Being fatigued is no fun, no matter what time of day it hits. It's also true that there are different degrees of fatigue, such as what you feel when you've finished a truly grueling workout. Or you enjoyed a big lunch, and now it's 3 p.m. and you've hit a wall back at the office. Or you've been under sustained pressure and you wonder how much longer you can hold your head together. Or after just a couple hours of spring cleaning (or even spring break), you're ready to crawl back into bed.
Whether what you're feeling could also be described as listlessness or weariness or exhaustion or just plain tiredness, it's a condition that begs an attack plan on your part to counter the symptoms and get you back on track. You need a new burst of energy and a fresh attitude that will have you ready to come back out and take on the world.
There are many possible sources of fatigue, and they could include unhealthy lifestyle choices, problems at work or at home, long-term stress or anxiety, or poor eating habits and bad diets, or something else. Fatigue is a common complaint, especially among those who have reached their forties or fifties. When the fuel tank runs low, it's time to focus better on what can be done to help close that gap between the stages of "no rest for the weary" and "being at the top of one's game."
A Variety of Methods to Fight Fatigue
In order to be fit for your fight against fatigue, here are 15 things to grab onto once you get to the point where your fatigue is such that fresh tactics are needed.
- Check for any health issues. First things first. If you have been fatigued 24/7 for a few days or a week or more, go see a doctor. Fatigue is a symptom of a number of chronic illnesses, per webmd.com, which can include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anemia, thyroid disease and sleep apnea. Don't assume the worst; just (hopefully) eliminate them from the equation.
- Add some spinach to your diet. It worked for Popeye, and it can help you, too. The green stuff is rich in iron, which can help increase red blood cell count, which in turn provides an energy boost and fights anemia, says everydayroots.com.
- Get active – exercise. When you don't feel like doing it is when you probably need it the most. Research shows that adults who exercise even just 20 minutes a day feel less fatigued. Physical activity boosts energy levels, says healthyfamiliesbc.ca, while a sedentary lifestyle can lead to fatigue as well as weight gain, etc.
- Speaking of which – get on a weight-loss program (a healthy one, not a "gimmick"). Even small reductions in body fact can improve mood and vigor.
- Eat more often. Eating four or more smaller, well-planned meals a day, just 2-3 hours apart, vs. two or three larger meals can help regulate your blood-sugar levels and leave you feeling more energetic start to finish.
- Try short naps. Instead of fighting fatigue constantly, perhaps a 15- to 30-minute nap mid-afternoon – yes, it might take some snooping around to find a good place to do it if not at home – can get you through the day with a bit more pep. Any longer than 30 minutes, though, could affect your sleep at night. Use your alarm.
- Caffeine. It's not for everyone, but it offers that kick to your metabolism to give you a nice shot of energy. Highly recommended when quick fixes are needed.
- Drink water. A hydrated body functions with more efficiency.
- Yoga. A British study of volunteers showed that six weeks of weekly yoga classes improved confidence, energy and clear-mindedness.
- Supplements. Among those recommended is B12, especially for vegans who avoid meat, dairy and other animal products.
- Consume more magnesium. Magnesium is essential for muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis and production of energy. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, nuts and bananas, points out everydayroots.com.
- Relaxation techniques. Long bouts of anxiety and stress can sap energy bigtime. We already mentioned yoga as an antidote—so is meditation. Professional guidance might be helpful, the goal to shut off that adrenaline and let your mind and body reboot.
- Optimize your diet. This is as elementary as it gets. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and go from there.
- Stop smoking. Several things about tobacco products, such as cigarettes, sap energy from smokers. For one thing, says healthyfamiliesbc.ca, your body needs to combine glucose with oxygen to produce energy, but available oxygen gets reduced from the carbon monoxide contained in cigarette smoke.
- Have more fun. Take time off from stressors, meetings, and pressure—force yourself, if you must – and find things that you know will make you laugh. A few minutes of laughter can negate a few hours of angst registered on your stress meter.