Let me start this off by saying as I am writing this I am shattered, the dry eye kind; I’m the kind of tired that comes with overtime at work and not going to bed early enough. I wanted to mentioned that because there are multiple kinds of tired and luckily we have plenty of words to explain the level of tiredness we feel; sleepy, shattered, knackered etc.. but I wanted to talk about a different kind of tired that comes with anxiety and you may not even realise what is causing it.
To put it simply… imagine you do the exact same thing every day for a week. You get up and go to bed at the same time, your diet is the same; basically living in Ferris Buellers day off. In one of those days, you experience anxiety. You don’t know why or what caused it but its there. That will be the day you’ll feel like you need a nap.
We don’t often think of our emotions having a physical hold over our bodies. We know when we are sad we cry and when we are happy we smile but we don’t think “I’ve been anxious today, that must be why I’m so tired” instead we rack our brain thinking “well I didn’t get as much sleep last night” or “Maybe I ate too many carbs and I feel heavy?”
When you suffer from anxiety every day it becomes part of your routine to nap, fall asleep early or feel drained and you start thinking its normal to do that. (Let me just stress napping is amazing and very good for you to recharge your batteries) but napping because you are physically exhausted every day is a sign something is amiss.
How can anxiety make me tired?
So.. I often explain this theory by imagining a duck treading water. On the surface, you see the duck stationary or leisurely gliding along, but underneath their little feet are working away tirelessly. This is the same as what happens with anxiety.
We try so hard to remain calm and collected on the outside, our body and brain have to work twice as hard to represent us in that manner. Calm and collected. Our bodies are processing the feelings and in turn, making us very tired. Say we go to the shops and it takes 1 hour, that’s an hour of being in fight or flight mode. Your body has been in this life or death response for an entire hour, that’s knackering! If you have to go through that several times a day, you will be tired!
When I was studying at university (this was when my anxiety was at its worst). I would often get so worn out by attending one class in the morning that by the time I got home I would sleep most of the afternoon! In fact, my roommate once asked me if I’d gone home for the week as she hadn’t seen me; I was just asleep! Anxiety can be very lonely and isolating at the best of times but you find yourself keeping yourself away from others unintentionally as well, just through dealing with the repercussions of it.
Don’t fight it!
Sleeping, eating and drinking. These are things that our body will tell us we need. Regardless of the cause, if you are experiencing tiredness your body will tell you and you will need that time to recharge.
Tiredness in itself regardless of the cause is not good for the body and brain. We tend to be more confused, find it difficult to process thoughts, become forgetful and just generally not motivated. Until you have worked through your anxiety and processed your triggers you can’t expect to keep yourself going on “low-battery mode”. You may find yourself not only experiencing the symptoms of anxiety such as sweating, fear, raised heart rate but also more symptoms from just sheer exhaustion.
So if you need a nap, take one. Just take that time to calm your body way down.
Others may not understand. I have lived most of my life being made a joke of because of the amount I sleep, and now I have stopped fighting it. I’m not about the explain the fight or flight response and I won’t be explaining the duck metaphor either. I do what my body needs me to do to be the best version of myself on that day.
You can only do what you can manage in that day. Don’t push yourself to be more because that’s what others think is best. Be you and do what you can.