Learning From Fatigue
Walking down the hallway of campus can be an onslaught of greeting, “How are you doing?” “How are you feeling?” “How was your weekend?” I was never a great flippant responder. My normal response is “OK,” which often results in a confusing response like, “Oh. Is everything OK?” Which, I just said I was OK, and now puts me in an awkward place of having to decide if I want to go deeper into how I really feel, when all I wanted to do was divert the question in the first place.
When I come to this point of exhaustion with a question, the deeper truth clearly is that I actually AM exhausted. My social, emotional, spiritual and physical energy is drained yet it often takes me too long to figure this out. This is why I think it is important to learn from fatigue.
I think we begin to break down when our output of energy starts taking over our input of rest. This is a very common problem in college obviously. Energy is needed for school, relationships, church, work, extra-curricular activities and the list of course goes on. On top of this, often unforeseen circumstances of brokenness or suffering of some sort are thrown in and then it hits; fatigue. The ability to concentrate slips, memory begins to fail, it becomes hard to think logically and reason and it can even have an effect on blood pressure. Thank goodness God has built into us the amazing ability to be able to recover.
To learn from fatigue we need to recognize the signs of our selves breaking down, and then learn how to combat fatigue with rest. Rest is not just sleep, rest also includes putting down all electronic devices and creating space to do nothing. Here are some ideas of how to combat and learn from fatigue:
1. Prepare for it! If you recognize that your week is going to be swamped, instead of wallowing in the despair of busyness, plan your week out so you can have time to tackle everything that is required of you.
2. Take a walk. Nature has its own powerful way of rejuvenating us. Notice the colors around you, the changing of seasons and the sounds of wildlife (if you can get past the hum of 94J)
3. Eat well. When we are fatigued it’s so easy to do the quick thing when it comes to food, but your body needs nutrients to give it the energy you need to recover so eat your fruits and veggies.
4. Be optimistic! As a realist I struggle with this one. Being pessimistic drains us, so try to find the challenge in your week and face it with hope instead of despair.
5. Learn to say “no.” When you are at a point of fatigue the truth is something needs to give, so buck up and learn to carve time for yourself by saying no to the thing that is least required of you. This is a lifelong skill that is good to practice even now in college.
6. Play dead. Take 10 minutes out of your day to lay on your back in bed, in the park or on the floor and practice the art of “being still and knowing that God is God.”