How are you feeling right now? If you answered, “tired,” then you may be one of the 2.2 million Americans who have experienced prolonged fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
We all lose sleep now and then, whether it’s due to a hectic schedule or trouble sleeping at night, but chronic fatigue is different. It is your body’s way of telling you to make some changes if you want to feel healthy and energized again.
Putting an End to Fatigue
Fatigue is caused by prolonged physical or mental stress. You could be working too hard, not getting enough sleep or feeling anxiety over some aspect of your life. The stress causes the release of cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these hormones can raise blood pressure and damage your health when produced in excess.
Chronic fatigue is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits. Many patients say they feel tired all the time and don’t know what to do about it. In most cases, it has affected their ability to work, care for their families and generally enjoy life. If this sounds familiar to you, there are things you can do today to fight chronic fatigue. Here are some natural solutions to help you transform and energize your daily life.
1) See the Light – Natural light encourages the release of the hormone, serotonin, which improves mood and provides energy. Don’t let the day pass without getting outside, if only for 10 minutes during lunch. You can also try a quick walk either before work or as soon as you return home. During the winter, full spectrum light fixtures are an excellent solution.
2) Eat for Energy – Fatigue is exacerbated when blood sugar levels rise and fall rapidly. Keep them stable by avoiding added sugars (like the ones used in processed foods, soda and candy) and eating plenty of whole grains, fresh produce and lean protein. The complex carbohydrates in whole grains give you quick energy without the “crash,” and protein is essential to sustain energy, concentration and healthy muscles.
3) Check Your Workload – Most people blame their fatigue on having too much to do, and it certainly plays a major role. In order to fight fatigue, assess what is truly important on your to-do list, and start saying “no” to demands on your time that don’t enhance your life in some tangible way. At the office, either delegate or work with your supervisor to determine which tasks are truly urgent and which ones are not worth sweating over.
4) Get Moving – Although it is counter-intuitive, exercising will not make you even more tired. When you get your heart pumping with moderate cardiovascular activities, your body releases endorphins, hormones that keep you feeling positive and energized. In fact, exercise can be just as effective as certain drugs at easing feelings of depression in some people.
5) Get Some Sleep – It’s easier said than done, but sleep is your body’s best defense against fatigue. When you’re resting, the body is able to repair itself and build up the defenses necessary to help you handle everyday stress. Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. If you have trouble getting to sleep, give yourself an hour before bed with no computer, TV or other stimulation. Instead, wind down with a hot bath or a good book. Don’t consume caffeine after 3 p.m. and keep in mind that regular exercise also enhances the quality of sleep.
If you try just one or two or these simple steps, you may see an improvement in your energy levels. It isn’t easy to change your habits overnight, but if you try a new tip every week, you will have a better chance of making a permanent change in your habits. Chronic fatigue can be unbearable, but you have the power to put an end to it once and for all.
Photo Credit: Ambro