Fatigue is the most common symptom that presents to Australian GP's. 1.5 million Australians every year present to their doctor with fatigue so let's find ways to prevent this from happening!
But what is fatigue?
Fatigue is characterised by a lessened capacity or motivation for work ... usually accompanied by a feeling of weariness, sleepiness, irritability or loss of ambition.
As fatigue is a symptom, we need to find the root cause for the fatigue to assist in improving symptoms. Symptomatic treatment is only a band-aid effect and will not prevent reoccurence or any further symptoms so we need to look for the cause.
Causes of fatigue
Unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease or diabetes.
Alcohol or drugs, sleep disturbances, nutritionally deficient diets, or a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.
Your place of work can also be a cause of stress – shift work or irregular hours, burnout, or workplace stress can lead to feelings of fatigue.
Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health conditions, such as depression and grief, or anxiety and stress and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.
How to improve energy?
Once you have identified the cause of the fatigue, working on improving energy is easier. However there are many diet and lifestyle tips you can address to see if your energy levels improve and fatigue subsides:
1. Eating balanced meals - ensuring your meals are balanced with a palm sized amount of protein (animal products (if that's your choice) and vegetarian/vegan sources), 1/2 a cup of complex carbohydrates, and a small serve of polyunsaturated fats. Still confused? See my Balanced Macronutrients post for more information.
2. Ensuring no nutritional deficiencies. This is best done with a practitioner however eating a whole food diet with lots of fruit and vegetables is a pretty good way to increase your vitamin and nutrient content and by balancing meals as the above point.
3. Drink water. This sounds so simple but by ensuring you drink around 2L of water daily (herbal tea can be included) it is a great way to ensure your body has enough water to function reducing fatigue.
4. Avoid quick energy fixes - caffeine, sweets and chocolate are only short term fixes and over time become less effective and come with other health related consequences from long term use.
5. Physical activity is a great way to improve energy levels and reduce fatigue. Moving creates an increased need for oxygen which allows the body to deliver more oxygen to the brain over time.
6. Ensuring you are getting enough sleep and that the quality of sleep is restorative.
7. Lowering stress levels is important for supporting energy levels as mounting and sustaining a stress response uses up significant amounts of energy. Doing things you enjoy is a great way to lower stress. Other ways include: meditation, yoga or being out in nature. For more stress lowering ideas see our post on Stress.
8. Limit caffeine and other stimulants in particular in the afternoon but an overall reduction is beneficial to ensure we are not overstimulated and we can rest adequately to reduce fatigue.
9. Reduce toxin levels in the environment. This includes our immediate environment including: reducing use of plastics, using less chemicals in our skin care and on our body, home cleaning products and this also includes toxic people!
Still confused and fatigued?
At Naturological, we like to empower our clients to support their own health journey. Please be in touch if this is something you feel you could benefit from.