What is the difference between lethargy, exhaustion, and fatigue? And why does it even matter?


When we are experiencing any form of strong emotion, sadness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, shame, guilt, whatever, or we are feeling persistent pain, we often complain of tiredness.


Sometimes a correlation between feeling worn out and poor sleep, (trouble getting the sleep, waking lots in the night, or early waking) is a cause.


But all too often there is also a correlation between pain and fatigue, or other persistent and unpleasant symptoms and lethargy.


I believe lethargy, exhaustion, and fatigue are all different and therefore require different approaches to aid recovery.


Lethargy, exhaustion, and fatigue can all affect us physically and emotionally. But lethargy tends to affect us more on a physical level in-so-much-as it reduces our motivation. Our ability to get started with anything is seriously compromised. Lethargy has a felt sense of heaviness. Of slowness. Of sluggishness. That can be physical and/or mental. It can be described as abnormal drowsiness. And a lot of the time lethargy is. Listed as a pathological state in diagnostic criteria.


Although, lethargy can be a state that appears on its own it is often the overriding physical manifestation of low mood. Of depression. Lethargy does not seem to resolve with better or more sleep. In fact, the more someone sleeps, the more they feel they need. The less they do, the less they feel like doing. Lethargy lifts when mood improves. When motivation increases. And the quickest way that happens is by motivating motivation and doing the things you don’t feel like doing.


Fatigue and exhaustion tend to be symptoms of other disorders and conditions. They can sometimes improve when sleep improves. So, anything to aid sleep can be very helpful for some.


Fatigue can become less of an issue for some when they feel more able to partake in more activity in a day. The tiredness they then feel, starts to be in line with the energy exerted. And the brain can recalibrate. Therefore, fatigue is an issue when the individual feels as though the tiredness is excessive compared to the activities they have undertaken.


Exhaustion is where all a resource has been used up. For instance, all of a person’s energy has been expended therefore they are exhausted and tired. That could be physical or mental resources.


So, you can see identifying whether you are experiencing exhaustion, fatigue, or lethargy, is necessary to decide on which approach is best for you.


Do you need something to motivate you? Do you need something to help you rest? Oh, do you need something to help you balance your energy levels?


If you'd like help to explore this topic for yourself or have any comments, please do get in touch. And if you are interested to learn how to relax your mind and body. To reduce mental and physical fatigue, exhaustion, or lethargy, then check out my FREE training here.

Take care.

Tina x



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