Is that you? I’m imagining you are dragging your feet as you finally take yourself to bed. Dog-tired, that feeling of weariness when the day has become just too much and all you can think about is a soft pillow, your hot water bottle and laying horizontal.
What kind of tired are you today?
Sometimes I am toddler tired! Sundays – when I have been running about all day. Literally running – perhaps it started with a headland walk from Narrabeen Ocean pool to Warriewood Beach café for breakfast and walking back again. Later packing some snacks and heading up to West Head to do one of the coastal bush tracks, and then a dash of domestic errands in the shopping centre, cooking up a family meal, and cleaning the house as I go. After dinner when it’s all over and I fall into bed – I sink into sleep as my head hits the pillow with a satisfied healthy weariness – toddler-tired: happy, healthy and content. Life is good.
What about those times when your stress levels are palpable? Blood is pumping too quickly; you can feel anxiety in your veins and intrusive, almost loud, heartbeats in your chest. Knots are tightening up inside the belly, and those neck muscles are aching in troublesome spots again. Concentration is scatty, forgetful and distracted. Little irritations are on the increase and you crankily carry an insatiable tiredness around like a leaden coat. Life is hard.
Eyes scanning the room for a comfortable seat. Legs feel weary. Eyelids keep trying heavily to close, seeking rest at every chance. An afternoon nap so longed for results in joyless overthinking tiredness that lingers all evening. This is emotional exhaustion. If this goes on for too long then help may be needed to get you back to your old self.
Why so tired? There are so many reasons why you might be tired: fatigue, drowsiness, exhaustion, weakness, anxiety, anemia, depression, sleep apnea, sleep disorder, stress, sleep disturbance, sleeplessness, insomnia, yawning excessively, grief, dream disturbance, nightmares (unresolved trauma). The list of causes for excessive tiredness is huge and the first things to consider are medical indications. Sometimes your GP might find a plausible medical reason for your exhaustion. If there is no medical issue then we can have a look at emotional issues.
Stress is a big sleep preventer. Start by trying to understand your stress. Where it is coming from and what you can do to relieve it? What have you done in the past to bring calm into your life? Recalling what helped before is going to be a good starting point. Sleep hygiene – a bedtime routine – the things that we do to get a good nights sleep – can be overlooked in adulthood. Parents offering small children a routine or ritualized bedtime report higher success rates with the child’s sleep patterns and general well being. It is the same for adults, when we create a bedtime ritual, sleep onset – getting off to sleep – is improved.
A typical healthy adult bedtime ritual could be: 8.30pm screens all off – TV computers, phones; quiet reading on the couch, peaceful music, candles or soft lights, gentle essential oils in diffuser in bedroom. 9.30pm warm soothing shower, hot water bottle, with relaxing music or silence. 9.45 mediation or relaxation session in bed, gentle reading – poetry, fiction, (not news or media related or academic). 10.15/10.30 sleep time. Stressed people need more sleep, aim for 8 hours. I have written an article 43 Easy Tips For A Refreshing Nights Sleep drop me an email and I’ll send you a copy firstname.lastname@example.org
When might counselling be useful?
If you understand that you are tired but you cannot get to sleep or stay asleep at night. Perhaps you have recurring dreams, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, sadness, and nagging grief then it may be that there are some issues, perhaps traumatic or involving loss.
Therapists step in where cultures fail – sometimes there is no cultural way of acknowledging the loss and this creates an internal struggle. When there is a significant loss, retaining the memories becomes important hence the memorial/ obituary/ eulogy. When these rituals do not occur sometimes we yearn to find ways to keep the memories going “…we feel a need to add water to maintain their volume”. Grief therapy can help people find a way of creating meaning from the loss and enriching the stories and memories of the loved one or what has been lost.
What we know about working with adults surviving traumas is that memories are often blocked or supressed and at some stage in life there is an urge to process them. However sometimes processing the memories is unhelpful as it causes re-triggering, dissociation, nightmares, intrusive thoughts. It is important that safety is established, the client is provided with options (maintaining their control), and they learn to put the brakes on, by developing containment, and grounding practices before any traumatic content can be accessed. Techniques used ensure the client can become body focussed, redirecting energy from their thoughts to their feelings thus allowing their thoughts to slow down as they become fully present.
Please get in touch, I’m always happy to speak with people and hear what’s happening in your life before scheduling a session.
Contact me to book a time for a free 10-minute phone consultation or to arrange a counselling session. Any questions are welcome.
Jane Macnaught 0425 152 490