Listen to “What to do when you feel a lack of energy”.
At any given time, one in five people feel unusually tired, and one in 10 has prolonged fatigue, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Women tend to feel tired more often than men.
But fatigue isn’t just triggered by physical causes, says Lilian Cheung, R.D., a Harvard University lecturer and director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. It’s mental,too. Being stressed out or working too hard – even thinking too much – saps energy levels, she says. “The mind needs to rest.”
If you want to work out how you became tired in the first place, it can help to think about:
- parts of your life that might be particularly tiring, such as work and family
- any events that may have triggered your tiredness, such as a bereavement or the end of a relationship
- how your lifestyle may be making you tired
Psychological tiredness is far more common than tiredness that’s caused by a physical problem.
One key reason is anxiety, which can cause insomnia and, in turn, lead to persistent fatigue. A survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that nearly a third of the population are severely sleep-deprived, often because of job and money worries.
Tiredness can often be attributed to lifestyle factors, such as drinking too much alcohol, or having a bad diet. If you drink alcohol in the evening, it tends to wake you in the middle of the night. If you drink a lot regularly, it can make you depressed and affect your sleep.
Combat low energy
1. Do nothing. Full stop.
We’re constantly looking for new experiences. As soon as you have a spare minute, the fear of boredom kicks in and you start looking for something to occupy yourself with. Your reward centre lights up and you get a hit of dopamine. But that hit is addictive: the more you have the more you want. And that’s when the energy drain starts.
So set aside 15 minutes every day to do nothing – literally nothing. No Instagram, no TV, no emails. Stare into space, if you want.
It’ll boost your emotional energy and that’s reward enough.
2. Pay attention to diet
One of our main sources of energy is, of course, the food we eat. So, if we want to keep our energy levels up, we must eat healthy and try to incorporate the most nutritious foods in our diets. Such foods include wholegrains, nuts, and fruits — particularly grapes, apples, oranges, peaches, pears, and grapefruit — and vegetables and legumes with a high fiber content, including peas, beans, and leafy greens.
3. Put time aside for yoga and meditation
Practicing yoga and meditation might also help to boost your energy levels. This is because these practices focus on techniques — such as mindful breathing — that aim to promote a state of calm. Yoga and meditation may also help you to fend off stress and fatigue.
So, if your fatigue is due — at least in part — to increased stress, taking up yoga or meditation as a routine “self-care” approach can help you to become more resistant to everyday stressors.
5. Don’t underestimate sleep
Finally, it’s vital to make sure that you get enough good-quality sleep at night to prevent fatigue or to recover from the effect of tiring or stressful activity throughout the day.
Getting enough sleep should be a top priority.
Although this may be the most obvious advice, many of us often underestimate the impact that shortened sleeping time, or disrupted sleep, can have on our energy levels and health and well-being, in general.