Exhaustion is one of the most common things I see in my practice. It usually comes from stress – the disease of our busy times or what I call “too muchness.”
Our lives have gone from simplicity to complexity at a rate we simply can’t keep up with and it’s making us really tired. Trying to understand what’s happening to you can be confusing because this kind of exhaustion has so many different faces – one person might become depressed, overweight and lethargic while a different person could lose too much weight, feel anxious and wired. We all react slightly differently to overload.
Here are some common symptoms:
- feeling constantly exhausted
- trouble falling or staying asleep
- feeling wired and tired
- difficulty digesting food or feeling constipated
- struggle with blood sugar regulation/hypoglycaemia
- craving salt
- low sex drive
- feeling moody, anxious or depressed
- trouble gaining or losing weight
- experiencing heart palpitations
- brain fog and memory problems
Firstly, if you’ve ticked off all those symptoms and are really in a bad way, I’d highly recommend seeing an adrenal fatigue specialist to find out if this is the root cause of your fatigue. Navigating the road back to health can be complex and specific to the individual so professional guidance is key.
If you’re like a lot of people and are just feeling crappy but still able to function fairly well, here are some simple effective tools you can use right now to start to regain your energy and feel good again.
1. Regulate Your Breathing
Your breath is the only access point you have to your autonomic nervous system. Use it. You take 960 breaths an hour, so why not allow each one to relax and revitalize you?
2. Nourish Yourself Wisely
What you eat profoundly affects your well being. In times of stress, this is amplified. For the time being, cut out the 3 main stimulants: caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. These are like a high interest credit card for your energy. Focus on eating the good stuff. Lots of veggies, green juices, simple well-prepared food from conscious producers. And not too much.
3. Detoxify Your Body
If you’re like most modern people, your liver and other detox organs are probably overloaded right now. Try a week long cleanse in the Spring and Fall and use simple detox tools throughout your week like oil pulling, dry skin brushing, drinking lemon juice and taking saunas.
4. De-Clutter Your Mind
Often, it’s not our outer circumstances that create stress, but rather our internal perspective on them. Habitual negative thoughts and overthinking create destructive emotions, which in turn can loop back around to create more stress in your life. Learn how to clear and strengthen your mind and start to cultivate constructive thoughts and feelings like gratitude and joy.
5. Tone Down Your Exercise
While hard exercise is usually fine, when you’re exhausted it’s a major stress on your adrenals. Don’t be fooled by the temporary high you get immediately afterwards. It will ultimately increase your fatigue. Instead, take a nice walk in nature, try some yoga or Tai Chi. Your body will love the gentler, less stimulating movement. Gym junkies and uber athletes don’t freak out… this is just for now, until you start to get your energy back again.
6. Prioritize Sleep and Rest
Exhaustion is your body asking for sleep and rest. Make it a priority. Go to bed before 10pm and try to sleep until at least 7am. If you’re having trouble sleeping try the following:
- avoid electronics for at least an hour before bedtime and don’t keep them in your bedroom.
- eat dinner earlier and then have a small snack, like a handful of nuts, right before bed.
- keep your bedroom dark and noise free. Use earplugs if necessary.
- don’t exercise too late in the day and avoid overstimulation in the evening.
- try taking a small dose of slow release natural melatonin for a couple of nights.
- use a breathing technique to down regulate your nervous system at the end of the day.
Take as many opportunities as possible to just rest and relax throughout your week. Master the art of doing nothing.
7. Give Yourself a Time Out
Take a break from your busy schedule. Go away for a relaxing weekend, or longer, to get some perspective. Get real with yourself about what’s working in your life and what’s not. Where’s your stress coming from? Is it your work, your relationships, or your habitual outlook on life?
Then, decide to make some changes. It may be hard, but the alternative will be worse. Prolonged stress, whether from internal or external sources, has led you to this point of exhaustion and will continue to erode your health and vitality until you re-prioritize.
Ultimately, it’s all about slowing down. Try to stop doing so much. Be gentle with yourself. Learn to breathe. Life’s supposed to be fun, so make that a priority — not some day, but now.