Most of us have probably had experience with fatigue or exhaustion… I’m not talking about your typical- I was out late last night and had to be up early for work so I’ll take 3 espressos to get me through the morning – type of tired. That’s just not sleeping enough, and is considered within the normal range of straight up tired.
I’m talking about fatigue and exhaustion that can be attributed to stress, illness, anxiety, depression, iron deficiency, even pregnancy- to name a few. If you’ve experienced this type of fatigue, you know what I’m talking about. It can feel crippling, and also make you a little crazy. You want to get up, get out and get shit done, but you have a hard time even getting out of bed or off the couch. And then sometimes you may feel fine and start your day, but the fatigue can hit you out of nowhere and you need to rush home to put your head down. Does this sounds familiar? If so, you get what I’m saying. I had a bout with severe iron deficiency anemia a few years ago, and the fatigue that came with it was a huge part of dealing with it. It started over spring and went into summer and fall, which was a really hard time to stay put and give into the fatigue. I remember having to schedule my day around naps because my body needed to recharge so often. The good news is, I was able to get through it. My doctor figured out what the problem was almost immediately and started treating it. I went on an iron supplement and changed my diet to include a lot of iron-rich foods, such as higher levels of dark leafy greens, red meat, lentils, and nuts and seeds. I cut out dairy and sugar, and made sure to drink a lot of water. I took naps and pushed myself to exercise on a regular schedule because I knew the blood flow was good for me. Within a few months, my iron levels came back to normal, and I felt like a new person.
So how do you manage this? There are a few parts, some within the hands of a medical professional, but some you can figure out and treat yourself. The first step is to determine what type of fatigue or exhaustion you are feeling, and to figure out the source. Recording all of your symptoms and then seeing your doctor, or even a therapist, and talking about your symptoms can be helpful as a starting point. The next step is understanding that if it is related to one of these conditions, it is likely to be treatable and therefore temporary, which is comforting. A medical professional may have you change up a medication routine, or go on some type of supplement to help.
Some things that you can do at home, start with allowing yourself to rest. The fatigue is most likely your body sending you a message – big time- to slow down, take naps, and let yourself physically and mentally rest, and deal with the issues that are causing the fatigue. If you need to, alter your schedule to accommodate solid rest time during your day. After you rest, try a low stress physical activity, like going on a walk, or a light jog. In many cases, after a few minutes of getting your blood flowing through your body, you may feel more energized. Remember to stop if you feel too tired, and to not overdo it. Making sure your diet is in check is also a great way to start to manage your fatigue. Focusing on a diet rich with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, protein, and whole grains will give you natural boosts of energy. Foods that are have a lot of dairy, sugar, and empty carbs may contribute to a sluggish feeling, which won’t be helpful as you’re trying to build energy. Coffee and high levels of caffeine can also be inhibiting. Caffeine though can make you feel like it helps temporarily, leads to crashes that will continue to make it difficult for you to feel energized.
If you suffer from fatigue and exhaustion, it can be hard to lead your normal day to day life. But taking the steps to find the source and allowing your body to rest and heal are the best things you can do to help 🙂