If you’re always feeling tired, or unable to function without your morning coffee fix, something’s not right. Constantly being exhausted isn’t normal, even though you may have got used to feeling this way.
“If there’s a problem, there’s a solution –
and the healthiest option involves natural treatment,” says naturopath Victoria O’Sullivan.
Reliance on caffeine and sugar might provide a short-term fix but this only aggravates the problem in the long run. Instead, follow Victoria’s steps to identify the cause of your tiredness and give your body the energy pick-me-up it deserves!
10 STEPS TO RECLAIM YOUR ENERGY
1 Get tested
How long has it been since your last medical check-up? A standard blood test may reveal deficiencies in key vitamins and minerals, such as iron and B12, with symptoms including exhaustion, cold hands and feet, dizziness and shortness of breath. “These deficiencies can have a negative spiralling effect,” says Victoria. “When we’re tired we crave more sugar and don’t feel like exercising, making us even more tired – and the pattern continues.”
2 Allergy check
You may not even be aware you have allergies but they could be the cause of your lethargy. Allergic reactions are brought on by a variety of factors – environment, food, drink – but mostly they’re brought on by an overactive immune system. Have an allergy and intolerances check with your naturopath to identify any triggers.
3 Restore your digestive system
“Our digestive system is like an ecosystem – if there’s a build-up of bad micro-organisms, we’re unlikely to be absorbing the full nutrients and energy from our meals,” says Victoria. Some simple ways to restore balance are to chew food properly to ensure breakdown and maximum absorption, and eat foods rich in good bacteria like natural yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut and kim chee. You can also take probiotics, digestive enzyme supplements or apple cider vinegar in water in the mornings.
When we are dehydrated our blood becomes sticky and thick, which affects the transportation of oxygen around our bodies, in turn impacting our mental alertness. “Sticky blood also puts greater stress on our heart, making it work harder,” explains Victoria. “We’ll likely crave more sugar and stimulants to give us the energy we lack.” We need roughly 33ml of water per kilo of body weight. That’s around 2.15 litres per day for a 65kg adult.
5 Stop stressing
Adrenal exhaustion may occur as a result of chronic stress. We often associate stress with things like loss, moving house and financial pressure, but in reality, stress comes from all areas of our lives. Dragging ourselves out of bed in the morning and lacking stamina are classic symptoms of stress, while symptoms can include difficulty in completing tasks and craving sugar or salt. “Often our perception of events can greatly affect our stress response,” says Victoria. “By developing positive attitudes we can go a long way to reduce stress and gain more energy.”
6 Sleep tight
Have the lights out by 10pm to get eight hours of solid sleep. Disturbed sleep results in tiredness and, while we may be able to push through, the more tired we get, the more we will crave caffeine, starchy and sugary foods – starting us on that slippery slope.
7 Ditch the sugary foods
Do you find yourself falling asleep at your desk in the afternoon or unable to concentrate? You may have unstable blood sugar levels. “Take a look at what you’ve eaten during the morning and chances are you haven’t had enough to eat or have relied on too much sugar,” says Victoria. “Although sugar can easily satisfy cravings and re-energise you, it diminishes quickly, leaving you stuck on a blood-sugar rollercoaster.”
8 Get moving
If you don’t exercise, start. This can be difficult if you have digestive issues, but exercise helps digestion – even if it’s a gentle walk.
“Our muscles are packed with mitochondria, which are the energy powerhouses of our cells,” explains Victoria. “Building lean muscle will help with energy production –
and will also keep you younger!”
9 Practise calmness
Often we’re in a state of stress without being aware of it. “Adrenaline – one of our stress hormones – can put us in a state of constant hyper-stimulation and can trigger feelings of anxiety and panic, making it difficult to maintain a relaxed composure,” Victoria says. Calming practices like meditation, yoga and breathing exercises calm the stress response, in turn helping the flow of energy.
10 Supplement your diet
Many of us eat on the go and miss key vitamins and minerals. Supplements, in particular B vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium, help to replace the missing nutrients and sources of energy that many of us lack in our diets.
TIRED ALL THE TIME? YOU’RE NOT ALONE – BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! THERE ARE SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO GET TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM AND RECLAIM YOUR ENERGY ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Victoria O’Sullivan (B.Bus; B.Sc; Dip Naturopathy)
is a health expert specialising in naturopathy. Her Sydney-based practice runs programs focused on weight loss, hormonal balancing and reducing stress. Victoria has also played a pivotal role in the establishment of her family’s own chain of health food stores, O’Sullivan’s Health Foods. Visit www.victoriaosullivan.com.au