10 surprising things that make us feel more tired than we are (and how to combat them) part 1

Do you ever find yourself feeling tired and low on energy when you’ve hardly done anything during the day? If so, you’re not alone. It has been reported that a staggering 43% of us have occasions where we feel tired from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep.

There are some fairly obvious reasons for feeling tired, such as too many late nights, long hours at work or children keeping you up all night. But tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for long periods of time is not normal. Unexplained tiredness is one of the most common reasons for people to see their GP, but before you take this step, you may wish to work out how you became so tired in the first place.

Is there a part of your life, such as work or family, that might be particularly tiring?

Are there any events happening that may have triggered your tiredness, such as a bereavement or relationship break-up?

Is your lifestyle making you feel more tired?

Stress, emotional shock, depression and anxiety have all been linked to feelings of tiredness, and are all reasons for you to speak with your GP if you feel you need to.

However, there are also several more surprising lifestyle choices that make us feel as though we are more tired than we really are. Below are 10 lifestyle behaviours that could be sapping your energy, and how you can combat them to re-energize your life.

  1. All work, no play

Being an adult with responsibilities and repetitive routines can get quite tedious. Your body can even register your boredom as tiredness. Of course, it is important to focus whilst you are at work, but your brain needs some downtime too.

Get serious about having fun! After a long day at work, it can be difficult to feel as though you have the energy to do anything else. But if you can add at least one thing into your day that is just for you, to switch off, have fun and enjoy your life, you might be surprised at how much better you feel for it.

  • Shunning the sun

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”

If there’s not enough natural light, the body can go into ‘sleep mode’ according to Dr Ken Goodrick. Lack of natural light exposure, as well as poor diet and lack of exercise have been linked to feelings of tiredness, low mood, irritability and anxiety. It’s quite common for people to feel this during darker, winter months.

If you can get out in the sunlight for even 10 minutes per day, sunlight has a caffeine like power to make you more alert, says Goodrick. Even if it’s cloudy, you’ll get more light exposure than you would if you were sat inside. Or if you can’t make it outside, try sitting in a room that gets maximum sunlight. Every little helps!

  • Don’t forget to breathe

Shallow breathing (the kind that we do most of the time) doesn’t allow you to get enough oxygen, and as a result, you are likely to have lower levels of oxygen and higher levels of carbon monoxide in your blood, which can make you tired.

Belly breathe! This is possibly the simplest breathing exercise that you can do to support yourself. All you need to do is breathe! Place one hand over your belly button, and the other over your chest. As you breathe, focus on making your stomach move more than your chest. Take ten long, deep breathes at regular intervals throughout your day for optimal results.

  • Have you moved yet today?

Sitting in one position for long periods of time can drain your energy. Your body equates the stillness with going to sleep. Plus, if you are staring at a screen for hours on end, you tend to blink less frequently, leading to dry eyes and eye strain that put you in the mood for sleep.

Move! Go for a walk. Yawn. Stretch. Take the stairs. Stand up. Do a workout. Frequent breaks will keep your body alert and prevent the aches and pains you feel from sitting staring at a screen all day.

  • Are you dehydrated?

Our bodies need water to work properly. In the UK, we should drink around 1.2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water every day to stop us getting dehydrated (a lot more than most people realise). Even mild dehydration can make us feel lethargic. With less water, our blood volume lowers, which means we don’t get as much blood to our brains and our hearts have to work harder.

Drink more water! Think about when you are going to have a drink just like you would plan when you are going to have your meals. Carrying a (reusable) water bottle around with you can also be useful to remind yourself to drink more. Remember, the water in fruit and vegetables counts too so plan in a fruit snack with your lunch, or add some fruit wedges to your water to make it a bit more appealing.

Check back next week for our final 5 tips on combating tiredness!

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