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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

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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Robin Williams

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Last Updated on January 22, 2021

5 Simple Stretches to Boost Your Energy at Your Office Desk

5 Simple Stretches to Boost Your Energy at Your Office Desk

Everyone knows that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your body and your mind. Getting the blood flowing helps you stay fresh with creativity, boosts energy, and helps your body work more efficiently. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to get up and move around as often as we should, but simple stretches added in during the day can help.

Studies have found that prolonged sitting can lead to increased risk in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome. Sitting is also known to increase pain by tightening the hip flexor and hamstring muscle, as well as stiffening the joints. This can cause problems with balance and gait in addition to the obvious discomfort.[1]

One study found that “greater total sedentary time” and “longer sedentary bout duration” were both associated with a higher risk of death. Basically, those who moved around less were more likely to die from any cause[2].

While many of us have busy schedules that limit the amount of time we can exercise each day, doing simple stretches throughout the day at your desk can be a great option to encourage movement, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Here are 5 simple stretches you can do while sitting to improve your mind and body.

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1. Seated Twist

12 Chair Yoga Poses for Stress and Posture - PureWow

    Sitting in your chair while keeping a long, tall spine, place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Use that hand as leverage to twist to your left, and place your left hand as far to the right as possible to have something to hang onto while you twist. Now join it with your breath.

    Exhale as you move into your twist, and inhale as you ease off. Repeat on the other side. Repeat for each side 2-3 times.

    This simple stretch is great to offer a release for your back, neck, and shoulders. The twist will also help rinse out your internal organs, giving you a little boost of energy.

    2. Chest/Shoulder Opener

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    Blog: Simple Yoga Techniques to Increase Effectiveness at Work

      Sitting on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands behind your back, opening up your chest and shoulders. Inhale/exhale several times, noticing that when you inhale your stretch increases. Release and repeat 2-3 times.

      This stretch, while aimed at the chest muscles, can also alleviate some upper back pain, as we often feel pain in this area when our chest muscles are tight. This will also open up your lungs, allowing you to take some deep breaths, which can help reduce stress.

      3. Seated Pigeon

      Yoga In The Office: 6 Chair Poses To Improve Your Posture

        I call this one Seated Pigeon as it is a cousin to the yoga pose called Pigeon, which is performed lying on the floor. Clearly this isn’t an option at work. This Seated Pigeon version might not work if you are wearing a short skirt or dress unless you have an office to yourself!

        Sit on the edge of your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Be sure that your left foot is directly under your left knee and flat on the floor. Sit nice and tall, imagining a string is pulling the crown of your head up towards the ceiling.

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        This one is great for releasing your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, as well as your piriformis muscles. These are your hip abductors. These are usually what aches when you sit so much! Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, and repeat on each side 2-3 times.

        This will offer a great release in the hips, as well as create stability in the knee joint. Both of these will help you avoid pain once you get up to leave work for the day.

        4. Hip Flexor Stretch

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          Sitting truly shortens and tightens your little hip flexor. This sits at the front in the crease of your hip. It runs through your pelvis to your back, so when it is tight, it often presents with an achy back.

          To lengthen this muscle while at your desk, sit at the edge of your chair, but shift to face to your left. Take your right leg and extend it behind you with as straight a knee as you can. Sit tall, and lift your sternum while trying to tuck your tailbone under, as this will deepen the stretch.

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          Repeat on the other side. Repeat for both sides 2-3 times.

          5. Hamstring Stretch

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            This is an easy one to do either just before you sit down or just after getting up. While standing, soften your right knee and extend your left leg in front of you with your heel on the floor. On your left leg, draw your toes upwards, keep your knee slightly bent so you don’t strain your ligaments behind your knee.

            You want to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle (that is, your mid-thigh, at the back of your leg) rather than behind the knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch to the other side. Repeat each side 2-3 times.

            Stretching out your hamstring can help relieve knee and lower back pain. It can also help increase your balance and range of motion. If you like to spend your free time running or jogging, your hamstrings will be grateful you took a moment to stretch them out at work as these muscles are notorious for tightening up quickly.

            The Bottom Line

            It isn’t necessary to do all of the stretches all at once. Take a stretch break every 45 minutes or so and choose a couple of different stretches. Next time, choose a different set of simple stretches. Ultimately, your brain and body will thank you for it!

            More Stretches for Your Day

            Featured photo credit: Keren Levand via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Harvard Health Publishing: The dangers of sitting
            [2] Annals of Internal Medicine: Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults

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