Boston Women’s Journal - October/November 2003
I see hundreds of people each year who come to me with a variety of concerns. They are looking for help with a specific problem, feel ill and don’t know why, have been treated and are still not well, or are facing chronic problems. The presenting issues vary as much as the individuals I see. There is, however, an overarching theme that I hear much of the time. Exhaustion.
People are just plain tired. They feel overwhelmed in their lives and cannot understand why they can’t get through the day without coffee, sugar, or a nap. Each day stretches on and at the end they feel more behind then when they started in the morning.
Why are we a nation of tired people? What is the root cause of this malaise?
There are several themes that I have traced over the many years I have practiced. They include: longer work hours, children with schedules that would daunt the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, two working adults, no local extended family support, cell phones that can reach us anywhere, poorer nutrition in the diet, and a world that at the best of times holds an uncertain future. All of these factors contribute to making a great number of very tired people.
“I don’t have the time or the energy to exercise, even though I know it will prolong my life”, “I prepare quick and easy meals instead of really whole foods”, “I drive too fast, speak on the cell when I drive, eat on the run, spend my free time shuttling kids, fall in to bed and don’t feel like talking to my mate, let alone making love”. Wow. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Life is passing a lot of us by in a haze of exhaustion. Months go by without us even being aware of the time.
I have talked in other articles about how the stress we live with in this uncertain world provides its own unique exhaustion. We fear for the future and find it difficult to live and enjoy the moment. Every yellow, orange, and red alert ups the ante on our immune system, making us more taxed and less able to fight off disease and exhaustion. Christine Northrop, a profound and unique intuitive, advised her daughters living in New York City after the 9/11 attack to live in the moment and ignore all the alerts, just take each experience and savor it. Enjoy the peach you are eating, think about how it ripened on a tree and came to you for your pleasure. Oscar Wilde is often quoted as saying “living well is the best revenge”. The threat of war and death can only be managed by living each day with pleasure.
I have a client who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. It is new and she is just absorbing what this means for her life. She tells me that greens look greener, food tastes better, and the precise brown of her daughter’s eyes looks so beautiful that it makes her cry. Can we learn to sustain that feeling when not under the threat of losing our lives? How can we be tired when each day may be our last? Soldiers often express the same feeling entering a battle zone, life becomes intensified and each minute important.
My wish for you is that you can learn to keep a mortality consciousness without fear. We are all going to die. We are all living with the possibility of death from illness, or war at our door. Life in our times has lost a sense of real time. Everything is speeded up, faster and faster, and we are spinning off the merry-go-round.
What does this have to do with exhaustion? Everything. We are tired because we do not take the time to relax and feel things in our lives, both good and bad, savor a moment, hug a child. Take some time each day to do nothing.
I know you are skeptical but I challenge each one of you to take 15 minutes each day and do nothing. Just be in a quiet place and sit with your thoughts and feelings. Try this for a week and see if the exhaustion doesn’t lighten, things become just a bit clearer, and life a little more beautiful.