The Next Time You’re Feeling Exhausted, Stop & Ask Yourself this One Question.

Via Sarah Harvey
on Nov 4, 2014
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Wiki Commons

“I’m just really tired,” my boyfriend mumbled to me on a lazy Wednesday evening last week.

I heard him clearly, over the sound of too-loud canned laughter on the sitcom we were only partly watching.

But, deep in my gut, I felt so sure that something else was wrong.

I swear I could see a black cloud and several little gremlins hovering above him.

I pestered him lovingly, asking “What’s wrong?” and “Are you okay?” far too many times before I finally just let it be.


Fast-forward to a week later.

“I’m just really tired,” I mutter breathily to my boyfriend as he peppers me with a steady and sweet stream of “Are you sure you’re okay?” and “I’m worried about you.”

You know what?

Neither of us were really “just really tired” after all.

We were both feeling exhausted, yes this is true.

But, we both had a wealth of crap going on underneath that surface layer of exhaustion.

I, for instance, was having intense feelings of worthlessness and frustration.

I was feeling angry with myself for not being “more” in my life, for feeling like I haven’t achieved “enough.”

I was feeling down-and-out and generally not good enough.

I was feeling sad and scared about this new life I’m trying to create for myself.

And to be quite honest, at the time, I just felt too lazy (and terrified) to unravel what was truly going on.

Blaming exhaustion was the perfect escape route from looking any deeper.

Somehow, though, my sweet man and I were able to shine some light on each other’s darkness by (finally) asking this one question:

What are you really feeling, besides the physical exhaustion?

Oh the power behind that seemingly simple question.

For me, it felt like my tiredness was validated, while at the same time being seen straight through (like oh sh*t, I can’t hide under it anymore.)

Essentially, I felt both comforted and slapped awake.

It was exactly perfect.

Once my man and I had successfully posed this query to one another, we began to dive headfirst into our emotions, and our energy (wait for it…)

Returned to normal!

The tiredness evaporated.

I beg you:

Ask yourself what you’re really feeling, besides exhaustion.

Ask a loved one.

Ask it sincerely.

Ask it fiercely.

Ask it gently.

But most of all: answer it as precisely and honestly as possible.

Take your time.

You might be surprised what reveals itself.

When we don’t allow ourselves to fully experience our emotions, concerns, fears, or pain, it’s like a huge hand going inside us and suffocating our life force.

Our light gets snuffed out.

Our energy burns up more quickly than usual because we’re desperately trying to stuff the things we don’t want to see in a dark closet somewhere far, far away.

We keep the door shut. And lock it tight. And guard it incessantly.

F*ck! That takes a ton of effort.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather live as vivaciously as possible. I’d rather be real with myself and face the sh*t that’s going on, no matter how scary or overwhelming it seems.

It often takes less energy to unravel our true feelings than it does to keep suppressing them.

So, if you’re feeling extra tired, exhausted or burnt-out please gently ask yourself how you are, besides just tired.

Really ask.

Let’s start to take a real interest in our feelings.

They are not just pesky inconveniences.

And, no, they cannot be simply swept away without consequences.

Our emotions are trying to communicate deeper truths to us, so let’s try to be more open to what they have to say.

We deserve that.

We need that—more than we even know.

So, let’s close our eyes and dive in right now.



Note: Sometimes, of course, we really are just tired, under the weather, exhausted and pure rest is all that’s needed. Additionally, sometimes emotional upset also calls for extra rest. Listen closely and carefully to yourself and feel out what you need.



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Bonus read:

10 Ways to Take Care of Ourselves when we’re Suffering from Burn Out.


Bonus: 10 Basic Salves for Burn-Out & Everyday Depression.

Author: Sarah Harvey

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Wikimedia Commons




About Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey is a dancer, life coach, poet, and lover of life. She is passionate about self-love and following the spark of bliss that blooms from our souls. She believes that we all have something extraordinary to offer to the world. She believes that we are most potent when we listen to the whispers of truth that find us in the most unexpected moments. Follow Sarah on Facebook and her website!


14 Responses to “The Next Time You’re Feeling Exhausted, Stop & Ask Yourself this One Question.”

  1. robert crum says:

    sarah, you struck a chord with me. I mean who isn't exhausted right? but, is that a lazy excuse to not go deeper? and, not work on the problems at hand? I spent two glorious years as an adult with no television. (I didn't have TV as a child) but it is back and "I'm tired' is a great excuse to waste countless hours watching mindless tv. My wife of 22 years (which I have known for 30) has always been exhausted. I mean she has ALWAYS BEEN EXHAUSTED. I have often wondered how can that be? Exactally! it can't be. It is the lazy way out and she is not telling me how she really feels. the next time she says that I will pose your question. time to go deeper..

  2. Mary says:

    I have to say that while it is valid that we sonetimes smokescreen, some of us have children and work 40+ hours a week and we really are just exhausted. Most of the people on EJ seem floated by a financially flush partner or are unencumbered by children to feed.

  3. sarahtheaquarian says:

    Hi Mary,

    Thanks for reading! Yes, absolutely (why I put the note* at the end of the article). Sometimes true exhaustion is just true exhaustion. And, it sounds like you work really hard and take care of a family, which is amazing! I can't even imagine how tiring that must be at times.

    While I can't relate to having kids to care for, I work 3 jobs to support myself. No financially flush partner for me. And, I can't speak for all of EJ, but I know a lot of folks here work their butts off to support themselves. When we do the things we love, the energy comes back to us.

    Wishing you all the best,


  4. sarahtheaquarian says:


    Yes exactly!! It's crazy sometimes what a wealth of material can be hiding underneath our "I'm tired." It's often such an automatic thing for us to say these days. I wish you great luck to pose this question to your wife! It's such a powerful question because it gently holds safe space, while also going deeper and allowing emotions to surface. I hope that you have a similar experience with it. Also, sometimes, it can take asking the question a few times for someone to truly open up. 🙂

    All the best!


  5. mair says:

    and if it continues… heart problems, diabetes, underlying health issues. Sometimes you have to go a little further.

  6. sarahtheaquarian says:

    yes! great point, mair. absolutely! I was mainly focusing on the emotional side of things here, but it;s also good to check in with your physical body.

  7. the deeper truths are the ONE

  8. Blair says:

    I love this article, I am feeling so tired myself lately. I am dealing with binge eating disorder, and while I was recovering from being anorexic I developed another disorder. So here I am trying to recover from binge eating disorder. It is hard, and I do get tired from my negative thoughts, and I have gained weight because I eat food again and I binge. I can't workout a lot either because i injured my shoulders and knees from working out too much. I am also recovering from shoulder surgery, and I might need another one on my opposite shoulder. I cannot focus on food, or working out, I cannot focus on my looks or my weight, but it is hard. I noticed that everyone around me is losing weight and I am just gaining or just looking the same, I considered myself chubby and overweight but doctors do not, well I do not think they do. So dealing with all of this is making mentally tired.

  9. Maddmaxxx says:

    Time to take the lid off the jar.

  10. jakartah says:

    Ha! So true. I rarely get sick and when I do, its a symptom of being really "exhausted"- and I'm sick right now. I used to be the first one to yell, But Hey! I'm doing all this work and I have so much more work to do and its so hard and everyone expects this from me! Now, I am finally starting to say to myself, What are you really feeling about this? Is this necessary? Can I get off this circus ride or at least switch to a little calmer one? I at least hope I can teach this to my child earlier than I learned it!

  11. Avibha says:

    Awesome Sarah! thanks! It’s been a while since I read a good “article”. Honest and real, that’s very appreciated, more than the commonly seen articles on “thoughts” and arguments. This is real. Love

  12. Jeanne B says:

    I wasn't expecting much when copied and pasted the sentence "What are you really feeling, besides the physical exhaustion?" into a Word doc and let roll. That I'm still unloading into it 1,089 words later, and that the first word that came to mind ("disappointed") brought tears to my eyes, well, it's a surprise, but I'm glad for it.

    Thank you for this (from a 52-year-old single woman who supports herself and her six cats on a modest income in a mundane job and has no financially flush partner to speak of, but who intends to take steps to change her life so that "disappointed" is not the first word that comes tearily to mind).

  13. Alexa says:

    Ive actually noticed the opposite. If I don’t sleep enough and feel exhausted, I often start feeling sad, doubtful about myself etc. I notice that when I then really give myself the time to sleep and recover, my mood goes up dramatically again!

  14. Ben says:

    I have gone through this so many times. Its is nice to hear someone else’s take on dealing with mental exhaustion. Great article!