A Love Letter to Fatigue

Every year, during Thanksgiving, I perform a simple exercise that has been quite helpful in keeping me grateful. I look through the year(s) and select one unusual thing to be grateful for. Most of the time, I fall victim to recency bias (I find that journaling helps hedge against this issue, by the way), but this year less so. Thus, the most unusual thing I am most grateful for is fatigue. My gratitude stems from the fact that fatigue is a gold mine of signals and information.

Think of it this way, if you are like me and want to be the most efficient machine possible, fatigue, in some sense, is part of the bargain. That said, it is also the cure for inefficiency. Athletes know this quite well. Experienced runners describe the first mile of a 10k as easier than the first mile of a 5k. This is because the brain calibrates the length of the run and energy output accordingly. However, for many runners, the last lap is usually faster than the first because, in some sense, fatigue does not truly come until later. This reality hints at what should be an updated view of fatigue. Fatigue signals that "at the rate you are going, you will experience a breakdown." What one should take from that is this: fatigue, much like paradoxes, are indicators that one needs to take specific actions in an area of one's life.

It is also helpful because we can apply the lessons we learn from fatigue in one area of our lives to other domains with a high probability of success. We've all either heard of or experienced mental, emotional, physical fatigue at one point or another in our lives. This means an approach to solving the problem that is being signaled by fatigue can be applied to all these areas. Again, when you are "fatigued," you should take the hint and make adjustments. When thinking this through, I found two solutions that work for fatigue. Reducing the number of variables involved and, perhaps, hypnosis When one experiences decision fatigue, for instance, it is in their best interest to reduce the number of decisions they make or choices they face. The same goes for fatigue in all other areas: reduce the stressor. Most amateur runners and weightlifters use a version of hypnosis. They use music to reduce the fatigue signals (or some imagine boats and logs.) Overall, one should be more appreciative of fatigue. I sure am.

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