Overhauling your diet and starting a daily exercise routine sounds exhausting, right?
When energy levels are low, the thought of massive change is paralyzing. You read a well-intentioned doctor’s advice about overcoming fatigue by “simply” eliminating nightshades, grains, gluten, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
What the heck are you supposed to eat then?
Implementing a diet like that requires a massive amount of effort. And effort requires energy. A resource you currently do not have enough of.
Worry not. Below, I’ve created a list of 7 small steps you can take to overcome fatigue today. Note the emphasis on small. These steps will not require you to completely change your diet, your exercise habits, nor your life.
But don’t discount their efficacy just because they seem small. If you implement all of these steps, I’m certain you’ll increase your energy!
Step #1 – avoid nutrient deficiencies
You know food impacts fatigue, right?
Instead of starting a fatigue reset diet, start small. Eat to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Your body needs vitamins and minerals for a multitude of different chemical reactions. If your body is lacking key vitamins/minerals, you’re going to experience fatigue.
The easiest way to increase your vitamin and mineral intake is by eating some of the healthiest foods this planet has to offer. No, this is not a supplement with a slick marketing campaign. It’s real food. The same food that sustained your ancestors for thousands of years.
If you want to avoid nutrient deficiencies, you need to eat organ meats. These are the healthiest foods available. No other food source has that many vitamins and minerals packed into a gram. This is why traditional cultures revered organ meats – they were always eaten first and shared with guests as a sign of respect.
Stop spending your money on expensive supplements. Invest in organic, grass-fed organ meats.
If the thought of eating kidneys or liver seems utterly unappealing, opt for the dessicated variety. You can get organic, grass-fed beef liver put into small pills. All you need to do is swallow a couple pills each day and you’ll have taken in a healthy serving of liver!
No, the liver does not store any toxins the animal may have come in contact with. Livers do help to neutralize these toxins through metabolism but the toxins are not stored in the liver. Those toxins are stored in the animal’s adipose or fat tissue.
But livers do store a lot of important fatigue fighting vitamins and minerals such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Livers also store vitamin B12, folic acid, copper, and iron. One serving of beef liver will get you all the vitamin A, B12, and iron you need for the day!
Remember – B12 and iron deficiencies can be sneaky causes of fatigue!
Step #2 – change your lights
ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. This is the visible light spectrum.
White light is defined as the complete mixture of all of the wavelengths of the visible spectrum. This means that if you have beams of light of all of the colors of the rainbow and focus all of the colors onto a single spot, the combination of all of the colors will result in a beam of white light.
Your body has evolved to absorb sunlight into its cells. Sun exposure is essential for Vitamin D production. No sun means no vitamin D production (you cannot rely solely on vitamin D supplements). Sunlight contains the full-color spectrum plus infrared light. Infrared is not visible to the human eye. But you can feel it – the infrared spectrum is what causes the warming sensation on your skin.
New white lights like LEDs (light emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), are a modern invention. This type of light does not exist in nature. The white light found in LEDs and CFLs have eliminated most of the infrared, red, and violet wavelengths while amplifying the blue wavelengths. This is not a combination that your body will experience in nature.
Do you remember the last time you crushed a bag of candy?
Odds are, you didn’t feel too good afterward. Your body has a hard time digesting manufactured food. Thousands and thousands of years of evolution have trained your body to digest fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and seeds. Not candy. The same situation is occurring with your lighting.
Those new LED bulbs that last for years and years emit a lot of light in the blue spectrum. Something your body does not experience out in nature. A 2005 study concluded that blue light damages your mitochondrial DNA. (1) That’s why you feel so awful working in an office environment lit with tube fluorescents! Remember, healthy mitochondria = healthy energy levels.
If you want to overcome fatigue, you need to start reducing or even removing your exposure to the blue light spectrum. I recommend you take the following action steps:
- Replace all LED and CFL lighting in your house (and work if possible)
- Add blue light blockers to your cell phone and computers.
- You can get a free one from F.lux.
- Ensure you are blocking the blue light from your electronics 2-3 hours before you go to bed.
- Most cell phones allow you to adjust the blue light filter in the settings.
- Block all sources of light in your bedroom.
- Blackout curtains are essential. Your bedroom needs to be as dark as a cave.
- This will increase your melatonin production. Increased melatonin production will improve your sleep quality and quantity. With a better sleep you’re going to see an improvement in your fatigue levels!
Step #3 – turn off your cell phone
Cortisol is often released in response to a stress. If you run into a bear while you’re out hiking, your body is going to release a lot of cortisol. Cortisol is also going to be released in other, seemingly benign situations. One of the most common? Notifications from your cell phone.
That pang of excitement you notice when your phone lights up is a tiny burst of cortisol being released. It’s telling your body that there’s a threat nearby, pay attention.
Do not let your phone send you notifications throughout the day.
Turn off all your notifications. Set specific times aside in your day where you will check emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Reply to all the notifications, then set your phone aside in an area where you cannot see it. Do not check it until your next scheduled time.
This simple act will help your body relax throughout the day.
Step #4 – manage your stress
Taking time for yourself is not selfish—it helps you to be the best mother/father, spouse, friend, employee, and person you can. Though this is obvious, it is often overlooked. Time for yourself is essential to overcoming fatigue.
I know at the beginning of this article I said it these would be small steps. And they will be. Do not think I am recommending you take up a regular meditation practice tomorrow. But you need to take some action towards better managing your stress.
If you’re dealing with fatigue, you’re not going to tolerate stress as well as you’d like. Your body doesn’t have the metabolic reserve. You’re going to need a solid stress management system in place to better help you cope with everyday life stresses.
Stress is, of course, an inevitable part of life. When the total amount of stress you are experiencing at a given time exceeds your body’s ability to cope with it you’re going to experience fatigue.
It would be outrageous for me to recommend you avoid all stressful things in your life. Since you cannot avoid stress completely, I’d like you to instead try to minimize its impact. You can do this by:
1. Reduce the amount of stress you experience:
- Learn to say no. Know your limits and be aware of over-committing yourself.
- Avoid people who stress you out. Limit your time with people who might be prone to drama or conflict, if you can’t avoid them entirely.
- Turn off the news, or at least limit your exposure. So much of the media coverage today is sensationalistic. Try looking for more neutral sources of news.
- Give up pointless arguments.
- Limit your to-do list. Ask yourself which items on your list are essential and see if you can cross anything off your list.
- Reduce your exposure to online stress.
2. Control how your patterns of thought affect your perceptions of stress:
Consider these different strategies for decreasing the stress you experience:
- Reframe the situation. Look for a more positive light. For example, if you find yourself stuck in traffic, can you enjoy a podcast or use it as an opportunity for contemplation and solitude.
- Lower your expectations and standards. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Let good be good enough.
- Practice acceptance. Learn to accept the things you can’t change.
- Be grateful. Try keeping a gratitude journal and writing down three things from each day that you are grateful for, and how your actions contributed.
- Cultivate empathy.
- Manage your time. Setting careful boundaries for your time can be helpful.
3. Find an option for stress management that works for you:
There are a number of different clinically proven ways to manage stress, from yoga to deep breathing to biofeedback. Below are several points to consider, and a few options for specific techniques.
- Start small. If you’re new to meditation, start with just five minutes each day. Gradually increase that time as you become more accustomed to the practice.
- Make it a priority. Consider putting it on your calendar, just as you would any other important task for the day.
- Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay if you miss a day, and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re “good” at it.
- Choose a mix of practices. Some days sitting still on the cushion may feel near impossible, and yoga or another movement-based practice may be a better fit for the day.
- Get outside – Research has proven that spending time outdoors, including contact with nature, is just as important to health and well-being as sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet.
- Spend as much time in nature as your schedule and lifestyle permits. Aim for a minimum of two excursions into nature, including urban parks and green spaces, each week.
- Put plants in your home and workspace. If you have outdoor space, plant a simple garden
There are your first four small steps in overcoming fatigue. In the next post you can read about the common fruit that may be making you tired. What is it? Check out the remaining three steps to overcoming fatigue here to find out.
Also published on Medium.