How Tired Are You, Really? 3 ways to know

Recruits performing pushups as part of physica...


On any given day of the week the alarm goes off.  The alarm is either my phone or my kids.  The first thought that floats on the cloudy surface of my mind is, “I’m so tired.  I need a break”.  I haven’t even started.  Yet I need a break already?

I go to the gym three days of the week.  It’s a group workout.  I sign-up in advance.   I groan when the alarm goes off.  Then I roll out of bed.  I have to be somewhere.  Class starts at 6am.  After my first set, I’m fired up.  I get through my workout with enthusiasm.  I push myself to finish sets strongly.  I enjoy the challenge.

The weekend hits.  On Saturdays and Sundays we put the girls down for a nap around 1:30pm.  Invariably, after we put them down, I want to lay down.  “I’m tired”, I tell myself.   I’d take a nap and wake up feeling just as drained (or worse) than when I went to sleep.  This isn’t working.  Maybe, I’m not tired.  Maybe it’s something else.

There’s a difference between flagging energy and being tired.  When I feel tired it usually means I’m bored and under-stimulated.  I either need to exercise (Physical), write/work (Mental), talk to someone (Social), etc.

Years ago I worked in a building that had 5 story stairways.  I’d start to fade into my afternoon funk around 2 or 3.  I made it a habit of running the stairs when I started to fade.  I got to where I was running 30 flights of stairs.  Yes, I’d sweat like a mule.  I was winded for 5-10 min afterward.  But I was awake and ready to take on the rest of the day.

Years before that I’d go for a jog when I got home from work.  After jogging a few miles, it was like I had a second day.  I was reinvigorated and clear in my mind.  I was less likely to consume crap … food, TV, Internet, etc.

It’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking we’re tired.  Here are 3 simple things to try to find out if it’s true:

1- Exercise – This isn’t about running 10 miles.  Do 3 sets of an exercise — push-ups, jumping jacks, air squats or all of them… if you can only do 2 push-ups, start there.  If you can do 50, do that.  Do what you CAN do.  Don’t worry about what you can’t.  Get your heart rate up for 2-5 minutes.  You might find yourself with more energy and focus after just a couple of minutes.

2- Call a friend (or stop by) – Yes, actually talk to them or see them face to face.  I know it’s a revolutionary idea.  But real interaction might be healthier than texting, tweeting or liking.   It doesn’t have to take much time.  Tell them you only have 5 minutes and wanted to say hello.  You might find yourself with more friends, better opportunities and a sense of rejuvenated connection.

3- Unplug – Read (on paper), take a quiet walk around the block, meditate (if you know how – I don’t), pray … stop taking in electronic stimuli.  Exit the hyperlinked world.  And get grounded for a few minutes.

Better yet, build these things into your day.   At 5 minutes each, it’s a total of 15 minutes.  I know that you piss away more than 15 minutes a day with over thinking emails, writing comments on Facebook, watching TV, messing with PowerPoint decks or reading Glamour or Maxim.

Don’t know where to start … try this.
  • Do the exercise right after you wake up or get out of the shower.
  • Take 5-10 minutes of quiet before walking into work
  • Be social as you’re leaving work for the day

Do this for a few weeks.  You might find you’re not really tired.  You might find you’re really energized.


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