Are you wondering how to get more energy?
The past several months have taken it out of people. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, grief, or an empathic response to the world around you, you are just plain worn out. You want to just lie in bed all day and binge watch “your murders,” as my husband would disdainfully call them. (He doesn’t need to know who killed JonBenét, and that’s so weird to me!)
In case you didn’t know, feeling extreme fatigue all the time doesn’t just mean you didn’t get enough sleep. It can mean that, but for millions of people there are far more insidious causes like I mentioned above.
- Nagging depression
- The highs and lows of anxiety
- Grief that sits in your bones
- Watching people in the world suffer and feeling helpless
In this post, I am going to share some natural ways to combat extreme fatigue and start to improve your quality of life. Keep reading to figure out which of these methods you plan to try!
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with fatigue, depression, and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
What happens to your energy level when you’re depressed
Are you living with depression? That’s probably one of the most common causes of extreme fatigue given the circumstances the world has been involuntarily thrust into. So, that is what I am going to focus on in this post.
Personally, I’ve lived with depression for the past 25 years. When I was 9, my cousin died unexpectedly. From that point on, I was catapulted into a world of slipping grades, quiet introspection, and prescription refills.
That’s the reason why, when I write about depression, I feel it in my bones. It’s as much a part of me as my eye color, or my violent scream sneezing during allergy season, whether I like it or not.
A huge part of my journey with depression has been periods of unbearably extreme fatigue. Falling asleep at 630 and sleeping for 11-12 hours a night. And not feeling refreshed despite my best efforts.
What causes that to happen in the first place?
What causes fatigue in people with depression?
According to Medical News Today, “People with depression are more likely to experience fatigue, and people with chronic fatigue are more likely to become depressed, creating a cycle that can be hard to break. Potential causes of depression fatigue include sleep problems, diet, stress, and even the medications used to treat depression.”
I’ve definitely dealt with all of those so let’s talk about them some more.
Sleep problems are a common culprit of extreme fatigue. That just goes without saying. Depression can cause people to either have issues falling asleep, or issues staying asleep. In my journey, I’ve lived with both. Feeling consumed by sadness and negative thought patterns can make it hard to shut your mind down. Others fall asleep easily, but wake up frequently due to bad dreams or REM sleep disruptions.
Poor diet can also cause fatigue. Do you ever get in a slump where all you want to eat and drink are Hostess Cupcakes and Pepsi? That’s your depression talking. Lots of times, depression disrupts our decision making capabilities. It also fills us with a self-loathing that results in a zero fucks approach to healthy eating.
Stress can cause extreme fatigue as well. When you live with something like depression or anxiety, we don’t deal as well with everyday stressors because our sympathetic nervous system is all out of whack. It makes every tiny thing that goes wrong feel like life or death. That is an incredibly exhausting way to live! Cue: racing heart, agitation, and avoidance responses.
Antidepressants can also be another culprit that causes extreme fatigue. I take Cymbalta currently, since I have less options being pregnant. I definitely notice a difference when I take it versus when I’m taking something else. It also makes my dream so vivid, and something lucid. This can be common for certain depression medications.
How to fight back when you have extreme fatigue
So, what can you do? Well, you can’t erase the fact that you have depression. I wish you could. If there was a magical cure, I would be the first in line. (Also, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Be leery of anyone who says that can cure your depression or anxiety. They are probably selling something.)
Even though we currently cannot cure depression, there are things we can do to boost our energy level without breaking the bank (or further breaking our spirit). I’m going to keep it super simple because I have a feeling that’s what a lot of people need right now.
Tip #1: Daily activity
One way to combat extreme fatigue is to do some sort of daily physical activity. What do I mean by that?
I’m going to be honest and say, I hate when people say: “It’s easy. Just train for that marathon, and you’ll feel better.”
Okay, yeah, let me get right on that.
The reality is, goals like that can feel unachievable for many people. Not only that but excessive physical activity can actually make your extreme fatigue worse if you life with something like chronic fatigue syndrome. Plus, if you do not meet your lofty goals, you can feel more depressed than you started out.
I am a firm believer in starting slow, and starting from where you are at. Here are some simple ways to get daily activity without making things worse:
- Go for a walk around the block every morning.
- Vacuum your house.
- Stand up and do 10 squats every half hour while bingeing Netflix.
- Try a 15 minute yoga video on Youtube.
Use these as jumping off points for making your heart and mind believe in exercise. Over time, you can try something more challenging.
Tip #2: Drink plenty of water
If you’re looking for how to get more energy when you live with extreme fatigue, here’s an uncomfortable truth bomb: You have to drink more water. So, stop reading this for a minute and go drink an 8 ounce/0.25 liter glass right now.
Drinking water has a ton of benefits, according to Healthline:
- Helps your body work better
- Improves your energy level and overall brain function
- Helps with headaches
- Improves digestion
- Good for your kidney health
- Helps with hangovers
- Can assist with weight management, if needed for medical reasons
If you struggle with drinking enough, you can try one of my hacks that I personally use:
- Add a slice of lemon
- Use a straw
- Drink from a larger bottle
- Try Liquid IV
So, try to drink 64 ounces/1.9 liters a day or more to help fight off your extreme fatigue.
Tip #3: Figure out in what way you are tired
THIS. This was the best piece of advice I ever received when I started my most recent bout with extreme fatigue, and I think everyone needs to hear it.
Lots of you might fall into the trap of assuming because you’re tired you need to sleep more. And that is not always the case!
I was introduced to the book Sacred Rest by my dear sister, and my mind was seriously blown. Did you know there are 7 different types of rest you might need if you feel tired? And that most of them have nothing to do with sleep?
In my case, I find myself very overstimulated and in need of mental breaks. I also often get emotionally exhausted, despite sufficient sleep.
If any of this sounds like you, definitely give this book a read. It was truly life-changing. Once you figure out the type of rest your body needs, you can create a self care routine accordingly!
Tip #4: Find a communityOne of the best ways to get past any health challenge is to make the simple discovery: You are not alone. share on twitter
I don’t meant to minimize your struggle, but let’s face it. You are not the only sad person on the planet. You’re not the only one living with extreme fatigue. Sometimes, when you hear that, you think, “Gee, thanks, asshole.” But really, hearing that should be encouraging. It means your struggle is more valid than you might have realized because it is incredibly common.
There are a lot of places you can go for support. Your therapist (if you see one) might even have recommendations for local or online support groups. I personally love my “murder mom” communities on Facebook! We bond over babies, Bundy, and burn out. And despite our differences, we come together around the common bonfire of our humanity: We are so freaking tired.
Tip #5: Eat healthy foods
One final way to deal with extreme fatigue to to tweak your eating habits a little. To be clear, this does NOT MEAN GO ON A DIET. Becoming consumed by diet culture can be really damaging for your mental health.
However, there are ways you can eat healthy foods without making weight loss the primary focus. It’s not about cutting calories. It’s about eating fewer Oreos and more broccoli. (Kind of calling myself out here, not gonna lie.)
In the following section, I’m going to talk about some great food options that will make your body feel a little better when you’re dealing with extreme fatigue.
27 foods to boost energy
According to Healthline, here are 27 foods you can eat to boost your energy level:
- Fatty fish
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Yerba maté
- Goji berries
- Seeds like chia seeds
- Green tea
- Leafy green vegetables
You might not like all of these foods, and there’s no need to obsess over what you’re eating. A great goal would be to pick a handful of these that you enjoy and try to eat a few of them every day. Simple as that!
9 foods to help you sleep better
If sleep disturbance or insomnia is what causes your extreme fatigue, you can try certain foods to help you get a better night’s sleep. Try eating one or two of these before bed and see if they help. Bonus, they’re all healthy too!
- Chamomile tea
- Tart cherry juice
- Fatty fish
- Passionflower tea
- White rice
You could make a tasty meal of tea, fish, and rice! Try different combinations and see what suits your tastes the best.
Extreme fatigue does not have to control you
I have lived with fatigue for a long time and I know there are a lot of gimmicks out there. Those gimmicks do a lot of disservice to people who are really suffering. They make you feel like your debilitating issue is just some simple thing that can be fixed with the snap of your fingers.
The fact of the matter is that extreme fatigue might be a major issue, but it does not need to control your life. It doesn’t need to make you feel hopeless or like life is not worth living. There are simple things you can do on a daily basis to get your energy level under control.
Do you live with extreme fatigue? Let me know in the comments. And if you thought this post was helpful, make sure to share it on social media using the buttons at the top. You never know who it might help!