By Melissa Hohaia, Naturopath – Have you ever felt like life was an up-hill struggle? Do you find yourself pushing through the day with nothing left to give? You are not alone…so many of the people I see are struggling with the same thing and there are solutions out there
Fatigue is a symptom that can be very ‘invisible’ in its presentation – the sufferer can be overwhelmed by its debilitating effects, but to the people around them they can appear very ‘normal’. This can make it terribly defeating for the suffer, as you may start to believe that it is all ‘in your head’ or that you just need to ‘suck it up and push through’. I am going to tell you now that it is NOT in your head, and you DO NOT need to try to muster up the ability to push through. Fatigue is a very real thing and there are some key things you can do now to start supporting your energy levels and improving your ability to get through the day.
- Power-up your nutrition.
Certain essential nutrients like Magnesium, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, and Selenium are super important for energy production. If you are eating a diet full of processed and packaged foods there is a good chance that you could be missing out on these core nutrients that your body needs. By getting a diet full of brightly coloured, whole-food (that means straight from mother nature) you will be increasing your overall nutritional supply. Focusing in on certain foods like your green leafy veggies, nuts and seeds (specifically brazil nuts for their selenium content), berries, and wholegrains (such as brown rice) will assist in boosting all of these essential nutrients further. Keeping your diet full of variety and aiming to eat all the ‘colours of the rainbow’ every day can be helpful to.
The other thing to keep in mind when it comes to your nutritional status, is that you could be eating the best diet possible but if your body has an increased demand for these nutrients (like in times of stress, or with excessive exercise) or your digestive tract is unable to extract/absorb the nutrients from your food (which could be happening in conditions where the gut environment is compromised) then you will still be running low and may need to look at resolving the deficiency through other avenues. A qualified practitioner can help with this.
- Stay hydrated.
Dehydration is a common, but often overlooked, cause of fatigue. A lack of consistent, pure water intake over the day is required to keep your brain and body performing at its best. Even mild dehydration can impair your mental and physical performance and cause you to feel fatigued. You should be aiming for 2-3 litres of water daily – sipped consistently over the day (never drink more than 250ml in a 15 minute period).
- Don’t force yourself to exercise.
If you are struggling with exhaustion, the last thing your body may need is for you to push it through an intense work-out session. A lot of clients I see will force their body to keep up with a gruelling exercise routine because they worry that if they stop their health will go backwards. Exercise and movement is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but when you are struggling with fatigue it is more important to get ‘restorative’ exercise – such as yoga, Pilates, bush-walks, beach-walks etc. I will generally ask a fatigued client to engage in movement that lifts their spirits and feeds the soul. Listen to your body – if it feels worse after exercise then reassess what you are doing.
- Keep the lid on stress.
Stress comes in many forms (mental, emotional, inflammatory, gut dysfunction, sleep deprivation, being overweight, food sources, oxidative stress, and/or infection based) and for most of us it is a part of our daily reality. When your body detects stress (no matter what form) it will respond with the activation of your HPA (Hypothalamus/Pituitary/Adrenal) axis. The end result is the secretion of cortisol, which is the hormone that is essential for survival. When we experience long-term stress, your HPA axis can stop responding appropriately and your cortisol production can start to deplete. This HPA dysfunction can leave you with insufficient cortisol for energy production. It is vital to nurture your stress response and reduce the exposure of your body to stress – this will help reverse some of the factors that leave you feeling worn-out and with nothing left to give.
- Sort out your hormones.
There is an intricate communication and relationship between your entire endocrine (hormone) system – which includes your adrenals, pancreas, thyroid, and ovaries or testes. This means that if one area is out of balance it will directly influence another area. The Thyroid gland in the master controller of metabolism and if its function is reduced then fatigue can be one of the primary symptoms. If you are feeling exhausted it could be directly due to Thyroid malfunctioning (such as Autoimmune Thyroiditis, Hashimotos) or it could be an end result of the communication from other hormonal imbalances – such as excess cortisol and/or estrogen, or lowered progesterone. It is important to have the guidance of a qualified health professional (such as a Naturopath) to investigate and support these imbalances.
Blood sugar stabilisation and ideal insulin levels are also essential for optimal energy. If your body is riding the blood-sugar-insulin rollercoaster, then it will be more susceptible to feeling worn-out and fatigued. The tip here is to avoid a diet high in refined, processed foods, and opt for foods higher in fibre, protein, and good fats.
One of the most important things I have discovered when treating fatigued clients, is that as you start to feel better it is tempting to do more! This will not help your body fully recover. You will need to learn that it is okay to just ‘be’ with more energy – sit with it and enjoy it – don’t feel the need to use it up and start doing more.
To relieve your fatigue faster and get your life back on track, it can be very worthwhile to seek out support and guidance from a professional. I am a specialist in energy optimisation and body transformation – my passion is helping women live an energetic and vibrant life. So many of the women I know, and see in the community, are walking around feeling like their reserve tank is drained and they have nothing left to give. I believe that this is not something that needs to be accepted. I have put together my new ‘Burnt-out 2 Bombshell’ program based off years of learning, practising, and living to create the most comprehensive and successful approach possible. If you would like to know more about how you can start living with more energy and vibrancy, please go to the website www.burnt-out2bombshell.com to discover more about the program or join the ‘Bombshell Tribe’ on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Burntout2bombshell/ . Stop feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and exhausted – start feeling in control, energetic, and confident.