Ongoing fatigue and lack of energy can have an identifiable medical cause, such as anaemia or an underactive thyroid, and so if you always feel tired or low energy persists, check with your GP or healthcare professional to rule these and any other medical conditions out. If the lack of energy you’re experiencing is lifestyle related – and let’s face it, who’s not feeling a little flat at the moment, there are lots of ways to increase your energy levels naturally.
Fatigue can result from a lack of exercise, especially if you spend most of your day behind a computer screen. Exercise gives you energy. Try to exercise for at least 10 minutes a day, and if working from home, give chair aerobics a go – it’s a thing, take our word for it.
Get more sleep
Everyone is different but generally you should aim for 8 hours a night. Poor sleep on an ongoing basis will soon zap your energy. If you’re having trouble sleeping , take time to wind down before bedtime. This will enable your nervous system to shift into a pre-sleep pattern. Avoid screens for at least an hour before you turn in and go to bed at the same time each night.
Feeling stressed can take its toll on your energy levels. Whilst it may not be possible to remove stress completely from your life, allow yourself at least 30 minutes each day to do whatever helps you to relax. Take a walk by yourself, read a book, run a bath. Deep breathing and meditation can also bring back calm.
Avoid processed foods and sugar
Ditch the quick-release carbs found in white bread, pastries and sweets. They might give you a quick sugar fix, but after a couple of hours that sudden spike of energy will drop, making you feel tired and sleepy, and it won’t be long before you’ll be craving that sweet fix again. Low GI, slow-release energy foods, such as wholegrains, nuts and seeds, and foods rich in protein, will keep you full for longer.
Boost your B
If energy levels are low, foods rich in B vitamins are recommended because they help to convert food into energy. Oat-based cereals, porridge especially, are a great way to start the day. Other food sources of vitamin B include bananas, lentils, peppers, tempeh and beans. Alternatively a B vitamin supplement can help to keep you topped up.
Up your iron
Heavy periods, even regular, monthly periods, can cause low iron levels, especially if you are not obtaining enough iron from your diet, which can cause profound fatigue. Good food sources of iron include lean red meat, liver and shellfish. In general, vegetarian iron is not as easy to absorb but is available in beans, bran flakes, Tofu, figs, kale and lentils. If you feel you can’t get your iron levels up through diet alone, an iron supplement can help.
Break up with caffeine
No, not a typo. Coffee in moderation can boost alertness but these effects tend to diminish the more we drink. Increased coffee intake has been linked with agitation, a raised heart rate, raised blood pressure and, yes, fatigue. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, reducing your coffee intake can actually boost energy.
Drink more water
If your lips are often cracked and dry, and your pee is a darker shade of yellow, the chances are you’re not drinking enough water. Even slight dehydration will cause body tissue to lose fluid and function less well. Aim for at least 1.5 litres of fresh, still water a day.