Tired of being tired? 7 types of fatigue and how to overcome them

We all experience periods of excessive tiredness, with low energy levels and low mood. With the advent of spring, such feelings may even be more frequent and pronounced. This is typically known as spring fatigue or spring lethargy. It sounds counter-intuitive as the day is getting longer and temperatures warmer, but the changing of the season can take a toll on our body’s rhythm to adjust to the new season.  So now is the perfect time to talk about fatigue… 

The fact is we instinctively associate low energy with physical fatigue and lack of sleep but physical tiredness is only one of several types of fatigues. We may think we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we may be experiencing other types of fatigues in key areas in life.  Let’s have a look at each type:

  1. Physical fatigue 

The most widely known type of fatigue is typically associated with working prolonged hours and lack of sleep. This can cause exhaustion, low mood, irritability and to certain extend brain fog. For this type of fatigue, we need physical rest and rest can be passive or active. Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest includes restorative activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility.

Essential oils which are particularly suitable to boost energy levels after physical fatigue include all citrus oils, such as grapefruit, sweet orange, bergamot, lemon and lime.

  1. Mental fatigue

Mental fatigue is triggered by long periods of cognitive activity. For example, committing to more tasks and juggling lots of responsibilities than you have the capacity to finish can be mentally draining. It will push your brain into overdrive, leaving you exhausted, hampering your productivity and overall cognitive function. The most common symptoms include mental block, lack of motivation, irritability, stress eating or loss of appetite and insomnia. Scheduling breaks from the mental activity allowing for free time for our brain to reset is a good strategy to counter mental fatigue.

An essential oil which is particularly suitable to fend off your mental rest deficit is rosemary. Rosemary is known to improve memory and promote mental clarity. It is also refreshing and uplifting with sweet undertones.

  1. Emotional fatigue 

Prolonged periods with either negative or positive emotions can be draining as both lows and highs as well as suppressed emotions will cause hormonal changes from your baseline leaving you drained and exhausted. Checking in on yourself and taking time to distance from the highs or lows could help to tackle emotional fatigue.

Eucalyptus is especially effective against emotional fatigue as it is purifying and  cleansing.

  1. Sensory fatigue 

An overstimulating world, flooded with information from bright lights, computer screens, WhatsApp messages, background noises and multiple conversations - whether in person or on Zoom calls - can cause overwhelm on your senses. This can be tackled by reducing or eliminating unnecessary distractions and leaving time to close your eyes and tune in internally to reset.

Lavender essential oil is fantastic for tackling sensory fatigue as it is adaptogen which means it is very calming and balancing and help you offload that sensory burden.

  1. Creative fatigue

You might have overstimulated your creativity and now feeling a creative block. Your job may require certain levels of creativity and after prolonged periods you may feel you have depleted your creative juice. Creative rest may just mean being outside and appreciating nature or doing a more mundane activity that you enjoy.

Woody essential oils, such as pine, fir needle and cedarwood, are particularly good for dealing with creative fatigue as they are grounding and will help you press the refresh button on your creative forces.

  1. Social fatigue 

Social fatigue entails being emotionally overextended and exhausted by social situations. This might be because of certain relationship patterns and dynamics that exhaust us or simply because we’ve overdone it with social interactions. Even the most extroverted of us need some downtime with peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle. Indulge in some solitude if you can, such as reading a book or spending some quiet time with electronic devices switched off.

Similar to emotional fatigue, purifying and grounding essential oils, such as clary sage and peppermint will help you reset and offload the mental burden from social interactions.

  1. Spiritual fatigue or deficit 

You may have been going through a rough time and feeling disconnected and disillusioned with the world. We all need to nurture our spirituality and ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. Spending time in nature or with loved ones, reading words of wisdom and allowing time for inner reflection can replenish our spiritual being.

Frankincense is particularly suitable for spirituality and due to its deep, mystical and evocative scent has been used in for spiritual practice for millennia. Burning frankincense in your diffuser whilst meditating is a wonderful way to transcend our mind from the physical into the spiritual.

Article inspired by a TED talk article here.

Important: Please note that fatigue can also be associated with numerous health problems, so please get checked out by your doctor if it persists. 

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