by Fiona Lam
The alarm goes off and with a limp arm, you fumble around until you hit the snooze button. After losing the battle with the snooze button, with your eyes still half closed and your body feeling heavy, you slowly get ready to start the day and promise yourself to get to bed early tonight (again).
The sluggishness barely lifts throughout the day; everything seems to be in slow-motion, making decisions is a struggle, and you start visualising how you could just fall asleep anywhere right now. Even sugar and caffeine seem to have little effect on this brain fog…
Feeling tired is something everyone has experienced at some point in varying degrees, which is why one of the most popular questions I get asked in practice is:
“How do I get more energy?”
The truth is, the reason behind everyone’s fatigue can differ. It can be caused by something that’s simple to easily addressed to something much more complex. As with any other symptom, it is your body’s way of alerting you that something is out of alignment.
The end of the year was particularly tough for many, so let’s start 2017 with 5 causative factors of fatigue I most commonly see in practice along with tips on how to stay energized.
1. Emotional stress
“But I don’t feel stressed,” is a common response when I mention how emotional stress can drain energy levels. There are several forms of stress, as mentioned in my previous post, that people are unaware of.
Examples of stress that may be overlooked can include: a general busy lifestyle, over-thinking, worrying, being overly self-critical, feeling lost or dissatisfied with your career, money, health, relationships and purpose in life.
Not only do these triggers exhaust the nervous system over time, but fear of the unknown also causes the mind to ‘shut down’ as a coping mechanism.
Emotions have a profound effect on energy and are determined by whether they are negatively or positively charged. It can be the difference between dreading the day and being motivated for it.
Have you ever noticed how you get a boost of energy when you go on that holiday you’ve been planning for all year? Or just after you got the job of your dreams? How about when your favourite song comes on at a concert?
Tip: Ask yourself what makes you feel like your most excited and happiest self? Do more of it, and do it often.
Consider how the quality of fuel affects the efficiency of a car for a moment… what would happen to the mechanics and engine performance if we filled it with poor-quality fuel compared to one that was premium?
Similarly, the organs and bodily functions in the human body demand substantial fuel from what we consume to run efficiently.
There are certain foods that slow the body’s metabolism down because of its spike of energy followed by a crash, its stress on the vital organs, its low nutritional value or problems with metabolizing it.
Comparatively, foods that promote sustained energy are nutritious, support healthy organ function and increase metabolic processes in the body.
Tip: Reduce/avoid: sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, gluten, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine intake. Increase/enjoy: dark leafy greens, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, water, herbal teas.
3. Nutritional deficiency
The body’s demand for certain vitamins and minerals constantly change under different circumstances. For example, have you been more stressed lately? Has your diet been less than ideal as of late? Have you increased your physical activity? Are you taking medications? Do you have a health condition?
Healthy energy levels depend on whether the nutritional requirements for normal bodily functions have been met. In certain cases, having a balanced diet may achieve the recommended daily intake but will not necessarily be what your body needs at that point in time.
Tip: This one’s for the healthcare professionals to assess and prescribe! Vitamins and minerals that have been self-prescribed and bought from supermarkets, pharmacies or health food shops may not be the quality, dose or specific to what you need.
Two of the main forms of communication that allow the brain to control organ and body functions are nerve and blood supply. Its other major purpose is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain, organs, muscles and body cells, as well as eliminating toxic byproducts.
Obstruction of these pathways can reduce the body’s ability to remain balanced and perform at optimal levels.
Common forms of obstruction can include: musculoskeletal tension or misalignments that physically impinge communication pathways, dehydration, low blood volume, hemoglobin deficiency, inadequate nutrition, poor circulation, inflammation and toxicity.
Tip: Monitor blood pressure, exercise regularly to increase flow of circulation, improve body posture - yoga, Pilates, core body workouts - consume a nutritionally balanced diet, drink adequate amounts of water, seek professional healthcare assistance i.e. naturopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists.
How does toxicity build up in the body?
Typically, it is a combination of consuming processed foods that consists of sugar, preservatives, colorings, flavor enhancers etc., over exposure to environmental, building, cleaning, body and personal care product chemicals, emotional stress and medications.
Pair this with poor elimination of these toxins because of impaired liver, kidney, lymphatic or digestive function (which may be caused by excess toxicity in the first place), and it will result in sluggish energy levels, because the already overloaded body requires even more energy to clear the toxicity.
Tip: Avoid/reduce consumption and exposure to toxic substances, consume foods as listed above in ‘diet’ and drink adequate levels of water to support elimination channels, seek a healthcare professional for advice if you are interested in completing a detox program that is most suited to you.
Here’s hoping that you’re able to have more sustainable energy throughout this year, because how energetic we feel influences our level of motivation, along with how we feel towards others, work and ourselves.
Keen to know more about how to stop fighting the snooze button? Click here to feel pumped for the day instead.