By Dr. Mark Wiley
You know what it’s like to feel tired, even exhausted. These are normal states your body reaches that are indicators that it is time to rest and sleep. Each day your body feels tired when its energy is drained, and it is time to reboot. But fatigue is another story altogether. Fatigue is excessive tiredness over time, and this is not a healthy state. The good news: with some simple changes and natural remedies you can defeat fatigue and live vibrantly.
Often the American lifestyle is one of too much stress, too much work, too much worry and not enough relaxation or sleep. This causes one to feel fatigued. And when this fatigue is prolonged, or allowed to exist for weeks on end, it can become chronic. Chronic fatigue is one of the most debilitating health issues you can grapple with. It saps your energy and joy for life. Often it can lead to depression.
The problem is that many people bring prolonged fatigue through their daily actions and choices. Fatigue-inducing actions include:
- Working too many hours in a given day and week
- Working too physically strenuously or stressfully
- Taking on too much without the ability to say no
- Inability to reduce psychological stress
- Not getting seven strong hours of sleep per night
- Using external stimulants to produce energy, like caffeine, sugar or drugs
- Poor diet that is high in simple carbohydrates, sugars and fats
- Not drinking ample amounts of water
- Taking the nervous system with smoking and drinking of alcohol
The suffering of chronic fatigue is something that most people can obliterate from their lives, however. If you examine the above list, you can see that all the examples given are based on personal actions and behaviors. Change these and you change your energy levels, naturally. Here are eight things you can do:
- Set a standard sleep and wake schedule and try not to deviate from it if possible. Recent studies indicate that seven hours of sleep per night is not only ideal, but the healthiest.
- Do not consume caffeinated or sugar-laden beverages that dehydrate you but also cause spikes and drops in blood sugar. This causes fatigue.
- If you are experiencing fatigue in the middle of the day, if possible, take a nap, go for a walk, or take a personal day to go home and recharge. One lost day is worth suffering for weeks or longer at the hands of fatigue.
- Try to get your work done within the standard eight-hour day. This may mean prioritizing your time, better managing your schedule, or reducing your workload. Learn to say no, before you are overwhelmed. Again, we are talking of balancing your health with your work.
- Learn and practice daily stress-management and stress-reduction techniques, like mindful breathing and NLP reframing methods. Aromatherapy also helps, as does hot showers and soothing baths at the end of the night.
- Avoid all external stimulants that produce artificial energy. They only provide a short energy boost, while dragging your body down far below the healthy tired levels. If you need energy, then go for a brisk five-minute walk or do some jumping jacks. While it sounds counterintuitive, it takes energy to make energy. The more you exercise or move your body the more energy your body produces naturally.
- Eat only whole grains when deciding on bread and pastas, as these take longer to break down and turn to sugar in your body. Thus, they do not cause the same spikes and dips in energy that simple carbs do. Getting your carbohydrates from vegetable sources is even better,
- Try as best you can to reduce over stimulation of your sense organs. That means creating a work and living environment that is not overly crammed with images, sounds, smells, and clutter. All of this taxes your nervous system and can lead you to feel fatigue.
There are five things that lead naturally to optimal energy:
- Oxygen – With out oxygen you cannot live. Yet most people breathe shallowly, only using a portion of their lung capacity. Thus, they do not bring in enough fresh oxygen into to body nor do they expel enough carbon dioxide. Breathing deeply a few times every hour, as long as the air is fresh, can help energize your body, aid in detoxification, and invigorate your cells.
- Food – Also necessary for life, food is your fuel. Eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and reducing sugars and processed products will go a long way to creating natural energy and stabilizing sugar crashes.
- Water – This is so important for all functions in the body, from elimination of toxins to moistening of the lungs and other organs, to keeping the muscles loose. Drinking water to stay hydrated is a valuable resource for preventing fatigue.
- Sleep – Sleep is when your body shuts down and begins to repair itself from the stresses of the day. You need this time to regenerate and cleanse and repair. Without ample sleep on a nightly basis, you will surely experience fatigue and often, chronic pain.
- Movement – As mentioned above, it takes the use of energy to create energy. The more you can walk or jump or exercise the more energy your body will naturally start producing. Being sedentary only leads to more sedentary behaviors and this leads to low energy, tiredness and then to fatigue. Get up and move.
In addition to the lifestyle changes above, there are additional things one can do to prevent and also to overcome fatigue. These include getting regular bodywork like massage, acupuncture, chiropractic; taking yoga, Pilates or a spin class; going to the gym, hiking, or biking on a regular basis; and adding some supplements to your diet, like B complex, vitamins E and C, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron and ginseng. Be sure to forgo to No Doze or Jet Lap pills!
Being tired is a natural part of each day and is a sign from your body telling your brain that you need to relax and rest and sleep. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a sign that you are past tired and into potentially dangerous waters where a downturn in your wellness and even health may be at stake. Since fatigue is largely self-induced via the reasons stated above over time, it is clear that making changes in your daily behaviors, actions and choices can naturally reverse fatigue and prevent its return.
Live a vibrant life full of energy by making the adjustments to your life that will keep fatigue at bay. It may take some effort at first, but routines are easy to fall into after a brief period of introduction.