Jun 022016 4 Responses

Finding Rest When You Feel Exhausted

Exhaustion is never the reason people make the appointment. I don’t remember a single person ever calling and saying, “I need to make an appointment because I’m exhausted.” Yet it’s one of the most common things I hear on a daily basis. As we talk about whatever issue that has convinced the person to come see me, they eventually say, “I’m just so tired.”

Sometimes they feel ashamed because of it.

Other times they think no one else has ever felt it.

But always they assume there is little they can do about it.

They assume wrong. Exhaustion is one of the the body’s great megaphones announcing that something is wrong. Life is out of balance. When experienced in a season, it can be viewed as a normal part of life. But when it continues beyond a normal time frame, questions should be asked.

Outside of a medical issue, there are four main sources of exhaustion. Many times, these issues intertwine. Yet to consider them individually is a useful process. When these four issues are in proper balance, exhaustion is rarely a regular experience. (See: Work and Rest)

4 Sources of Exhaustion

1. Relationships. The most overlooked cause of exhaustion are broken relationships. We fail to realize the connection between relationships and energy. When relationships are fractured or end, the brokenness takes a deep toll on our emotions.

Doubt this?

  • Ask someone who is going through a divorce if they are tired.
  • Talk to a person who is experiencing a deep time of grief.
  • Consider how you feel when you have disappointed someone.

Broken relationships lead to exhaustion. Sometimes the cause is very easy to understand–a child moves off to college, a colleague leaves the company, or a friendship is fractured. But at other times the weariness is more subtle. If we slowly lose connection with people we can end up tired and not even realize it’s because we don’t have enough positive relationships in our lives to replenish us.

Healthy relationships are rejuvenating. Without them, we will be exhausted. If you are continually tired, look at your relationships:

  • Is an important relationship fractured?
  • Do you lack an appropriate amount of key friendships?
  • Are you grieving the loss of someone close to you?

2. Exercise. My farmer/mechanic father-in-law used to say a gym was a place for people who don’t have real jobs to go and do work. Of course he was kidding…kind of. For someone who makes a living by their physical labor, a lack of exercise may not be the cause of their exhaustion. However, many in our society have brains which are over-taxed and bodies which desperately need to move.

Our bodies were created to be physically active. For centuries past, we got this exercise as we tried to live–by building shelter, gathering food, and walking everywhere. In today’s society, we have to create ways to move our bodies after our normal work is done.

Exercise is probably the cheapest, easiest, and most effective plan to attack feelings of exhaustion. If we will regularly move our bodies, we will feel more rested, relaxed, and clear-minded. Strangely, the less we want to exercise, the more benefit we will likely get from it.

3. Sleep. The human body has to sleep. It’s not negotiable. When we fail to prioritize sleep, the result is exhaustion. It’s amazing how a good night’s sleep can transform a person’s perspective. Yet we live in a time in which there is a war on sleep. Technology hinders it. Society frowns upon it. And many small choices sabotage our ability to sleep. (See: Weariness as a Symptom of Wrongness)

As a parent, one of my main responsibilities is to ensure my children are getting enough sleep. While I know it’s important for them, I often ignore it’s importance in my own life. The result is a continual tiredness.

In our day, many people have traded screen time for sleep. Instead of truly getting rest, we are vegging in front of a screen–TV, computer, or phone–and assuming the lack of activity is restful. It isn’t. Screen-time is a waste of time in regards to rest. It makes us think we are resting, while it continues to drain us even more.

If we would prioritize sleep, we would experience a tremendous benefit.

4. Truth. The lies we believe exhaust us. Jesus said the “truth will set you free.” If that’s the case, then lies bind us. A byproduct of the shackles of lies is exhaustion. (See: Find the Lie, Name the Truth)

Consider how tiring these lies are:

  • If I can earn enough money, I’ll be happy.
  • If I can gain enough power, I’ll be somebody.
  • My worthiness is found in what other people think of me.
  • I have to do everything, because no one else can do it right.

The problem with the lies we believe is that they motivate us toward the wrong actions. The lies become like a treadmill–we are exerting a tremendous amount of energy but aren’t moving forward. The work tires us and the lack of improvement disappoints us. The result is being exhausted with little understanding of why.

We should regularly consider what lies we are believing and confront those falsehoods with the truth.

Exhaustion is unavoidable. Everyone will experience times of great weariness. However, when we experience an extended season of tiredness, we should investigate its cause. More often than not, we can do something about it. By considering these four causes of exhaustion, we can find the likely sources of our tiredness, make changes, and find rest.

4 Responses to Finding Rest When You Feel Exhausted
  1. Clint Van Zee Reply

    This strikes a chord with me. For years i have felt the depletion described here. Very much appreciated.

  2. MelissaB Reply

    How timely this column is in our home right now.(!) Thank you, Kevin.

  3. PamelaBibbs Reply

    This is all very true. I also think that food/drink should be included in the list. When we fill our bodies with fats and sugars, we deny it the necessary energy for our bodies to function the way they should.

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