Every woman I know is tired.
There are reams of articles on this that provide a cultural mix for why: many women now work full-time out of the house; a work day that does not end now that we are tied to smart phones; a marathon of extra-curricular activities for our children; and an outdated division of household tasks where the woman carries a heavier load than the man.
I can see how all these could and might apply to the women I know, but more often than not … not so much. Mostly, I see some simpler reasons: young children require a great deal of energy and we are not young women anymore.
I know … I know … 40 is the new 30. But really? There are some things that a healthy diet and exercise just don’t prevent. Things that just start to come up in middle age. Like cancer and recovering from its horrific treatments. Or arthritis and the side effects from medications. Or even MS, which has no straight treatment path. And then there’s just plain ol’ aging.
The women I know are tired because they’re experiencing middle age. And they’re experiencing it with young children.
Naturally, some women are more tired than others. I, for example, have been tired since my early 30s. I could drop into a deep sleep at 2pm, any time, any day. Some reasons behind this are known to me … others, not so much. This year, I am trying three new things to help overcome this. And a fourth thing, which I’ve always sworn by.
The first is a light therapy. As a type these words, I have a light pointed on me. It is on me for 30 minutes each morning. I’ve long considered this after first hearing about some friends try it. But a follow-up blog post by Andrea on her experience with light therapy finally convinced me to open up my wallet and buy one. I’ve used it consistently for a month now. I don’t find that it has provided me with the “mood lift” others have experienced. And while I still feel tired, I don’t feel like I will literally drop into a sleep. I think that it actually makes me feel like other “normal” people when they are tired … tired, but still awake and functioning. I plan to use it all winter and then ease off of it in the summer.
The second is walking with a friend. My girlfriend Marriam and I made a commitment about 10 weeks ago to walk three times a week, for one hour each time. I had already committed to myself long ago to walk regularly and I use a FitBit to track my progress and keep me motivated. But having a friend that I don’t want to let down, as well as simply enjoy talking to, has really made me keep this commitment. So far, we’ve walked three times every week, with one exception: the week of Christmas and the first week back to school. I feel that this connection with a friend and the fresh air is definitely giving me the “mood lift” that I might not be getting from the light therapy.
The third thing: fixing low iron levels. I usually mention my state of fatigue to my doctor once a year. This year’s blood results confirm that I am really low on iron. I’ve been advised to take a supplement called Palafer, 300 mg, twice a day. I started two weeks ago. Since that time, I’ve had painful headaches and stomach cramps. Suffice it to say, it’s not really going as planned. However, I am going to consult with a dietitian and check my alternatives and get a good plan together. I’ve long known I’m low on iron and I’ve always let the negative side effects of iron supplements stop me from fixing this health problem. But not this year. This year, I’ll work with the dietitian and sort out a solution to rectify this minor health issue. When I mentioned low iron to my friends on Facebook, I had soooo many women respond to share their tips. Clearly, this is an issue for a great number of women.
I said there was a fourth. The fourth is laughter. You just gotta laugh, or you’d cry, right? And oh how I love to laugh! I’ve been watching stand-up comedy on Netflix these days instead of the news. It leaves me ignorant, but happier. I’ve also stayed away from “heavy” reading. Right now, I’m reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler. If, like me, you loved Tina Fey’s Bossypants, then you’ll love Yes Please as well. Amy was born the same year I was, wore the same ridiculous clothes in the 80s, and is also a mom in her 40s with two young children. For me, she’s easy to relate to, despite her being a superstar. She devotes a chapter to being a bad sleeper and how this, combined with young children, has left her tired all the time.
I will end this post with a laugh. A quote from Amy’s “world famous sex advice” and the #1 rule she has listed for gentlemen:
“We don’t need it to last as long as you think. Hurry up. We are so tired.” — Amy Poehler