Sometimes, it really is crazy that no matter how much sleep I get (I pretty much make it a priority to get no less than six hours every night), I can still end up feeling mad tired. Sometimes, it's right when I wake up, other times it's around lunchtime. I work from home, so while I do know that it can ever hurt a sistah get a catnap in on the regular, I've gotta admit that sometimes, even that isn't enough. Since I don't wanna walk around feeling worn out and weary all of the time, I decided to do a little research.
If you read the title of this article and was like, "Yeah. Why is that?", while I don't promise to provide all of the answers, I'm hoping that this will at least point you into the direction of connecting some dots, so that you can go throughout your day feeling energized instead of drained (because feeling drained sucks).
Some Pretty Common Causes of Fatigue
So, what exactly is fatigue? It's when you are constantly feeling tired or exhausted, sometimes with no clear understanding of why. When it comes to what causes this to happen, there are a variety of things. Sometimes it's due to not getting enough rest (if you're getting less than six on the regular, that's not good, wise or healthy; try and make sleep a top priority). If you are anemic or borderline anemic, this can sho 'nuf zap your energy. Allergy season is a huge fatigue trigger. Depression or anxiety is another one (because it's hard to relax and rest when you're feeling low or your mind is working into overtime).
Heart disease is yet another cause of fatigue. Did you know that food allergies are as well? That actually makes a lot of sense because, since food is designed to fuel us, if your body rejects it for some reason, how do you get the nutrients that you need? An underactive thyroid, diabetes and a poor diet are also things that can lead to you feeling tired all of the time. Oh—so can a lack of exercise because when your body becomes lethargic, that can also fatigue you.
When Should You See a Doctor for Fatigue?
The reason why it's so important to know the various (main) causes of fatigue is so you can decipher what you can do on your own vs. when you need the help of a medical professional. In a sec, I will share some energy restoration hacks that can help you to get closer to your goal of feeling revived again. However, if after a couple of weeks, none of those things work and/or you've got symptoms like unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath, body inflammation, numbness, blurry vision, nonstop headaches or migraines, constant muscle weakness or cramping—all of these point to indications that there could be an underlying health issue that you may not be aware of.
Make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible, so that they can run tests and let you know for sure what is going on. Also, if your doctor does offer up a clean bill of health, it can't hurt to schedule a session or two with a reputable therapist/counselor/coach. Sometimes physicians aren't able to pick up on emotional stress or trauma and that also could be a reason why you are feeling the way that you do.
Mental health is vital when it comes to feeling energized too. Make it a priority as well. Now for the DIY hacks.
10 Quick Hacks for Boost Your Energy Levels
1. Pay attention to your posture.
Here's something that's interesting. Did you know that if you slouch it can make you tired? The reality is that when your bones are in alignment, it makes your muscles do much less work which means that your body, overall, is less weary. So, sit up straight in that office and chair. Watch the burst of energy that this one shift in your daily routine is able to provide.
2. Depend on sugar and caffeine for energy? Watch how often you do.
If sugar and caffeine are the two things that you rely on in order to get the energy boosts that you need, they actually could be working against you rather than for you, long-term. The reality is that sugar causes your blood sugar level to spike and then tank (which is why you can be hyper one moment and exhausted the next). As far as caffeine goes, while it has the ability to temporarily suppress your body's sleeping mechanism, it doesn't actually "produce" energy at all.
This is one of the reasons why, if you're tired, you can oftentimes find yourself needing more and more of it throughout the day. Sugar and caffeine are "fixes", not a real solution. You'd be better off checking out our article, "In A Bad Mood? These Foods Will Lift Your Spirits!" and snacking on something from there instead.
3. Sniff some citrus essential oil for an energy boost.
Sometimes, we underestimate our sense of smell. That said, if you're looking for an immediate midday pick-me-up, something that you might want to try doing is putting some citrus (sweet orange or lemon) essential oil on a pressure point like your temples or your wrists. It's the kind of oil that can enhance your mood and invigorate you. Just make sure that if you put it on your face that you dilute it a bit with a carrier oil like sweet almond or grapeseed; sometimes essential oils are a little on the strong side.
4. Take several online breaks.
I semi-recently checked out an article that said "infomania" can actually cause our IQ level to drop. The reality is that constantly checking emails and being on social media can overwhelm our mental circuits and totally zap our energy. This is why it's a good idea to take several online breaks throughout the day and to set firm "off hours" at night.
Whatever is happening out in cyberspace will be there when you return. Trust me.
5. Chew some gum.
A lot of us chew gum simply because we like the taste of it. But there are actual benefits that come with putting a piece of it into your mouth. Gum has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress levels, increase your alertness, help you to focus better and, because a minty flavor has the ability to stimulate blood flow as well as your senses, chewing something like peppermint or wintergreen gum can actually make you more alert too.
6. Spend some time outside.
First up, indoor air pollution is oftentimes 3-5 times worse than the pollution that is outside. Taking in too much "yuck" can drain you, off top. Also, there is a pretty common connection between low energy levels and Vitamin D deficiency. Since the sun is a great source of Vitamin D, that's why spending some time outdoors, perhaps during your lunch break, is such a good idea.
7. Turn the temperature up a bit.
This might be an ah-ha moment for you. Did you know that when the temperature drops around us, that causes our body temperature to fall as well which sends our system a cue that it's time to go to sleep (that actually provides good insight into why bears hibernate)? At nighttime, this doesn't matter much but if you're feeling chilly throughout the day, turning the thermostat up a degree or two might help you to yawn a little less.
8. Eat some honey for energy.
I'm a big fan of honey for a lot of reasons (check out "Manuka Honey Is The Ultimate Beauty Find"). The reason why it's a stellar energy hack is that honey is an unrefined sugar that can be easily absorbed into your system. And since carbs are what cultivate energy, it can only benefit you to take in a teaspoon of honey on the days when you feel super out of it.
9. Don't suppress your feelings.
Last fall, when I wrote the article, "You're Tired AF. But What Kind Of Rest Do You Need?", it explored some of the kinds of rest we need in order to feel our best selves. Well, something that I discovered about myself was that during my own fatigue moments, oftentimes it was emotionally related. Because I used to be somewhat codependent, I would sometimes stress over relationships and that would be draining. While there is definitely something to be said for being polite, respectful, and using good timing in sharing what's on your mind, if you feel weighed down on the mental tip, this too could be the cause of your tiredness. Get that ish off of your chest. You'll sleep so soundly if/once you do.
10. Have a set bedtime.
OK, raise your hand if you've got a scheduled bedtime. If you don't, that could be another reason why you're tired all of the time. Going to bed at the same time every night keeps your body's internal clock in great shape. This, in turn, makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up the next morning. I get that if you've got a work deadline or children, this may not always be possible. However, if you're sacrificing sleep for Netflix or Black Twitter, it's really not worth it. Create a schedule, read a book for about 20 minutes before the time you decide to go to sleep (reading poetry, non-dramatic non-fiction, Scripture, etc. has a way of settling the spirit), and watch how much better you feel. It's a proven hack that can give you a boost of energy. I can vouch for it personally.
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