Fatigue is often the result of our modern lifestyle which causes us to seek quick fixes and these quick fixes ultimately lead us to exhaustion. Many of my patients tell me that they have been exhausted for so long that they have forgotten what it is like to wake up refreshed and with enough energy to get through the day!
So how do we reverse the crippling effects of chronic exhaustion and renew our health?
The following 7 steps will help you to feel energised again!
Step 1: Rest (no surprise there)
We completely undervalue how important rest and a good night’s sleep is for our total well-being. Listen to your body and rest when you are exhausted. Learn to say no when you are over-loaded and over worked. Make sleep a priority! Get your 8-9 hours every night and don’t let anything or anyone take that away from you! (Easier said than done I know, but do your best)
Step 2: Say goodbye to caffeine (sorry!)
I’m sure a lot of you love your morning coffee as much as I do, but trust me, it doesn’t love us back! Caffeine is one of the first stimulants we turn to when we are feeling fatigued because it often gives us a short burst of energy and makes us feel like we can handle the day. Unfortunately caffeine, especially when you are having several doses throughout the day, can lead to further exhaustion. It over stimulates our nervous system and prevents us from being able to enter a proper state of relaxation. Try some warm lemon water instead, or a cup of green tea. Avoid energy drinks completely and stay away from caffeine loaded soft drinks. If you must have coffee or tea, make lunch time the cut off. This will allow the caffeine to be gone from your system by bed time (yes even if you think it doesn’t affect your sleep) Once you feel your energy levels improving, your body will be able to tolerate your morning coffee a lot better.
Step 3: Hydrate
Our brain is 75% water. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood, ability to think and our energy levels. Set a goal to have a glass of water every hour. Make your water more interesting by adding fruits such as lemon, lime or berries or maybe try adding some mint and cucumber! Try to stay away from cordial, juice, carbonated and flavoured water as much as possible.
Step 4: Get active
I know I told you to rest in step 1 but being active is just as important when it comes to repairing long term exhaustion. Sitting has now been called the new smoking and unfortunately, most of us spend our entire days sitting at our desks! Getting active helps our body to release endorphins which help us to feel good. Being active also helps us to sleep better. Try going for a short walk each day (perhaps on your lunch break) or practice a gentle form of exercise like yoga or beginners pilates.
Step 5: Eat well
One of the first things we crave when we are exhausted is sugar!! Unfortunately sugar only provides us with a temporary peak in blood sugar and energy levels and leaves us with nowhere to go but down. And fast. Choose meals full of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs (wholemeal options) eat plenty of veggies and snack on fruit when you get that strong mid-afternoon craving for sweets. You could even try my Lemony Heaven Bliss Balls (find the recipe here) to get you through the 3pm slump.
Step 6: Are you deficient?
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to fatigue and exhaustion but they can also develop due to over-activity and stress. This is where the vicious cycle begins!
B-vitamins are helpful in times of stress and they can help to boost you mental and physical energy levels. I do not believe that we should ever take a supplement indefinitely but I do believe certain supplements have the ability to give us a boost and help us through difficult times. A good quality B complex is one of the supplements I have strong faith in as I have felt the positive effects myself.
Low iron levels can also lead to fatigue. This problem is more common in women than men. Iron supplements can be toxic in large doses, especially when iron deficiency is not the cause of your fatigue, so make sure you consult your health care professional before commencing an iron supplement.
Magnesium is essential in times of stress and fatigue. Magnesium helps with over 300 biochemical processes in our bodies but one of its main functions is to turn the food we eat into energy!! Magnesium also helps to reduce muscular aches and pains and can help to relax our minds and muscles. This assists us to reduce stress levels and improve our quality of sleep. Not all magnesium supplements are created equal, so make sure you seek advice before you being using one. Almonds and cashews are a natural source of magnesium, try having a small handful daily as an easy snack.
Step 7: Herbs can help
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbs in Chinese medicine, and for good reason too! Ginseng is well known for its ability to raise energy levels (without causing over-stimulation) and its ability to boost brain function and memory. As always, seek advice before taking a new herbal medicine. Herbal medicines are powerful and effective but they can interact with certain prescription drugs and health conditions so always exercise caution.
Start following these steps today and you will being to feel the positive changes in no time!