Top 5 Ways to Deal With Fatigue
Fatigue is a very common problem. A research study in 1994 reported that about 10-18% people self-reported tiredness and fatigue that had lasted one month or longer. A study in 2016 reported that tiredness was one of the most frequent presenting complaints in primary care. A YouGov poll in 2021 showed that 33% of people felt tired about half of the time, with 13% reporting feeling tired all of the time.
When we see patients, we use the acronym, TATT: Tired all the time. You might be asking, is this just young parents reporting it? After all, parents always seem to be tired when looking after young children. However, it appears that many adults (not just new parents) are feeling tired on a regular basis. Young adults do seem to feel most tired, with 41% of 18-24 year olds reporting that tiredness having “great or moderate impact” on their life.
It appears we have an exhausted nation in the UK. And there’s a good possibility it’s getting worse too. In my role as a long covid physio, fatigue is the no1 complaint that most people come in with. They are just exhausted. The article below will not address recovery or rehab from long covid, but it will help fatigue and tiredness more generally.
Let’s look at the top 5 ways to deal with fatigue:
1) Ditch your smartphone
Ok this is extreme, yes. Not possible by many. However, let’s use this as a shocker to wake everyone up a little. We all rely far too much on smart phones. That’s a big problem. We’re not focused on tasks, we’re becoming increasingly distracted by addictive apps like Tik Tok, YouTube shorts, and Instagram. Even Facebook is getting quite boring. When we numb our brains with information that is entertaining but gives very little lasting benefit, we are straining our eyes with nonsense and ads. Flick rates are speeding up as we demand instant gratification. And the last thing we do before bed? Look at our phones and social media. Smart phones emit blue light which can interfere with melatonin (the sleep hormone) production. We’re exhausting our pineal glands.
We’re also giving ourselves neck pain too from long hours of phone use. I was guilty. I got hooked on Tik Tok, and the first way I noticed that I was getting a problem was my gradually increasing neck ache. Physiotherapy sorted it, I just booked a few sessions with Peter and one of our students at Croydon Physio. It helped, and the neck pain went away. But then the neck pain came back again. I realised the smart phone was the problem. I now limit use.
Ditching your smart phone may be a little tough, so instead, limit use.
2) Improve Sleep Quality
Ensuring you get enough quality sleep is crucial. Establish a regular sleep schedule, create a restful environment, and avoid screens before bedtime.
I often work very late into the early hours of the morning. This week I’ve done three 1:30am’ers. There’s no doubt that the next day I feel more tired. When I get to bed earlier, I feel less tired the next day.>
Many people sleep, but that does not mean the quality is good. Many people toss and turn all night, getting inadequate good quality sleep. I find the best way to improve sleep is to lower stress levels. In my experience, most people sleep badly due to stress, pressure, or anxiety. People have “things on their mind” and this affects sleep. Also, always avoid napping during the day. Avoid caffeine as much as possible. Avoid alcohol as much as possible. Avoid fizzy drinks, and never ever drink Red Bull, Monster or Prime. But, mostly, reduce stress, sort out conflicts.
3) Take Regular Exercise
Moderate, regular exercise can boost energy levels. It improves circulation and helps in better sleep. Everyone knows exercise is good for us. But doing it is hard. And does it really help sleep? Yes, it does. After we exercise, our body wants to rest and recover. It’s likely you’ll sleep much better after exercising.
We know there are barriers to exercise. However, some things can still be done. Even people with injuries or arthritis can swim or cycle on a static bike. The biggest barrier to exercise is not an injury, or time, it’s our mind.
If you struggle to motivate yourself, one of the best things to do is to seek the help of a personal trainer. They can be your accountability coach. If you are injured and in pain, seek help from a physiotherapist or osteopath. Just call us 02086856930.
4) Stress Reduction
Stress reduction can significantly help with feeling less tired, as stress and fatigue are closely linked. Here's how managing stress can alleviate tiredness. As mentioned earlier, stress significantly affects sleep quality, so that’s a key part of feeling less tired if you can reduce stress.
Another thing to keep in mind is that being chronically stressed affects your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. We’re more likely to be in a sympathetic state, a fight or flight, ready for action state if we are stressed. Reducing stress helps us to go into a parasympathetic state, to rest, digest and recover.
There’s also a significant relationship between stress and our immune health. We know from hundreds of studies that chronic stress negatively affects our immune health, leading us prone to coughs, colds, infections, and fatigue. Stress can lead to emotional exhaustion, making you feel overwhelmed and fatigued. Managing stress improves your mood and overall sense of well-being, thereby reducing feelings of tiredness.
Usually overlooked, this is equally as important as the others, and possible more important. When we eat badly, we’re likely to feel tired. When we eat too much, we’re also likely to feel tired. Ever gorged on a large Sunday roast, only to feel very sleepy in the afternoon? That’s your body trying to rest and digest. Try skipping lunch, and see if you get more energy in the afternoon around 3:30pm/4pm.
Energy is diverted to our gastrointestinal system when we eat a lot of food, and that takes energy away from doing other things. Caffeine and alcohol also play havoc on our sleep, so be mindful of their effects. Drink plenty of good quality water.
Poor quality food can also cause inflammation, and that can cause fatigue. When we’re in a state of inflammation, everything aches and hurts, and makes us feel tired.
It’s well worth going to see your GP or doctor. Tiredness can be related to medical problems. For example, iron deficiency or anaemia (low red blood cell count) can cause tiredness. Diabetes is also a common cause of tiredness, and you can request to have your blood sugar levels (HbA1c) checked. Deficiencies in vitamin D and B12 is also important to get checked, and can be done through a blood test. There’s a whole range of other conditions too, so if you feel like your tiredness is excessive for what it should be, speak to your doctor.
To conclude, follow the above advice as much as possible to live a healthy contented lifestyle. Please come to see our amazing team at Surrey Physio if you need any expert advice or support. Thanks for reading.