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The Cycle of Fatigue and Anxiety

February 1, 2022 Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

When you are chronically anxious, one of the effects you might often deal with is feeling exhausted. Depending on the situation, if I have experienced a very stressful situation, I tend to feel exhausted when my body starts to wind down from the physical effects of stress. And so, I might find myself quite fatigued from anxiety, but at the same time, I might have a hard time sleeping as well, also because of anxiety. So it becomes a cycle of inadequate sleep and anxiety that seems to be never-ending. Then, if I haven't gotten a good night's rest for a long time, what I find is that I deal with the effects of fatigue. This includes having a hard time concentrating and having a hard time focusing. I also find that it affects my memory, and it affects my mood as well. Ultimately, fatigue can affect me in several ways.

Feeling Exhausted from Anxiety

From my experience, anxiety can make you feel exhausted for many reasons. For example, I know that when I am anxious, I deal with quite a bit of muscle tension. My muscles are tight, especially around my neck and shoulder area, and this may even contribute to headaches.

Also, I have found that other physical symptoms of anxiety can contribute to feelings of exhaustion. For example, a racing heart rate and shortness of breath are physical symptoms that are a part of our body being prepared to fight, flight, or freeze when we are anxious. When our bodies are on high alert like this, it can be difficult to relax. I have found this to be particularly problematic when I am trying to fall asleep.

Another reason is simply having a constant racing mind. In my experience, when you are often anxious, your brain is constantly working, thinking, overthinking about everything, worrying about everything, or dwelling on memories of the past. This is something I have struggled with. You may find that your brain just doesn't stay quiet, and this chaotic mind is not conducive to being relaxed. As a result, you might find that you feel just so tired from all of this anxious activity.

How to Help Yourself When You Are Exhausted from Anxiety

So, I have found that the key is in calming my system. I must find ways to calm my anxious mind and find ways to relax. Here are some ways to help yourself when you are exhausted from anxiety:

  1. Use strategies to get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep, in my experience, can not only prevent fatigue, but it can help your physical symptoms of anxiety as well. It can also improve your mood and help you to be more resilient to stressful situations throughout the day. This can be hard when you go through this cycle of not getting enough sleep that affects your anxiety and vice versa. Establishing a bedtime routine, turning off electronics, and using mindfulness are all strategies that can be helpful for sleep.
  2. Take care of yourself physically. I have found that getting regular exercise not only helps relieve anxiety but helps improve your mood. It also helps my muscle tension and improves my sleep. Eating well, I have found, can also help your mood so that you feel more consistent energy levels that contribute to a more stable mood. I have found that being mindful of my food choices is beneficial for my mood, which then helps to decrease my anxiety.
  3. Talk to someone you trust. From my experience, I have also found that expressing your emotions and your anxious thoughts to a close friend, a professional, or even your journal, can be beneficial as well. Not only can this help you process your emotions and problem-solve, but this can also help to relax you as you express your anxious thoughts. This is an important strategy that I use that has been so important for me.

Try these strategies to help you experience less exhaustion related to your anxiety. Are there strategies you use to combat exhaustion? If so, share them in the comments below.

APA Reference
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2022, February 1). The Cycle of Fatigue and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2022/2/the-cycle-of-fatigue-and-anxiety



Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez

Annie H.
February, 16 2022 at 11:57 pm

Nothing is more physically exhausting than chronic anxiety. Anxiety keeps our body in a state of hyper-vigilance 24 hours a day. Sleep, when chronically anxious is not a restful, restorative sleep. I've suffered chronic severe anxiety for over 20 years and found myself waking in the morning with my fists clenched, my jaws locked and my neck and shoulder muscles like rubber bands twisted so tightly, I feel as though they're going to snap. I'm too exhausted to lift myself out of bed.

February, 17 2022 at 1:23 pm

Hello Annie,
It can certainly be exhausting to cope with chronic anxiety. The alarm system is always on, it's always armed, and when the body is in this constant state, it can be physically tiring.
Thank you for your comments!
Stay safe,
Rizza

Lizanne Corbit
February, 1 2022 at 9:24 pm

Exhaustion from anxiety is a very real thing. Sometimes, it might not even be realized that the exhaustion is truly stemming from anxiety. I think your suggestions to help are spot on, and finding ways to calm your nervous system is not only beneficial for this but so many other things as well.

February, 17 2022 at 1:26 pm

Hi Lizanne,
It is a great point that sometimes we may not even realize that anxiety is at the root of exhaustion and fatigue. I think this is one of the reasons that self-awareness can be so important.
Thank you for your comments!
Stay safe,
Rizza

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