Feeling tired? 5 reasons why we’re so exhausted right now

If you’re feeling unusually tired at the moment, no matter how much sleep you’re getting, you’re not on your own. Ask a friend or colleague how they are feeling and no doubt a vast majority will say they are tired.

Image of a young woman sitting in an arm chair

We often put tiredness down to a specific reason; you stayed up later than you should have last night, perhaps drank a little too much and it disrupted your sleep. Maybe you have noisy neighbours keeping you up. But you don’t need these typical reasons for tiredness to be feeling downright exhausted at the moment. The world we knew has been turned upside down, and you might not realise it, but it’s likely had an impact on your well-being – and energy levels.

So, why are we so tired? Emma Bulbeck, nutritional advisor at Bio-Kult, explains why we’re feeling this way.

1. Lack of routine and extra demands

At first, the isolation period may have bought relief, the instant halt to our crazy non-stop lifestyles would have been welcomed by many. A real novelty at first to not have to set the alarm so early, rush out the door and be stuck in traffic.

However, they say humans are creatures of habit, and we all know the importance of routine and structure, even from an early age. Some may adjust better than others, but on the whole, this change in routine may bring about unexpected exhaustion.

This may be because a lack of routine tends to affect the whole structure of our lives. For example, maybe you cycled to work every day, and this was your only form of exercise, without this daily exercise, you may be feeling lethargic. Or perhaps you would walk every day on your lunch break, and now you are at home looking after your kids without the luxury of a daily walk.

Maybe you have had to adjust your working hours to accommodate your family members. You might be working later in the evenings, so your sleeping patterns have gone out of the window. Maybe life is just altogether more chaotic at home than it ever was at work. It’s OK to admit that.

While challenging, with careful planning and consideration, you may be able to tweak your new routine in a way that still supports your exercise, sleeping patterns and mental well-being. Give yourself some quiet time alone just for you. Where extra demands may be unavoidable, remind yourself this is not forever, and you are doing the best you can.

2. Stress, worry and anxiety

It’s easy to downplay your emotions and shut them off as we are busy and not ready to process them. However, this may be adding to your feelings of exhaustion. Go easy on yourself. Accept that these unprecedented times do and will bring challenges and various emotions.

The next time you feel fearful about the future, financial difficulties or managing childcare, remind yourself that these are all very real issues to be facing. How would you treat and respond to a friend in the same scenario? Be kind to yourself, acknowledging and validating your emotions. It is very tiresome to fight your feelings and constantly beat yourself up for feeling a certain way. Draw on the support of those around you, how can they help? They say a problem shared is a problem halved. So, share how you are feeling; it might make you feel fantastic to offload.

But we must remember that not one of us has lived through a pandemic in our lifetimes, and re-entry is inevitable, but it can be at your own pace.

– Beverley Hills, How to manage anxiety over returning to ‘the new normal’

3. Lack of hope and/or positivity

The current crisis brings with it daily fear and uncertainty, along with doom and gloom, which is bound to drain mental and physical energy. This is where practices such as yoga, mindfulness and journaling can become wonderful tools, as they help you to search for positivity, hope and strength in yourself, so the external noise is something you can avoid and tune into only if you wish.

Or what about keeping a gratitude journal, where you write daily a few things you are grateful for? This is another valuable tool at this time. Lots of people say this is difficult at first, but once you get into it, you realise all the things you have to be grateful for and that it is the little things that count.

4. Change in diet

You may feel that your diet has improved over the isolation period. This could be due to having more time on your hands. Or perhaps the temporary cease in your daily 4 pm tea and cake break has spurred you into making better food choices.

On the other hand, you might be incredibly short for time, financially worse off and not able to get to your usual supermarket and having to rely on someone else for your shopping. This change in diet may well be a contributing factor to lower energy levels. If this is the case, try and build your daily diet around food groups, as opposed to obsessing with recipes or what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

Image of a couple cooking together in a kitchen

For example, have a good quality protein with each meal, this could be meat, fish, eggs, nuts, beans and pulses. Get some fats into your diets such as avocado, olive oil, walnuts, salmon or sardines, and complex carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables, brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.

Finally, the bulk of your meals should be vegetables, and perhaps having fruit as your snacks throughout the day. Don’t let food be another form of stress; do what you can.

To make sure you get the most of your diet, why not try taking a multi-strain live bacteria supplement, such as Bio-Kult Boosted (RRP £24.98), containing 14 different strains with the added benefit of vitamin B12.

You are what you eat is only partially true. You are, in fact, what you absorb. Nutrients from our food can only be absorbed in a healthy gut with a well-functioning digestive system. Live bacteria supplements help to restore gut health and therefore not only help with digestion but may help us to assimilate nutrients.1

To learn more about the benefits of supplements and the impact of a healthy digestive system, please speak with a qualified nutrition professional. 

5. You’re doing too much and overcompensating

We live in a society that tells us that if we are not exhausted and using every moment of free time to tick off tasks on our to-do list, we are wasting valuable time. We believe that we need to be productive at all costs. Meanwhile, downtime is considered low value. But this downtime could be as simple as resting, reading a book, walking, calling a friend, sleeping in, watching TV. Is this so bad?

If we indulged in self-care a little more, and really take the time to rest, we will probably have more of a desire to do all of the things. But let’s be honest; life is too short to spend the isolation period doing chores. So allow yourself to rest and not feel bad about it. It might just do wonders for your energy levels.

1 Krajmalnik-Brown R, Ilhan ZE, Kang DW, DiBaise JK. Effects of gut microbes on nutrient absorption and energy regulation. Nutr. Clin. Pract. 2012; 27: 201–14.

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Written by Emma Bulbeck
Emma Bulbeck (DipCNM, BANT, CNHC) is a Nutritional Advisor at Bio-Kult.
Written by Emma Bulbeck
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