Wired and tired can become a continual state of being when you’re under pressure to perform, or the amount of time you have hardly equals your workload. Caffeine becomes a crutch, alcohol use soars, and you wake as tired as you were the night before.
Worse, well-meaning friends or health food zealots may suggest the obvious – get more sleep and drink less – or the unpalatable – a wheatgrass shot first thing a.m.
Yet, somewhere in between the two extremes is a solution to boosting energy and damping down draining stress.
If you’re struggling to get out of bed as the day begins, have diminished morning energy, need a cup of coffee to get going, suffer from light headedness, often associated with dizziness when you sit up and attempt to stand after lying down, chances are you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, says Dr Michael Elstein, a GP, author, international speaker and anti-ageing specialist. www.eternalhealth.org
“This condition can also lead to sugar and salt cravings, moodiness, irritability, poor frustration tolerance and moodiness and is a very common disorder often associated with long term unresolved stress, insomnia and anxiety,” he says.
“Some would say that the multi-tasking demands of 21st century living and our constant need to stay connected to our iPhones and social media, have overwhelmed our adrenal glands so that they can no longer provide us with sustainable energy. Lethargy, lack of motivation and enthusiasm as well as fatigue are the consequence.”
Dr Elstein treats adrenal fatigue by assessing adrenal hormone status and suggesting a treatment strategy that involves diet, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and meditation. He says as little as 12 minute of that latter a day can assist in lowering stress hormones that are part of a vicious fatigue cycle.
Naturopath Stephen Eddey says that getting lifestyle right – restful sleep, good diet, reduced stress, regular exercise and sensible drinking – is the first step to improving fatigue.
Eddey is a convert to the Paleolithic diet and tells clients: “Get off refined grains, breads, pastas, rice – grain turns into sugar in the body – and get off dairy. Focus on vegetables, meats, fish and eggs but, basically, lots of plant food. Eat organic if you can.”
If you’ve witnessed the rise and rise of fermented foods – sauerkraut, kimchi and humble yoghurt – you may have also keyed into the fact that these, too, are linked with feeling good.
“Research indicates that our emotions, mental function and the regulation of our circadian rhythms which allow us to enjoy restful sleep hinge on the germs which reside in our gut,” says Dr Elstein.
Besides the obvious – eat more vegetables at every meal – consider taking a daily multivitamin and mineral from a premium brand such as Metagenics, www.metagenics.com.au, Lifestream www.mrvitamins.com.au or Usana www.healthnutritionals.com.au to boost fatigue-fighting zinc, iodine and vitamin B12. A blood test may be needed to identify what particular nutrients you are lacking in.
Eddey also suggests a daily supplement of ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10, to assist with energy production.
Beyond what you eat – and getting enough sleep and exercise – there is help for those who feel they can never get on top of a punishing schedule.
Adaptogens such as panax ginseng, withania, shisandra, turmeric and rhodiola can help the body resist the stress response, says Eddey, although you may want to check dosage with a professional practitioner.
But, let’s take a step backwards. Stress itself can pull the plug on vitality faster than just about any other poor lifestyle habit. In fact Eddey believes the impact of continual tension on the body, and on energy, is underestimated.
Being in a continual fight or flight mode not only drains vitality but can lead to increased risk of inflammation and disease. Anything you can do to relax, switch the nervous system into parasympathetic mode, and lower stress hormones, will pay dividends. Opt out of social media after work; but definitely avoid using smart devices before bed as there is some evidence they can disrupt sleep hormones; and schedule relaxation as you would any other commitment.
For a relaxation CD you can play even when you are sleeping go to www.thecalmzone.com.au
Helen is a content producer and who writes wellness and business content for newspapers, magazines and digital sites and helps clients with their content strategy. She also coaches private clients about a healthy diet, how to lose weight, how to overcome anxiety, how to cope with stress, how to get more sleep and how to improve general health.