Feeling tired all the time? You are not alone. Research shows that many people feel wiped out — emotionally, mentally, and physically. However, don’t despair. Experts have several recommendations for what you can do besides drinking coffee all day long and taking medication to fall asleep.
It’s also important to note that it is not so much how long we sleep (even though medical experts recommend 7-8 hours) but the quality of that slumber. Sleep quality has an enormous effect on your energy levels. If you have a partner that keeps you awake by snoring or tossing too much, Dr. Phillips recommends “kicking” your partner our of bed for seven days so that you can reestablish your sleep patterns.
What can be causing perpetual tiredness? According to Holly Phillips, MD, we don’t need just to accept it. In her book The Exhaustion Breakthrough, she discusses hidden causes of fatigue and exhaustion.
1. A lack of energy can be the result of common medical conditions such as anemia, thyroid hormones dysfunction, or gastrointestinal disorders.
People suffering from thyroid disorders may exhibit the following symptoms: feeling like you don’t have the energy to exercise or not exercising on a consistent basis; a heavy or tired head, especially in the afternoon (your head is a very sensitive indicator of thyroid hormone status); and falling asleep as soon as you sit down without a task. Other conditions have similar symptoms that can add to general fatigue or frequent drowsiness.
2. What you eat might be making you tired.
Certain types of foods and beverages can make you tired. For example, while coffee is full of antioxidants and other nutrients and while it gives you a quick boost of energy, returns diminish with each additional cup. It becomes a sort of endless cycle.
3. If you are already suffering from anxiety or depression, fatigue may be part of your illness.
Depression can be really debilitating and sometimes it can be so severe that it’s a struggle to even get out of bed. People who are depressed often lack motivation and have stopped doing their favorite activities like exercising or seeing friends.
4. Experiencing chronic stress can make you tired and unable to sleep due to obsessive thoughts that you are not able to get rid off.
Chronic stress has become an epidemic and it can contribute to major illnesses such as heart problems, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer. Don’t underestimate how stress can affect your life and find ways to manage stress more effectively such as adopting a meditation practice and taking time to nurture yourself.
5. Certain types of medication can also be the culprit.
These may include: anti-anxiety medicines, antidepressants, high blood pressure medicines, and statin medicines for high cholesterol. Consult with your doctor regarding side effects of medication.
Could any of those reasons be why you’re tired? Read on for what you can do to get back on track:
1. Get some sunlight and fresh air, even if you live in a cold climate.
Ten minutes out of doors is all it takes to leave you feeling rejuvenated. This will also help to clear your mind and help to replenish “feel good hormones” that prevent depression. Vitamin D also helps to prevent depression symptoms from becoming chronic.
2. Listen to upbeat music.
Listening to upbeat music will get your blood flowing quicker. In this way, you will also be able to focus on something other than your obsessive thoughts and see things in a new life.
3. Get some light exercise, such as taking a brisk walk.
It can be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood. Sometimes we think we are tired physically while in fact we could just be drained from obsessive thinking or worrying too much. Seeing beauty around us can be refreshing.
4. Attend to your personal grooming.
Schedule a hair appointment or pamper yourself with pedicure or manicure. It will also encourage you to leave the house and socialize. By taking care of yourself you will also feel better about yourself. You are NOT your illness.
5. Clean up a little.
Get up from your desk and clean it. Or do the dishes. This change in routine will boost your energy level. Sitting for extended periods of time may also make you feel anxious or depressed.
6. Run a quick errand.
Visit your bank or post office and you will also feel good checking something off your “to do” list. This will help you feel that you in control of your life.
7. Eat healthy, nutritious snacks.
It’s tempting to resort to chocolate, cookies, or coffee in a crunch, but this will have a short term effect. Instead, reach for berries, spinach, black beans, or peppers. Salad or a fruit smoothie will also help you get over the mid-afternoon slump and help you regain energy.
Featured photo credit: I’m so tired! / Gwen Quinlan via flickr.com