Have you been feeling drained physically and mentally even after sleeping long hours? It can be very challenging to overcome fatigue.
Fatigue limits your life, reduces your productivity, and can lead to injuries or car accidents. Stress and sleep deprivation are frequent but not the only causes of fatigue. In order to reduce symptoms and eventually overcome fatigue, you need to combine different measures like having proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, supplements, and more.
Fatigue is also a stubborn symptom of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with which I have been dealing myself. I have spent years building up my energy levels. And in this post, I share scientifically proven measures that have been helping me in overcoming fatigue related to Hashimoto’s but are also perfectly suitable for other conditions.
What is Fatigue
Fatigue or tiredness can be one of the symptoms of an underlying medical condition, like autoimmune diseases, e.g. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (so-called, secondary fatigue). Or it can be a lasting condition developed for example after a viral infection. Certain medications can also cause fatigue.
Fatigue symptoms are experienced physically but also mentally stopping you from participating fully in your own life.
Physical symptoms of fatigue are
- feeling weak performing daily physical activities
- experiencing muscle weakness
- being not fit for physical work or exercise and
- having low stamina
Mental symptoms of fatigue are
- poor concentration
- inability to think clearly (brain fog)
- difficulties with finding the right words
- poor memory
Ways to Overcome Fatigue
In order to overcome fatigue efficiently, it is important to understand the reasons that cause it.
In addition, fatigue must be combated in several ways – measures aimed at eliminating the underlying disease, if any, should be combined with measures that prevent stress, support proper rest and strengthen mitochondria, the energy stations of your cells. These measures include proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, supplements, and others.
1. Proper Sleep
Sleep is meant to restore your energy. If you don’t sleep enough or if you have sleep issues this will directly affect your energy levels both physical and mental, also this will cause more serious health issues in the long run.
Improving your sleep and sleeping long enough is absolutely necessary in order to overcome fatigue. There are easy measures that help you restore a healthy sleep-wake rhythm:
- view the morning sunlight
- dim artificial lights after the sunset
- stop using any screens two hours before going to bed
It is important to stick to your daily sleep-wake routine. Whereas spending more time outside during the day can give you an additional advantage.
2. Reducing Stress
Long-term stress can lead to a state of disempowerment and fatigue.
Well-known stress management ways, like yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises help to reduce the level of stress that you may experience in your daily life.
The Emotional Freedom Technique can help you to raise your awareness and manage your negative emotions.
Stress is not caused only by external circumstances. It can have some innate root causes, like old negative beliefs about being unsafe, about being helpless, and incapable to cope with the situations. Dealing with such root causes will help you see the situations in a new light, developing self-esteem and resilience.
An effective method for that is transformational hypnotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-lingual Programming (NLP) can help you to develop new strategies for dealing with various challenging situations.
I use transformational hypnotherapy, CBT, and NLP to guide my clients through a personal transformation. This allows both to address the innate root cause and to develop new coping skills. Book an appointment with me to learn what I can do for you personally:
Addressing Food Sensitivities
Food is your energy source therefore the quality of your food but also the efficiency of your digestion is directly affecting your energy levels.
Food sensitivities or intolerances can disturb the whole digestion process. Unfortunately, food sensitivities are nowadays very frequent, and experienced symptoms range from clear and strong digestion problems to weaker and seemingly unrelated ones like headaches, skin problems, etc.
Most typical food intolerances are those towards gluten and milk products. Elimination of gluten, milk products (especially cow milk), or any other products you are sensitive to is a crucial step in overcoming fatigue.
Though the food packages provide us information only on the macro-nutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and proteins), micro-nutrients – minerals, vitamins, and other biologically active compounds – play an exceptional role in all complex processes in your body, including your energy generation. A wide variety of micro-nutrients is necessary to keep those processes running smoothly.
I apply a simple formula of the modern hunter-gatherer protocol developed by Dr. Terry Wahls specifically for autoimmune conditions but effective for young and absolutely healthy individuals too:
Following this protocol, eat a handful portion with each of your meals:
- green leafy vegetables
- colorful vegetables, berries, or fruit
- sulfur-containing vegetables like onion, garlic, cabbages, reddish, or mushrooms.
Additionally, consume high-quality fats and protein, as well as fermented veggies to support your gut microbiome and reduce your consumption of carbohydrates.
Such a protocol can serve you well in covering the basic needs of your body in both macro- and micronutrients.
If your digestion is generally weak or not completely restored from food intolerances you might not be able to digest your food properly. That means that even the healthiest foods will not be useful to you and your body will remain exhausted.
In such cases, digestion aid in the form of enzymes can be helpful for eliminating fatigue fast. Hashimoto’s patients have typically low stomach acid. Therefore Betaine and Pepsin supplements help them to digest food and feel more energetic. I have also used such supplements.
A mild alternative to betaine and trypsin is homemade lemon water or apple cider vinegar water taken on an empty stomach in the morning. Also, bitter herbs can help you stimulate digestion.
When we speak about stress it is most of the time about negative, undesired experiences and the ways to avoid them. The truth is though, that deliberate moderate stress exposure is perfect for you – it promotes your physical and mental health and fitness, as well as longevity.
Hormetic stress activates your longevity genes and makes your mitochondria, the power plants of your cells more efficient through the selection and multiplying of the stronger mitochondria.
What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me StrongerFriedrich Nietzsche
Typical deliberate stress factors are:
- Heat and cold exposure
- Physical Exercise
Nowadays, we have continuous access to food. It is not rare that people start eating as soon as they wake up, have three main meals, plus snacks throughout the day, and finish eating just before they go to bed.
This leads to an overload of the digestion system. It is not able to digest properly. The digestion process is a long and highly energy-consuming process. So, continuous eating also uses up much of your energy.
Longer breaks from eating give your body the opportunity for complete digestion, much-needed rest, cleaning, and repair.
There are different types of fasting or narrowing down your eating period of the day. It has been shown that skipping one meal and omitting snacks in that period is very effective.
I’ve been skipping breakfast and having an early lunch and dinner for a few years. Others skip lunch or dinner or fast regularly for a full day.
5. Heat & Cold Exposure
As with food, we are used to full comfort in terms of temperature. We use heating during cold seasons of the year and air conditioning if it gets too hot. This leads to a limited capability of the body for adaptation and to an increased stress reaction.
At the same time, deliberate cold exposure is causing stress (release of stress hormones). And this elevates your levels of physical energy and mental alertness and focus in the short term and promotes your body’s adaptation mechanisms, fitness, and longevity in the long run.
These effects can be achieved by a regular weekly deliberate cold exposure for 11 minutes. Those 11 minutes can be split into several sessions.
I’ve been enjoying the benefits of cold showers for already several years—every time (almost:) I take a shower I finish with the cold water shower. When taking cold showers, it is important to expose all parts of your body to the cold water. This includes your head.
Picture: Lapland offers the luxury of taking an ice bath after a Finnish sauna (Lapland, Finland, 2022)
Also, deliberate heat exposure trains your body offering you many health benefits, both physical and mental. Heat hormesis can be achieved for example via a hot bath, traditional sauna, or infra-red sauna.
Heat exposure improves fitness, endurance, and cognitive function in multiple ways:
- Causes sweating and promotes body detoxification through the skin.
- Activates the immune system and prevents colds and acute respiratory illnesses
- improves cardiovascular and thermo-regulation and increases heart rate variability which is an important parameter of heart health and overall physical fitness
- Reduces inflammation in the body and brain – the levels of inflammation markers released through exercise go down.
- antiinflammatory effect in the brain leads to a significant lasting antidepressant effect.
- improves cognitive function activating areas involved in learning, long-term memory, and executive function
- promotes the release of growth hormone that helps injury healing as well as muscle preservation during age-related muscle loss
Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that regular use of a sauna extends the health span – prevents cardiovascular diseases and neuro-degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimers, and reduces all-cause mortality in a dose-dependent manner.
Children and pregnant women need to use heat exposure with caution at moderate temperatures. Men may experience a temporary decrease in fertility due to sauna use.
6. Physical Exercise
Physical exercise represents a stressor for your body with many benefits for your short- and long-term health. Various studies demonstrated the effectiveness of exercise in raising energy levels and overcoming fatigue.
Your energy is produced by mitochondria, the power stations of our cells. The most net amount of mitochondria is contained in your muscles. Muscles play an important role in how energized you feel. So, strengthening and growing your muscles helps you to combat fatigue.
Different types of physical exercise offer different benefits for your health and fitness. However, experiencing fatigue, you might not be able to practice intense or prolonged training.
I personally find yoga most compelling and suitable for me. Holding postures using my own body weight allows me to build up muscle tissue of all muscle groups and increase strength. Yoga postures are effective and yet gentle, with a low risque of traumas.
A nutrient-rich protocol like the modern hunter-gatherer protocol will cover the needs of your body in most nutrients. Depending on your personal lifestyle you might require increased amounts of certain nutrients.
It is important to supplement certain nutrients in order to avoid deficiencies and their negative effect on your health and well-being. Below I talk about a few such nutrients.
Vitamin D is very important for your health and well-being. Studies have shown that the upper range of the norm is optimal for the good functioning of your organism, for preventing diseases, and even for the remission of chronic diseases.
This can mean that you may need to supplement vitamin D even in summer if you spend little time outside in the sun working in the office.
Find out more about the importance of vitamin D, testing, and supplementing here.
Magnesium is a very important nutrient for both muscle building and functioning, the nervous system as well as the cardiovascular system. Magnesium deficiency is very frequent and affects both your physical and mental fitness and is related to the occurrence of chronic diseases.
Magnesium supplementation supports your mental and physical fitness. Magnesium malate is the best supplement for increasing your energy levels whereas Magnesium threonate is the best for improving memory and cognitive function.
Iron plays an important role in transporting oxygen in the body and lack of oxygen leads to low energy and weakness. Therefore it is crucial to have good blood iron levels in order to overcome fatigue.
Iron deficiency is more typical for women and vegetarians. It is also very typical for Hashimoto’s patients. And it can be very difficult to overcome Iron deficiency if you have digestion problems, like low stomach acid or irritated bowel syndrome.
Simply supplementing iron is often not sufficient and can cause even more digestion problems, like bloating and loss of appetite. So, it is only after excluding problem foods, restoring your digestion, and taking digestion aid, like Betain and Trypsin that it is possible to restore iron blood levels.
L-Carnitine is involved in cellular energy production, the mitochondrial oxidation of long-chain fatty acids. It also protects cellular membranes from oxidative stress and reduces inflammation.
L-carnitine reduces fatigue in older adults with low muscular endurance and slightly limits muscle damage during resistance exercise.
Hypothyroid patients experience fatigue despite proper hormonal replacement. It has been shown that this is related to L-Carnite metabolism and that L-Carnitine supplementation reduces the symptoms of physical and mental fatigue.
The research summary by Examine.com suggests the use of Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) for cognitive enhancement and L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) for physical performance and power output.
Conclusions: How to Overcome Fatigue
Fatigue can have various causes and need to be dealt with in different ways addressing the root causes:
- restore a healthy sleep for the best rest
- reduce your stress levels and learn to deal with challenges
- adjust your nutrition to gain the most energy from your food
- use deliberate stress exposure to elevate the energy levels of your body and mind. Use fasting, heat, and cold exposure, and/or physical exercise for this purpose
- boost the energy of your body and mind with the right supplements like vitamin D, magnesium, iron, or L-carnitine
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