Posted on 16 April 2018
Many of us suffer from that well-known feeling of TATT – Tired All The Time! In fact, it's one of the most common complaints that GPs hear from their patients, who often feel depleted because of a lack of quality sleep, poor diet and a build-up of stress. So, what can you do to beat fatigue and boost your vitality? These strategies will tackle the problem and help you enjoy your natural zest for life once again.
Get to Bed
Yes, it's obvious, isn't it? But in our fast-paced digital society, it is too easy to take sleep for granted. Your body needs up to nine hours of restful sleep to feel alert and energised again. But in order to achieve deep, regenerating sleep, you need to tackle your sleep hygiene. Crucially, this means no blue backlight from digital devices in the run-up to sleep; it affects melatonin production and makes your brain think that it's morning. So, put down that phone, switch off your laptop and turn off Netflix at least an hour before you go to bed. Need to be online in the evening? Invest in orange light-blocking glasses to counteract the troublesome blue backlight. When you do go to bed, make sure your room is completely dark. Research shows that the darker the room, the more restful sleep will be. Blackout curtains are your friend here!
Low energy is often a symptom of a bad diet. You know the culprits here, so get serious about nutrition. Processed food, white sugar and low-nutrition food will leave your body crying out for real nutrients. Your body needs protein, good fats, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Crucially, it also needs a lot of water to hydrate. Aim to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables daily, although seven portions would be ideal. Keep your sugar intake low and choose foods low on the glycaemic index. You can Google this and print off a guide for your fridge door. A good rule of thumb is to eat the whole food rather than a processed form. So, eat the apple rather than drinking the apple juice.
Move Your Body
When you've been sitting down all day at a desk, your energy will flatline. Human bodies are designed to move and be active, and although it seems counterintuitive, exercising when you’re tired will actually give you a boost. Start with gentle exercise such as walking or cycling for a double benefit of being outdoors and getting vital vitamin D from daylight. Yoga, swimming and weight training are also great forms of exercise, but the best form of all is the one that you enjoy, whether that's Nordic walking or netball.
Get Serious About Stress
Again, stress is a modern epidemic that has become strangely accepted by society as simply a symptom of the way we live. But while occasional stress is fine for the body – and even beneficial when it comes in the form of exercise – constant low-lying stress will deplete your entire system, leaving you feeling tired, miserable and flat. Symptoms of stress vary but insomnia, the 'jitters', endless worry and an inability to concentrate or enjoy your usual activities are warning signs. See your GP and look at therapies such as meditation. Ideally, look at making changes to your lifestyle that remove as many stressful factors as possible. Is enduring the commute from hell for a slightly better salary really worthwhile, or could you reduce your living costs to give you the option of a less stressful job closer to home, for example?
Start with a broad-spectrum multivitamin to tackle any deficiencies. Then look at supplements such as Ginkgo biloba, L-Carnitine and magnesium. Your local chemist or health food shop will have some good suggestions and can make recommendations to complement any other medication that you’re taking. For example, St John's wort is a common natural supplement to boost mood, but taking it along with the contraceptive pill can affect its efficacy.
See the Doctor
If you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, exercise and hydration but still feeling tired, then it's worth booking an appointment to see your GP or a nutritionist. Conditions such as low vitamin B and iron, or adrenal fatigue are common causes of fatigue and constant tiredness, and a blood test can help with a diagnosis. Talk to your GP too if you are suffering from stress – talk therapies can be very valuable and help you to learn coping strategies.
Take it a Day at a Time
Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to change everything at once. Take baby steps. Look holistically at your life too – do you have a passion, a hobby to pursue and people around you that support you? Vitality is a function of life, so focus on your life quality as a whole and you'll start to see positive changes!