4 Ways To Combat Fatigue & Exhaustion
Do you have an energy bar crammed in your bag at any given time? Do you wish you did? You are not alone. Many people, from all ages, seem to be suffering from low energy levels these days. Ever wonder why this is so? There are many reasons why you may be feeling fatigue or exhaustion, of course there may be a medical reason (such as thyroid disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleeping disorders) so it’s always a good idea to talk to a health-care provider you trust first, but most people who don’t have medical conditions can successfully increase and sustain their energy levels. So don’t give up just yet! You can always make a difference when it comes to your health. When your body is telling you it’s tired, suppressing and ignoring the signals can actually do more harm than good. When you are tired and you reach for that cup of coffee, tea, or energy drink, what you are really doing is over-riding your body’s queue’s in telling you what it needs - rest. Your body is tired because you are overworked, because you are doing too much, and you are stressed. The more you ignore the queue’s the more your body becomes fatigued. Suppressing your body’s signals causes each organ system to become over burdened causing an excess of hormone secretions by your adrenals, an over heightened nervous system, stress on the liver and immune system which can make your body weaker and even more fatigued. And the cycle continues until you get ill or a migraine forcing you to rest. Sound familiar? I’d like to invite you to think differently when it comes to your body, think deeper, think long term. Honour the important signals your body is constantly giving you. I say, if you slowly incorporate these 4 ways into your life in the next 3 months, I promise you will feel positive changes and even become healthier! Lets look at what they are:
1. Lessen Your Toxicity Load
I’ve talked so much about toxicity that by now I’m sure you already know what I’m going to say. What is toxicity anyway? It is a substance that acts like a poison in our body causing a bodily response which, if not eliminated and if accumulated, causes disease. When our eliminatory organs are too overwhelmed, they can’t eliminate the accumulated toxins properly. Pollution in the air and in our environments are toxins. Chemical cleaning agents we use in our homes, cars, and on our bodies are toxins. The pesticides and herbicides on (and in) our foods are toxins. The stress our body experiences causes hormones to excrete which if accumulated are toxins. The truly best way to start your healing process physiologically AND emotionally is to reduce your toxic load. Otherwise, no matter what you do, your body will not efficiently deal with anything.
2. Increase Nutrient-Dense Foods
After lessening your toxic load, what you want to do is help support your eliminatory organs excrete all the bad accumulated junk by eating the proper food to help with this process. We want to make sure that every cell is given the proper nutrients it needs to work as optimally as possible. The key here is having nutrient-dense foods with as much variety as possible while limiting your intake of processed foods. Green-leafy vegetables, bone broths, chia seeds, sea weeds, and other superfoods like spirulina or chlorella are amazing additions.
Keeping blood sugar balanced is so important in keeping your energy balanced. When you eat a sweet food, you get a spike in blood sugar, which gives you an initial burst of energy, but that's always followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling wiped out. I always advise to not eat sweets on an empty stomach, this can put stress on the liver and pancreas, and allowing your blood sugar levels to spike and fall even just a couple of times a day can cause you to feel exhausted in no time. With a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy proteins and fats, you will provide a slow and steady release of fuel and your energy will remain consistent and balanced throughout the day. Whole grains help increase the body's sensitivity to insulin which allows for that slow and steady release that we want. Healthy snacks throughout the day is important, but the key is to not let yourself get to a point of starvation, where you feel “hangry”. Combine protein, some fibre, and a little fat with each snack. Protein keeps your energy up, the fibre allows the slow release of sugar, and the fat makes the energy last. Nutrients like Omega 3’s, iron, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D and B’s are very important. They especially help restore energy and reduce fatigue. It’s easier to take supplements, but food sources are always more superior due to the synergistic value they contain as well as high antioxidants and cofactors like enzymes and phytonutrients that maximize absorption and efficiency. Foods such as seeds, whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit and veggies, dips likes hummus or bean pastes are great ways to keep your energy levels sustained and your body healthy.
Another thing you can try when feeling exhausted, fatigued or stressed is adaptogenic herbs. These are healing plants that balance and restore the body’s natural ability to handle stress by regulating the nervous system, which is responsible for controlling the way hormones respond to stress. Adaptogens don’t target a specific body part, they help the entire body gently cope with stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Some of the best adaptogen herbs are ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, and liquorice root. Incorporating adaptogenic herbs into your routine will help you feel calmer, less exhausted, and more focused. Next time you are at a health store, ask about these.
3. Hydrate Your Body
One of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired or exhausted, even a slight dehydration can affect your metabolism and leave you feeling tired and lethargic. We can sometimes, and without knowing, confuse signals of hunger with thirst and eat food instead of drinking water. This is why it’s so important to know your body and what it is trying to tell you. When our body becomes dehydrated, it can make you feel exhausted, so one of the best ways to boost your energy levels is to drink water slowly throughout the day, up to 2 litres. A quick way to check if you’re dehydrated is to look at your urine, if it’s a dark yellow, you most likely need to drink more water. Drink water until your urine is more of a pale yellow. Remember, drinking coffee and caffeinated teas or energy drinks don’t do much for you or your hydration, they provide empty calories that your body doesn’t need. Caffeine gives us a false burst of energy and in some people it can slightly contribute to dehydration. It stimulates the production of stress hormones which gives a temporary boost in energy, but in some it can also contribute to anxiety, irritability, muscle tension, insomnia, and compromise the immune system. If you’re feeling fatigued even after a good night’s sleep, take a look at what you are putting into your body. Perhaps cut down on the alcohol in the evening hours, cut back on the amount of caffeine during the days, and even take a look at other contributing factors like processed foods in your diet. Make your own vitamin water - add crushed fruit and herbs like mint to your water, or drink real coconut water. Try herbal teas, or treat your body to specialty coffee replacements like roasted dandelion root and chicory. If you’re not sure how much water is right for you, divide your body weight in half, then drink that many ounces per day. If you workout, are active, pregnant, nursing, or fighting an illness or disease, you will need to drink even more. But trust me, you will notice a huge difference once you do!
4. Stress Management
We don’t often think that stress can make us tired but stress is actually one of the biggest energy suckers. Stress, anxiety, fear, worry, and anger all use a lot of our energy and can leave us mentally and physically exhausted and drained. Sometimes your body can still be stressed even if you spend the whole day in bed. When I first started working with my naturopath I didn’t think I was stressed, I mean I have a great family, a loving husband, a great job, what do I have to be stressed about? But I soon realized that our central nervous system responds to every little thought and that response causes a reaction in my body. Worrying about bills, anxiety about a meeting, fearful about my aspirations, angry at myself or someone who wronged me, all unknowingly actually cause a stress response causing certain hormones to excrete. This keeps us in constant alert, which causes energy loss. Chronic levels of stress erode energy levels so over time you may find yourself doing less and feeling it more. You can counter this by adding relaxation activities, more ‘me time’ into your day. Even just sitting still and doing belly breaths can make a huge difference. Whatever you decide to incorporate into your relaxation regiment, remember the key is to reduce tension and pay attention to yourself. By adding these 4 ways to your life over a period of a few months, you will start to notice amazing changes, and it’s safe to say you will increase energy levels and feel great. Happy summer everyone! Whatever you do, enjoy every moment, and please rest when you need to. :)