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Give New Life to Old Clothes in These 8 Quirky Ways

Give New Life to Old Clothes in These 8 Quirky Ways

Every closet and dresser holds worn and forgotten clothes. They take up space and produce cobwebs in your mind. What if you found interesting ways to use those old clothes? It would not only clear out the cobwebs, but would also make you feel like a very clever recycler. The number one obvious use of old clothes is to hand them down to younger siblings or contribute them to thrift stores and shelters. It shrinks your family’s clothing budget, helps those in need, and reduces the world’s energy footprint. However, sometimes old clothes are too worn to be worn. Sometimes they have too much sentimental value to let go of them. Admit it! You keep some of those T-shirts at the bottoms of your drawers because every time you look at them you think about someone or something in your life that was fun or special. When old clothes can’t be passed along, consider these quirky ways to keep them in your life:

1. Turn shirts and pants into pillows

This is a cool way to get those special clothes out of the drawer or off the hanger and put them where you see them every day to spark special memories. Cut square or rectangular pieces from the clothing strategically, and cover an old, ugly pillow. Or simply sew a covering from your shirts and pants, then stuff it with fiberfill or old, unmatched socks. You can also tear your not-so-special old clothes into strips and use them for stuffing. Preserve the most interesting parts of clothing items for the face of the pillow: T-shirt designs, zipper and button plackets, or decorated pockets. If the clothing is not big enough to cover the pillow size you want, patch pieces together.

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2. Seal shirts into hanging holders

Have you seen those fabric diaper holders that drop from a hanger? You can make your own hanging storage by simply sewing up the bottom of a shirt and hanging it on a hanger. Place items inside to store them for use later. If you use a shirt with buttons or a zipper, you’ll have easy access to whatever you put inside. Use it for diapers, towels, fabric for sewing, newspapers and more. You can even use your hanging storage to collect other old clothing you plan to recycle into useful things. Simply unbutton or unzip the front to browse what’s inside. If you do this with T-shirts, you’ll have a handy opening at the top, but the solid front of the shirt will securely contain small things, such as wadded up plastic grocery bags, recyclable cans and plastic soda bottles, bottle tops, or other clothes you eventually take to the Goodwill. If you need bigger shirt-storage to hold more, add a rectangular piece of fabric to the bottom, which also allows you to stack items horizontally.

3. Cut patches or rip strips to make fabric crafts

Some old clothing isn’t nice enough to keep hanging around, but it provides a useful resource. Clothes, after all, are made from fabric—and old clothes can provide a crafter’s smorgasbord. Cut pieces to make patchwork crafts, including quilts, hot pads, curtains and chair covers. Or rip the fabric into narrow strips, then use a large hook or needles to crochet or knit into hats, scarves and rugs. Rag crafts are perfect for old clothes without memorable features that would make them suitable for pillows, but with unique colors that spark memories. Thicker strips can be used to make casings for hockey sticks, fishing rods and other long, thin artifacts. Twist casings made from stretchy fabrics into colorful headwraps. The possibilities are endless!

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4. Turn fabric riches to rags

Worn old clothes often make the best cleaning rags, because sizing has been completely washed out and the fibers are soft and absorbent. T-shirts make awesome head rags for people with curly hair when over-absorbent towels cause excess drying and make hair fuzzy. Old flannel shirts are the best for polishing glass, dress shoes and high-sheen metal, such as the chrome on your car.

5. Quirky quilted memories

It’s likely you are keeping an old pair of jeans or an 80s shirt or dress because it’s one-of-a-kind, and you know you’ll never see it again. Take it out of the dark and turn it into a family heirloom quilt that will bring you pleasure for the rest of your life. Cut pieces from the clothing that include special, memorable features, such as blinged-out jeans pockets, button plackets with funky buttons, or even worn patches on knees. If the fabric has worn all the way through, you can back the patch with a random piece of fabric before sewing it into a quilt. Quilting from old clothing works great when you use items of the same kind. For example, make a family quilt from one or two pairs of worn-out jeans from each person in the family. Consider embroidering each person’s name on the pants they wore!

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6. Give it up to packing

After some time, items of clothing that once held memories lose their appeal. The memories fade, or later events turn the positive memories into negative ones. Perhaps it’s time to give those pieces a second life in an even darker spot than your drawers: memory boxes in the attic. Old clothing wadded up into soft, squishy balls of fabric make awesome packing for delicate mementoes. Use natural fabrics without chemicals that might harm your heirlooms.

7. It’s a strain to keep it

Select one shirt with a loose weave to use as a strainer in the kitchen. Simply cut a square of the fabric and place it over a bowl or jar to strain tiny particles out of liquids. On jars, use a rubber band to hold the fabric in place; before securing, poke the fabric down into the mouth of the jar to create a small well to hold the debris you strain out. If you want to strain liquids into larger vessels, such as bowls or pans, sew the fabric into a small bag. Hold it over the bowl or pan and pour the liquid into the mouth of the bag.

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8. Hand it down to pets

When it’s really cold outside, even pets need a little extra help keeping warm. Use infant and children’s T-shirts and coats as-is on your pet’s upper body. Turn sleepers and pajamas into pet jumpers for all four feet. Don’t forget to cut a hole for your friend’s tail. If you don’t want to dress up your cats and dogs, use old clothing as winter-time bedding to keep them toasty. In fact, consider sewing up a big old shirt at the bottom, tucking the arms inside and loosely filling the inside of the resulting bag with other clothing. Lay it down flat, and invite Fido or Sylvester to cuddle up. What other uses can you think of? Part of the fun of reusing and recycling is coming up with uses of your own to fit your unique life. Don’t let those old clothes linger in the dank, dark corners of your home any longer. Pull them out, and rip, stitch or wad them into handy new uses!

Featured photo credit: Girl Writing in her Moleskin Diary/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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