Dr Tendai Zuze Health Matters
Feeling unusually tired, drained or exhausted for no apparent reason are the characteristics of a condition known as fatigue.
It can also lead to feelings of inadequacy, low motivation and even depression.
Essentially, fatigue is a signal that there is a problem somewhere in your body and the body is slowing down in order to cope.
When you always feel tired, the cause is usually either physical or emotional. Physical causes of malaise include:
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels)
Anaemia (low levels of blood)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Lack of sleep after childbirth and when taking care of young children or sick or disabled persons
Possible emotional causes include:
Burnout (wearing yourself out by trying to do too much)
Boredom (extreme monotony or lack of interest in daily routines)
Change (facing a major life crisis, decision or change like divorce or retirement)
Many women’s health problems are accompanied by fatigue but a lot of men also suffer from fatigue.
Treatment of fatigue depends on the cause, where it can be found.
It is important to keep track of any additional symptoms you may be experiencing so that both physical and emotional causes can be identified and dealt with.
At home, the following measures may help restore your energy levels:
Follow a healthy diet. Both extreme overeating and crash dieting can tax the body and lead to exhaustion. Skipping an important meal like breakfast or indulging in high fat and/or rich, sugary snacks can lead to fatigue.
On the other hand, iron-rich foods, whole-grain breads and cereals, and raw fruits and vegetables contain the nutrients your body needs to avoid fatigue. It may help to keep your energy levels at a consistent level to eat five to six light meals a day, instead of three large ones.
Get more exercise. Keeping fit can help maintain normal, consistent energy levels, and is especially important if you work at a sedentary job. Exercise also acts as a tranquilliser, counteracting emotionally induced anxiety or weariness. If you’re feeling sluggish, try taking a brisk, invigorating walk in the fresh air.
Cool off. Working or playing in hot weather can drag you down, as can living or working in a warm, poorly ventilated environment. The solution to these problems is to rest in a cool, dry atmosphere as often as you can, drink plenty of liquids and open a window.
Rest and relax. A good night’s sleep can put the spring back in your stride and daily relaxation breaks can also restore your energy. Schedule your day to allow relaxation breaks, in which you practise deep breathing, meditation or yoga, if you know how.
Change your routine. Nothing makes you feel stale faster than doing the same activities over and over. Try to do something novel and interesting once or more times a day. If, on the other hand, you’re on the go too much and feel over-stimulated, set aside some time for peace and quiet.
Lighten your workload. Delegate tasks to others when you can, both at work and at home. Ask for help when you need it from family and friends or hire help if necessary.
Do something for yourself. Plan time to do things that meet only your needs, not just those of others.
Avoid too much caffeine and alcohol and don’t use illegal drugs: these substances may feel as if they are giving you a quick “pick-me-up”, but in fact they can trigger fatigue.
If you are always feeling tired, please visit your doctor.