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Fatigue is more than just the feeling of being tired. When we experience fatigue, the feeling of being tired or exhausted doesn’t go away after resting. Fatigue is associated with multiple health conditions as well as our lifestyle choices. It can affect both physical and mental health.
Fatigue can start to have an impact on our mental and physical health if experienced for a long period of time. Constant physical fatigue can lead to mental fatigue over time. We may experience low mood, anxiety, and depression. This may impact our quality of life and relationship with family and friends.
Diagnosis can be challenging due to the wide range of symptoms. Your doctor (GP) may perform a physical examination to assess for any illnesses causing the fatigue.
Other health practitioners who are trained to assess and treat symptoms of fatigue include: Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, Dietitians, Naturopaths, Nutritionists, Physiotherapists & Psychologists
Things you can do on your own:
Reason: Not getting enough sleep each night or waking up multiple times during the night. 8 hours a night is the recommended sleep time.
Why it happens: Each individual is different. Several different reasons: stress, overthinking, too much caffeine, pain/discomfort, medications, not going to bed at a reasonable hour, shift work, and screen time before bed.
What can be done about it: Go to bed at the same time every night, limit caffeine intake, limit bright light and screen time at least 1 hour before bed, limit drinking water later in the day if you are waking up to go to the bathroom, eat at least 2 hours before bed, exercise during the day, meditation or sleeping app.
Reason: Life can be very fast-paced and we often forget to slow down. Common stressors: work, relationships, family, finances
Why it happens: It is expected to experience different challenges and stressors throughout life. When we experience stress for a long period of time, it can negatively affect our health and well-being. When stressed, our bodies are in the sympathetic state of our autonomic nervous system. This is also known as the ‘fight or flight’ state. When our bodies are in fight or flight, we are unable to rest and digest properly. From this, we can often feel exhausted and fatigued.
What can be done about it: ways to manage stress: exercise, breathing techniques, meditation and journaling.
Reason: Pain can affect our sleep, either causing us to struggle to get to sleep or waking up multiple times during the night. This can contribute to being both physically and mentally fatigued.
Why it happens: Due to the pain, it may be hard to get comfortable to fall asleep. The severity of the pain may cause frequent waking during the night. This affects the quality of sleep, leading to fatigue and exhaustion for the next day.
What can be done about it: See your health practitioner to manage injury or complaint.
Stretching and strengthening exercises may help assist in the healing process to reduce the pain experience
Reason: Sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the feeling of fatigue. Lack of exercise contributes to weight gain, resulting in exhaustion and fatigue.
Why it happens: Physical activity boosts energy levels and can provide benefits for our mental health/clarity. Exercise can reduce stress levels and improve the quality of our sleep.
What can be done about it: Start with walking for at least 20 minutes a day. Seek advice from your health practitioner if you have a medical condition or injury before starting strength or conditioning training. Movement is key! If you don’t move it, you lose it.
Reason: Antihistamines, antidepressants, anxiety medications, sedatives, beta blockers, muscle relaxants and topiramate are potential medications that can cause fatigue.
Why it happens: Some medications can make you feel tired or fatigued. Withdrawing from medication can also cause fatigue, as the body is adjusting to its new normal.
What can be done about it: Be aware of the potential side effects of your medications. Seek professional help if symptoms occur.
Reason: Foods that are processed or high in sugar do not provide adequate nutrients for the body to function, this can contribute to the feeling of being tired or fatigued. Over and under-eating can both impact blood sugar and insulin levels.
Why it happens: Food is fuel! If the body is not getting enough of the right nutrients, it will impact the body’s energy levels. Possibly resulting in tiredness and fatigue.
What can be done about it: Limit processed or foods high in sugar. Seek healthcare advice to learn more about what foods would work best in your diet.
In summary, it is common for many people to experience the feeling of tiredness and fatigue. If experienced for a long period of time, fatigue can impact your mental and physical health. There are many different contributing factors; poor sleep, high stress, pain, lack of exercise, medication and poor diet are some key factors that were discussed. Please seek medical advice from a trusted health practitioner to target the underlying cause of your fatigue.