There are those days, weeks and even months some of us experience this eternal energy drain, dragging through hours of monotony, too tired to think or react soundly. A few cups of coffee are ineffective. A brisk walk around the block doesn’t help. The morning treadmill commitment isn’t fulfilling its promise, and meditation always ends up being a nap.
By the end of the day, you have no motivation to cook. Bed is the only thing on your mind. Considering the stress of work or the kids’ activities or maybe it’s nothing at all, identifying the source of the energy drain is like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow—impossible. One thing is certain, however: Fatigue is debilitating and can be frustrating, especially if there is no obvious source.
However, Dr. Holly Phillips, author of “The Exhaustion Breakthrough,” says fear not, there is hope yet to permanently revitalize and re-energize. According to Phillips, key factors that cause fatigue, including undiagnosed medical issues, dietary choices and stress. But she also says where there is a problem, there is a solution.
“Fatigue is a whole-body response—physical, mental and emotional exhaustion or even sleepiness that’s not related to exertion. It’s often chronic and debilitating,” Phillips says. “Fatigue is one of your body’s primary alarm systems. Just like pain or fever, persistent head-to-toe tiredness should alert you that something is amiss. While many lifestyle habits can set you up for insidious energy leaks and cycles of exhaustion, a variety of hidden medical and psychiatric causes could also be contributing to your lack of get up and go.”
She adds that women are two times as likely to complain of fatigue as men. In her book, Phillips discusses the leading causes of this epidemic among women, including anemia, thyroid disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, chemical sensitivities and more. One of the ways she suggests identifying the cause of chronic fatigue is to keep a daily journal and work with a doctor.
“For at least a week, rate your previous night’s sleep, jot down what you eat and drink and when you do it,note your physical activities throughout the day, monitor your stress level throughout the day and track the ebb and flow of your energy and fatigue. Look for patterns and bring this with you to your doctor’s appointment,” Phillips suggests.
Until your next appointment, she suggests being intentional about a sleep schedule, noting that an irregular snooze cycle can seriously throw off your energy, giving you an “equivalent of jet lag without leaving home.”
Also, breathing deeply helps your body circulate fresh oxygen, giving your blood a vital source to keep you going.
Take mini-digital vacations. Constantly checking email or your Facebook feed may be a little too much for the brain. Phillips says overexposure increases stress—a top reason for fatigue. Additionally, the light from digital devices at night suppresses the release of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone.
Diet can also have a significant impact on daily energy. Phillips also offers a “Seven-day Exhaustion Breakthrough Challenge” in her book, giving readers a step-by-step energy cleanse.
During the challenge, Phillips requires participants to only consume clean, natural, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and lean protein. Drinking small amounts of alcohol and caffeine are recommended, along with a list of vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. She also suggests taking 10-minute walks regularly between hours of work or idle time to give you the energy boost you need throughout the day.
Fatigue sucks, but Phillips believes she can help through her book, “The Exhaustion Breakthrough: Unmask the Hidden Reasons You’re Tired and Beat Fatigue for Good.” Learn more at www.hollyphillipsmd.com.