By: Dr. Dennis Nguyen, DPT
Have you been feeling tired, drowsy, or lethargic throughout the day? There are many factors that can be contributing to this. These factors can range from physiological to psychological. Whatever the reason may be, chronic fatigue can wear us down and lead to even more issues down the road. So here are 5 different ways to address and overcome fatigue.
Watch what you put in your body
A healthy and balanced diet can do wonders to help combat fatigue. For many of us, we are not getting the right amount of proper nutrition. Foods that will help boost energy will be high in complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber since it supplies energy more evenly throughout the day. Foods such as oatmeal, nuts, and yogurt will help boost energy. Avoid sugary foods, since it will just spike insulin levels and lead to a crash later. Staying hydrated has also been shown to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. The rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in oz of water. For example, if you weight 160 lbs, you would need to drink 80 oz of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration levels. Avoiding caffeine is also advisable. As It may provide you with a boost short term but prolonged usage will actually lead to increased fatigue levels.
It may sound counter-intuitive. You may be wondering, “If I’m tired, then wouldn’t exercising lead me to be more tired?”. However, the opposite is true. A study done in 2008 took 36 sedentary adults and had them perform low to moderate levels of exercise for 6 weeks. Following that 6-week period, the group reported increased energy levels overall. An exercise routine that you can include, can be something as simple as walking outside. Start small, and slowly increase the duration and intensity over time. You can also try things around the house such as standing up and sitting down on a chair for repetitions, or even climbing up and down the stairs. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to chronic fatigue. So anything that gets you moving more, and sitting around less, will be beneficial in helping you to overcome fatigue.
Get good sleep
This one may sound obvious, but many people are not getting the adequate amount of sleep at night. It is recommended to have 7-9 hours of sleep per night. A restful sleep can make a huge difference in your energy levels the next day. Not only that, but adhering to a sleep schedule has been shown to help with getting consistent, restful sleep. So, try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day- even on the weekends. If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, or you toss and turn often at night, then you might need to change your habits before bed. Avoid staring at screens such as your computer or phone before bed, as doing so delays your body’s internal clock, suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. In addition, if you’re feeling tense or anxious, you can also try to journal before bed, in order to clear your mind from the stresses of the day.
Stress is a huge factor that can lead to chronic fatigue. When you are feeling stressed, your body is actually using up a lot of energy. This may zap up your energy levels, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic. Try to promote healthy habits to reduce stress throughout the day. You can try taking up meditation. If you’ve never done it before, and don’t know where to start, there are many guided meditations online as well as free apps that you can download and follow, that will help. Another way to reduce stress is to find a relaxing hobby you can do on your own or with others. It can range from anything from practicing yoga to listening to music or even reading. Any hobby that helps you take your mind off all the stressors from the day, will help you feel more relaxed and less stressed. Less stress will contribute to less fatigue in the long run.
Rule out other health conditions
Feeling tired all the time is not “normal”. If you notice that that is what you are experiencing, try to change up your habits and routine. Give the above suggestions a shot and see if that helps with increasing your energy levels.
However, sometimes other health problems can also lead to chronic fatigue. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid conditions can negatively affect your energy levels. If you constantly feel tired throughout the day or become easily fatigued, and you feel like you’ve tried everything, you may want to consult with your doctor to see if there are any underlying health issues.