Tired all the time? You’re certainly not alone. If you’re looking for ways to feel more energized, we’ve rounded up some practical and useful tips.
It’s not unusual to hear people complain about feeling tired any given day of the week. Fatigue is a common issue in today’s fast-paced world where balancing work, family, and self-care isn’t easy. To-do lists are long, and people treat sleep like a luxury. The exhaustion leads to stress, poor decision-making, bad eating habits (because who has time to plan for a good meal when you’re tired all the time), and a host of other resulting issues.
If you’re looking for a place to start pushing back against the constant feelings of exhaustion, we’re here to help. Let’s take a look at ways you can boost your energy levels.
Rule Out Health Problems
Before we dig into our tips, let’s get one thing out of the way immediately. Sometimes the underlying cause of fatigue is not as straightforward as a stressful lifestyle. If resting doesn’t help and feelings of tiredness persist for no apparent reason, consult your doctor. There are a variety of conditions that could be affecting your energy levels, and it’s good to get a checkup right away to rule out any illness that might require proper treatment. No amount of extra sleep or exercise can put a dent in a critical deficiency of a key vitamin, mineral, or hormone, for instance, so ruling out such matters is essential.
On top of the more cut and dry issues like anemia, mental conditions generally don’t present physical symptoms, so it’s easy to overlook that aspect of your health. We often forget that mental health is as important as a healthy body. Begin by keeping track of your emotions and try to identify any mental patterns relating to your feelings of exhaustion. Conditions like anxiety, which involves feeling nervous and irritable, and depression, which consists of feelings of sadness and hopelessness, can cause insomnia and sleep disruption, resulting in consistent low energy levels.
If your mind is feeling overwhelmed, and you think you could benefit from talking about it with someone, consider finding a therapist. They can help you explore your feelings, identify any emotional issue, and overcome them by appropriately addressing them.
Schedule Relaxation Into Your Week
While psychotherapy can also help with stress, there are a variety of ways you can deal with it yourself if you believe that’s the only issue you’re facing. The healing process is very personal, as everyone has a preference when it comes to relaxing. Reading, painting, exercising, yoga, meditation, quality time with loved ones, and talking with friends are all useful tools and activities that can help you feel more relaxed and at peace. Relaxing your body and reducing the amount of stress hormones circulating makes it a lot easier to get a good night’s sleep and to feel relaxed (but not exhausted) during the day.
Exercise Regularly for a Cheap and Easy Boost
It might sound counterintuitive, but the more you move, the more energy you have daily. Though a cardio session might make you feel exhausted afterward, the feeling is only temporary, and you can rest assured you will enjoy some good night sleep. Exercising helps with oxygenation levels and releases endorphins, chemicals that act as analgesics (they reduce pain) and boost your mood. The fact that working out also helps you shrink your waistline is the cherry on top. Find a sport or a type of workout that you enjoy and integrate it into your routine. You will start to feel the difference in your mood, energy, and sleeping patterns in no time.
Grandma Was Right: Get Outside in the Fresh Air
Many modern workers are prone to spending most of their time indoors, which can really put a dent in your energy levels and mood. This is a combination problem brought on by the lack of fresh air (indoor air quality is usually pretty abysmal), lack of exercise (even when we try not to, we spend a lot of time sitting at our office jobs), and lack of sunlight—which stimulates the production of vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin, a feel-good hormone and a sleep-regulating hormone respectively. The issue becomes even more severe during winter for some people when the limited sunlight and extended time spent indoors can morph into seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition marked by constant fatigue and depression.
For that reason, it’s important to find the time to enjoy the outdoors. This is an excellent opportunity to combine our two previous suggestions in one activity—head outside to relax, exercise, and get the fresh air and sunshine you need.
For instance, many people find that a quiet walk in the woods or a simple walk around the neighborhood with the dog helps them feel more relaxed. Others prefer jogging around the park or along a body of water. You could even consider mediating or doing yoga somewhere peaceful and grounding like an open field or even your garden. Anything that can help you take your mind off your daily stress and leads you to spend time closer to nature will benefit you greatly.
Get Enough Sleep
Many people underestimate the significance of good night sleep, both in terms of quantity and quality. Adults should get 7-9 hours of undisrupted sleep, which is sometimes hard to achieve when dealing with a busy schedule and poor lifestyle choices. Habits like taking naps throughout the day and reading a book on the phone before bed, for instance, are common yet counterproductive. Instead, avoid naps, avoid screen time an hour before going to bed, and engage in a relaxation technique to put you to sleep.
Social jet lag is another issue faced by many. Come the weekend, it’s not unusual for people to sleep in, either because of a late Friday night or to compensate a whole week of early wakeup calls. However, this minor shift in your sleeping routine can disrupt your circadian rhythm, causing fatigue, bad mood, and other health problems if it becomes a habit. Instead, try sticking to your routine and making the most out of your 7-9 hours of sleep.
Evaluate Your Diet
A healthy diet contributes to good health. Processed foods, excess sugar, and any fast-burning carbohydrate, like cookies and cake, can make your glucose levels spike before leaving you feeling sluggish and unable to focus. Further, a poor diet doesn’t just leave you feeling sluggish after a sugary snack, not getting a good mix of critical micronutrients over time can leave you feeling perpetually ready to fall into bed. A deficiency in specific vitamins and minerals can cause fatigue and insomnia on top of other health issues. An example is iron deficiency, also known as anemia, which inhibits your body’s inability to carry enough oxygen to the brain, making you feel exhausted and foggy. Low levels of B vitamins can also lead to lack of energy and feelings of weakness due to the nervous system experiencing the depletion of its essential micronutrients to work efficiently.
Because no two people have the same diet, it’s good to evaluate what you eat in an attempt to find room for small changes that can positively affect your health. It’s also worth considering your genetics as certain conditions that affect your energy levels can be inherited and might require an appropriate diet and lifestyle. Anemia, for instance, not only affects women more than men due to the monthly blood loss they experience during their menstrual cycle, but it can also be inherited, leading to a necessary regular iron supplement intake. Type 2 diabetes is also linked to diet and fatigue, highlighting the significance of a pre-emptive health check to consider a change in your eating habits.
If you’re healthy, to keep your energy from plummeting after a meal or a snack, stick to a balanced diet centered around foods with a low glycemic index, as their sugars will be absorbed more slowly and will keep you going for longer. Such foods include whole grains, nuts, oats, berries, healthy fats (like the monosaturated fats found in nuts and olives, among other foods), and leafy greens, which are also rich in iron and fiber.
Don’t be afraid to break away from traditional eating patterns too. If eating three big meals a day doesn’t work for you, opt for more frequent and smaller portions. It provides your body with a steady supply of energy and keeps you from overeating and feeling sluggish after a big meal.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Coffee might give you a temporary boost of physical and mental energy, but it will also leave you feeling lethargic the moment the effect wears off. That’s because caffeine isn’t giving you energy; it’s just masking how tired you feel (the same way popping a few ibuprofen doesn’t heal your pulled muscle; it only hides the soreness).
Minimize your caffeine intake to prevent your body from depending on it to feel at its best. To avoid experiencing withdrawals, slowly lower the number of cups of coffee you have per day until you feel comfortable to go without it for two weeks in a row. If you see any improvements in your energy levels, you got yourself a new lifestyle habit. Even if you love coffee, after the experiment you may find that a single cup with breakfast is all you need.
Mind Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can also cause you to feel tired, mainly because it dehydrates your body, causes brain fog, and lowers the quality of your sleep. Long-term use can lead to a variety of conditions, including depression, which is directly related to fatigue, as previously mentioned. Avoid binge drinking and refrain to enjoying alcohol every once in a while.
When you do drink, try to avoid drinking close to bedtime. Even though drinking feels like something that sets you up deep sleep, it’s an illusion. You’ll usually fall asleep quickly after a few stiff drinks, to be sure, but alcohol disrupts deep and restorative sleep.
Drink Plenty of Water
It’s cheap, effective, and readily available: when in doubt, drink water. Dehydration can lead to sluggishness and foggy thinking. Always replenish your fluids by keeping a bottle of water at hand. And if you find the lack of flavor unappealing, try squeezing some lemon or adding a few mint leaves.
Consider Quitting Smoking
You don’t need us to tell you that smoking isn’t great for you. But you may not have thought about how it relates to your feelings of exhaustion. Between the decreased oxygen absorption and the stimulation that messes with your sleep cycles, it’s not the greatest habit for fostering deep and restorative sleep. Nicotine, the stimulant found in cigarettes, has similar effects to caffeine in that it accelerates your heart rate and increases your blood pressure.
Quitting isn’t easy, but there are plenty of tools that can help, from over-the-counter and prescription medication to counseling, from journaling to apps.
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t be—the little and big changes listed here add up quickly and you’ll start feeling more energized in no time.