We hope this post will make you want to incorporate some of our suggestions – even if it’s just one or two.
1. Eat for energy
Not surprisingly food has a big impact on your energy levels. Wolf your food down and you are likely to have a sugar dip and feel sleepy. It’s the same when you eat high sugar or carbohydrate dense foods. Eating foods with a low glycaemic index — whose sugars are absorbed slowly — may help you avoid the lag in energy that typically occurs after eating quickly absorbed sugars or refined starches (cakes, chocolate, white bread, biscuits, etc). Foods with a low glycaemic index include proteins, high-fibre vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils such as olive oil. In general, high-carbohydrate foods have the highest glycaemic indexes, with white bread scoring just as high as sugar! Proteins from meat, eggs and fish, as well as fats, have glycaemic indexes that are close to zero. The internet is full of information about the glycaemic index of foods. Here’s a guide:
2. Limit caffeine and sugar
Your body sees stimulants as stressors, just as it does lions, tigers and the tax man. Consuming sugar isn’t the only way to give you blood sugar problems, stress and stimulants will do the same! Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco increase levels of the stress hormones adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol, resulting in huge blood sugar fluctuations in susceptible people. If you have that cup of coffee, especially on an empty stomach or with carb-rich foods, you face the possibility of your blood sugar spiking thanks to the stress response. You may get an energy surge, but soon after you’re going to have an energy slump as your adrenalin and cortisol start coming down. Stimulants increase your energy in an ‘artificial’ way but there is always a price to pay and you will eventually be dragging yourself through the day.
3. Control stress
Relentless tiredness can be depressing and life-sapping and there can be a vicious cycle of being too tired to help yourself, which causes stress. Stress consumes huge amounts of energy. Endeavour to schedule some ‘you time’ everyday. Walking with a friend or relative, joining a support group, doing something creative you enjoy or seeing a psychotherapist can all help diffuse stress. Relaxation therapies like meditation, deep-breathing, self-hypnosis, yoga, and tai chi are also effective tools for reducing stress. Try this three minute breathing space which we highly recommend and have personal experience of. It can be learnt very quickly and you can even take some time out of work to practise in the loo! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ula0njZIOh4.
4. Lighten your load
One of the main reasons for fatigue is overwork. Overwork can include professional, family, and social obligations. Try to streamline your list of “must-do” activities. Set your priorities in terms of the most important tasks. Pare down those that are less important and get better at saying ‘no’ more often. Consider asking for extra help at home and at work, if necessary.
5. Get enough sleep
The old adage that “one hour before midnight is worth two after” has some truth. Your best quality sleep is obtained when your circadian rhythm is at its lowest point (usually between 10 pm – 5 am). Therefore even if you obtain a good amount of sleep (7-9 hours), going to bed late is likely to lead to a large amount of your sleep being inefficient. Take advantage of this by planning your evening so that you have nothing to do but relax from 9 pm. Studies have shown that watching blue screens (iPads, computers, TVs, mobile phones) hinders restorative sleep. Blue light is especially prominent in daylight, our bodies associate it with daytime, which may be why exposure to blue light can make us more alert and improve our response times. It also has been shown to suppress melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and is not produced during the day.
6 Limit alcohol
One of the best ways to stop the mid afternoon slump is to avoid drinking alcohol at lunchtime as the sedative effect of alcohol is especially strong at midday. Similarly, avoid a five o’clock cocktail if you want to have energy in the evening. Added to this, drinking in the evening will not only disrupt sleep, but can cause a hangover the next day which will affect your blood sugar and make you feel tired. If you’re going to drink, keep intake low, don’t drink on an empty stomach, drink plenty of water in-between alcoholic drinks, and pick a time when you don’t mind having your energy levels wind down afterwards.
7. Drink water
If your body is short of fluids, one of the first signs is a feeling of fatigue and brain fog. Ensure you drink at least 1.5 litre of water per day.
Exercise has been shown time and time again to help boost both energy and mood. Studies have shown that regular brisk walking has a positive impact on mood and feelings of happiness, while all kinds of exercise will help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, including the brain, where feelings of fatigue can manifest. Go for 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. Good options include brisk walking, gentle jogging, re-bounding on a mini trampoline or a fun class like Zumba.
If you’ve tried everything and you still feel tired most of the time, please come and see us. There may be an underlying health issue that needs identifying and addressing, which we can help with.
Maria and Emma