Fatigue and how to help.



A change of season seems like it should bring with it a renewed energy and vibe, however with the last few years feeling as though it has depleted us emotionally, physically and spiritually, we aren’t feeling that normal refreshing shift. This paired with a lot of bugs floating around has led to many of us falling victim to fatigue and burnout. There can be many different reasons behind lack of energy which are of course individualised, however we thought we would put together our top tips for supporting ourselves when we are feeling depleted and moving through the seasons of life like a breeze.


Food and Mood.


There is a very large link between the gut and brain so there's no doubt that what we are eating is going to impact our stress levels and mood. Everyone responds to stress uniquely. Some might tend to skip meals and lose their appetite, while others may lean towards their comfort foods and find that they overeat when they are tired and burnt out.


Maintaining steady blood sugar levels by regularly eating and not skipping meals, can help to promote consistent energy levels and reduce feelings of agitation/stress. Coffee consumption is another factor to be mindful of because even though its stimulating properties do give us energy, it also comes with a dip - especially if our bodies are reliant on it. Being mindful of how much caffeine we are drinking and how we are balancing that with proper hydration is important. We want to work to enhance our bodies natural energy!


Tip: Coffee after food or with food ALWAYS, this helps balance the cortisol and insulin spike after coffee and keep us feeling even and good throughout the day.

Nutrient wise - there is a lot that comes into play. Firstly, are you depleted in iron? Are you consuming adequate amounts of B vitamins in your diet? Are you absorbing the nutrients properly from the foods you're eating?

These are all things we address and work through in the clinic because discovering the root cause for each person is our focus. However, on a whole, focusing on a diverse range of fruit, veg and wholegrains with the addition of good quality protein and healthy fats is a great place to start. For those who struggle with energy dips, ensuring adequate amounts of carbohydrates in each meal may be useful as well as choosing slow release carbs which prevent that spike in blood sugar.


Tip: Add a source of protein to all meals, even your snacks. Eating your vegetables/fruits first, then carbs, protein and fats in that order is a great way to balance blood sugar by supporting gastric activity. We like wholefood carbohydrates such as potatoes, pumpkin, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, apples etc.

Adapt with adaptogens.


If you are feeling overworked, overtired or run down (especially chronically), it can be important to understand what the HPA axis is and how to know if it is out of balance (we promise we won't bore you with all of the science).


The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA axis) is like our built-in “stress response system” which works to control and adjust hormonal output by continuously speaking to the involved glands/organs. If you have been under stress or fatigued for a while, your cortisol levels are often elevated which puts a burden on the body. Optimally our cortisol should be at its highest first thing in the morning - to help us get up and going and then it should naturally decline and be at its lowest at night time to support a restful sleep. If your HPA and circadian rhythm gets out of balance, you may have elevated cortisol at all times or, you could even be experiencing spikes of energy at inconvenient times in the afternoon/evening. Eventually, the prolonged demand for cortisol can eventually lead to a drop or depletion of cortisol, showing up as chronic fatigue, low mood, constipation and poor sleep. Adaptogens are the main tools used naturopathically to support HPA dysfunction and energy production.


Let's take a look at a few of the adaptogens we use and love.


WITHANIA (ASHWAGANDA): Withania works to support our hormones during times of stress as well as helping to increase stamina and energy. It can help balance cortisol and melatonin, thus supporting energy and sleep patterns. This multi-system adaptogen also helps to strengthen the immune system which can often become depleted in chronic cases of fatigue or stress. Safe for long term use and has many studies linking to its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects. We love Withania.


CORDYCEPS: We have been loving using medicinal mushrooms in clinic lately with all of them having such different benefits/uses. Cordyceps is the mushroom we use to increase energy, endurance and longevity. It can be taken throughout the day to help promote and balance energy levels and can be really nourishing post illness to help improve strength.


GINSENG: Traditionally used to promote energy, this is an example of a stimulating adaptogen which can be helpful for those with ongoing fatigue especially first thing in the morning. Because of its stimulating nature, it may not be suitable for those sensitive to caffeine. Fatigue and burnout can look different on everyone. Some people may need the stimulation and others may need more calming adaptogens - always check with your practitioner what may be best for you.


Movement for the mind


Movement can be such a powerful tool for fatigue even though it seems counter initiative.

Exercise helps to improve the body's ability to circulate oxygen and also stimulates the release of endorphins which are our feel good hormones. When dealing with fatigue it can feel really hard to want to move your body, especially during these colder months but it doesn’t need to be much. Drop the expectations on yourself and just move in the way that makes you feel your best. If you feel like a gentle stretch or yoga class that's amazing, or maybe you want to try out pilates or go for a short run. No matter what it is, just make sure it feels good for you and your body. Someone who is chronically fatigued or stressed may not benefit from a HIIT class the same as someone else so try to not compare yourself to anyone else and just do you!


If fatigue has been something you’ve struggled with for a while, it may be helpful for you to exercise in the morning, preferably in the sunlight. This helps to regulate our circadian rhythm and gently stimulate cortisol levels which should be naturally highest mid-morning.


Lifestyle: more important than you think


The environment you find yourself living in alongside the day to day routine you follow is going to have a huge impact on how you feel. Lifestyle changes can come and go during different seasons of our lives - here are some lifestyle tips to help support energy.


Regulation of circadian rhythm: This can be a huge one for enhancing both deep sleep and energy during the day. Waking up with the sun and going outside first thing if possible is a great way to regulate your circadian rhythm. As well as having a consistent bedtime when possible. Avoiding screens and bright lights at night may be a good habit to get into as well as taking the time to wind down and relax before bed. If you need to work in the evenings, wear blue light blocker glasses or download the app f.lux onto your laptop to block the bluelight. Keep the lights dim in the evening or use gentle candle light when winding down.


Stress: Stress and fatigue go hand in hand. When your body is under constant stress it may become worn out and tired which affects mood, energy and cognition. Stress reduction is personalised but finding what helps you relax and doing it often is just as important as your to do list. Being mindful of what your body needs at each given moment is such a great tool in being able to support yourself. Some of our favourite ways to relax and de-stress are infrared saunas, reading, a hot bath, baking, meditation, breathwork, time in nature or a long beach walk.


When it comes to fatigue and burnout, knowing when to reach out for additional support can be tough. We live in such a culture that it is becoming “normal” to be burnout and busy but it is most definitely not normal nor optimal to be living that way. Our practitioners are here to help support you on your personal journey with fatigue or energy depletion based on your individual needs/root cause.



 

Written by Olivia Odey (Naturopath Student) from Adaptive Naturopathy and Brooke Oke (Clinical Naturopath) from Goodkind Naturopathy.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Goodkind  Naturopathy acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of our country, the Yugambeh language group and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

 

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