Fighting the fatigue battle

In our overworked, overstressed world, many people struggle with fatigue. Let's face it. We are a sleep-deprived nation of people who just don't have enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished.

The effects of fatigue can impact many facets of your life. Emotionally, you watch your mood spiral downward. Psychologically, you may feel anxious or depressed. And physically, the exhaustion impacts your overall health and day-time productivity.

Here are some quick easy tips to fight fatigue— whether it be acute (short-term) or a chronic condition. For immediate relief, consider these helpful tips:

  • Eat energy-boosting foods.

    A well-balanced diet can dramatically improve your energy levels. Instead of reaching for another latte, consider these energy-boosting options: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oatmeal, eggs, and fish. Try to avoid sugar and caffeine.

  • Have fun in the sun.

    Sunlight increases the production of endorphins and serotonin in your brain. Moderate exposure to sunlight (with sunscreen, of course) can help soothe your nerves and boost your mood and energy. Best yet, exposure to sun during daylight hours also improves night time sleep habits.

  • Breathe deeply.

    The act of deep controlled breathing helps show down your heart rate, reduces tension, and improves oxygen flow.

  • Take a cat nap.

    A quick 15 to 20 minute nap around 3 p.m. is enough to rejuvenate you. Anything more (or later in the day) could negatively impact your nighttime sleep cycle.

  • Relax your eyes.

    If a mid-afternoon cat nap isn't appropriate, turn away from the computer screen and close your eyes for 10 minutes. Doing so will help alleviate eye strain, which can make you feel tired.

  • Drink cold water.

    Fluids, particularly "iced" drinks, can help rejuvenate and hydrate. Try to drink these fluids regularly, instead of reaching for that latte.

  • Get a physical exam.

    For chronic fatigue, consult with your physician to rule out any underlying conditions, particularly diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or thyroid concerns. You should also be following these important guidelines.

  • Get a good night's sleep.

    The body needs a good 7 to 8 hours of restorative sleep in order to function properly. Well-rested people who follow a consistent bedtime routine are more likely to feel alert and energetic during the day.

  • Take a vitamin.

    A multivitamin is a great way to supplement your diet. In fact, certain types of vitamin deficiencies can make you feel sluggish and lethargic. Adding these vitamins and mineral back into the body can give your body the extra boost it needs.

  • Exercise.

    Exercising even 30 minutes a day can improve your energy levels. A brisk walk around the block several times may help release pent up anxiety and produce endorphins. But there's also a long-term benefit to regular exercise. "In shape" people typically have the cardiovascular strength to better manage day-to-day activities without feeling exhausted. Yoga is another great exercise to reduce stress and improve fitness.

  • Be happy.

    Sounds simple enough, but emotional upset is a complex issue that severely drains your body. In fact, many psychiatrists associate fatigue with depression, excessive worrying, anxiety, and more. How do the blues impact you? Issues like chronic stress generate tension in your body's core, which in turn drains your energy. If you suspect depression, or other mental health concerns, discuss this with your physician.

Overcoming fatigue is an ongoing battle for millions of Americans. The cornerstone of this problem begins and ends with good sleep habits. Obtaining restful sleep is so critical to achieving a happy balance in our lives, so don't be afraid to try different "sleep" solutions. Just continue to experiment with variations of these tips to see what works best for you.

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