We all feel a lack of energy sometimes–and that’s normal. If you go through most of the day bright-eyed and energetic, but start to feel slower after dinner–say 8 p.m., you’re probably just fine. But when being tired becomes chronic, or can more accurately be described as exhaustion, it’s time to take a closer look.
When you wake up in the morning, do you feel peppy or pooped? Clear-headed or confused? Good-natured or gloomy? Fatigue itself is not a disease or an illness, but is a condition that can affect anyone at any age. The first step towards a solution is to know why you are feeling worn-out.
Very often, dwindling energy can be linked to lifestyle factors such as poor eating habits, overuse of caffeine and alcohol, sleep deprivation, excessive physical activity, or a sedentary lifestyle. Physical challenges such as nutritional deficiencies, cancer, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, allergies and chronic pain can also cause the body to feel worn down. Did you know that even taking allergy pills or pain relievers can compromise energy levels?
Over a period of time stress builds up and takes away your vigor. Your body may go into “shut-down” mode if you have recently been dealing with depression, grief, anxiety, or excessive demands. Similarly, when you are feeling bored with your life, you may experience some of the same symptoms.
The first step toward a solution is to narrow down the cause of your fatigue. It might be a combination of a few things or one draining element in your lifestyle. Consider these options:
1. Your diet.
Perhaps the easiest, fastest and most effective way to increase energy is simply to modify your diet. If you want more zip in your daily life, you must absolutely be using the proper fuel.
2. Drink it up.
A dehydrated body functions less efficiently. Dehydration can be cumulative, so make it a daily goal to drink half your body weight in ounces of water.
3. Take care with caffeine.
While one or two caffeinated drinks per day may boost energy and mental alertness in the short-term, heavy caffeine users—or those who are stimulant-sensitive—are subject to anxiety, irritability and reduced performance.
4. Don’t skip meals.
Going without food for too long allows blood sugar levels to dip. Aim to eat in a way that will maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Staying consistent with your eating schedule is important as well.
5. Go for quality.
Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Cut down on foods high in fat, sugar and salt while working to eliminate processed foods. Try purchasing local fruits and vegetables at your area farmers market, or consider spending a little extra for organic foods.
6. Eat iron rich foods.
Women are especially prone to anemia or iron-deficiency. Make sure your diet includes high iron fare, such as spinach, figs, molasses, Brussels sprouts, raisins and beans.
7. Exercise good judgment
Exercise stimulates endorphins that elevate mood as well as increasing the delivery of oxygen to the tissues. Too tired to exercise? Try taking even a 15-minute walk; you may be surprised at how much better you feel.
8. Sleep on it
One way to achieve consistent sleep is to establish a regular sleeping schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night; this is a very simple, but effective anti-insomnia remedy. Also remember that watching TV or working on the computer before you go to bed will stimulate your brain and make it more difficult for you to get a good night’s rest.
If you are ready to give up your morning java—but still crave something warm to get your day started—give this recipe a try. It uses a supplement grown in the mountains of Peru, called maca. Rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, maca is said to gradually increase energy and stamina.
Coffee Alternative: Energizing Maca Hot Chocolate
yield: 1 serving
1 1/4 cup nondairy milk
1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate powder
1 teaspoon maca powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-6 drops vanilla stevia liquid
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Heat almond milk in a saucepan on low heat until warm. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in other ingredients. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top to garnish.
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Photo: roxana life pro via Instagram; via Veer