8 Ways of Boosting Energy Levels and Reducing Fatigue

Having energy has never been as important as it is today with the rise of the online rat-race. Stress is at an all-time high in today’s generation and both men and women experience it daily.

Balancing a career, a healthy lifestyle, kids, a family, and an online social media presence has become the norm for a large portion of the western world. Our body, however, is not designed to be in a constant state of stress and has not caught up to this new way of living.

For this reason, fatigue is something a lot of us experience. It causes us to feel unmotivated, tired, and left with no energy to pursue the things we love.

The goal of this article is to analyze the role that fatigue plays in our daily lives and our overall health and to underline the best ways to get our energy back ASAP.

woman with fatigue having difficulties when waking up

What is Fatigue and How is it Manifested?

Fatigue is a symptom of a range of medical conditions that will be explored below. It can also be the result of some lifestyle choices like a lack of nutrients in the diet and physical activity. Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to increase energy levels naturally.

Fatigue refers to a feeling of weakness, both physically and/or mentally. Millions of people live their lives with fatigue every day.

Fatigue refers to a lack of energy and a feeling of whole-body exhaustion. It is not the same as being sleepy. Sleepiness or drowsiness is a warm and inviting feeling to get some rest, whereas fatigue is an uncomfortable feeling of being exhausted. [1]

Fatigue manifests itself as a lack of motivation and energy. An associated symptom of fatigue is apathy, as in the lack of concern of the feelings of others.

It can be sudden or progressive. Fatigue may be isolated and a normal occurrence, i.e. following a bout of intense physical or mental activity. Think, after a long exam or a marathon. Normally, this type of fatigue can be resolve upon rest. If fatigue persists and is progressively worsens, then it may be indicative of an underlying health condition. [2]

Fatigue can also occur because of poor lifestyle choices. With proper hydration, nutrition, adequate sleep, exercise, and stress management; fatigue should be resolved. If it does not, then it may be time to consult your health practitioner to evaluate possible vitamin deficiencies or more severe health issues that need to be addressed.

 

What Causes Fatigue?

1. Lifestyle Factors

Before we get into the ways to improve energy and get relief from fatigue, it is important to be aware of the lifestyle choices which can deplete energy. Fatigue can manifest as a result of the following lifestyle factors:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Excess caffeine
  • Poor diet (i.e. lack of mood and energy-boosting nutrients)
  • Eating excessive sugar
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Emotions, stress, grief
  • Lack of Vitamin D
  • Medications
  • Smoking and drug/alcohol abuse

 

2. Health Conditions

Feelings of exhaustion and constant fatigue can be indicative of an underlying condition or a side effect of medications. Often, people have an underlying disease and may not even know. In other cases, the primary symptoms of the ailment may be so prominent that secondary symptoms, like fatigue and low energy levels, are overlooked. Some of the conditions that may cause chronic fatigue include: [3] [4] [5]

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Hyperthyroidism or Grave’s Disease
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Acromegaly
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Liver Failure
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Grief/Depression
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Stress
  • Cancer
  • Brain injury
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Myopathy
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections

symptoms of chronic fatigue

 

Top Ways of Getting Energy  

Below is a list of techniques you can start implementing today to improve your mood and energy levels.

  1. Exercise

Although working out may be the furthest thing you want to do when you’re feeling sluggish and drained, it is your best ally in boosting energy. Research suggests regular exercise may be linked to a better quality of life, confidence, and general well-being. In fact, in one study, scientists found exercising improves the function and efficiency of your heart muscles and lungs and prolongs energy in the long run. [6]

As daunting as physical exercise may be for those who experience chronic fatigue, it is critical for your well-being. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon. You can start with daily 5 minute walks and gradually increase your time every day.

Any type of movement will do, yoga, HIIT, walking in the park, dancing. Just get up and move to get your energy up. Exercise is also what activates your lymphatic system, supports immunity, improves metabolism, helps you sleep better, which are all factors that have a knock-on effect on energy as well.

 

  1. Try Yoga

While exercise is amazing for so many aspects of health and energy, yoga is especially great as it combines physical strengthening, flexibility, and clear-mindedness.

Yoga has been shown in numerous studies to have beneficial effects on stress. A 6-week study looking at individuals participating in yoga once-a-week reported significant cognitive benefits, enhancing energy, confidence, and inducing mental clarity.

Another study looking at the effects of yoga on a group of men and women aged 65-85 found practicing yoga for a duration of 6 months greatly increase their energy and feeling of wellness. [7]

Deep-breathing techniques in yoga have also been shown to improve respiratory and cardiovascular efficiency, thereby increasing oxygen and energy. [8]

 

  1. Manage Stress

Let’s face it, stress affects us all and it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Science has shown time and time again that stress, through its activating of the parasympathetic response, has negative effects on multiple organ systems, from digestion, sleep to mood, and ability to fight infection. The idea is if we want to increase energy, we must find ways of managing our stress. Luckily, there are many ways to do this.

One way is starting a gratitude practice. Carve out some time every morning and write down everything or every person you are grateful for. Another one is deep-breathing. There are endless amounts of applications available these days to start meditating.

Deep-breathing activates the rest and digest (parasympathetic) response in the autonomic nervous system. This promotes relaxation and therefore improves mood and energy. Make these habits second nature. It only works as a practice. The more you do it, the better you become at reacting to stressful situations and preventing associated fatigue. [9]

man meditating, managing stress

 

  1. Get Quality Sleep

A sleepless night spent tossing and turning will leave you feeling fatigued the next day. Sleep is the time where your brain processes and stores information of the day. It is a crucial moment where your body is repairing and cleansing from the damage it is exposed to during the day. When we lose sleep, we feel lethargic, forgetful, fatigued, lose focus and concentration, and get irritable. All the more reason why it is critical to get quality shut-eye. If you experience insomnia, as in have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are the top ways to improve your sleep: [10]

  • Avoid caffeine after noon as the effects of caffeine can last up to 12 hours.
  • Try some deep long stretches before bed.
  • Practice a few minutes of deep breathing exercises in bed.
  • Turn off electronics with a blue light at least 2 hours before bed. If this isn’t possible, install an application to decrease blue light.
  • Try to have a regular sleep schedule: try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends (as much as possible). This will help your body regulate its circadian rhythm.
  • Keep a journal near your bed to jot down anything that comes up you need to get done or that is keeping you up.
  • Drink herbal tea: teas like valerian, passionflower, holy basil, chamomile have sedative-like effects.

 

  1. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Some believe that alcohol helps you sleep better. However, several studies indicate the opposite.  Although alcohol induces temporary sleepiness, it diminishes the quality of sleep due to repeated nighttime awakenings it causes. [11]

When consumed regularly, poor sleep accumulates and makes you more tired than if you didn’t have it in the first place. If you’d like to have a drink once in a while, it’s best to do it sparingly and to avoid having it straight before bed.

 

  1. Stop Smoking

If you’d like to get your energy back, one of the most important things you can do is to quit smoking! At this point in time, we all know cigarettes are one of the worst habits for our health. Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke… and the list goes on.

Furthermore, cigarettes contain a heavy load of toxins that interfere with your lung’s ability to absorb oxygen. The lungs become fatigued and this leads to low oxygen saturation in the blood, leaving you feeling tired. In addition, nicotine has been shown to cause sleep apnea which further depletes your energy stores. [12]

 

  1. Get Proper Nutrition

Poor nutrition is a key contributor to low energy. Minerals and vitamins found in vegetables and fruits give you energy, whereas processed foods that your body does not recognize as ‘food’ take a lot more energy from your body to digest. There is so much we can do to improve our nutrition. Below are a few dietary tips that will help you get your energy back in no time.

  • Avoid sugary snacks, at least before noon: starting your day with high glycemic foods like cookies and white grain carbs may cause a dip in blood sugar levels in the afternoon (sugar crash). The reason being is that processed sugar and carbohydrates cause a rapid rise in your blood glucose levels.This tells the pancreas to produce a large amount of insulin to get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells, which leads to a subsequent dip in sugar and in energy. [13] Opt for fiber-rich foods like oatmeal, low sugar fruits like berries, and Omega 3 fatty rich foods like chia pudding or flax seeds to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.  [14]

 

  • Stay Hydrated: the body often confuses hunger with thirst. Often when we get that afternoon crash, we tend to reach for more caffeine. Keep a 1L bottle handy at your desk and sip it between meals to ensure you feel hydrated and energized throughout the day.

 

  • Eat Green Leafy Vegetables: cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Having salads, steamed or vegetable juices are rich in minerals like magnesium and calcium and vitamins that supply your cells with the energy.

 

  • Caffeine: Caffeine may give you an initial boost but regular consumption over time depletes energy and can leave you feeling tired. To minimize the effects of coffee, opt for one caffeinated drink/day or none if possible. You can also try green tea as it stimulates the feeling of relaxation and focus, through its effects on the neurotransmitter GABA.

boost energy levels with healthy food

 

  1. Give Supplements / Nutraceuticals a Try

There are a variety of supplements and nutraceuticals that may help to boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue. While there is certainly no ‘magic-bullet’ to stop chronic fatigue, a combination of lifestyle changes, healthy eating, and dietary supplements is inevitably beneficial and is certainly worth exploring.

 

1. Supplements that boost dopamine levels

These are products that help to increase the activity of neurotransmitters or reduce their metabolism, thus improving the levels of dopamine or serotonin in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin help to support a healthy mood as well as to improve your energy levels. Examples include supplements like L-Tyrosine, Phenylethylamine (PEA) and CDP-Choline (Citicoline).[15] [16] [17]

 

2. Nutraceuticals that improve energy levels on a cellular level

These are supplements that work more systemically, improving energy production on a cellular level, throughout your body. Examples include powerful antioxidants like Quercetin, Rutin, or SAL-Glutathione, which destroy harmful free radicals that may interfere with your body’s energy production. Another example is Inositol Trispyrophosphate (ITPP), which improves the ability of hemoglobin to deliver oxygen to your muscles and tissues.[18] [19] [20] [21]

 

3. Natural immune-supporting products 

Immune supporting supplements and nutraceuticals may be beneficial to your energy levels by helping to combat and prevent viral or bacterial infections. This includes chronic infections that never go away like Herpes and Cytomegalovirus, which sometimes have no detectable symptoms other than chronic fatigue.

Zinc-ionophores like Quercetin help the antiviral and antibacterial heavy metal, zinc, to enter your cells, where it can exert its effects against pathogens. Other immune-supporting supplements include powerful mushrooms and plant extracts like Turkey Tail, Cordyceps and Cistanche deserticola. [22][23][24][25]

 

4. Adaptogens to beat fatigue

Adaptogens help your body increase energy by helping the body adapt to stress by modulating the adrenal glands, an organ responsible for the release of certain hormones involved in stress like cortisol. Adaptogens also help with energy and adapt to what the body needs. This means, if you’re feeling wired and cannot sleep, they help you to relax or if you’re feeling lethargic and unable to focus, they boost your energy.

A few adaptogenic herbs that have been found to increase energy are Cordyceps, Rhodiola Rosea, Holy Basil, Panax Ginseng and Ashwagandha. If you’re needing that extra support, after trying all the above lifestyle changes, adaptogens can help you with your energy, memory, and concentration. [26] [27]

 

Summary: Boost Energy and Reduce Fatigue the Healthy Way

In summary, there are a number of interesting things that you can do be improve your energy levels and beat fatigue. The first and most important step is to start by understanding the underlying cause of your fatigue. Is it due to lifestyle factors or due to underlying disease or ailments? This will help you to better understand what course of treatment to pursue.

Regardless of whether your fatigue is caused by an underlying medical condition or is solely due to lifestyle factors, changes in the way you live may help to improve your energy levels. These include stress management, ensuring that you get adequate sleep, improving your eating habits, reducing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking. In addition, there is a wide range of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals that may be beneficial, depending on the type and cause of your fatigue.

References

References

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