Fatigue can feel like an obnoxious obstacle weighing you down and preventing you from achieving your goals and expectations. Whilst sometimes we simply need to re-evaluate those expectations, be gentle and patient with ourselves, and demand less, there are also a number of things we can do for our health that can provide us with additional energy.
Below I share my top tips to fight fatigue and feel more energised:
1. Make restorative sleep a priority.
Ideally we should aim for around 7-8 hours sleep each night. (Okay, I’m almost psycho-pathologically laughing as I write this. Being a new mum and having recently emerged from the unrelenting slog of the so-called 4th month sleep regression. Sleep, what is sleep? How dare I even mention sleep!). But seriously, restorative sleep should be a priority in your life. When we are depleted of sleep, everything in life feels more difficult. Our hormones can run rampant. We can become more emotionally uncensored. Healing is compromised. And productivity is reduced.
Make sleep a priority, rather than a time-devouring hindrance preventing you from getting more and more tasks completed, and see whether you become more energetic and productive throughout the day. You’ve heard it before but it’s worth reiterating: “Work smarter, not harder.”
2. Keep your body hydrated.
Water is the elixir of life! All of the tiny chemical reactions that are constantly occurring within your body and fueling your energy levels happen in water, or actually require water to happen! As a result, dehydration can reduce energy, alertness and concentration.
Keep a large glass or bottle of water beside you throughout the day and keep topping it up. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime, some berries or cucumber to spice it up and make it taste more desirable.
3. Eat plenty of nutritious food.
The food you eat supplies not just energy, but also the vitamins and minerals required for those trillions of tiny chemical reactions that I mentioned above. A deficiency in any macronutrients or micronutrients can leave you feeling depleted. Combat this by consuming a varied diet abundant in real, whole foods.
4. Don’t cut the carbs.
Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of very low-carbohydrate diets include tiredness, weakness, dizziness and mental fatigue. This is hardly surprising considering that the body’s primary source of energy is derived from carbohydrates. Ask yourself, am I getting enough good-quality, complex carbohydrates? Or even better get your diet assessed by a Nutritionist!
5. Promote good gut health.
For many, poor digestion is at the heart of lousy energy levels. In order to extract all the energy and nutrition from the foods you consume and therefore maximise your energy levels, your digestive system needs to function optimally. You can support your digestion by selecting foods that serve you well, eating in a stress-free environment, as well as including probiotic- or prebiotic-rich foods in your diet.
6. Stress less.
When you are chronically stressed, you are living in the sympathetic zone. That is, your “fight or flight” response is chronically active, while the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is suppressed. PNS activity is required for “rest, digestion and repair.” Living in the sympathetic zone can impair your body’s ability to extract all the wonderful nutrition from the foods you eat, as well as impede restorative sleep. Stress is literally exhausting!
7. Be careful with caffeine.
When tired or fatigued, caffeine makes sense right? I do love a good morning coffee! However, in the long-term caffeine can contribute to stress and exhaustion by adding to the adrenal load. Caffeine late in the day can also impact restorative sleep. So go easy on the caffeine. Consciously reduce the amount you are consuming or maybe even trial a caffeine-free month!
8. Stop saying yes, when you mean no.
Consider the drain on your energy levels when you commit to something, when you’d rather just say no. Nut out the reasons why you feel compelled to say yes. Is it out of love and care? If so, then it may actually help boost your energy levels. If not, then you need to consider the role the obligation plays in your life and that saying no may actually be better for you and those around you.
9. Get moving.
When you’re feeling fatigued, exercise can seem like the last thing you want to do. However, a brisk walk or even 10 minutes of stretching can help to improve blood flow and energy. Introduce exercise gently and be sure to schedule it at a time when you regularly have higher energy levels.
At the other end of the exercise spectrum, too much intense physical activity could leave you feeling energy depleted. It’s important to discover an appropriate balance that supports your best energy levels.
10. Expose yourself to sunlight.
Exposure to natural light plays a huge role in regulating the body’s energy cycles. To feel more energized throw open the curtains in the morning, work near a sunny window or create opportunities to head outside. This stimulates the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, which promote wakefulness, and suppresses melatonin, which supports sleep.
11. Check your levels.
If you’re concerned about your iron levels being at the root of poor energy levels, discuss getting them checked with your doctor. Also get your thyroid levels checked as poor thyroid function can be at the heart of poor energy. The thyroid is intricately linked to metabolism and energy availability yet it often goes overlooked.
12. Lastly, if you’re currently pregnant, or recovering from pregnancy and caring for a newborn like me…
And experiencing fatigue, be kind and gentle with yourself. You may need to re-evaluate your daily expectations of what is an achievable volume of work and remember: you are doing the hardest and most energy demanding job of all. You are creating and supporting a new life! Never feel guilty or bad about taking time to simply focus on the beautiful life that you are nurturing.