Are you frequently exhausted? Fatigue and exhaustion can occur for many reasons. Here are a few ways to combat fatigue and how you can get back on track, body, mind and spirit.
- Rest & Relaxation: Stress is one of the most prevalent causes of fatigue. We often react to chronic stress with a fight-flight-freeze response. “Fight” may mean increased irritability or reactivity. “Freezing” may look like shutting down or disengagement. And “flight” may entail feeling a need to escape or run away. Day to day threats, whether real or perceived, and the cascade of hormones and neuro-chemicals that follow, can leave your system depleted and in need of serious repair. Implement one new relaxation technique such as meditation, reading, journaling, listening to inspirational music or whatever allows you to feel calm.
- Sleep: Sleep is one of the most underrated tools we have. Clearly, lack of quality sleep can leave you feeling tired, but did you know that over time, being sleep deprived can set you up for mental and physical illness? Sleep is needed for cellular repair, detoxification, brain health, immunity, and balanced mood and hormones. Our non-stop culture and 24/7 access to information and entertainment can trick you into thinking of a full night’s sleep as optional. If you are struggling to fall asleep, waking in the night, or wake up and do not feel rested, start with the basics: eliminate exposure to blue light, have a wind-down routine, make sure your bedroom is sufficiently cool and dark, and avoid working in bed.
- Nutrients: Food is meant to make you feel nourished. But if what you are eating leaves you feeling fatigued, it may be due to a food sensitivity, such as gluten, poor blood sugar balance, or a lack of micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Beyond avoiding sugar bombs and reading labels, focus on adding in a rainbow of vegetables each day. Eat a combination of fat, fiber and protein from whole-food sources to avoid spikes and crashes in your energy levels. Work with a practitioner to try an elimination diet or get tested to rule out any food sensitivities.
- Movement: Physical activity doesn’t have to mean a grueling workout. In fact, studies show that more moderate exercise is less likely to contribute to inflammation than a more strenuous regimen. Do what you enjoy most, whether that’s walking, biking, tennis, dancing, swimming, yoga or MIIT (moderate- or medium-intensity interval training). Movement is important for your body and mind, supporting detoxification pathways, mood, insulin sensitivity, stress, immunity, longevity, and yes, energy-balance. Speak with your health or medical practitioner prior to starting a new exercise plan, especially if you are recovering from an acute illness, have a chronic condition or suspect adrenal issues.
- Connection: Whether you are still adjusting or have already adapted to life “at home”, this can be a time of significant isolation, even for those with family or friends nearby. Detachment from significant others, withdrawal, or even a feeling of disconnection from yourself, can be read flags. If you don’t feel secure spending time with loved ones even while physically distant, outdoors, with a mask, try spending time in nature. Connection to the natural world can increase perspective, optimism, and take you beyond the four walls of your home, or your mind. Speaking of nature…
- Sunlight: You know how plants need sunlight to thrive? So do we. If you are finding yourself spending days on end indoors, this can definitely contribute to low energy and fatigue. There are plenty of ways to venture out in a safe and secure way. This may mean a walk around the neighborhood. Perhaps a day trip to a botanical garden or beach. Try hiking in a forest, boating on a lake, or even a picnic in a local park. You can even make it a point to have a meal outside on your deck, patio or yard each day. Sunlight is an important source of vitamin D and can help lift your mood, boost immunity and help you get more restful sleep.
- Tech break: More than ever, we are attached to our devices. In addition to excess exposure to blue light and its consequences for sleep, bombardment by media images of danger and suffering, or increased sedentary lifestyles, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association advise dramatically reducing time on tech for both children and adults. This can help combat fatigue. Even if you and your family need to stay connected for work and school, identify certain times each day or places in the home, to have a “screen-free zone” such as the dinner table or between 10pm and 8am. Experiment by staying off media for several hours or even one whole day to sense the difference in how you feel. Focus on what you will gain, such as time or energy, instead of what you will potentially miss out on.
- Functional Medicine: Many illnesses can lead to fatigue, in some cases extreme. Functional medicine uses root-cause assessment and resolution to find out why you are having the symptoms, and provides a more comprehensive plan for how to address them. If you suspect an illness such as autoimmunity, fibromyalgia, anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, gut imbalance, infections, or thyroid issues, a functional medicine practitioner can help you combat fatigue and can offer a more lasting solution. Learn more at https://fxmedcenters.com/
- Therapy or coaching: Fatigue and exhaustion can be serious. Don’t ignore the signals. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorder, and many other conditions can increase fatigue, and if you have fatigue, it can make these conditions harder to manage. If you are struggling with your emotions, mood, relationships, or traumas, consider working with a therapist. If you are interested in implementing some of the above lifestyle suggestions, but aren’t sure how, or would benefit from more support to follow through, a coach can partner with you to work toward your goals and help you make your vision a reality. Call 201-488-6678 to learn more or schedule your first appointment to help combat fatigue.
By Anna Sandbank, LCSW, INHC, CMHIMP, Director of Integrative Mind-Body Health, Specialized Therapy Associates, Fx Med Centers, Xceptional You
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice, or replace treatment or intervention by a qualified medical or mental health professional.