How to Persevere When You’re Exhausted
By
Nina Herndon
On
August 9, 2022
August 22, 2022
IN
-
Self Care

Are you tired? I’m exhausted. Regardless of our day-to-day circumstances, I think a lot of us are feeling burnt out – and if nothing else the heat wave is exhausting in itself. No matter what the light at the end of your tunnel is – cooler weather, kids going back to school, finishing that big project, etc. – relief not only feels eons away but the thought of what comes after is probably something you’re already stressing about. 

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~Teddy Roosevelt

Is it Possible to Persevere When We’re Exhausted?

Regardless of what is making you feel exhausted, it’s important to stop comparing your struggles to those around you. Comparing our exhaustion is a waste of time – it’s just not the same person to person. Brené Brown calls it “comparative suffering” (she has a great podcast on it) and not only does it not relieve the suffering from someone who “has it worse” than you, but we also tend to believe our feelings aren’t valid since our pain “isn’t as bad” as someone else’s – a dangerous trap to fall into.

As someone who has enjoyed a summer full of trips, a job I enjoy, and working AC it’s easy to slip into guilt for feeling exhausted “for no good reason” and I beat myself up for feeling like I need a break. On the other hand, I experienced sudden loss between death in my wife’s family and having to put down my first dog, which makes it easy to slip into a depression and want to stay in bed all day.

Falling into the “it could be worse” mindset is just as unhealthy as falling into the “everything is happening TO me” mindset. Using mindfulness to reframe our reality and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel how we feel. It is not ok to compare our exhaustion and stress levels to those around us.

How Do We Change the Way We See Perseverance?

When I think about perseverance my mind paints a picture of a marathon runner, struggling to finish those last few miles, and shuffling along – something that would be literal torture for me. I’m not a runner, I’m not a strong finisher, and I’ve been known to join a 5K at the finish line just to enjoy the tacos and beer. The point is, I tend to view perseverance as a struggle that I shouldn’t even attempt in the first place. This outlook, combined with my exhaustion, the never-ending heat, and my own personal struggles, makes persevering feel impossible. 

Isn’t persevering simply continuing despite difficulties? Sure you can imply that means “without stopping,” but why? What would happen if you told yourself that you could take a break and rest in the midst of continuing on? By reframing our mindset around perseverance it becomes more doable. Instead of being exhausted and feeling like we’re going to have to endure the exhaustion to finish, we can start to view persevering as something we can achieve – with time for rest and without the struggle. 

4 Ways To Persevere & Keep Going, Without Giving Up

1. Take Time to Rest

Rest and sleep are often the first to go when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. There’s always something else to do – whether it’s around your house or at work – and it usually isn’t something life-changing. Sleep and rest, on the other hand, are crucial to our physical and mental wellbeing but we usually don’t put much effort into building healthy sleep and rest habits. Discover the energy to persevere when you get plenty of sleep.

2. Press Pause

While pausing may seem counterintuitive to persevering, remember we’re reframing how we think about moving forward despite difficulties. Shit happens in the middle of life, at the most inopportune times. When we press pause, we’re allowing ourselves to be fully present in the moment that we’re actually in, not the moment we think we should be in. If you’re having a hard day, give yourself permission to pause: close your laptop, reschedule your meeting, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself – feel your emotions, take a walk, call a friend, write a gratitude list, breathe. 

3. Start Small

Starting small allows us to make forward progress without all the pressure. As someone with a mindset that defaults to all or nothing, I have to be intentional about not getting ahead of myself. The advice from Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” has proven to be quite helpful. 

If you’ve found yourself persevering through a marathon and worried about how far you still have to go before the finish line, stop running and walk. If you’re worried about people on the sidelines judging you, remember you’re the one in the race – not them. A marathon is exactly like your life - it's easy to start worrying about how far you still have to go and what people watching will think. But who cares? It’s your life and you’re the one running it.

4. Lean on Your Community

This is HARD for me. I'd rather run on empty with no sleep before I even think about the possibility of leaning on anyone around me. But have you ever noticed how it feels when you have the opportunity to help someone you see struggling? It feels amazing.

I saw a friend this weekend that has been having a hard couple of months and I finally had an opportunity to help them out a little. Just like me, they were extremely reluctant to accepting help. So often we don't want to lean on our community out of the fear that we'll be a burden or what that says about our self-sufficiency, yet when helping a friend we feel grateful to have the opportunity to help. Step out of your comfort zone and lean on those you love.

A Life-Changing Perspective

The days are long but life is short. Focus on the things that truly matter to you, and you’ll find that persevering is less about how hard you push yourself, and more about the experiences along the way.

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