A lot has changed since the COVID pandemic began, including our daily routines. Sure, more time at home can be good – maybe you are eating healthier or focusing more on your family. However, with a change in routine for so many months, you may be noticing a drop in your energy level or a lack of desire to do activities you once enjoyed.
If you are feeling tired or sluggish on a regular basis, you’re not alone. Fatigue is a common problem among teens, adults and seniors. While ongoing fatigue can be a symptom of several conditions, it’s usually the result of simple lifestyle factors that are easy to fix. Here are some common lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your fatigue and how you can correct them.
Eating too many refined carbohydrates
When you’re hungry, are you snacking on crackers and chips? This may be the culprit of why you’re feeling sluggish. Processed carbohydrates like crackers, chips or white bread cause your blood sugar to spike, providing a quick source of energy that can make you feel exhausted when the sugar leaves your cells.
The fix? Eating fiber-rich whole foods that keep you full longer, like veggies, nuts and whole grains. Next time you’re craving a snack, try substituting crackers for a handful of almonds or a slice of whole-grain toast with peanut butter.
Depending too much on caffeine
It’s true that an energy shot or an afternoon cup of coffee can provide a quick energy boost when you’re feeling fatigued. But like refined carbohydrates, caffeine can cause an energy crash after it’s been metabolized. And if you’re in the habit of caffeinating all day long, your dependency on coffee, soda or energy drinks may be to blame for your tiredness.
Get your natural energy levels back by gradually reducing caffeine intake over two to three weeks. Make a point to drink more water and get a good night’s sleep.
Not exercising enough
Are you inactive because you’re tired? As it turns out, being inactive might be the very reason you’re feeling too tired to move. Research has shown that exercising can reduce fatigue in both healthy people and those with illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome. And it doesn’t even have to be much – simply taking regular walks or opting to use the stairs can help to rebuild energy levels.
Take a hard look at the amount of exercise you’re getting on a daily basis. If you spend the majority of your day sitting, committing to a few small changes can make a big difference. Try getting up and walking around for a few minutes each hour. Aim for at least 30 minutes of a moderate physical activity each day—walking, swimming or mowing the lawn are all great ways to get moving.
Excessive levels of stress, especially over long periods of time, can cause your energy to plummet. And if you’re someone who responds to stress by avoiding your emotions, you may be making yourself feel even more fatigued.
The solution? Face stress head-on and prioritize self-care during stressful situations. Actively seek ways to reduce stress and allow yourself time to process and heal from feelings of stress. Try relaxing activities that focus on your mental health, like yoga or meditation.
When it comes to ongoing fatigue, no advice can replace the advice of your physician. If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, have a conversation with your doctor. Be honest and upfront about any lifestyle factors that may be contributing to your fatigue. Understanding more about your lifestyle will help your doctor more accurately diagnose the reason for your symptoms.
If you’re in need of a primary care physician, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission can help you find one who’s compatible with your personality and needs. Visit MyHealthKC.com and take the quiz to get started.