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Looking Tired?

by Rebecca Thomas

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

- William James

“You look exhausted Bee.”

Pause. Process.

“Yes, actually, I am.”

For the rest of that day I reflected on that tiny conversation I had with a colleague between a stream of meetings that I yawned my way through lethargically.

My feelings, I realised, were a mirror of the interactions I had been having with schools over the past few weeks. Most staff meetings I had ran lately had been met with pleas to ‘go gentle on the staff as the are feeling very tired'. Agreed, I could see it on their faces as they peered at the resources I laid out for each session - really their interest may have been their search for chocolates.

It’s true, schools seem very tired as of late.

I began to realise that the constant thought I had to have about teachers being tired had been making me feel tired too. I was guilty of being on The Thought Train. The Thought Train of exhaustion.

According to the James Lange Theory of Emotion, when the cortex of our brain receives stimuli this evokes our emotions and triggers our involuntary nervous system: blood pressure, respiratory, digestive system to react. These systems responding to the input stimulates our brain, which will then interpret the response as an experience of emotion.

Here are two examples to explain this theory:

  • Walking in a dark alley you hear a strange noise - your heart beats really fast - causing you to feel fear.

  • When someone says you look tired - this may cause you to yawn - feeling of tiredness.

Some critics disagreed with his Theory of Emotion and parts of his theory have been debated and tested since. What do you think about this idea, that a physical reaction and emotional reaction can be caused by a mere thought?

If there is indeed something in this, I wonder if when we think we are tired and exhausted, this may make our bodies fatigued - thus leading us to feel physically exhausted.

In my case it definitely worked, as soon as someone told me I looked tired (which I hadn’t actually considered) and I agreed with them, I then yawned and contemplated to the point I actually did feel physically exhausted.

To explore this idea and turn things around the following free tool below is a gift from Steve and I, so you can test this theory out with your staff and students. Track their thoughts and see if their thoughts create a particular outcome.

(click the link to get access to the free tool)

The next time you see a colleague who may look tired, tell them they look radiant instead and see if they smile and look more energized!

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