Have you been feeling exhausted lately? Fatigue is a harsh reality when you have ADHD.
Some days you wake up so exhausted you feel like you’re carrying a pack of bricks on your back. The fog in your head doesn’t clear until you’ve had two cups of coffee, a cold shower, or three hours have passed. Some days, your energy flow is so depleted that getting out of bed and putting two feet on the floor is a major struggle.
And it’s not the only in the morning when you’re overcome by fatigue; it happens throughout the day. You’re moving along, feeling fine, and then suddenly you smash into a wall. You’re exhausted, wiped out. It’s an effort to put one foot in front of the other. And all you want to do is lie down and space out.
Your energy isn’t stable when you have ADHD. It comes and goes whenever it wants to. You have no control over it. You never know when the bursts or shutdowns are going to happen. Your power supply is inconsistent.
With ADHD, you’re all in or all out. We either hyper-focus intensely or stare at a long to-do list and get nothing done.
You’re in luck if you work from home on a flexible schedule and can work around your energy cycles. But if you can’t lie down at the office, nod off during meetings, or put your head on your desk and snooze for awhile, you’ve got to figure out how to manage the highs and the lows.
How to manage the wall of fatigue:
1. Honor your needs.
Ideally, it’s best to work with your energy flow. When you’re alert and attentive, push yourself to get as much done as possible. And when you’re feeling fatigued, take a break and refresh yourself. Of course, that isn’t always possible when you’re on a deadline or have to show up all smiley and bright-eyed for meetings. Those are the times when you have to pause, splash cold water on your face, and grab a cup of coffee to get yourself moving.
2. Exercise to stop feeling exhausted.
The thought of going to yoga or a CrossFit class is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling fatigued, but signing up for a regular class time will inspire you to want to move more. It’ll also keep you thinking about the importance of movement in the front of your mind. When you’re energy-less, it’s hard to self-motivate; invite a friend to join you. Two people can inspire each other. But don’t forget, you can also take a walk, go for a jog, ride a bike, and stretch into child’s pose on your bedroom floor to brighten your brain.
One the quickest ways to get moving when you can’t put one foot in front of the other is to keep a yoga mat near your bed so when you wake up, that’s the first thing you see. Sun Salutations are the most exhilarating and quickest way to create energy throughout your body. Just tell yourself, I’m just doing one small stretch. We stop ourselves from taking action because we think we have to workout for an hour. Just five minutes is all you need to get moving.
3. Eat and drink healthier.
Yes, it’s true, some people drink coffee all day instead of taking ADHD medication. If you have a healthy heart and this works for you, then go for it. Do not use energy drinks. They are risky and habit-forming; increasing your intake and elevating your heart rate to dangerous levels. ADHDers have a hard time preparing and eating healthy meals which require effort, preplanning, and organization. These tasks are a struggle for us. We also tend to eat impulsively and crave carbs and sugar for a dopamine boost. Focus on raising your energy through a healthier approach.
4. Make self-care a priority.
With ADHD, you usually are driven by the desire of the moment. We do whatever we feel like doing, whenever we feel like it. Self-care requires a little bit of discipline. That means moving away from doing what you desire, but doing what is right for your health and well-being. For example, if you have a weak back and one day you feel the spasms starting, you have the power to ease your discomfort by stretching. Realize that you have the power to manage your body and mind. It just takes extra effort.
If you’re in a situation when you must overcome the fatigue because you’re traveling, at work, or taking care of children or seniors, you’ll have to put in the extra effort to become more alert.
If you’re in a situation where you can rest until the fatigue passes, take a power nap and then wake up refreshed.
Tell me… how do you manage when you’re feeling fatigued and exhausted? What do you do to get yourself moving?