5 Casualties of your Fatigue
Fatigue is killing you. You run too hard. You sleep too little. You are on edge and something needs to change. If you don't feel this way, feel free to stop reading this post.
The truth is so many people, including myself, feel this way from time to time. I'm currently dancing dangerously close to the line of running too hard right now. Fatigue is not like missing your morning coffee or losing some sleep because of a late night. Fatigue is the result of a convergence of factors that come together in your life, namely high activity level, pressure to perform, limited down time, emotional output and exponential growth in one or more areas of your life. As I reflect back on the last few weeks, I see some things I don't like. I have compiled a quick list of casualties of fatigue that you will experience unless you make some changes soon.
1. Relationship damage
When our stress levels go up, our focus tend to turn toward self. This "me-ward" mentality is ALWAYS destructive to relationships. The high pace of a stressful season of life will cause you to detach from relationships simply because relationships require time and emotional engagement. When you feel fatigued you feel unable to invest in relationships. The result is damage. You are short with your kids. You are distant from your spouse. You are critical of co-workers. The danger here is once relational damage happens, it is very hard to repair. I urge us (myself included) to force-prioritize key relationships. Whatever it takes, give your spouse and kids specifically your best effort, even if other things suffer. Be open about your fatigue and reassure them of your love and ask for grace in this season of stress.
2. Focus is compromised.
Mounting demands in your life can cause such pressure it can be like you have a mid-twentieth century switchboard operator in your head. You feel like dozens if not hundreds of urgent calls are coming in and you are trying to answer them all. Your focus is compromised. The result is the inability to do anything well. What makes matters worse is the fact that you notice that you are not performing anything in excellence which only adds more stress! It's the stay-at-home mom that runs from doing laundry, to making lunches, to cleaning the bathroom, to the PTA meeting, to the mad race to get the kids to all their activities. By the end of the day, you realize that you overlooked important details only to realize that tomorrow is a few short hours away and nothing is ready. Fatigue robs focus and excellence.
3. Disciplines are lost.
There are a handful of disciplines in your life that are life-giving. For me, it is my daily CrossFit, Priority Time and keeping my inbox at or near zero. Fatigue causes me to cut those life-giving practices short and sometimes cut them out altogether. When even one of those disciplines are lost, I slip into survival mode. The truth is, I don't want to simply survive, I want to thrive. Thriving is a result of doing what is best and important not simply what is urgent. Fatigue creates an urgency around things that are far less important. The goal of discipline is to protect against distraction and force behaviors that you predetermine to be best. Fatigue robs that intentionality.
4. Enjoyment Fades.
The ongoing effect of fatigue is the inability to enjoy life. When enjoyment fades, it feels like you are looking at your life through a foggy window. The wear and tear of fatigue makes you numb to those things that ought to bring you joy. You seem to float through your life experiences and instead of being "all there" you mind wanders and you feel the tug to be somewhere else. No one wants to to live without joy. Your family and friends long to see you smile and laugh and relax but fatigue and his close cousin stress are constantly dragging you down and keeping you worked up.
5. Bad solutions.
This is where fatigue ultimately leads. Fatigue causes us to search for solutions to end the madness of life. The problem is, within a state of fatigue we rarely choose the right solution. This is why so many people choose to overeat or drink to excess or even try to sleep away the fatigue. You may have noticed, these kinds of solutions don't work. While you truly may need a good night's sleep; fatigue isn't solved by covering up the reality of your life. Fatigue is solved by bringing the unmanageable parts of your life back under control. You may need the help of a trusted friend to help you sort out the issues and come up with creative solutions. Fatigue steals your creativity. Weak, inferior solutions come from fatigue and they will not work. The real solution requires you to fight through the fatigue, find clarity and make decisions that reclaim your values.
I think a lot about fatigue these days and really am trying to apply these things to my own life and hope you will too.