"Why Am I So Tired?" - the 4 Types of Energy
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
At least three different places in one evening this week, I read statements about people being tired, overworked, and "so busy". It was also a theme in meeting with clients. Earlier this week, I was feeling a bit worn out myself (which is why this blog was not updated). Have you been feeling tired also?
Why are we all nearing exhaustion seemingly?
Most of the time when we talk about being tired, we believe it is a result of physical fatigue. There are four types of energy that interact; how we use and restore each can impact if we feel exhausted or energized.
is the base for each of us. Think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (if you can remember your Intro to Psyc class); if you do not have enough to eat, you are not going to be concerned with learning algebra, you are going to be focused on food. In the same way, when we are intellectually overworked, we can recover by either using or increasing physical energy - both sleep and exercise can renew us mentally. Healthy foods
, proper hydration, adequate oxygen, sufficient rest (8-10 hours per night for adults), and regular exercise all help maintain (and grow) our physical energy reserves.
includes experiencing your own emotions, maintaing your emotions, and interpersonal interactions. While extroverts generally feel renewed by being around other people, introverts often feel drained by interactions with anyone but their closest confidants. Listening to a favorite song can be renewing, but so can letting it out by crying through a sappy movie. In general the best ways to increase emotional energy are surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you as you are and experiencing things that are personally meaningful (favorite artwork, music, sounds, activities, etc.). Too many people forget to monitor their emotional energy, understand what drains them, or process through emotions
so they can move on; but, I guess this is why they call me
to guide them through it.
is everything from calculus to your list of daily tasks. Keeping track of things requires intellectual or mental energy. Most people use intellectual energy in their jobs, while some (like therapists) also use emotional energy and others (like professional athletes) also use physical energy. When you have drained mental energy, you may notice that you are thinking more slowly or making more mistakes. You can renew intellectual energy simply by switching gears for awhile or doing something that requires less intellectual energy (exercise
and cleaning house are excellent choices). You can increase your intellectual energy (research suggests this can even delay the mental decline that comes with age) by using your brain in a variety of areas, learning new things, and completing cognitive challenges, even something as simple as Words with Friends.
is sometimes called spiritual energy. It can include religion, but does not for all people. I prefer the term existential because personal meaning and motivation play a role in my therapeutic theory
. Existential energy is about those things that give your life meaning, becoming a better person, and those things about which you are passionate. Too many people do not pay enough attention to existential pursuits and passions that energize them.
Fatigue is a signal that you are low on energy; however, it does not always mean that you need more sleep. It may mean that your energy reserves emotionally, intellectually, or existentially need to be renewed. In what area do you need to increase your energy reserves?
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