This Is Why You’re So Tired So Early in the Year

This Is Why You’re So Tired So Early in the Year
Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images

This week has been a long year, hasn’t it? We may laugh, but the truth of it is that most people I know are feeling exhausted and burnt out already and we haven’t even gotten through the first month of 2022.

Sure, a new calendar year is really just another day and can’t act as a salve for all the troubles we had in the year prior, but usually, taking a few days off over the holiday period brings some sense of rest with it. Stepping into 2022 didn’t feel like that for me, or many people I know – and we’re not even health care workers, who have it incomparably worse.

Feeling burnt out at the beginning of the year is a pretty deflating experience, and I’ve been chalking up this experience to the weight of spending the end of year break stressing about a) having COVID-19 b) getting COVID-19 and c) seeing someone you love get COVID-19. It was, quite frankly, a shit time.

But as I am no expert in mental health or the psychological experience of burnout, I thought I’d reach out to someone who is to learn a little more on the topic. Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno offered her expertise to help.

Here’s what she had to say.

First of all, what even is burnout?

We’ve looked at the topic of burnout a few times before on the site because, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to feel this way. We often associate burnout with feeling tired all the damn time, but I’d bet many of us don’t actually know the actual definition of the term.

So, what is it?

Sokarno explained, “In a nutshell, a burnout is described as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”.

Key symptoms to look our for will generally include feeling “extremely tired, overwhelmed, demotivated and unable to see positivity in their situation”. And while it’s easy for people to brush off these experiences as just part of the daily grind, it can grow to become quite harmful if left unaddressed.

“Whilst we can tolerate burnout for a little while, feeling this way for a prolonged period can culminate into serious mental health concerns if ignored,” Sokarno said.

“In fact, The World Health Organisation has recognised burnout in its International Classification of Diseases, allowing healthcare professionals and insurance companies to acknowledge, treat and cover the symptoms. This means the symptoms of burnout are considered quite serious and should be treated as such.”

Is it possible that I’m already burnt out in 2022?

burnt out tired
The news cycle likely has a hand in you feeling burnt out. Getty

If you read the above and resonated with many of the symptoms, there is a chance that, yes, you’re already burnt out this year.

Sokarno shared that “we normally look at a new year as a ‘clean slate,’ however, thanks to rising covid cases it just feels like a continuation of 2021”.

She explained that usually, people see a new year as a fresh start, but because the Omicron outbreak began in late December and has continued on to the present date, “it doesn’t feel like we were able to wipe away the remnants of 2021”.

“We’re still feeling the same stresses that we did last year and now it doesn’t feel like there is an end in sight,” she said.

Adding to all that, there’s the impact that multiple lockdowns have on your mental health and the difficulty of drawing lines between work and personal life when working from home (for some). This, Sokarno shared, is a recipe for exhaustion. It’s no real surprise people are burnt out.

What can I do to manage feelings of tiredness and overwhelm?

Thankfully, there are a number of tools you can use to manage the experience of burnout and help give your body and mind a little more love and care.

Here are Sokarno’s tips for when you’re feeling burnt out:

Take a digital detox: If you’ve been feeling emotionally exhausted from the constant chatter about Covid (sorry!) then it might be time to take a digital detox.

Constant updates of current cases, news of panic buying and opinion sharing are causing more panic than necessary. Try to avoid reading the news, scrolling through social media or even talking about it to people. Give your brain a bit of reprieve and switch off for a moment.

Prioritise exercise: You may have heard the statement ‘energy creates energy’ before and that’s because it’s actually true! Any exercise or physical activity that can get the heart rate up will release endorphins which can raise your energy levels.

Even if you don’t normally enjoy exercising, just get up and go for a brisk walk at the very least. This can also help to clear your mind and work on your physical fitness at the same time (a win-win)!

Schedule in ‘you’ time: Some days can be so busy that it can be easy to forget to look after what matters most – you. Try to set aside at least 30 mins each day for ‘you’ time.

Use this time to switch off your phone, block out any distractions and do something that can put you in a great frame of mind. That might mean meditating, reading a book or doing a yoga session – all of these things are good for the soul and will allow you to focus on number one!

Talk to someone about your burnout: Know that whatever you’re feeling, you are not alone. Talk to friends and family about how you’re feeling and it’s highly likely they will be able to relate to your thoughts.

Sometimes just knowing that someone else is going through the same emotions can help you feel more connected and feel as though you have someone to rely on. Also consider seeking help from a professional who can arm you with tactics that can help you cope.

Support resources like Lifeline [13 11 14] and Beyond Blue are services that provide free over-the-phone counselling with trained experts that can help you through any mental health concerns. Services like Lysn provide access to psychologists via video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home around the clock.

In the end, it’s important to remember we’re all living through an incredibly challenging period. It’s been almost two years of uncertainty, stress and disappointment (particularly when it comes to our political leaders).

The close of 2021 really didn’t feel like a time for reflection and rest; we were on high alert the whole time. So, don’t feel too bad if your body is bearing the brunt of that. Just do your best to listen when it tells you it needs a break.


Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at LysnLysn is a digital mental health company with world-class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.

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