Whatever you call it: tired, exhausted, lethargic, listless, it’s enough to get you down, both physically and emotionally. Low energy saps your body of any forward motion. And at the same time, it can impair your performance by making you feel depressed, apathetic, unmotivated and just plain… hopeless.
Fatigue isn’t the same thing as sleepiness, say experts at the Mayo Clinic, though it often brings on a desire to sleep. While it can be a symptom of an underlying medical problem requiring treatment — such as a chronic infection, anemia or hormonal disorder — if you’re perfectly healthy, fatigue often can be traced back to some of your habits or routines. A few simple lifestyle changes may be all it takes to conquer your fatigue once and for all.
Examine your sleep and rest habits. By some estimates, people are sleeping 20 percent less now than they did a century ago. Why? Things like stress, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and busy work and social schedules can interfere with your ability to take a break and recharge your body. Most adults require between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Evaluate your habits. Do you snore or have breathing pauses during sleep? Drink too much caffeine? Use a computer or other electronic device before bedtime? These are all sleep-stealers.
Get off the couch. Exhaustion can be a good excuse to kick back and relax. But studies show light exercise — as little as 10 minutes a day — can be enough to replenish energy levels. Yes, moving can help beat the “blahs” better than taking it easy can! A leisurely stroll — or even just standing up and stretching your body — can boost energy levels and turn fatigue into vigor.
De-stress. A busy, demanding day can build up tension in your body, and this tension, in turn, uses up a lot of energy. You’re probably facing multiple days, full of demands on your mind and body. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, listening to music or doing something you love can help you relax and break the pattern.
Eat regular, healthy meals. Your body needs fuel to run its engine. Skipping a meal can slow your metabolism, and before you know it, you’re craving a nap, having trouble concentrating or heading for the nearest caffeine fix. Don’t skip meals! According to research, breakfast improves your alertness and concentration. Start your day with a healthy meal that includes both protein and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain toast smeared with peanut butter.
Avoid toxic people. There’s nothing more draining to your mental health — and eventually your physical health — than interacting with a person who’s negative, argumentative, needy or nasty. Set boundaries with toxic people. Learn to say “no.” Stand up for yourself; overcome your guilt and find professional support if you need extra help handling a toxic personality.