Fighting Fatigue: Stop Tiredness From Holding You Back
Trying to fight through fatigue is really important for our quality of life. Everyone gets tired, of course, but sometimes just getting through the day feels like wading through thick soup – where you’re already looking forward to getting back into bed when you’ve only just got out of it. Trying to work hard when your muscles ache and your brain feels like a leaden lump can be pretty miserable, especially if you’re exhausted all day but still have trouble dropping off at night.
You may poke fun at yourself for being a bit lazy – laughing at how you drop off in the middle of watching a film, or have to chug coffee every afternoon – but feeling like you want nothing more than to climb under your desk and go to sleep when you have a pile of work to do is no fun. So how can you boost your energy?
Rule out any medical causes of fatigue
First off, take a trip to the doctors. A quick check up, open discussion and blood test will rule out any medical cause for your fatigue, or alert you to underlying problems – such as an iron deficiency, thyroid trouble, or even undiagnosed mental health issue such as anxiety. Many people go through periods where they feel absolutely exhausted without any clear external cause, so your tiredness is most likely down to a variety of lifestyle factors, but it’s best to be sure.
Take a look at your habits and routine
Once you’ve ruled out any health problems, you can start looking at your routine for the root cause of your fatigue. What’s your diet like? While there’s no need to be a saint 100% of the time, if you’re so busy that you rely on un-nutritious fast food and haven’t seen a vegetable in weeks, this could be a factor. Do you drink plenty of water or tend to pick the fizzy and fruity options? Will you go to bed with plenty of time to get a solid eight hours sleep, or sit up reading your phone until well past midnight?
Modern life has equipped us with some brilliant things, but it also doesn’t give us much chance to switch off. The commute, long days, “side hustles”, hobbies, socializing and an information overload can make it all a blur. Give yourself a moment to think about what your life may look like to an outside observer, allowing you to make some healthier decisions.
Use this information to initiate change
It may be tempting to embark on a complete lifestyle overhaul, perhaps with a small fortune spent at a health shop or a painful attempt at a sugar detox, but drastic changes like this are rarely sustainable. Focus at first on fixing some small bad habits. Maybe replace an afternoon chocolate bar with a bunch of grapes, (yes, any wellness blogger can tell you that fruit is just sugar in disguise, but we all have to start somewhere) and ban mobile phone use an hour before bed, giving yourself a chance to wind down.
However, it isn’t all about cutting things out. There’s also some small and easy things you can add to your day that will help. For example, if you’re feeling constantly tired then techniques like meditation, yoga or even a little exercise (such as five minutes of skipping) are likely to make a huge difference and won’t take up much time at all.
Cut down on alcohol
Letting your hair down after a long week can be pretty cathartic, but perhaps it’s worth trying something different for a little while if you’re feeling a bit strung out. Partying into the night and sleeping away your days at the weekend can make it feel like you haven’t had a break at all – not to mention the effect drink has on your sleep. Organise day-time, non-drinking activities with your friends (they may be pleased with the opportunity to do something out of the routine themselves), and if you can, top up on some sunshine and fresh air too.
Grit your teeth and have a cold shower…
… Or, if a cold shower feels like complete madness at half six on a chilly morning, try a contrast shower. You do this by standing under warm water for three minutes, then switching to cold for one minute, and repeating the process three or four times. Lots of people believe that having cold or contrast shower every day is hugely beneficial for your health, and psychologically it can certainly give you a boost. Making yourself do something that’s a little uncomfortable but very invigorating may even improve your mental stamina.
Holly Ashby is a writer and illustrator who’s interested in travel, creativity and innovative lifestyles. A member of the creative collective ShellsuitZombie, Holly grew up by the sea and graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a degree in Graphic Arts.