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8 Ways to Know Whether It’s Chronic Fatigue or Burnout?

You feel exhausted all of the time. Things that used to be easy are getting harder and harder to do. It’s really hard to get out of bed in the mornings. Is it chronic fatigue or is it that you’re just doing too much and you’re burned out?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is VERY different than just being overworked or stretched too thin. CFS is actually a short-circuit in your nervous system which affects every system in the body especially your energy level. If you don’t feel refreshed and energized no matter how much you sleep, then chances are you have CFS. 

CFS can come on suddenly after a traumatic experience like a car wreck, a death of someone close to you, a divorce, or even having mono or some other infection. It can seem like one day you were fine, and then the next you could barely function. Or, CFS can come on very gradually over the course of weeks, months, or even years.

CFS is defined by fatigue that is not relieved by sleep and lasting more than 6 months. This is how you know that it’s more than just doing too much or not getting enough sleep. As a matter of fact, most people with CFS also have severe insomnia, so it’s just a miserable cycle of one feeding the other nonstop. 

You’re so exhausted all of the time, but you’re wired at night and your brain just won’t shut down. I used to lay in bed for hours solving all kinds of problems in my mind. It seemed that I would finally get to sleep around 5am only to have my alarm wake me at 6am. Then, I would drag myself out of bed and rely on caffeine and sugar to get through my day. It was SO miserable.

How To Know Whether It’s Burnout Or Chronic Fatigue

  • You are tired but wired – I mentioned this before, but insomnia is a part of the picture. You are so exhausted during the day, but you can’t shut your brain off at night. If you’re just dealing with burnout, you can usually fall asleep fast and wake up rested. A good night’s sleep has alluded you for a very long time if you’re dealing with more than burnout.
  • It takes you days to recover from exercise – I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me that I would feel better if I would just exercise… NOT!!! No, exercise doesn’t make you feel better if you’re dealing with chronic fatigue. Your cells are responsible for making energy and they are under serious attack. It’s all they can do to keep you alive. Exercising is using up precious energy that you don’t have. BUT, if you’re dealing with burnout, then exercising is a good way to burn off stress and excess energy. You generally feel better and more energized after exercise. Not so, if you’re dealing with chronic fatigue.
  • You feel dizzy and brain fogged a lot – You use most of the energy available to you for problem solving. Your mind is going nonstop to try to figure out how to feel better and fix this problem. However, when you’re not problem solving, your mind becomes foggy and you feel dizzy. If you’re dealing with burnout, you may feel mentally fatigued at times, but things clear up after a good night’s sleep.
  • You can’t lift heavy objects like you used to – You noticed that emptying the dishwasher and squeezing a lemon have become difficult tasks for you. And, they tire you out to the point that you need to rest afterward. You are having an internal energy crisis, so all available energy is going to your organs to keep you alive. Energy in the muscles isn’t as high of a priority, so you’re going to feel extremely weak. You may find lifting difficult if you’re dealing with burnout, but routine lifting and bending doesn’t cause you to have to rest and recover. 
  • Crowds tire you out – You find yourself avoiding crowds or people in general, and you’re not sure why. It takes energy to process the environment around you. Your limbic system in your brain is at work 24/7 to determine if your environment is safe or not. Being in a crowd gives your limbic system an influx of stimuli to process, and it can be overwhelming. Especially, if you’re around negative people. They can steal what little energy you have.
  • You feel emotionally flat  –  This may sound odd, but it takes energy to process hard emotions or even happy emotions. This is a complicated concept, because stuffing your emotions can contribute to the stress that has flipped the switch in your nervous system that has caused this in the first place. Now, that you’re struggling, it becomes even harder to process emotions. When you’re dealing with burnout, you can still feel your emotions fully. 
  • You’ve lost your joy and zest for life – You feel so bad all of the time that you’ve completely lost your joy and zest for life. You may have been told that this is just a normal part of aging or because you are a mom or a business owner or whatever. This is NOT normal in any context. You were made to have joy and purpose. Chronic fatigue has stolen this from you, but you can get it back. People dealing with burnout typically still have their joy and zest for life. Of course, you can lose your joy for many reasons, but energy-wise, you have to be super low to lose your joy and zest for life.
  • You are no longer thriving, just surviving – What are you dreaming about these days? Just getting through the day? What are your goals these days? Just cooking dinner? Or making it to your son’s soccer game? Remember when you used to dream about traveling or starting a business or volunteering for a charitable cause? This is where chronic fatigue steals your purpose. Instead of thriving, you are just surviving. People dealing with burnout still have their hopes and dreams.

There you have it! Eight ways to know whether you’re dealing with burnout or something more serious. I don’t mean to minimize burnout. It is a serious situation that needs attention, but it can be corrected pretty easy by scheduling in time for self-care, optimizing sleep, managing stress, and eating a whole foods, nutritious diet. 

If you find that you would like individualized support for either burnout or chronic fatigue, then I would love to share my Total Body Reset Program with you. Check it out! If it sounds like something you’re ready for, then click the link to Apply to Work With Me. If I feel like I can help you, then I’ll schedule a FREE call to talk more about your case and we can decide if it’s right for you.

I would also love to invite you to my Private Facebook Group! It’s a lively and supportive group where we talk about how to recover your energy and brain. I’m in there every day and encourage our members to ask questions and support each other. Everything is easier in community, and I’m pretty stinkin’ proud of this one. Just click this link and ask to join! I’ll approve you ASAP!!

I’m excited about getting to know you and helping you discover the “real” you. The one underneath the low energy and brain fog. The one that is on this planet to accomplish big things. 

Come on! Let’s take this journey together!! 

Cheering you on!!!

Kimberly Ann Robinson from Vital & Clear image

Kimberly Anne

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