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Why is doing nothing so exhausting?

For me, it reaches about 3pm and I wonder 'What do I do now?'

With my lack of A levels and therefore much of my motivation to work and be productive decreased as my main goal has gone, I end up coasting through the hours until it reaches dinner and then bed. It then becomes a continuous cycle. The less you do, the more tired you feel, so the less you do. It’s not like I don’t do anything – but compared to my continuously busy school and work week, it is noticeably quieter. 

But I began to wonder, if I’m not doing anything, why do I feel so tired? Turns out there is a scientific explanation, besides stress and changes in my personal life. When you’re lacking any sort of physical activity and your body stays in the same position for long periods of time, its ability to take in oxygen decreases and you will notice a huge drop in energy levels and motivation. Your body lacks the stimulation and movement it is used to in everyday life and when you allow it to feel lethargic and tired, well it is. 

The only way to break through the cycle of tiredness is to do something – but once you’ve baked your fifth banana bread, done enough home workouts that your legs hurt and read a lot, the motivation to do something diminishes. I think allowing ourselves to be ‘lazy’, tired and have a bad day are not necessarily awful things; it gives us time to reflect and it’s a forced break in so many of our busy lives. Staying connected through FaceTime, Zoom and WhatsApp allows us to realise it’s not just us feeling this way – although our specific personal circumstances may be different, we are all in the same boat. Just perhaps braving different seas, weather conditions and different amounts of manpower. 

Diet, nutrition and hydration can also have a huge impact on how we feel day to day. The temptation to snack all day is definitely hard to resist but eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet will help your body feel more able to get through another day. Making sure you drink enough water is also key, especially now, as the weather (in England) is currently hotter and sunnier than dreary February – staying hydrated plays a big part in brain function and energy. But when you’re out of your normal routine, it is easy to forget. 

With so much sudden and (mainly) unwanted change, finding a new normal is hard but key. The constant uncertainty definitely brings anxiety - especially as ‘planning ahead’ is not an option right now. But in time, this strange and unsettling period will come to an end and we will learn to adjust to another new normal. When life finally resumes again, it will bring new joys and challenges and that is an exciting prospect, even if we may have to wait many more weeks before that long-awaited prospect becomes reality. 

By Rebecca C