Updated: Jun 8
There are times when fatigue is easily explainable - perhaps yesterday was full-body-workout-day or maybe you stayed up too late bingeing your favorite show. But, what about fatigue that lasts for weeks, months, or even years? Here are my top reasons why you might be stuck in an energy rut:
Hyperstimulating the brain with a consistent barrage of entertainment creates an artificial reality that makes our 'real reality' feel heavy and unappealing. This is the result of repeated, un-natural spikes of a brain chemical called dopamine. Re-learning how to appreciate the present moment without audiovisual input is a good start. In my view, this is the true purpose of meditation.
If your skills are underutilized on a daily basis then life can become extremely dull. Strive to meet your potential whether it be through your career or extra-curricular activities. The antidote to understimulation is entering into flow state. Flow state occurs when your skillset correctly matches the challenge at-hand. In flow state, time no longer drags on and life becomes deeply satisfying. Seek activities that bring you into flow state without negative repercussions (ie. excess video gaming).
Life Lacking Meaning
You do not necessarily need to overhaul your life to make it meaningful; sometimes meaning is simply in the eye of the beholder. If your life lacks a defined sense of meaning, then energy might dwindle overtime. Having meaning is intimately connected to the concept of resilience which can improve your overall mental health. It is said that the person who has a strong "why" can withstand nearly anything life throws at them.
Low Vitamin and Mineral Status
Iron greatly impacts energy levels because it influences how our body transports and utilizes oxygen. Iron is also vitally important to red blood cell formation. In essence, low iron means low energy and the same can be said for low Vitamin B12 and low Vitamin D . Energy can severely be impacted if you are not eating the right foods or spending enough time outdoors. For some people, supplementation is a convenient and effective solution.
Focusing on the Wrong Things
Wise men and women throughout the ages have pleaded with humanity to focus our attention on what we can control and leave the rest to fate. This includes our own individual attitudes, behaviours, and actions. We are compelled (mostly by large media institutions) to pay attention to things we have absolutely no control over which creates a sense of accumulated helplessness. Little value or applicability comes from focusing on things you cannot control. This is a practice for the benefit of your own mental health.
There are many health benefits to drinking a cup of plain coffee/tea so I am merely promoting moderation here. Caffeine encourages the body to release adrenaline and other stress hormones into the bloodstream which can negatively impact mood and energy levels throughout the day. Ensure that caffeine is working for you and not against you. If you can feel your heart rate increase or if you feel anxious after drinking coffee, consider switching to green tea or weaning yourself off caffeine altogether.
Unmitigated Negative Thinking
It's been estimated that nearly 80% of our thinking is negatively skewed. Ask yourself what you can do to make a 10% improvement. Pay attention to your mental self-talk and become keenly aware of how you perceive the world around you. Is it negatively skewed? What are some more constructive ways to view yourself and others?
Undiagnosed or Untreated Conditions
A variety of physical and mental conditions can affect energy levels. Some examples include an underactive thyroid gland, depression, low red blood cell count, and so forth. Talking to a qualified health expert such as myself is a great start to finding the root cause of your fatigue.
I am an evidence-based naturopathic doctor who favours practicality over complexity. For an individualized plan to get your energy back on track, click here
-Dr. Riley, ND