12 simple steps to reduce fatigue and boost energy
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning?
Often feel flat and unmotivated?
You’re not alone.
Feeling fatigued is a common problem. When you lack energy, getting through the day and staying motivated can be a real struggle.
Tiredness affects how we function – physically, emotionally and mentally. It can prevent us from doing everyday tasks such as exercising and concentrating at work.
Learn what causes fatigue and how to boost your energy naturally through diet and lifestyle. Discover what foods and herbs help combat tiredness so you can stop feeling exhausted and start the day with a spring in your step.
What causes fatigue?
There are many causes of fatigue and levels of tiredness vary from person to person.
Quite often, fatigue is due to dietary and lifestyle factors; however, it can also be caused by an underlying illness or medical condition.
Some of main causes of tiredness include:
- Sleep deprivation. Not getting enough good quality sleep at night will affect your energy levels, making you feel tired and sluggish.
- Excess screen time is a major sleep disruptor and energy drain. The blue light emitted from devices overstimulates your brain, making it hard for you to get to sleep.
- Stress due to work, finances or family issues can cause worry and anxiety. Long-term stress results in your adrenal glands going into overdrive, and can leave you feeling burnt out and exhausted.
- Poor diet. Not eating the right foods can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency. Eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates (such as bread, cakes, pizza, pastries, cereals) triggers your blood sugar levels to spike rapidly. Even though this gives you a quick energy boost, your blood sugars soon come crashing down, leaving you feeling tired again. Other dietary habits that deplete energy include highly processed foods, fried food, junk foods and snacks with empty calories (cereal bars, biscuits, chocolate, crisps).
- Too much caffeine as it overstimulates your adrenal glands and puts your body into a stress response. Caffeine also causes insulin resistance which means your body cannot get sugar (fuel) into the cells, resulting in fatigue.
- Not drinking sufficient water. When your cells are dehydrated, they aren’t able to work efficiently. As 70% of the body is made up of water, fluids need to be constantly replaced throughout the day.
- Alcohol as it disrupts sleep and causes dehydration.
- Lack of exercise and being a couch potato. Moving your body regularly through exercise improves blood flow, enabling more oxygen and nutrients to get into your cells to produce energy.
- Low iron levels and poor thyroid function. Iron is essential for energy production in the body. The thyroid gland controls metabolism, helping to turn food into energy.
- Illness or infections as the body needs to work harder to fight off infections.
12 ways to reduce fatigue
- Adopt a good sleep routine to allow your body and brain to wind down at night. Eat dinner early (something light is better than a heavy meal), avoid excessive screen time and do something relaxing before bed such as having a bath or reading a book. Learn which herbs help with sleep.
- Avoid coffee, stimulants and alcohol. Instead opt for herbal teas and non-caffeinated drinks. Learn more about how coffee impacts health and coffee alternatives.
- Cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead, eat energy-boosting foods including fruits and vegetables, wholegrains (oats, brown rice, millet), nuts and seeds, quinoa, good sources of fats (oily fish, avocados, flaxseed oil), quality protein (organic eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas) and superfoods such as maca, maqui berry and spirulina.
- Up your intake of magnesium, B vitamins and CoQ10. These are key nutrients that cells need to make cellular energy to help your body function efficiently.
- CoQ10 sources include nuts (especially pistachios), sesame seeds, olive oil, fruit and vegetables including oranges, strawberries, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, poultry, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout and eggs.
- Magnesium can be found in leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, rocket), broccoli, kidney beans, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, wholegrain rice, lentils and avocado.
- B vitamins are found in legumes, seeds, nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds), oats, oatmeal, sesame seeds, tahini, nutritional yeast, eggs, seafood and poultry.
Supplementation may be required. Talk to a nutritional therapist or naturopath if you think you may be deficient in these nutrients.
- Move your body through daily exercise as it’s a great way to reduce stress and aid relaxation. Go for a walk, take a fitness class or do some skipping in your garden. Regular walks in the evening helps relax the body and wind down the mind after a busy day. When walking, try to consciously look at things that are close by and far away, alternating between the two. Doing this while walking takes your mind away from problems and stress.
- Drink water with fresh lemon or apple cider vinegar to keep hydrated and your cells energised. Lemon and apple cider vinegar stimulates your digestive system which improves nutrient absorption.
- Herbs like Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng and Ashwagandha are fantastic herbs for supporting the body and nervous system in times of stress, both physically and mentally. They help to combat fatigue, lift mood, increase focus, and improve performance and strength. Learn more about using herbs for energy and stress.
- Medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Maitake and Reishi have also shown to boost energy levels and reduce tiredness. Mushrooms can also help with sleep, anxiety, poor memory and focus, muscle recovery, inflammation and immune function. You can take medicinal mushrooms in a capsule form or as a powder. Add 1 tsp of mushroom powder to your morning cuppa, a smoothie or your favourite recipe.
- Find suitable ways to manage stress and life challenges. A good way to do this is to make a list of all your current problems or challenges; the things that are causing undue stress or preventing you from moving forward with ease. It could be related to anything in your life (health, work, family life, finances) – jot down anything that comes to mind. Beside each problem, write down potential ways you could solve that problem e.g., reduce weekly expenses by a quarter so you can save money towards the holiday you want to go on, or replace your morning toast with a healthier option so your waist band doesn’t feel so tight. Start with the smaller (more manageable) problems first, before tackling the bigger challenges. Big problems can take time to resolve and are best addressed by breaking them down and working through each component step by step. Talking to a friend or an expert such as a Health Coach can be beneficial when trying to find solutions to problems.
- Have goals that give you purpose and are aligned with your values. Quite often, not having solid goals to aspire to can create lethargy and listlessness. Feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel, not going anywhere in particular, can increase your stress levels and lower your mood and energy. CNM Health Coaches use a powerful, simple tool called the Wheel of Life which helps clients to understand their goals better. The goals can be related to health, relationships, career, finances or home life. Try the wheel of life exercise now. Having a lack of goals or clear direction in life can stop you from truly living and being the best version of yourself. Learn more about Health Coaching.
- Make a note of the times you are walking up, especially if you wake in the middle of the night and your tiredness is linked to poor sleep. According to Chinese medicine, different times of the day are linked to different organs. Each organ functions at its optimum capacity at certain times of the day. The Chinese body clock (see below) is a valuable tool when exploring the timing of symptoms in relation to certain organs. For example, if you always wake up between 3 to 4am, it could be related to liver function. If your energy slumps around 6 to 8pm, it could to do with kidney function.
- Seek the help of a nutritional therapist or naturopath if you think your tiredness may be due to an underlying pathology (such as low iron or an under functioning thyroid). They will be able to advise you accordingly on treatment protocols and tests. To learn more about the Chinese body clock, consult with a TCM practitioner.
Boost your energy naturally
Fatigue can affect every part of your life, leaving you feeling flat and depleted. Boost your energy naturally by making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Getting good quality sleep, eating a nutritious diet and regular movement will all help put a spring back in your step. Ditch the coffee and high-sugar foods as these only drain your batteries further.