Fatigue is quite commonly mistaken for tiredness – feeling rundown with little energy to do anything. But, unlike fatigue, tiredness is easily managed with adequate rest and re-balance. Fatigue is a lingering symptom, usually an indication of something else such as anxiety, diabetes or anemia.
Working out exactly what causes us to feel fatigued can be challenging. It’s often triggered by a combination of multiple medical and lifestyle factors, such as a lack of exercise and sleep, a poor diet and feeling stressed – all of which can contribute to an equally varied range of physical and mental symptoms such as chronic tiredness, loss of appetite, short-term memory problems, slow reflexes and low levels of concentration. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to manage mild fatigue and potentially overcome it.
When we’re tired, exercise is undoubtedly the last thing on our minds, but research suggests that there are multiple advantages to engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise. Not only is exercise a stress-buster, it acts directly on our central nervous systems to boost energy levels. Regular exercise also improves sleep over time – just be sure not to exercise too late in the evening, as the immediate energy boost will make it harder to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
Make time to stop
While it’s important to regularly exercise, it is equally important to factor in time to rest, too. Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services’ advice hub BetterHealth states that two-thirds of us don’t get enough sleep, which makes it difficult for us to stay alert during daylight hours. It’s important to train our bodies to get into a sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same times every day. Also try to avoid day naps so as to ensure as deep a sleep as possible at night.
Fatigue is a common sign of dehydration, and the fact is that most of us are not drinking enough H2O. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to cells and keeps them hydrated, so it’s no wonder we feel tired if we aren’t drinking enough! The recommended daily intake is roughly eight to 10 cups, though that number also depends on other factors including climate, activity or exercise, age and what we’ve consumed throughout the day (some fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumber and spinach have high water content). There are many ways to build up a habit of staying hydrated, be it setting regular alarms throughout the day or downloading an app that serves up reminders to hydrate. The easiest solution? Carrying a water bottle everywhere.
Strike a pose
When we feel tired, it can be hard to maintain good posture – especially if we work behind a desk five days a week or sit at a table working on a puzzle! Poor posture can contribute to joint wear and tear and can cause back pain, which in turn exacerbates fatigue. Yoga and Pilates are very effective ways to build up good posture, but any exercise with a focus on core is highly beneficial. If our abs are strong, they can help to support our backs. We can even work to improve posture as we sleep! Lie down on the side with knees slightly bent or lie back with a pillow under the knees to help maintain the natural curve of the spine, which will ease any back pain the next morning.
Eat regularly and eat well
Instead of eating three large meals a day, opt for six smaller meals to keep blood sugar levels steady. A diet high in iron-rich foods (looking at you, leafy greens, beans and red meat!) will ensure that our energy levels remain constant throughout the day. As you’ve probably guessed, that also means we need to keep a close eye on caffeine and sugar intake to avoid those energy slumps – that doesn’t mean we can’t get our morning coffee fix, but we should limit ourselves to one to two cups each day. When it comes to sugary foods, focus on fruits, yoghurts and the occasional serve of dark chocolate.
While these steps may help to keep fatigue at bay, nothing substitutes professional medical advice. If you’ve no history of illness and find that these remedies listed above still aren’t helping to feel more energized, it’s important to seek medical advice. Of course, if you’ve already been experiencing long-term serious symptoms such as weight loss, loss of appetite, blood loss from your bowel or feelings of depression and anxiety, speak to your local GP immediately.
Article courtesy of Benestar – redefining the employee assistance program category for over 30 years.