6 Signs Your Run on Empty and Need a Recharge

Life is demanding. And that’s fine some of the time. But, according to Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, PhD, a neuroscience research assistant professor at West Virginia University, if you’re drained to the point where a little rest isn’t enough to feel refreshed and everything feels harder than it should, you might be operating on empty.

“Stress tolerance varies from person to person. And we all [experience] a little bit of stress, which adds to the excitement of life. However, when we reach our capacity and are running on empty, it indicates we have no reserves and will begin to encounter unpleasant experiences and actions “Dr. Brefczynski-Lewis agrees. “When you’re running on empty, you suddenly lose control since you don’t have the extra resources you normally have.”

It’s critical to notice when you’re running low on gas so that you can a) give yourself a break and b) take the steps necessary to refuel your tank.

“You might discover early warning indicators as you become more attentive,” she explains. You can begin brainstorming on how to relieve some of the obligations you’re carrying even if you’re already overwhelmed. “It’s not always possible. To be able to say, ‘Oh, well, you can just take this or that out of one’s life,’ is a little bit of a privilege or luxury. If you’re a caregiver, or if you need to do a specific type of employment just to exist and pay the bills, there may be times when you can’t.”

When you’re running on fumes, even saying no to more duties makes things a little easier to handle. The symptoms that you’re running out of gas can help you figure out when it’s time to take a break.

There are six clues you’re running out of gas why you’re not noticing.

1. You have a short fuse and are easily irritated.

A minor setback in your day, such as running out of oat milk while making a latte, could ordinarily be dismissed as a minor nuisance. But, according to Dr. Brefczynski-Lewis, when you’re running on empty, this can dramatically disrupt your day because you have less control over your temper.

2. You become more suffocated in your breathing.

When you’re stressed, your breathing becomes shallow, which means you’re breathing from your chest rather than your diaphragm. Michael Hobbs, an Australian sports chiropractor, recently told Well+Good, “Our diaphragm is our key breathing muscle.” “When we’re worried, it tightens up and we can’t fully contract or totally relax to allow a full inhale or exhale.” You’ll sense movement in your shoulders and chest rather than the rise and fall of your abdomen when breathing from your chest. If you’re anxious, shallow breathing can exacerbate the situation.

3. Concentration is difficult.

It’s difficult to concentrate, which is a huge symptom that you’re operating on fumes. It can be tough to focus on anything for long amounts of time when you have too much on your plate and your mind is continuously buzzing through your to-do list.

4. Your workouts seem to be much more difficult than normal.

If you routinely exercise and any work feels like a chore, it’s an indication you need to rest. “Exercising when you’re weary adds additional stress to your body,” explains Jessica Mazzucco, a professional fitness trainer in New York City. “When you train out when weary, you also compromise your form and technique, increasing your chance of injury.”

5. You’re under a lot of stress.

Dr. Brefczynski-Lewis explains, “You might have a pit in your stomach.” “You might have some stiffness in your shoulders or a furrowed brow on your face.” Some of the stress stems from the previously mentioned shallow breathing. Your neck and shoulders have to work harder when you breathe from your chest rather than your diaphragm, which can cause pain.

6. You’re not getting enough sleep

Getting enough sleep becomes much more difficult when you have a lot on your mind. Getting enough sleep might be difficult when you have too much to accomplish or are working long hours. However, if you’re not sleeping properly, everything else you’re dealing with will be even more difficult. “One may be able to power through key events, meetings, etc. after a day or two of lower sleep and unable to feel fully rested and rejuvenated,” explains sleep expert Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi, MD, PhD. “However, the brain is unable to adjust sufficiently after a period of reduced sleep.”

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