Why is everyone tired? Wait, scratch that — the question is better asked, “why is everyone so exhausted?” Almost daily I hear people, including myself, say how tired they are, despite getting a full 8 hours. Something’s not right.
Many experts say that people are more tired today due to the chaos of modern life —technology that was supposed to make life easier, hasn’t. The political landscape (thanks in large part to foreign agitators), has fractured deeper than ever. Add in the latest spate of national tragedies, and people are just plain frazzled and emotionally drained.
So what events and conditions do experts say are to blame? Well, the list is already long and its growing daily:
Mass shootings, extreme weather patterns, the threat of terrorism, hostile threats from North Korea, racist rallies, political infighting, on-going investigations in Washington, Russian meddling in our elections, a torrent of sexual harassment accusations, natural disasters, the Kardashians, pop-culture overload, violence, drugs, and, technology that has done anything but make our lives easier.
And there’s no escape. the 24 x 7 endless news cycle has created a cannibalistic environment in which the news outlets, desperate to stay fresh in a perpetual news cycle, turn even the most minor of stories into screaming headlines. Put this all together and it explains why Americans are so worn out.
Do you lay away at night, craving sleep, but too worried to get that much needed recuperative rest? If you do, you’re not alone. Ask your friends and family and odds are, they too are lying awake at night, stressed and sleepless with anxiety.
According to “Stress in America,” a recent report from The American Psychological Association, 63 percent of Americans say the future of the nation is a very or somewhat significant source of stress for them. Here are some other eye-opening conclusions from the report:
More than half of Americans (59 percent) said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember — a figure spanning every generation, including those who lived through World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
When asked to think about the nation this year, nearly six in 10 adults (59 percent) report that the current social divisiveness causes them stress. A majority of adults from both political parties say the future of the nation is a source of stress, though the number is significantly higher for Democrats (73 percent) than for Republicans (56 percent) and independents (59 percent).
“We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history.”
So, what can we do?
There are a lot of events that are beyond our control, so perhaps we can’t change everything all at once. But, we can change things one stet at a time. We can start by controlling how we respond to events and how we interact with world-at-large.
Some ways to minimize the onslaught of negativity that is causing our exhaustion:
Take a break and tune out
Ditch the cell phone for a while. Put the tablet in a drawer. Log off. Tune out. The human body and mind are not designed to be on all the time and relaxing doesn’t mean surfing the net or watching cable news all day. Relaxing means just that — taking it easy, unwinding, letting your mind and body rest.
make or become less tense or anxious.
“he relaxed and smiled confidently.” “her muscles relaxed.”
synonyms: become less tense, loosen, slacken, unknot
Getting into a raging debate with someone online, who for all you know is a Russian troll or some other nutter, won’t change anything. Why let them stoke you up with false claims and unsubstantiated facts and stats? If its a topic or issue you feel passionate about, join a group or write your Congressperson or Senator. Leave the rage online and get involved to change whatever it is you don’t like.
Change your perspective
The issues you think you care about, may just be ones that feed into your anger or frustration. Life is not all politics and we can’t live our life talking/reading politics all the time — for one thing, that just makes us boring. But more importantly, it stokes our anxiety and leads to pent up stress, which results in our losing sleep and feeling exhausted.
Pray or meditate
Prayer works. If prayer isn’t your cup of tea, consider meditation — there are a plethora of resources that teach proper mediation. So when you’re feeling worn out, say a prayer or meditate — or, do both.
A long walk in nature goes a long way to deescalating our stress. Try spending some time outdoors to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep.
Read a good book
Before TV and the internet, people actually read. This holds true for the newspaper too — reading news the old fashioned way is a lot less stressful than watching it on “the idiot box.”
Join a social group
Getting involved with a hobby or other type of social group is a great way to relax. When we do something we enjoy, it gives us something to look forward to and we experience a calming sense of accomplishment. Being involved with outside activities also helps to get our mind off the stresses in life.
Choose your engagements carefully
We’re loathe to say “no” to invitations these days, but at some point, we have to limit our frenetic over-commitments. When you feel you’ve taken on too much, don’t be afraid to say “no” to an invitation.
Tolerance is a key characteristic of being a positive person. Why hate someone because they’re different? Why rage against someone because they’re liberal and you’re not? When we learn to let go of our biases and we let ourselves relax and accept differences, we are less stressed. We are not here to judge and condemn each other — we are here to love, support and help each other.
Fatigue and weariness are a part of our daily lives, but that’s because we’re letting ourselves get burnt out. For me, tuning out and turning inward to self, family and close loved ones, has always been a great way to escape the frenzied modern world.
* Top image courtesy of Alyssa L. Miller – Flickr