Persevere When You’re Exhausted
Nina Herndon
July 11, 2024
July 11, 2024
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. 

If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

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. 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.

This summer has been more stressful than usual and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I do have a working AC which is a plus and also the highlight. I find 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.

Falling into the “it could be worse” mindset is just as unhealthy as falling into the “everything is happening TO me” mindset. Using mindfulness reframes our reality and allows us to 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 move forward 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.

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. Make Peace with Leaving Things Undone

Giving yourself permission to leave things undone is powerful. We all have so many things we think we "should" do. Evaluate your priorities and determine what absolutely has to be done. Then let the rest go or at least put things off. As women, we continually take on more and more and that's usually when we start to lose ourselves.

Leaving things undone can look like:

  • Not returning a call, text or email right away.
  • Leaving the dishes in the sink.
  • Making sandwiches for dinner.
  • Closing your laptop at the end of the day, even when all your work tasks aren’t completed.

5. 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 reluctant to accept help. So often we don't want to lean on our community out of the fear that we'll be a burden. Or we are somehow not as self sufficient as we should be. 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 allowing yourself to slow down and take in the experiences along the way.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Nina Herndon

Nina believes women have an incredible ability to help one another, and is driven to cultivate safe spaces for them to do so. Over the years she has helped her mom to grow Retreat in the Pines to reach as many women as possible.

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