I have just been exhausted lately. Exhausted for no good reason, either. I mean, it’s okay to be exhausted from working a 12-hour work shift or something like that, but I’m not. I just wake up tired, go to work tired, come home tired, and go to bed slightly less tired (isn’t it stupid how that works?).
Now, there’s a very good chance I’m just tired because I’m so out of shape these days. I went to the doctor yesterday, and while I happily didn’t gain any (more) weight since I’d seen him four months ago, I didn’t lose any, either, and my cholesterol and blood pressure were higher than they’d been in a while. In order to prevent myself having to go on medication four months from now, I need to lose weight. So, I’ve taken a much more serious approach to counting my calories and not eating junk food, rather than just coasting along aimlessly. I’m hoping to lose 25 pounds within four months (when I see my doctor again), and 40 pounds within seven months (the wedding!). I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. It’s only a lack of motivation that’s been stopping me, and since I really don’t want to be on heart and blood pressure meds for the rest of my life, I’ve really felt that motivation come back again.
I’ve been formulating another theory, though, to at least partially explain why I’m always so tired. Even though I have a sedentary desk job, and I know I don’t get enough regular exercise, I never let my brain rest. I’m an introvert by nature, and introverts re-energize from within. We recharge our batteries by spending time alone. Down-time is important to us. When I go too long without just letting myself relax and letting my brain cool off, I start to get tired and sometimes a little cranky. When I have to go to a social event when I’m already feeling tapped-out, I get crotchety, like an old man waiting for soup. My body isn’t really tired, but my brain is just unable to expend any more energy, and it crashes.
Sometimes, even browsing the internet isn’t really downtime, because my brain is still very active. A peaceful photo walk works, though—it’s almost like a form of meditation. There are no outside distractions, there are no instant messages, there’s just me, a camera, and peace. That’s probably why I took to photography so quickly, but also why I’m not very good at people photography.
I’ve found that I can improve my mood and energy level a lot by just laying down in absolute peace and quiet for about 30 minutes. No distractions, just solitude. I try not to think about anything in particular, letting my mind unwind. After a while, I feel refreshed—sometimes more refreshed than after a night’s sleep.
I think I’ve been ignoring my need for downtime for too long. I need to let my brain stop and gather itself sometimes. As a society, I don’t think we pay enough attention to our levels of mental fatigue. We base everything about being “tired” on physical fatigue. I think both types of fatigue are on equal sides of the same coin, and that we can tire ourselves out mentally just as we can tire ourselves out physically. The symptoms of each can be strikingly similar!