Why am I so exhausted?

Last week I asked my staff team how they were doing. The prevailing feeling was, “Tired.” How about you? How are you doing? How’s your team doing? I’m guessing, “Tired.”

Why is it that everyone is so exhausted right now?

Think back to 2019 with me – not 2020. Remember back to 2019, before anyone thought about a pandemic, all the things that you used to do in a month, in a week, in a day. If you are like me, your schedule was packed. A big event every quarter, if not every month. A big meeting every month, if not every week. A daily shuffle of who is taking which kid where after school on an ongoing basis.

But you know what? I wasn’t this tired. This exhaustion is different. This exhaustion isn’t from the hustle and bustle of regular life.

This exhaustion comes from three sources:

  1. Making decisions.

Consider how many more decisions you must make in this quasi-post-pandemic world. Daily choices like whether or not the people you are around would feel more comfortable with or without masks for this meeting. Bigger choices like whether or not to host a large (and what counts as large now?) gathering. So many more factors must be considered right now, we are faced with a growing number of daily decisions.

When everything requires decisions and nothing is into a normal rhythm, we become exhausted.

2. Starting new rhythms

Once the decisions about what we are going to do are made, there begins another process that is equally exhausting – getting the new rhythm started.

Maybe you are restarting a program that once ran easily in its own rhythm but had to stop for a time during the pandemic. Maybe you are starting a new rhythm that wasn’t even a though before last year. In either case, it takes a lot of energy to start that ball rolling.

In physics terms, it takes more energy to overcome static friction than dynamic friction. That means it will take more energy to begin than to maintain pretty much any system. It’s easier to leave it just sitting there than to get it going. But it has to move, and you have to be the one to move it. As you put in the energy to move your team or your event forward, you might feel exhausted.

3. Grieving

Finally, you may be exhausted because you are grieving. Grief is certainly expected if you have lost a loved one. We expect that people who are grieving the death of a close friend or family member will need some time, space, and healing before they can resume their normal activity and pace. We understand that people grieve in different ways and on different timelines. Some people take longer to grieve than others.

We can also grieve the loss of normalcy, something that most of us have lost in the last year. Yet we haven’t all given ourselves space to grieve its loss. This grief takes the shape of a exhaustion deep in our souls.

The exhaustion of decision-making and of rhythm-starting will fade as new patterns emerge. As you press through the exhaustion, giving your energy to the task, it will get less. The exhaustion of grief make take longer, and you will have to allow yourself the time to grieve so that you can move forward.

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