Why am I always tired? It’s a question we asked back in April 2020, when the pandemic first took hold – and we still relate. The days are exhausting, despite the fact we’re doing very little. Many of us are stressed, battling anxiety, or simply numb to the way we’re having to live our lives.
The topic is tackled in Dr Amy Shah’s new book – I’m So Effing Tired, published March 2 – as a way to beat burnout, boost energy, and start to feel more like you again. Figuring out how to increase energy is essential, says Dr Shah, a doctor and nutritional expert who specialises in wellness.
A third of people report feeling burned out and tired on a daily basis, she says – but in many cases, this can be reversed. In some cases, tiredness may be down to a medical condition – and it’s important to rule this out.
“Tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for a long time is not normal,” the NHS confirms, so it’s worth contacting your GP if your tiredness is prolonged.
Here’s how to boost your energy if you feel tired all the time.
Stay in tune to light and day
The modern world has “forgotten the importance of our body’s natural circadian rhythm” – and its effect on our health, says Dr Shah.
It may seem simple and unnecessary, but by 1) waking up and going to bed at the same time; 2) getting at least 15-minutes of nature and sun daily; and 3) circadian fasting, which means only eating during the daylight, Shah says you can feel more energetic and even reduce or negate common health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, imbalanced hormones.
Pay attention to what you’re eating
“Our diet plays a huge role in our health,” says Dr Shah, “and it’s often overlooked in the medical field”. Gut health is crucial for maintaining overall health, she says, as it affects our brain, immune system, digestion, and hormones. To start with, Shah recommends eating six to eight servings of vegetables each day, especially prebiotics (foods that help our gut bacteria grow strong, such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, berries, tomatoes, garlic, onions, legumes, green vegetables and wholegrain cereals) It’s a lot, right – but here are some ways you can meet the target without spending a fortune.
Readjust your mindset
Dr Shah says we should also focus on our “psychobiology” – that is, assessing how our mental health affects our physical health and energy levels. “Our thoughts can trigger inflammation in the body and vice versa,” says Shah. “In our culture, the attention to the mind has been lost. Hence the sharp rise in burnout anxiety and fatigue.”
Focus on positive energy, she says, which means surrounding yourself with people who bring you up. “My motto has always been, ‘If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it’”. It might also be worth practising gratitude – something you may find hard to do in a pandemic, but one that will lift you up.
Spend the energy you do have wisely
“This is possibly the most important step,” says Dr Shah, “and one that isn’t talked about enough”.
Avoid wasting energy – either mentally or physically – on activities or thoughts that don’t make you feel good, similarly to Shah’s point above. Rather, save it for moments that’ll make you feel even more energised, such as connecting with a friend or relative, walking outside, a workout, or a hobby that you love doing. You’ll be surprised how tiredness wanes when you feel good mentally.
I’m So Effing Tired by Dr Amy Shah (£14.99, from Piatkus) is out March 2.