Why Am I So Tired All The Time?
With 2021 looking like a non-awaited sequel to 2020, there are a few terms describing the mental daze you’re experiencing. The Covid-19 pandemic has induced what health sites label “brain fog”, and the New York Times dubbed it “languishing”. So if you’ve been feeling demotivated, disoriented, or extra “blah” lately, you’re not alone.
Google reported Malaysian searches on mental health increased by 25% in 2020, revealing the mental toll from isolation and fear was felt by many. This led to a spike in anxiety-related symptoms such as insomnia, lethargy, and fatigue.
To add on, the NST revealed how working from home worsened Malaysia’s culture of overwork and sleep deprivation as “WFH” turned into “WWH” – “working without hours”. This caused prolonged periods of sleepless nights, which lower immunity and impair brain functions, affecting memory and decision-making abilities. They also impact your mental health, and are closely linked to depression and anxiety.
Staying in also meant being online 24/7, which only intensified our stress. Between increasing Covid-19 numbers and negative events worldwide, many succumbed to “doomscrolling” – the act of scrolling through an endless stream of bad news, usually right before bedtime.
The Silver Lining
With vaccine rollouts happening this year, there’s definitely a new sense of relief in the air. However, if you’re still fighting the fatigue through the new lockdown orders, here are a few ways to help you refresh your mental state.
1. Take microbreaks every 30 minutes to an hour
Microbreaks are five to ten minute periods of non-work activity. And realistically, you’ve most likely already been doing this in the office. Think about the times you’ve spent chatting with colleagues, browsing the pantry for snacks, or grabbing some coffee: these are all microbreaks.
The great news is they’ve been scientifically proven to increase productivity and improve your mental health. Much like power naps for your mind, they’re opportunities for you to pause and reset, helping you focus once you return.
Apart from standing, stretching, or walking around, you could simply take some extra time to refill your water bottle or make yourself a cup of tea. The key here is to shut your mind off of work for a few minutes and focus on the immediate task at hand.
2. Go on a social media detox
We know, we know. But there’s a good reason this phrase is used so much.
Of course, social media is a big part of our lives, helping us keep in touch with loved ones and more. However, several studies have shown its detrimental effects on your mental health, especially with news being felt more keenly than before.
The nightly “one last scroll” routine can easily turn into a rabbit hole of content, causing displaced sleeping hours and disrupted sleep rhythms from the extended exposure to blue light from your screen.
It’s unrealistic to cut yourself off social media entirely, so try placing unnecessary apps out of your instant viewing range or deactivate those accounts. If possible, delete said apps from your phone.
Alternatively, declutter your feed by muting or unfollowing accounts that affect you negatively. Creating new accounts for different purposes could also help you mentally distinguish personal and professional social media consumption.
3. Don’t lay where you labour
Repeat after us: no work in bed.
Several studies suggest working from bed makes you mentally associate the space with needing to stay alert, causing sleep troubles and fatigue the next day.
To avoid this, set up a designated workspace detached from your bedroom. If this isn’t possible, section your room into “work” and “rest” areas, preferably in opposite corners. You can use shelves, clothing racks, or indoor plants to act as a room divider. For minimal distraction, position your table to face a window or a wall instead.
Your bed should be your sanctuary, so make a habit of making your bed when you wake up. This allows you to begin your day with a fresh, organised state of mind and discourages you from getting back into bed during the day. When turning in for the night, close all work-related channels and activate Do Not Disturb modes on devices for some good old notification-free time.
4. Make going to bed the best part of your day
It’s only natural that a lot of us might be worried and unable to stop thinking about work, even when preparing to go to sleep.
Give yourself an hour of “me time” in bed before settling down for the night. Use this time to practice activities for calming anxiety, such as breathing techniques or meditation. For some, daily gratitude practices and affirmations or journaling might be a way to help them de-stress after a long day.
Finally, make your bed extra comfortable. Fill the surrounding area with plants, candles, your favourite books, diffusers, or nightlights. Make your bed a cosy space you’d be happy to sink into with some pillows, snug blankets and super soft bed sheets. Most importantly, make sure you have a good-quality mattress that’ll help you get the R&R time you deserve.
Just a warning: you might fall asleep before the hour is up.