File photo via Pixabay
Do you wake up every morning feeling in need of a good night’s sleep? Do you struggle through your morning’s business, yawn through lunch meetings and drag yourself home in the evening to collapse, exhausted in front of the TV?
Hectic lifestyles can leave us with a constant feeling of fatigue, even if we sleep eight hours a night.
Longer work hours and lack of separation between work and play means there is no way to escape work stress or find time to take care of ourselves.
This causes tiredness which makes us even more stressed, so we start drinking and smoking, which saps our energy level even further.
If there is no obvious reason for your fatigue, like insomnia or illness, it’s time to make some simple lifestyle changes. Just improving your diet or increasing your exercise can make your energy levels soar.
To start with, are you too tired for the gym? All the more reason to go: exercise is the best re-energiser around. However low you feel before a workout, you’re guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
Exercise kick-starts your metabolism, It triggers the release of feel-good endorphins, which lift your mood and give you an extra burst to stay on form.
A fit body deals better with the daily stresses and strains. Exercising also helps you sleep better and boosts your immune system. Inject more activity into your daily life. Try walking or cycling to work; get off the bus a few stops earlier. Research shows a brisk post-lunch walk prevents mid-afternoon slump.
Progress to a regular exercise routine, scheduling workouts for the time of day you need a boost. You may find morning workouts prepare you for the day ahead or that exercising after work re-energises you for the evening. Never overdo it: over-exercising leads to exhaustion and stress.
Never miss breakfast
I see this every year with applicants for Operation Transformation.
Research shows people who eat breakfasts stay more physically and mentally alert through the day. Kick off that metabolism!
Having a healthier office and home environment helps counteract long hours and stress. Open windows for fresh air and maximise natural daylight.
Ensure your furniture allows you to sit up straight and avoid eye strain and take regular breaks to stretch and boost your circulation. Practice breathing deeply from your diaphragm, four five-minute sessions of deep breathing a day calms and re-energises you.
Save coffee for emergencies, caffeine raises your heart rate, heightening stress and fatigue. Instead drink two litres of water a day to prevent dehydration.
Relaxation is essential, especially for people who are always in work mode. Coming into this Christmas period, it’s OK to come down a gear and take stock.
Reduce or become aware of alcohol intake as it’s an energy leaker.
Planning time for yourself every day is as important as a regular holiday. It is like topping up your car with fuel — the more often you do it the less time it takes.
Just 20 minutes a day in a peaceful spot will help. Turn your mobile phone off, read a book, listen to music or try relaxation exercises like yoga, meditation or Tai Chi which soothe your mind while revitalising your body.
The power of sleep
Lastly, sleep soundly. Half of us don’t get enough sleep to remain active and alert. The hours before midnight are the most refreshing, but quality is as important as quantity if you want to feel refreshed in the morning.
Unless you wind down before bedtime, work problems and worries disrupt your sleep leaving you groggy.
Take time to relax. Avoid caffeine, late-night eating and alcohol, all of which reduce sleep quality.
Make Three Christmas Wishes
* Eat breakfast
* Prioritise rest and sleep
Dr Eddie Murphy runs a psychological and counselling service in Portarlington, Co Laois. If you are organising a speaker or training for school, community, voluntary, sporting or work groups, call Dr Eddie on 087 1302899 or go to www.facebook.com/ dr.eddie.murphy.psychologist