Mental Health Monday, Motivation

The Work Hangover: Working Through Fatigue

“But I did so much yesterday. Why do I have to do it again today?”

Undoubtedly, we have all been at this point. I am currently at this point. I painted a room last night, didn’t sleep well, and it’s not done, and I have work to do today, and I have to paint it again tomorrow. And I don’t wanna.

I, like nearly everyone else, want the eternal weekend.

I want to sit on my butt, watch TV, and snack on unhealthy foods. But I can’t do that either because I’m trying to eat well. Maybe I could just cancel my plans, go to bed, and wake up ready to work.

But would that really happen? Would I get up ready to work hard because I did what I wanted? NO.

I’m like a two-year-old. If I get what I whined for, I’ll keep whining for it. If I do not take control of myself, push through a hard, tired day, I will keep giving up. Giving up and giving in to the voice of “don’t wanna” is a choice. After awhile of doing it, it becomes a trained response. This response is very similar to Tag, the tagalong. Except it’s its own thing and harder to stop.

It’s hard to stop because we don’t want to. Plain and simple. If I feel tired, worn-out, and ready for bed at 11 a.m, why in God’s name would I want to do work, exercise, or anything requiring any effort? I wouldn’t. So I give into the “don’t wanna”. NOW I feel great. I gave myself permission to stop for one reason or another and now my butt is relaxing on the couch or just not working productively, efficiently, or hard. To break this habit and response, I have to make myself do things I don’t want to. I have to force myself to work hard even though I’m exhausted. I have to tell myself, “Hey guess what? You don’t have an excuse. Keep going and don’t slow down.”

It sucks.

It’s awful.

There is nothing good (in the moment at least) about wanting to do nothing but instead working as hard as you can like any other day. The next day though, you feel great. You did what you needed to even though you didn’t want to. You overcame your biggest hurdle: YOU.

So how do we stop this? Well, bite the bullet and stop. (Hate me yet?) Push yourself to do what you need to during your work time, and work hard. (How about now?) Any excuse you come up with, cannot be accepted if you want to break this habit. (Now you must.)

Finding these excuses is hard but there are several phrases where we can see this giving in clearly. These are not the only ones and they do not cover everything. If you are in danger of burning out, getting sick, hurting yourself, damaging your well-being, or anything like that… it is time to stop. However, if you aren’t, the phrases are below.

  1. “I’ve done enough for today.”
  2. “I did so much yesterday, I don’t have to do this.”
  3. “One won’t hurt.”
  4. “A little break is okay.”
  5. “I don’t feel 100%, I just won’t do X thing.”

BAD, BAD, BAD phrases.

They give us permission to stop when we don’t deserve that permission in the first place. Have you really done enough, marked everything off your list? But, that was yesterday NOT today, doesn’t work like that. Yes, one will hurt. It can set you back. If you don’t need a break, don’t take one because if you don’t wanna in the first place, that break might be permanent. You don’t need to fell 100% to exercise, to eat well, to do your work. Unless it jeopardizes your wellbeing, your safety, or your life, it is not a good excuse.


Why do we need excuses? Why can’t we just push ourselves and be accountable for what we do?

Because it is not easy. And, more importantly, it’s not comfortable.

Personally, I hate that my tendencies revolve around comfort. Why do I have to be someone who constantly needs comfort? In my heart and head, I know that a little discomfort means I’m pushing through barriers and advancing to a new level.

Running isn’t easy. Working out isn’t easy. Writing isn’t easy. Teaching kids a martial art isn’t easy. They all come with barriers, physical and mental.

There are days when I’m exhausted mentally but the kids have question after question and need patience, humor, kindness, and consistently enforced boundaries. If I let my exhaustion or bad day rule me with them, they can’t trust me or my consistency. I can’t let that happen.

When I’m running, working out, or doing serious stretching (contortion level) it’s hard. It hurts and it’s uncomfortable, on a good day. But when I’m tired and having a rough time already, it’s next to impossible to do. But if I slack, I lose results. I lose my momentum. I can’t let that happen.

Writing can be awful. The words don’t always want to come and on a good day, I can push through it with copious amounts of caffeine and determination. But on bad days, I want to slam my head on the desk and cry it’s so hard. It’s my passion, though. If I don’t push through the writer’s block, it will grow. It might even set me back. And I can’t let that happen.

Catching a drift?

I choose to push through the fatigue, the bad day, the “don’t wanna” (though my mind kicks and screams all day). It’s a choice to do this, and a really hard one. The work hangover makes it so much worse.

When you worked hard the day, week, or month before, it’s hard to push through one more day. It’s easy when you see the end of a long week, but if you’re fresh off the heels of a weekend and wanting to stop, it’s harder. You worked all yesterday, you don’t want to work today. You’re tired. You’re sore from working out and don’t want to do another workout. It hurts. You wrote all day yesterday, your mind won’t work. Your brain doesn’t wanna.

It’s the work hangover. Add that to a bad day and you’ll have a recipe for hopelessness.

GOOD NEWS! It’s not hopeless. YOU CAN DO IT. I promise. But some final reminders on how to push through the work hangover or a bad day.

  1. Just keep going. If you stop to think about it and how tired you are, it’s not going to be pretty.
  2. It’s okay to complain. This one helps me a lot. When I’m having a bad day, it helps to know I don’t have to mentally chide myself for whining in my head or even a little out loud.
  3. Keep a goal in your head. For me, that’s bedtime. Hey, at the end of this awful day think of how great it’s going to feel to go to bed! And I will have accomplished everything.
  4. Get motivated and get energized. These are important. Blast music, eat energizing foods, keep moving, do anything to keep your energy levels as high as they possibly can be. Sometimes you might even get a solid burst of energy to carry you through.
  5. Accept the day. If you’re suffering from a work hangover or a bad day, accept it. Not every day is the best. Accept that you are in this place today and you are going to work through it to the best of your ability and that you will be uncomfortable, but that it will pass.
  6. YOU are the only obstacle. It’s your mind that’s telling you to stop. It’s you that is holding you back and saying “quit”. You are the one saying you don’t wanna, no one else.
  7. YOU control yourself. On that, remember that you control yourself. Just because you feel like sleeping doesn’t mean you should. You are in control of yourself and can tell yourself to do what you please.

The advice of this self-help boils down to one concept, two phrases. Like Dory in Finding Nemo, and like Nike’s slogan: Just keep swimming and just do it.

And remember, bedtime is approaching.animal-1853834_960_720


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