Tiredness is natural. We use our energy to do things, we run around all day from hectic mornings straight to work, busy, often stressful workdays, only to get home and realise the dishes need doing, the dog wants out – add dinner and a shower and before you know it, it’s eight or nine o’clock before we get a proper seat! It’s absolutely normal to feel tired sometimes.
But what about when that feeling lingers on? What if we end up feeling tired, exhausted or lethargic what feels like most or all of the time?
It’s easy to think, if we get caught in a cycle of lethargy, that there’s nothing we can do to change it. We can’t change our job, or the family which relies on us, or whatever is using up so much of our energy… Often we don’t know exactly what it is.
But we do NOT, and SHOULD not, feel tired most or all of the time! And we CAN, with a little thought (and a few changes here and there) usually pull ourselves out of it and get back to a place where we feel motivated and energetic again.
In today’s post we’ll go through where to begin dealing with serious or persistent tiredness and lethargy.
Undoubtedly you’ve heard this one before, but for good reason! According to the NHS, mild dehydration may contribute to feelings of lethargy (Source). Try setting a routine for yourself to keep hydrated – a full glass of water on waking, and before bed is a good place to start. You might even want to use a dedicated water bottle – this has the benefit of showing you how much you’ve actually drunk and reminding you to finish it! You can even get bottles now which have a chamber to add fruit, veg or herbs to infuse. Adding strawberries, cucumber or coriander to your water can make it a little more tasty and refreshing.
It’s a cliché, but again, for a reason. As a Pilates teacher one of the best things my clients report is how my sessions give them surges of energy! But if you’re not in a position to make it to an exercise class at the moment, there are lots of ways to be more active. Walk more. Get off the bus a stop earlier, or take the stairs instead of the lift to your office, or go for a quick walk on your lunch hour. Take the dog for a walk instead of just letting them out to do their business in the garden! It’s been proven that short bursts of exercise (around 15 minutes) can do wonders for your energy levels.
Many people enjoy having a glass of wine to unwind after a hard day, but we all know it’s a depressant. To find out if its contributing to your lethargy, try skipping it for a week to see if you feel more energised without it.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommend that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine (Source). It’s in many teas and coffees (and often soft drinks too). Cutting caffeine altogether is a big change most of us aren’t willing to make. but we can still benefit from reducing our intake. An espresso-based coffee (like you’d get from a coffee shop) has much more caffeine than an instant one you’d make at home, and black tea, while caffeinated, contains less. Green tea contains caffeine but also a lot of anti-oxidants which can help offset the effects. A good rule of thumb is to stick to one caffeinated drink in the morning, and herbal or caffeine-free for the rest of the day.
If you’ve made all these changes and are still tired and lethargic most of the time, it’s time to check in with your doctor. There could be an underlying physiological cause like anaemia which your doctor can help you with. Persistent tiredness, lethargy and feeling drained all the time is a also big red flag for depression – an extremely common mental health issue which can have many causes, often a combination of lifestyle and emotional factors which have a ‘snowball effect’ over time. Many of the tips above are recommended to help alleviate depression and other common mental health problems (especially exercise!), but if you are worried or suspect you might be depressed, seek out NHS Mental Health Services in your area. Some areas require referral from your GP, others you can refer yourself. GPs can prescribe drugs to aid recovery from mental ill health, but often little else, and there are plenty of non-pharmaceutical therapies available from NHS Mental Health teams and clinics. Don’t be afraid to seek help even if you’re not sure if you ‘qualify.’ If you feel you need help, you need help!
Bear in mind, small changes add up to big ones over time! These tips are a great place to start, even if your tiredness does have serious underlying causes – doing these small things to take care of yourself can help give you energy to start dealing them, whether that means working up the courage to speak to your doctor, or a therapist, or make significant changes in your life for the sake of your wellbeing. Making the effort to tweak or introduce new healthy habits like these can pay off many times over in how much more energetic you feel.
Thank you so much for stopping by today.