Fatigue goes beyond sleepiness. I read Merriam-Webster’s second definition for the word: “weariness, exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress.” Sounds about right.
But I was most intrigued by definition 2b as related to receptors and organs. You could almost apply this definition to all aspects of fatigue: “the temporary loss of power to respond…”
While everyone has tough days and exhausting weeks, fatigue is longer-lasting – it goes beyond feeling “sleepy.”
Fatigue is a symptom, not a condition or disease. But there are a variety of conditions that can cause or contribute to feeling tired all the time, both mental and physical. Fortunately, there are also some ways to fight back against extreme fatigue symptoms.
Fatigue & Lifestyle
Cause #1: Lifestyle
If you practice unhealthy choices in your lifestyle, you may find yourself experiencing ongoing fatigue. This could be caused by poor dietary choices, lack of an exercise regimen, excessive alcohol use, or drug use (legal and illegal). If you do not provide your body with the tools it needs to function optimally, fatigue is often the body’s response.
Symptom #1: Low Motivation and Physical Exhaustion
Low motivation can make it hard to get out of bed and accomplish daily tasks, such as going to work and doing household chores. You may also experience a lack of desire to interact with others and involve yourself in relationships. Low motivation and physical exhaustion often go hand-in-hand in a vicious cycle. Exhaustion leads to low motivation leads to exhaustion… so how can you get your mojo back?
Remedy #1: Get Moving
“I’m physically exhausted and you want me to get moving?” Yes, yes I do. Exercise is one of the best, cheapest, fastest, and most sustainable ways to relieve fatigue. As tempting as it is to go to sleep for a week, establishing a regular, realistic exercise routine is actually a better option.
Whether you join a gym, lift some weights, or go for a walk, make exercising a priority. It will not only relieve the physical exhaustion, but the endorphins will perk your mood and motivation. And, when you start making one positive lifestyle change, the trickle-down effect often leads to improving other lifestyle choices.
Mental & Emotional
Cause #2: Mental and Emotional
Mental and emotional factors are a common cause of fatigue and sleepiness. They may be temporary, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or situational stress. They could be chronic conditions that come and go in spurts, such as anxiety or depression. Whether you’ve overcommitted and stretched yourself thin, causing stress and fatigue, or battle fatigue as a symptom of your depression, physiological manifestations of emotional or mental factors are very real.
Symptom #2: Moodiness and Loss of Concentration
Mental symptoms of fatigue may include:
- Excessive irritability
- Unusual moodiness
- Inability to concentrate on tasks (both menial and important)
- Easily distracted
- Lack of focus
Mental fatigue may also feel simply like an overwhelming heaviness, almost inexplicable. A fog seems to settle over your mind, making you feel simply incapable.
Remedy #2: Rest Your Mind
There are several ways to refresh and rejuvenate your mind. And sometimes the remedy is as simple as the “anti-cause.” For example, if you are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), it’s possible you are not getting enough sunlight. Take a walk outside for a few minutes at least a couple of times a day. If your commute and city have you driving in the dark to and from work, consider a light therapy lamp. If you have stressed yourself into fatigue, step back from the stressors or overcommitments. Using meditative tools, such as yoga, may also help you manage your mental and emotional causes of fatigue and sleepiness.
Fatigue & Your Physical Health
Cause #3: Physical Issues
Extreme fatigue symptoms could indicate other, underlying physical maladies. It’s important to discuss all your symptoms, including fatigue, with your doctor. Oftentimes fatigue is a bellwether that helps identify an issue, or at least points to something that merits further testing or exploration. Related physical issues may include:
- Sleep Apnea
- Thyroid issues (underactive or overactive)
Symptom #3: Headaches and Muscle Changes
If your energy is perpetually depleted and you find yourself experiencing frequent headaches, muscle fatigue, muscle weakness, aches, or slowed response times, these could be signs of physical fatigue. Let your healthcare provider know. Don’t just pop another pain reliever or chalk it up to aging. Maybe it is getting older… but maybe something more is going on. And more importantly, maybe it can be treated. Maybe you don’t have to keep feeling this way!
Remedy #3: Proper Nutrients and Hydration
Water? Yep. Water. Sometimes dehydration leads to feeling tired all the time – even long-term fatigue. But long-term hydration (…those famous eight glasses of 8-oz of water per day…) can provide relief. Proper nutrition is also critical.
If you are suffering from anemia, increasing your iron intake through diet or supplements could boost your mind and body out of the fatigue fog. Sometimes a simple test can pinpoint a deficiency your body is begging for that has caught you completely unaware. Meeting that need can make a dramatic difference in your quality of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Help in the Fight Against Fatigue | Optimal Brain and Body Performance
If you see yourself in some of these causes and symptoms of fatigue, consider some of these strategies for improving your overall wellness. You may find simple lifestyle changes, new mental relaxation techniques, or moderate nutritional adjustments can get you back to your optimal self. Seek medical advice from a trusted professional.
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