Burnout to Balance: Using Meditation Practices to Combat Chronic Fatigue

Examine the holistic ways in which meditation techniques might improve general wellbeing and counteract chronic weariness.

Examine the holistic ways in which meditation techniques might improve general wellbeing and counteract chronic weariness.

Read how meditation can help you overcome chronic exhaustion and bring balance back into your life.

The following article has been authored by mental health researcher and founder of Yoga of Immortals (YOI) meditative programme, Dr Ishan Shivanand.

Chronic fatigue is more than just feeling tired all the time. It is a condition where you experience persistent mental and physical tiredness, weakness, or exhaustion, which can seriously affect your quality of life. Within the spectrum of neurological and psychiatric disorders, studies show that chronic fatigue is caused by a combination of factors, with one of the main ones being the depletion of the brain’s energy resources.

The brain is a complex organ that operates through a network of neurons communicating using electrical signals. These signals require energy for transmission and processing. When you are engaged in mentally challenging tasks like problem-solving or decision-making, your brain uses up even more energy. It is like running a marathon for your brain, and when it does not get the energy it needs, you feel mentally and physically exhausted.

Similarly, waste products build up in your brain during normal functioning, and usually, your brain clears these waste products efficiently to maintain optimal function. However, in chronic fatigue, this cleaning process does not work as well, so the waste products accumulate, further impairing cognitive function. It is like having a clogged drain in your brain; the more clogged it gets, the less efficient your brain becomes.

  1. Chronic fatigue can be caused by various factors such as high stress, insufficient sleep, multitasking, or information overload. Imagine your brain as a computer—it can only handle so much before it starts to slow down and freeze.
  2. One way to alleviate chronic fatigue is through yoga-based meditation practices. These practices, originating from ancient Indian Knowledge Systems, have been shown to reduce inflammation, pain, stress, anxiety, and depression—common contributors to pathological fatigue.
  3. Meditation training fosters attentional and emotional self-regulation, reducing reactivity to negative experiences. In both healthy individuals and those with medical conditions, meditation-based interventions (MeBIs) have shown promise in improving quality of life, alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhancing pain management. Of the numerous studies conducted, approximately 76% have reported a notable decrease in fatigue symptoms following meditation interventions, suggesting its potential as an alternative, non-pharmacological approach to fatigue management across various pathological conditions.
  4. Non-pharmaceutical meditative interventions guide awareness-building, knowledge of the self, and improvements in feelings of self-worth and self-belief. They contribute to mental serenity and reduce repetitive thinking patterns. During meditation, you sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breath, bodily sensations, or a mantra under the guidance of a Guru or seasoned meditation practitioner.
  5. When distracting thoughts, such as those concerning sleep or other concerns, surface, you acknowledge them (Drishtabhav), and gently redirect your focus to the present moment. With regular practice, meditation can help calm your mind and reduce repetitive thinking, ultimately aiding you in combating chronic fatigue and improving your overall quality of life. It’s like giving your brain a much-needed vacation—a chance to rest and recharge so you can tackle whatever life throws your way.

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