A person with axial spondyloarthritis hoists a hammer up to smash a large ringing alarm clock.

Leaning Into Fatigue Rather Than Fighting It

I’ve been experiencing a new level of fatigue as of late. Truly, it's pretty incredible just how tired I am at the age of 35! It’s some combination of axial spondyloarthritis, finishing an arduous writing project (my third book comes out next year!), profound stress from the recent election, anxiety about living in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic, and living in an apartment that doesn’t have much natural light.

I’m simply always tired, groping for sunlight, for hope, and for energy — like I’m carrying an albatross over my shoulders. I don't think it's worth it for me to lie to you all and pretend everything is okay.

This year has been tiring

I used to wax poetic about all of the rituals and practices that I embraced in order to keep my AS symptoms and fatigue at bay. And I used to do them, I used to believe in them, I used to turn to them.

But this year has required a lot of rejiggering of my everyday rituals — like giving up on the swimming that I did several times a week. COVID-19 has ensured that almost nothing is normal — and frankly, it’s been tiring to constantly have to come up with creative solutions.

So, I’m here to say that it’s OK if you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or simply too tired to think of new ways to exercise, new ways to combat anxiety or new plans to produce or create or keep yourself active or productive.

Lean into your need for rest

Sometimes we just have to lean into the need for sleep and rest and quiet. Sometimes it means scratching just a few things off my to-do list and calling it a day, or sometimes it means walking away from certain projects. In a capitalist society, we’ve been told that the more that we do and earn and make the more valuable we are. But how is this sustainable?

It is hard to combat that internalized phobia of relaxation and just give in to the body's needs — especially this year, when the world's grief sits on our chest. Of course, fatigue can make us depressed and even more anxious. We inherently try to swim; we try to get to shore — but sometimes we're simply at sea.

And listen to your intuition

There are fine lines between resting too much, pushing yourself when you need to be pushed, cutting yourself some slack, making excuses, and making space for flexibility. Your intuition knows what you need.

For me, the past few months has been about doing the bare minimum. I'll confess it.

I've been sleeping more than I "should." I haven’t been taking as many walks or taking as many warm baths or engaging in my nighttime self-care rituals as much. I haven’t been stretching as much as I should, and I’ve probably been eating badly due to stress. I just know that that's where I'm at and that integrating health routines back into my days will happen — on my own time.

But instead of beating myself up or blaming myself for not trying hard enough, I know that I’m showing up to myself in the ways that I can. Or at least in a way that I can right now. I hope that you can do the same.

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