When Fatigue Comes Knocking…

I just had a great run out on the Long Trail. I pushed hard and was able to be very present for a good amount of the time I was out there.  As I jostle quickly around the car to change my clothes, so I can get back to the office.  I have about an hour.  Not just to get back to the office and get ready for work, but to eat and try to replenish my fluids to offset the inevitable arrival of an uninvited guest.  This guest always seems to leave me questioning whether or not I should do the things that brings him knocking on my mental/physical door.  Who is this uninvited guest you ask?

Fatigue.

You see, I know that for the first hour after I push myself on a run I get to feel that triumphant “YES!” That feeling of being able to conquer the world and do everything that I need to get done for work!  This feeling is brought upon by the wonderful chemical cocktail of hormones that’s released after some good, hard physical training.  And this wonderful feeling lasts roughly an hour.  In this hour I eat and rehydrate as best I can, hoping this will diminish the impact of my fatigue showing up, but it won’t stop fatigue from getting in my muscles, my bones, and more importantly…my head.

He (Fatigue) will be there when I get to the office. I have two hours before needing to see patients, and, as I get my computer out to do work on, say, this blog (really? Sure), Fatigue will stretch out on my treatment table, his little tired and stringy arms behind his head, and start talking in my ear…

Fatigue – Always thought that blue chair you’re sitting in was awfully comfortable.

Me – No, I have to get this blog done before patients –

Fatigue – I just asked Procrastination (another gem; one of Fatigue’s friends) and he said you’d have plenty of time at lunch if you just wanted to nod off for a while…

Me – Well last time I did that, I didn’t get the work done at lunch, and I ended up staying up late to get –

Fatigue (lazily rolling onto his stomach, now talking through the hole in the head-rest on the table) – Have a little faith in yourself, man. Jeez.  A little nap and you’ll be refreshed and ready to go for patients, your coaching–you’ll be all set!

Maybe I’ll go to the library (I’m trying to ditch him, Fatigue that is).  I can’t of course. He is embarrassed to be seen with me in public (or maybe that’s me…).  But even if I can’t close my eyes in the library, Fatigue has lots of friends (Procrastination you met earlier), that can hang out with me while I try to avoid him.  Anxiety, Worry, and Overwhelm… They usually come to the party once the time has passed where I could have been most productive and am scrambling to make things work.  Fear usually comes to my brain and reminds me that if I do the actions that will tire me out, well…all those uncomfortable emotions I just mentioned will come to greet me with Fatigue later on.

The truth is I can’t ditch, out-run, or simply hide from any of my feelings. ALL emotions must have their moment, even the uncomfortable ones. If I have an important talk to give, and have the urge to run 20 miles beforehand, a low-grade fear is helpful in showing me that running AFTER the talk might be the better option.  So, if we don’t want to demonize certain emotions, or repress them deep down in us…there is another option.  A simple little word that may not be able to stop these ‘unwanted emotional guests’ from showing up at our door, but can free us from self-judgement, and allow us to stand behind our actions

Perspective.

Simply put, our perspective is a particular attitude or view we choose to take about something. Something like our emotions.  Like fatigue.

How could a change in your perspective on fatigue empower your actions?

Fatigue is a signal telling you that you’ve made a great effort on your behalf. Now it’s something to welcome rather than avoid. Working with a bit of fatigue or anxiousness becomes a challenge instead of an obstruction.

Fatigue in the gym, in a race, or at your job means you are working hard. Pushing. Stretching your capacity to grow and take on a greater load. When you train your physical body and feel fatigue, you do this most of the time without question. Imagine if you applied that same perspective to your mental work!

Fatigue means improvement is on its way.   Count on it. Those moments where you’re fatigued and still move forward help you grow your ability to trust in yourself. To take in and own the well-earned confidence that comes with pulling yourself up by your mental-emotional bootstraps and moving forward regardless of whether you’re exhausted or not.

I’ve taken out the computer and started working with Fatigue resting comfortably on my treatment table. He’s taking a nap, and to be honest, I’m glad to have his company.  If he wasn’t here, I would be gaining a lot less confidence in myself for getting my head around this work at the moment and coming out with a solid blog.  We’ve all had uncomfortable emotions join up with us when we need to give our greatest efforts.  I would love to hear some of the ways you have tweaked your perspective so as to have your emotions work for you instead of against you.  Please comment below.

One Reply to “When Fatigue Comes Knocking…”

  1. Great blog Lou. I have to say Fatigue is someone I have grown to become more familiar with as I have aged. I use to fight through it and push Fatigue to the side what seems like yesterday, but as you so eloquently put it he gets in my head and reminds of all the benefits of relaxing. The best time is after a stressfully day at work, I find myself sitting on the laptop with my daughter blasting Sponge Bob in the background fading off into a nap (yes, I can sleep with Patrick or Sponge Bob voice in my head ). I think what you have me reliazing is to be conscious of this friend knocking on my door and to push through it to do the things I know I should be doing rather than going to my blue chair.

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