A Ritual to Reclaim Dinner
Rather than thinking of dinnertime as a chore, create nightly dinner rituals to connect more ...
Fatigue is the experience of tiredness, which is reasonable enough when we’ve been busy or not getting enough sleep. But sometimes, fatigue takes over. We feel so tired, even after a full night of sleep. We can’t seem to get our energy up to do anything, and sometimes—even worse—we can’t sleep when we want or need to. When we’re going through a period of fatigue, it’s a good idea to check in with your health practitioner (to check for things like iron deficiency). But what’s the spiritual meaning of fatigue?
One reason we might be going through a period of fatigue is because we’re recovering from something. Maybe we had a traumatic experience, a major loss, or a big life change—even a positive life change. Our systems need time to adjust to the new reality and possibly to get over whatever has happened. Our culture is very focused on productivity and “moving on” as quickly as possible, but our bodies don’t work like that.
Grief, specifically, can present as exhaustion. Grief needs us to slow down and experience it. Our immune systems are also somewhat suppressed when we’re grieving, so we need more rest than usual. If you’ve had a big life change in the last year (or longer, but you haven’t had a chance to process it), lean into the exhaustion and rest as much as you can.
When we are fatigued, it can be hard to access motivation, joy, or even pleasure. There can be a fine line between fatigue and depression, as excess tiredness can be a major symptom of depression. Sometimes depression is caused by an emotional block: a fear or inability to feel and process emotions due to some internal adaptation, often from many years ago.
It takes a lot more energy to avoid feeling our emotions than to feel them. Further, when we block any emotion, we block all emotions, so if we’re not feeling our sadness or anger, we’re also not feeling joy, excitement, passion, or anything else.
Even if you discover that part of your fatigue is related to low iron, this still indicates that your blood has lost some of its strength and vigor. The life force that flows through you has become slow and anemic. Taking an iron supplement can often make all the difference, but it might also be worth looking at how you’ve been taking care of yourself and why your iron stores have gotten so low in the first place.
If this resonates for you, check in to see if you need some recovery time. You may need to work with a counselor or healer to help shift any emotional blocks. Allow yourself to feel grief and anger, and then start focusing on including more pleasure and joy in your life.
Sometimes we’re tired all the time and we can’t make sense of it, because we sleep plenty at night. But this is often in line with a pattern in which we feel stressed all day long, on high alert, easily startled or triggered, and then when we sleep at night, we are simply “passing out” from exhaustion. This can give our body the minimum of what it needs for sleep, but exhausted unconsciousness isn’t the same as deep, restorative sleep (especially if we spend all night in nightmares).
If this is the case, your nervous system is out of balance—too activated to allow you to get the deep rest you need at night. To help reset your nervous system, you need to attend to the body and the physical experience of your day to day. For many people, this pattern often comes along with a history of trauma, so you may also want to do some practices to help release the trauma, such as EMDR therapy.
There are many other practices you can do to help your nervous system rebalance, such as eating nourishing food on a regular schedule, practicing restorative yoga or deep breathing, and spending time outside. The key, however, is doing things that help you feel a little calmer and doing them regularly, ideally every day, to begin to reprogram your nervous system’s patterns.
Caretaker syndrome (or caregiver stress) means we are spending so much time taking care of other people that our own needs and desires get pushed to the bottom of the list. Sometimes this is all about circumstances: New parents or people who are responsible for their aging parents or another family member are caretakers by default.
You may also be in a caretaking profession, such as teaching, nursing, massage therapy, counseling, and so on. Some of us naturally have caretaking personalities and do well in these kinds of roles. However, sometimes we do these things because we have some built-in ideas about how our own self-worth is tied to being needed, people-pleasing, and being the one who “holds it all together” for everyone else.
If this resonates with you, your fatigue might be trying to tell you that your needs are getting sacrificed to everyone else’s. You may need to look at your situation and see if, for example, you can get more help. You may also need to look at your boundaries and any internal beliefs that prevent you from standing up for those boundaries.
Whatever the reason, your fatigue is trying to tell you something. You may simply need to lean into it—we have seasons where we simply need more rest (including the literal winter season). If it’s holding on for a longer time, we may need to look at internal structures and beliefs that are preventing us from accessing our vitality.
Explore the spiritual meaning of autoimmune diseases.
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