We are approaching the heart of winter in the southern hemisphere and although its not nearly as brutal as the Northern with its weather patterns; often we lose a sense of personal vitality and often fatigue takes over. Fatigue can manifest itself physically, mentally and emotionally. We may wake feeling unrefreshed, carry a residual fog with us through the whole day, experience a drastic dip in energy come mid afternoon or be desperate to hit the pillow by 6pm. Too often, we are forced to fight these fatigue symptoms, especially in times of stress and demand. With societal expectations, usually we opt for the bandaid affect rather than literally just allowing ourselves to rest.
Understanding the body’s energetic demands :
- Everyday stress : Digitalism is a huge running issue that we are faced with daily. What was once an occasional stimulant is constant for many people. The blue light omitted from our phone and computer screens stimulates the pineal gland and stops melatonin (sleep hormone) secretion. It signals for the body to secrete cortisol – the stress hormone in our body from our adrenal glands. Adding to this is the fact that nowadays we work longer hours, have shorter breaks and rarely allow our parasympathetic nervous system to take over even when we are eating and “resting.” Prolonged stress causes inflammation in the body which not only makes us tired, but is the root to many diseases. Try screen free time in the bedroom each evening and 10 deep breaths before each meal to avoid the constant stimulation.
- The need to DO : No child is born with guilt and shame, and yet as we become conditioned, these deep seeded emotions are engrained within us. We are praised for the constant DOING and the collective mindset holds guilt around resting. Letting go of the “should” is the most potent practice one can re learn. Before saying yes next time ask yourself if it is because you should, or because you want to!
- Environmental exposures : With environmental pollution at an all time high, it is crucial that we try to minimise toxins in other areas as toxins cause oxidative stress to the body which leads to fatigue. Using products without parabens, sulfates and phthalates as well as eating fresh produce that is pesticide free can limit your toxic load. Eating high antioxidant foods can also help repair oxidative damage (so best to have blueberries and dark chocolate on hand…. wherever you go).
- Diet : A diet rich in trans fats, gluten and sugar will strip the body of its good bacteria and calcium levels. Bad food makes us feel sluggish ad often constipated. Carrying old faecal matter in our large intestines contributes to our toxic build up and causes fatigue.
- Hydration : Water is the liquid for life, our body needs it, 3 litres each day in fact! If you are someone that drinks alcohol, and coffee, fair chance you cells are dehydrated in your body, poor cell activity leads to fatigue. Coconut water has the same PH as the blood, so if you hate regular water, try adding this into your daily intake.
Common bandaid solutions :
- Coffee : Caffeine acts as a natural stimulant by activating the central nervous system. Short term it acts to raise the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as stimulating the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, so we get a rush of energy temporarily. Long term it can place stress on our kidneys and adrenal glands causing us to feel “wired but tired.”
- Sugar : Sugar causes our blood sugar to rise immediately after consumption sending an energetic rush through our body. Unfortunately, this rush is short lived, and a crash usually follows.
- Alcohol : Though it isn’t exactly a stimulant, we often reach for it to wind down in the evenings which can make us feel super groggy the following day. Alcohol strips bad bacteria in the gut and causes inflammation to our organs which will only add to our fatigue levels.
Energetic support :
- Nature : when we nurture ourselves in nature, we return to the parasympathetic state and allow our bodies to drop down into a more relaxed frequency. Finding a spot in nature, and lying in stillness or walking barefoot on the earth is a beautiful way to connect to back to our vital state. Studies now reveal the earths electrons have the ability to act as antioxidants in the body which help fight inflammation.
- Ritual : Creating an expressive space in your home to give thanks each day is a great opportunity to turn your attention inward and begin each day with intention and presence. Fill your space with memories, incense, candles and deities if it calls you, or simply find a space outdoors that you feel connected to and spend time there each day to meditate. Stillness is key to re gaining energy.
- Mitochondrial support : The mitochondria is the powerhouse for our cells and is where our ATP (energy) is made. There are ways in which you can support this function ie; exercising: this is essential to increase oxygen intake in the body which is needed for the mitochondria to create energy. Omega 3’s, resveratrol and B vitamins are also ways to increase mitochondrial enzymes.
- Gut support : If our gut can’t function properly, we are unable to absorb nutrients from our food. Likewise, if we are in a state of prolonged stress, this causes inflammation to our digestive organs and a cascade of health issues will result. Removing gluten and eating foods high in fibre; sprouted seeds, slippery elm and quinoa can help restore healthy gut flora.
- Vitamin D: This hormone can be synthesised through the body when sunlight hits our skin however they run out quickly,particularly in winter. Low blood levels of vitamin D result in fatigue; so during the colder months it is best to consume lots of oily fish, and possibly supplement if you suspect you are low. Note; quality is EVERYTHING with supplements, especially with vitamin D, so best to seek out help from a practitioner with this one!
Getting back on track to health and vitality is a long**** road, particularly when we are running on empty. The sooner we realise fatigue setting in, the easier it is to nurture ourselves. Having said that, this path no matter which road is taken always requires patience, commitment and a whole lotta self love!