We’ve all been there- that familiar feeling of exhaustion in the middle of our workday, the overwhelming feeling of facing your to-do list, and almost dreading waking up the day after. You might not recognize it, but that might be a low-grade energy drain. It’s easy to overlook the symptoms until your energy is so depleted that it affects your concentration and patience.
You might have the urge to get a quick fix by grabbing a bottle of energy drink or a cup (or five) of coffee, but before you take the artificial route to revitalize yourself, consider healthier, more natural ways to boost and maintain your energy!
Recognizing Low Energy
Fatigue is the overall feeling of lack of energy or tiredness. It’s more than just a feeling of drowsiness or sleepiness. With fatigue, you lack motivation and energy.
Fatigue is possibly a symptom of several medical conditions that can be mild or serious. It also stems from lifestyle choices like lack of exercise or consuming unhealthy food.
If you still lack energy after a good night’s rest and consuming a healthy diet, or you suspect that you might have an underlying physical or mental health condition, consult your primary health care physician. They will be able to determine the real cause of your fatigue and prescribe the necessary remedy.
There are three major causes of low energy or fatigue: lifestyle factors, physical health conditions, and mental health issues.
Your daily activities and lifestyle choices may be the cause of your fatigue. Here are a few practices that may cause your energy to be low all the time:
- Constant physical exertion
- Lack of physical activity
- Being overweight or obese
- Emotional stress or grief
- Taking medication like antidepressants or sedatives
- Drinking too much caffeinated drinks
- Excessive consumption of sugar or carbs
Physical Health Conditions
Medical conditions often cause fatigue and the most common illnesses that affect our energy levels are:
- Arthritis and fibromyalgia, or other conditions that affect the muscles
- Problems related to hormone function like Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
- Sleep disorders and eating disorders
- Autoimmune disorders like lupus
- Other chronic or long-term diseases such as heart conditions, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease
- Lung conditions like emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma
Fatigue and exhaustion are symptoms of most mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders.
- Anxiety – this brings in a rush of hormones, kicking a person’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response into high gear. The resulting crash makes a person feel drained and tired.
- Depression – often characterized by persistent grief or sadness, and causes a major decline in energy. This is why fatigue is one of the major signs of depression, and can result in a condition called depression fatigue.
- Psychiatric disorders – Most disorders are a symptom of depression, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome and mental fatigue.
Other causes of low energy
The constant feeling of exhaustion and lack of energy are not just caused by medical conditions. Low energy actually occurs more frequently than you thought and the good news is: many of these factors can be easily addressed by a few lifestyle tweaks.
- Poor diet
Nutritional deficiencies contribute to low energy levels and the constant feeling of fatigue. A diet high in refined carbs and sugars can cause you to feel tired throughout the day. You’re probably wondering how, given the fact that they are energy-dense and can give you a kick of energy.
Sugar and processed carbs cause your body to produce a large amount of insulin to get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells. That spike in blood sugar and the following decline is what makes you feel tired. Continuously resorting to refined carbs and sugars such as soda, energy drinks, or sweetened iced tea throws you into the vicious cycle of spiking and crashing energy levels that will really make you feel exhausted.
- Lack of exercise
If you find yourself spending more time in your office chair, or your couch, or even your bed, don’t be surprised if you lack energy. Lack of exercise or physical activity over a prolonged period of time causes your muscles to become weak and you experience extreme, unexplained fatigue.
- Lack of quality sleep
There is a difference between sleep and a good night’s sleep. Your body and brain are engaged in activities while you sleep, which include managing your energy and metabolism by producing hormones, repairing tissues, and storing memory.
If your sleep keeps on getting interrupted, it prevents you from going through all the five sleep cycle stages, and this causes you to feel sluggish when you wake up. Furthermore, if you are unable to maintain a regular sleep routine, this results in not getting enough hours of sleep and causes you to feel even more tired during the day.
- Inadequate protein and calorie intake
Your body requires a certain amount of calories and protein in order to have energy to burn. Males need at least 2,500 calories and about 56 grams of protein daily, while females need at least 2000 calories and about 46 grams of protein. When you eat fewer calories, your metabolism has to slow down to conserve your body’s energy.
There is a daily calorie requirement to prevent your metabolism from slowing down. At the same time, protein boosts your metabolism more than fats or carbs can. Protein helps in weight loss and prevents tiredness.
Consuming too few calories or not enough protein leaves your body without enough energy stored to keep you going through the day, and can lead to extreme tiredness.
- Not enough hydration
There are so many biochemical reactions that happen within your body, and it results in loss of water which happens through urination, passing stool, sweating, and even breathing. The water in your body needs to be replaced, otherwise, it will cause dehydration.
Even mild dehydration can cause problems in focus and concentration, and bring down energy levels.
- Chronic Stress
High levels of stress not only have a great effect on your energy levels, but it also affects the quality of your life. It’s normal to have some stress, but excessive levels of stress can be exhausting. It makes you immensely frustrated and can disrupt your sleep, eventually causing insomnia.
A small study shows how work-related stress is associated with increased sleepiness and poor quality of sleep.
Natural ways to boost your energy
Keep hydrated at all times
Start the day right! When you wake up, drink a glass of water to release toxins in your body and to keep your digestion going. You’ve probably heard the famous advice to drink eight glasses of water a day. But depending on your activity, weight, age, gender, and the activity that you do, you might need more water.
One way to start this healthy habit is to set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to drink water. Keep a water bottle handy so that every time your alarm goes off, you can simply reach for your water bottle and drink up.
Energy is also connected to your mood and when you keep yourself physically active with regular exercise, it will make you feel better. Exercising releases endorphins which are also known as “happy hormones.” With elevated dopamine levels, your mood will improve and you will be motivated throughout the day.
If you’re a beginner when it comes to exercise, start the day with some light stretching for about five to ten minutes a day. A twenty-minute brisk walk outside is a great way to get some fresh air while exercising. If you don’t have the opportunity to exercise outdoors, the jumping rope would be a good start to get your blood pumping and only requires an inexpensive jump rope to start.
Get enough sleep every night
One major benefit of being active during the day is that it allows your body and mind to work their usual cycle, and at the end of the day, you’ll be able to get uninterrupted sleep.
If you’re finding it difficult to fall asleep, here are some tips you can do to help you have better sleep at night:
- Reduce long daytime naps – if you are in the habit of taking long naps in the middle of the day, and find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, then you’ll need to cut down on those mid-day snoozes. Sleeping during the day can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, confusing your body clock, and causing your sleep to be interrupted at night.
- Make sure to keep your bedroom dark – Bright lights can make you feel more awake and can lead to difficulty in falling asleep. If you are not comfortable with a very dark room, then you can opt to have dim lights in your bedroom.
- Turn off notifications on your phone- Before going to bed, turn off notifications on your phone or put your phone on airplane mode, to ensure that your sleep is not interrupted by the sounds, vibrations and blue light coming from your phone.
Eat right and don’t skip breakfast
You’ve probably heard of the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Most of the time when you are running late in the morning, you may forget to eat your breakfast, resulting in a lack of calories, and therefore, low energy.
Getting into the habit of having the most important meal of the day? Block the time in your calendar daily so that it’s the first reminder you see when you wake up. Set an alarm in the morning so that you can wake up a few minutes earlier to prepare breakfast complete with protein and fiber, and that should fuel you for the morning.
Tips to combat stress
Stress affects your energy levels, mood and mental health, and your overall quality of life. While it may be unavoidable at times, you may take proactive measures to minimize it and engage in practices that can improve your resilience to the negative effects of stress:
Avoid overworking yourself
Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities might be something you are accustomed to doing on a daily basis- but when you have too much on your plate, that can cause you unnecessary stress.
If you have several duties and responsibilities, manage your workload by using a planner and utilizing your calendar. That way, you will be able to prioritize the most important tasks and you will be more organized with your schedules.
Exercise every day
Do you know that physical stress from exercise relieves mental stress? Continuous exercise lowers your body’s stress hormone, which is cortisol, over the time you are exercising.
Start with a quick 15-minute workout daily. This helps you become more and more alert each day, and helps you manage your stress better.
Take a quality supplement
Supplements not only provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that it needs, but it keeps you mentally healthy as well. Without the right vitamins and minerals, this can negatively affect your mental health and mood.
A quality multivitamin that contains vitamin C, Iron, and vitamin B complex is highly beneficial in keeping your energy levels up and maintaining focus and concentration throughout the day.
Lymunix is a spray-type multivitamin that is easily absorbed into the bloodstream and contains the daily nutrients that your body needs. It’s a great complement to your daily regimen and can be administered quickly and effortlessly.
Calm your mind
How you respond to stress is just as important as preventing it. Normally, your initial response to stress is to fear it and fight against it. Believe it or not, you can use stress as an energy booster by embracing it instead of pushing it away.
Determine what is causing your agitation, and once you’ve recognized what these are, focus on your thoughts and your reactions instead of focusing on the situation, and tell your mind to ‘stay calm’.
Repeat this as your mantra whenever you encounter a stressful situation. Eventually, you will be able to transition to using stressors as motivation to take on a new challenge or to overcome your problems.
There are days when you’ll feel more tired than usual, but once you’re able to differentiate ordinary drowsiness from excessive fatigue or stress, you will be able to address these in the proper way.
It may be a change in diet or lifestyle, but low energy and high stress levels can be corrected. Exercise, mindfulness, music, and physical intimacy can all work to relieve anxiety, improve your concentration and focus, and help you achieve more throughout your day.
Being able to manage your stress and having the energy to achieve your most important goals are keys to a better quality of life.