Are you always tired? Are you envious of friends who seem to have endless energy? Would you like to get more energy yourself?

The good news is that you can get more energy.

Let’s have a look at some of the common reasons for lack of energy and a constant feeling of fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue

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, Dr Michael Elstein, a GP, author, international speaker and anti-ageing specialist.

“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.

Lifestyle factors

Naturopath Stephen Eddey 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.”

Dr Elstein, himself a vegetarian, cautions against consuming too much meat because of an increased risk of some cancers.

He says optimal functioning including energy production is not only dependent on ensuring that we are getting all the vital proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals for our cells to function optimally but that we have sufficient quantities of acid and enzymes in digestive juices to break down the foods we eat.  

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, Lifestream or Usana 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.

What to do if you have too much stress

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.

Pushing yourself to overdo it when exhausted depletes life force energy, says Chinese medicine practitioner Joshua Leishman (Bach Hlth Sci Acu & Ch Med).

“Chinese medicine teaches that we lose energy through the orifices of the body,” he says. “It recommends closing one’s eyes, closing one’s mouth, and stilling one’s mind to recharge. For those suffering great fatigue, avoid excessive speaking, thinking, listening, and in many cases, it’s also not helpful to purge the bowels or promote sweating either. “

On the other hand, and equally as present in society, is the scenario of sedentary lifestyle and overindulgence combined with stress, says Leishman. “Ancient Chinese medics called it internal binding or stagnation of energy and waste matter. In this case, purging the intestines, promoting sweat, and reducing food intake may improve wellbeing.”

Try not to Dr Google

While everyone wants to feel well, to have more energy, and to be more productive, Leishman believes there’s far too much information out there about health and that this in itself can lead to reduced vitality.  

“For example, many people are so confused about what to eat, they cut out everything and develop a neurosis over food. Do they feel good? No. The way to good health and energy isn’t meant to be difficult.”

Without professional diagnosis or knowledge, Intuition is the key, he says. “Be aware of how you feel and let it guide your choices to maintain balance which is essential to energy and good health.”

If you want more energy, I can help you. Contact me for wellness wellness consulting to dial down stress, fatigue and burnout.

Helen Hawkes

Helen Hawkes is a journalist who writes compelling print and digital content across business and finance, health and lifestyle, real estate and interiors. Her content clients have ranged from American Express and the University of NSW to Maserati and 9Honey. She is fluent in cross-platform storytelling, brand tone of voice, content strategy and stakeholder management.