel something similar. Have you dealt with it yet, or is it still sucking the energy out of you?
Once I uncovered this mess of emotions, (I liken it to unraveling a ball of tangled up yarn) I realized I needed to do something with it. I took each emotion and sought out scripture to help me understand God’s perspective. And, when I was ready, I turned those emotions over to God and asked Him to not let them control me anymore. Why? Because He truly does understand.
“Lord, you have searched me and known me, You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.” Psalm 139:1-2 HCSB
I was spiritually exhausted, or more like spiritually empty. I spent a lot of time in Bible studies, and speaking with other women only to pretend everything was ok. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my doom and gloom feelings. I didn’t want to talk to my friends who were “real moms” about struggling with the fact that my body couldn’t do what theirs so easily did. I prayed many empty prayers because I felt guilty bringing my feelings to God. I continued to go through all the motions of being a Christian, but I kept God at an arms length.
I spent a long time pretending that I wasn’t mad at God. Being mad at God was never an option for me. But one day I realized that my anger towards God came in the form of withdrawal. I didn’t want to talk to Him about something He wouldn’t give me. So, I retreated into my little corner of the world and marched on like a good Christian soldier. But, marching to the beat of my own drum never got me anywhere except for even more exhausted.
Tip #2: Pray Without Ceasing.
I don’t mean a scripted prayer that needs to be eloquent and inspiring. I mean a down right messy prayer where you cry out to the Lord and bare your soul to Him. A prayer where you put on your boxing gloves, prepare to fight with words and then fall to your knees in acknowledgement that He has already won the battle for you. A prayer that is so raw and real that it forces you to follow with complete silence in anticipation to hear His voice.
“The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9 HCSB
I was physically exhausted too. I think I had the trifecta of exhaustion. Are you with me? I hope not, but the reality is that far too many of you worn out mamas know exactly what I’m talking about.
My body hurt. I could feel the exhaustion in my joints and in my muscles. I couldn’t run as far I used to be able to, any injury seemed to last a lot longer, and I felt sick all the time. I was ALWAYS tired. I would sleep for 8 hours and still feel tired when I woke up in the morning. It was a like a haze of tiredness hanging over my head all day long. Curling up into a ball and taking a nap seemed like the only solution.
Tip #3: Take your vitamins.
(with your doctors permission of course)
I was exercising daily and drinking enough water, my diet was very clean and I was getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep every night if not more. So, I went to see a naturopathic doctor. She had my vitamin D levels checked which ended up being practically non-existent. She suggested that I take several vitamins to help with my energy levels. And, what do you know, it worked like a charm.
Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet or exercise. However, they can help to improve your energy levels if your doctor gives you the ok. Here’s what I ended up taking: Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and a Fish Oil. Vitamin D and B deficiencies are one of the biggest reasons for low energy especially in women. Ask your doctor to check your levels next time you have a physical. Or talk to your doctor about adding a daily D and B12 vitamin into your plan.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29
Being exhausted is not fun, but I truly believe that with help from the Lord and a few changes in your routine you can be feeling back to normal in no time. I do however want to stress the importance of checking in with your primary care physician if your exhaustion keeps you from participating in your normal daily activities. Sometimes exhaustion can be a sign of underlying health problems such as a thyroid issue or adrenal fatigue.
Have you experienced a different type of exhaustion in your life? I’d love to hear what you did to move through your season of exhaustion. Share in the comments below!