Q&A: How Can We Break the Cycle of Feeling ‘Tired and Wired’?

When you're "tired and wired," you feel exhausted but also unable to relax. Ayurveda can help.

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Q: How can we break the cycle of feeling “tired and wired” all the time?

A: There is a new experience sweeping through our collective culture called “tired and wired” — a really uncomfortable sensation where you feel totally exhausted but also on-edge and unable to relax. It’s like your mind and body have one foot firmly entrenched on the break, and one foot firmly planted down on the gas.

Ayurveda can help us get out of this totally unproductive cycle. But first, it may be helpful to admit that many of us use stimulants like caffeine to get going (and keep going) throughout the day. Then, to slow down at night, we eat too much, drink too much wine or rely on other “depressants.” This combo keeps us in tired and wired mode.

Here are 6 ways to immediately begin to reverse this pattern:

1. Be OK with feeling the feelings that may come up as you begin to get off the adrenaline wagon and start relaxing. Initially, relaxing can feel really scary, particularly if we have been in go-mode for a long time. On a spiritual level, we may have been actually keeping ourselves busy as a way of avoiding our experience.

2. Slowly reduce your intake of both stimulants and depressants like wine and coffee. You will begin to regain the natural vitality and relaxation capacities that these substances kill off.

3. Eating a whole foods diet can dramatically reduce the symptoms of “tired and wired.” When we are out of balance, our tissues tend to dry up and burn out. Emphasizing warm and wet foods can help re-moisten the dried-up system. Examples include foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, peas, ghee, cooked vegetables, and whole grains.

4. Say no. So many of us are doing too much because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. You don’t have to answer every email immediately or accept every invitation. Learning to lovingly say no will leave more room in your life for down time.

5. Turn off all screens after 8 p.m.

6. Breathe. Deep belly breathing — done for just 20 minutes a day — can dramatically re-wire your nervous and endocrine system.

Katie Silcox is the author of the upcoming book, “Healthy, Happy, Sexy – Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women.” She’s a vinyasa yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, contributor to Yoga Journal, and a senior teacher within the Sri-Vidya ParaYoga lineage under Yogarupa Rod Stryker.