Are you one of the millions of workers who come home exhausted at the end of the day? Besides a lack of sleep, poor eating habits and minimal exercise, here are five other ways you may be tiring yourself out unnecessarily.
1. Withholding from your colleagues
The other day when I was with a team one of the participants said he was getting tired. He suggested it was likely because he had slept poorly the night before. I asked if he had any unexpressed thoughts or feelings about what his colleague had been saying. He admitted that he was irritated and was holding judgements he wasn’t saying out loud. I invited him to be authentic and express himself directly to this colleague. Immediately after he said he suddenly wasn’t feeling as tired. It takes a lot of energy to withhold your thoughts, feelings and judgements from others. The physiological requirement and consequence of withholding is a constriction in your breathing, which cuts you off from your most important energy source, oxygen.
2. Working from obligation
One sure-fire way to tire yourself out is to agree to do things you don’t want to, and then to do them from the victim mindset of “I should do this” or “I have to do this.” The next time you agree to perform a task, ask yourself if your yes comes from genuine willingness or from a sense of obligation. The key is to remember that you always have a choice. Many start-up leaders tell us they don't feel like they have a choice when it comes to taking on tasks they don’t want to do. We remind them that they are always free to say no. They may not like the consequences of saying no, but they always have a choice.
3. Not giving yourself enough recovery time each day
It seems counterintuitive to many of us that we could get more done by resting more. But studies reveal that it is in fact the best way to boost productivity. They wanted to know how to get the most from their astronauts during their missions. Rest and naps were key to maximizing productivity. While you may choose not to nap, practices like meditation, listening to music, or taking a brief walk outside can restore your energy and boost your productivity.
4. Suppressing your emotions
Have you ever watched a child who has been told to stop feeling their feelings? The physiological requirement here, as above with withholding thoughts and judgements, is to hold their breath to stop the flow of emotional expression. Adults do the same thing. Throughout your day you may find that you feel sad about an unmet goal or unrealized vision. Or angry as you recognize that the strategy your team is using isn’t serving your bottom line. Or scared as you sit with a difficult decision about letting someone go. If you don’t allow yourself to feel these feelings you’ll notice a desire to wake yourself up with caffeine, sugar or other stimulants.
5. Wanting to control what is out of our control
One sure way to exhaust yourself is investing lots of energy trying to control people, situations and circumstances that are out of your control. Conscious leaders make a distinction between things that are under their control and things that aren’t and they choose to place their attention and energy on things they can control. You can’t control the weather so worrying (a form of trying to control) about whether it will rain during your company’s golf outing is tiring and not useful. Trying to control your boss’s opinion of you (which is out of your control) is exhausting and stressful. What’s directly under your control? Pay attention to that and you’ll have more energy and be less tired.
Next time you notice yourself feeling tired, check to see if you are participating in any of the above behaviors. If you are, experiment with expressing yourself authentically, freeing yourself from obligation, honoring your need for rest, feeling your feelings and letting go of wanting to control what isn’t under your control. It will have a similar effect as any mood altering substance without any side-effects. Cheers to your vitality!