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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Fatigue Symptom (& How to Boost Energy)

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Fatigue Symptom (& How to Boost Energy)

Adulting is hard, there’s so much to do and so little time. Juggling between work appointments and personal commitments, commuting through traffic, paying bills – our days are marked by a series of endless tasks.

Feeling tired after a hectic day is quite normal – nothing that a warm shower and a good night’s rest cannot cure.

However, if the bouts of fatigue occur more often and last longer, you might have a problem. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t ignore fatigue as a passing phase.

Warning signs of fatigue

Feeling tired all the time? You’re not alone my friend. Scientific studies show how fatigue has affected the productivity of people irrespective of their age and gender.

You cannot just take a relaxing vacation or a couple of days off work and expect the exhaustion and restlessness to disappear.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering “why am I so tired all the time?”, don’t blow it off. Here are a few red flags that one should look out for:

  • Lack of sleep and excessive snoring
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Yellow colored urine
  • Panic attacks, palpitations, anxiety
  • Severe headaches and body pain
  • Weak immunity
  • The onset of allergies and itchiness
  • Cracked lips, acne breakouts
  • Sudden and excessive hair loss

Note: Victoria (Australia) state government’s BetterHealth portal offers a more detailed list of symptoms related to fatigue.

[1]

Why you shouldn’t take the fatigue lying down

We’ve all had those days when you’re so weary, tiredness no longer remains just a condition, it becomes an emotion.

The reason behind this exhaustion can be both physical and psychological. Physical fatigue affects your bodily function (hand limb coordination, blinking frequently etc), psychological fatigue affects the cognitive function of your brain (i.e. feeling dizzy, “brain fog” etc).

Fatigue can be an early sign of depression or anxiety. And there’s no escape, not until you get professional help.

People who have chronic fatigue may become depressed and experience extreme bouts of sadness along with the muscle cramps, joint pain and headaches – an unfortunate combination that affects mostly young to middle-aged adults.

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Proper sleep and an orderly life might be helpful in controlling the sudden bouts of dizziness and acute fatigue you feel all day. In fact, it would come as a surprise to many that chronic fatigue actually keeps one awake at night.

There’s nothing worse than being bone-tired but unable to fall asleep. Making a few changes in your routine cannot magically cure psychological issues such as depression or physical problems like high blood pressure. You need to see a doctor for that.

Do not dismiss your exhaustion, especially if it’s affecting your daily life and productivity.

Chronic fatigue vs Feeling tired – What’s the difference?

Imagine feeling so exhausted that the simplest of tasks seem impossible. Now combine that physical exhaustion with severe headaches, joint pains and nausea. Finally, imagine telling this to a close friend only to have him/her roll their eyes in disbelief.

These hypothetical scenarios are part and parcel of someone suffering from chronic fatigue. Fatigue is a daily struggle while tiredness is just a temporary incontinence.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a legit medical condition and means a lot more than just your body feeling tired.

In severe cases, the symptoms can last for up to 6 months or longer. A report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has revealed how one in five people suffer from or show signs of chronic fatigue.[2]

Underlying medical conditions triggering your fatigue symptoms

Most people blame the hectic lifestyle for their lethargy. And while that’s true to some extent, it’s not the only reason behind your exhaustion.

Fatigue can be a sign of some serious disease or medical condition. It could be a symptom of the following kinds of ailments.

Anemia

Anemia is a condition that affects your RBC count and blood supply to the brain, the heart and tissues. Women are more susceptible to feeling weak and tired because of blood loss during menstruation, or later in their pregnancy and breastfeeding stages.

Anemia is not a disease, but rather a sign of some other unresolved issue in your body that needs thorough diagnosis and fixing. It might be because of an iron or vitamin deficiency and other conditions like kidney failure, arthritis, and even cancer.

Fatigue is a common symptom in anemic people, along with other signs like chest pains, breathing problems, insomnia and headaches.

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To combat anemia, increase your intake of Vitamin C, consume yogurt and turmeric, eat a lot of green vegetables, include sesame seeds in your salads and smoothies.

Diabetes

Many people with diabetes describe themselves as feeling unbearably tired or lethargic at times.

High sugar levels disrupt the blood circulation, the cells don’t get enough oxygen or nutrients to function properly.

The RBCs are inflated due to excessive glucose, causing an increase in the production of monocytes in the brain that make you feel inactive and lethargic.

Low blood-sugar, on the other hand, can cause fatigue among other ailments as there is not enough fuel to power the cells.

Proper medication, a balanced diet and plenty of exercises would keep diabetes and your fatigue in check. Bring home a reliable blood sugar/glucose meters.

Blood pressure issues

Given that so many signs are associated with fatigue, it is no surprise that blood pressure goes unnoticed.

Almost every adult is struggling with a high or low blood-pressure problem. There are no prominent signs of hypertension and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult to diagnose. It is only when your arteries and other organs are at significant risk that we understand that all is not well with our body.

Some uncommon symptoms include chest pains, headache, frequent bouts of dizziness, vision problems and fatigue.

The physical exhaustion can also be a side-effect of the medication prescribed for blood-pressure fluctuations.

To control your blood pressure, focus on reducing extra flab from your body, exercise regularly, quit smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, reduce the amount of sodium in your food, avoid caffeine, and try yoga to de-stress.

Also, use a credible blood sugar monitoring device.

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Sleeping disorders

Feeling tired and run down during the waking hours is something we all struggle with. The ever-piling work pressure jam-packed schedules and chaotic lifestyle disrupt our body’s natural clock. And as you don’t get a proper shut-eye at night, you’re disoriented, confused and cranky in the morning.

Chronic fatigue has often been associated with sleeping disorders. Sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome are a few common sleeping disorders that people with chronic fatigue are susceptible to.

Researchers from Stockholm University showcased how sleep deprivation could negatively impact your social appeal.[3] Don’t worry, some medications, sleeping aids and a good rest are all you need to overcome the exhaustion.

Adopt a regular sleeping schedule, don’t eat heavy dinners, don’t drink alcohol or coffee before sleeping, and make your room’s lighting and air quality congenial for a good sleep.

Also, as a potent short term solution, use a handy cleansing device along with your favourite cleansers to make your skin look better. Use some safe and useful skincare devices to combat the negative signs of sleep issues on your face.

Thyroid problems

Tiredness is a common sign of hormonal imbalances in the body. And when your thyroid hormones are out of whack, chances are that your body would tire easily.

The thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, is responsible for controlling metabolic activity. An excessive production of the thyroid hormone (aka hyperthyroidism) speeds up the metabolism, while a deficiency of the hormone (aka hypothyroidism) slows the metabolic process of the body.

Hyperthyroidism causes fatigue, muscle sprains (especially around the thighs), sudden weight loss, excessive sweating and an irregular menstrual cycle in women.

Heart disease

People having cardiac problems might have trouble performing everyday tasks like climbing stairs, carrying some weight or even walking for a long time.

Fatigue, excessive sweating and intolerance to exercise are a few common symptoms of heart diseases. The arteries in the heart are blocked by cholesterol, blocking the blood flow to the other parts of the body.

As a result, you become more prone to breathing problems, high-pressure and even diabetes.

Fatigue can also occur due to dehydration – the toxic wastes aren’t flushed out, it accumulates in the organs and weakens the body from within.

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Menopause

A few symptoms of chronic fatigue also overlap with menopause.

Joint pain, headaches, anxiety, sleeping disorders, muscle cramps- they’re all part of menopause induced fatigue.

Hot flashes, excessive sweating, vaginal dryness and physical exhaustion can be your body’s way of coping with the hormonal changes when the menstrual cycle stops.

Almost every woman in her late 40s-50s has to go through this phase. However, if your symptoms are severe and extend over a long period, you should get it checked with a good gynecologist.

How to boost your energy

These days, we’re so used to luxury that even the most basic physical activity can tire us out. So, if you find yourself out of breath after climbing a few stairs, you need to stop and ask yourself – “Am I treating my body right?”.

Staying up late all night binge-watching movies and hogging on pizza is exactly the kind of lifestyle that would get your body in trouble.

Some fundamental lifestyle changes can go a long way toward increasing your life expectancy.

Here are a few easy and natural tips to boost your energy levels and stay fresh and active all day long:

  • Get more sleep. This is easier said than done, but there are sleeping aids and meds available over the counter that help you sleep better. Learn to hack your sleep cycle or try out Sleep Cycle app; it analyzes your sleep and wakes you up during the light sleep hours, ensuring you’re well rested before waking. It’s been positively reviewed by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Wired.
  • Regular exercise. Not just hitting the gym, but also yoga and meditation that keeps you mentally and physically fit. Try this guided meditation or try out Headspace, the most popular guided meditation apps of its times.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Any drug addiction can cause weight gain, breathing problems, sleep apnoea and other physical problems. If you find quitting smoking a herculean task, try replacements such as V2 Standard Starter Kit and V2 Pro Series 3 e-cigarettes, that cut down significantly on the nicotine intake.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of organic fruit juices and water at regular intervals.
  • Eat healthily. Include fresh fruits, veggies and proteins in your diet, do away with the calories. Eat a nutrient-rich, balanced diet. Find a healthy eating plan that suits you.

When to make an appointment with your doctor?

Chronic fatigue has recently been recognized as a disease by the medical community. Today, doctors are acknowledging fatigue as a problem that doesn’t just imply lack of sleep, but a host of other medical issues that might be hidden underneath the apparent exhaustion.

Unfortunately, the layman still sees fatigue as a blanket term used to define lethargy, laziness, complacent behavior and a bad hangover.

Make an appointment with your doctor if your fatigue is accompanied by depression, severe anxiety, chest pains, breathing problems, dizziness, abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, vomiting and migraines. It might lead to some fatal consequences if left unchecked for long.

Summing it up

Chronic fatigue is tough to deal with, more so when people around you aren’t aware of your daily struggles to fight the exhaustion off.

Acknowledge the problem and get help – that’s the only way to deal with it.

Featured photo credit: Doğukan Şahin via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Victoria (Australia) state government’s BetterHealth: Fatigue
[2] Royal College of Psychiatrists: Sleep and tiredness: key facts from the Royal College of Psychiatrists
[3] Stockholm University: Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

Reference

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