Do you wake up feeling tired? I remember waking up feeling like I could still sleep another 8 hours. I was experiencing extreme fatigue – which is common in women.
There are a number of causes for extreme fatigue in women. Knowing the cause, of course, is only half the battle. Sometimes finding the cause can be a long-term process of trial and error or seemingly endless appointments with your doctor. Regardless of where you are in your path to wellness, the daily struggle of living with extreme fatigue can be overwhelming. The good news is you can take a proactive role in getting your energy back.
WHAT CAUSES EXTREME FATIGUE IN WOMEN
There are a number of potential causes of extreme fatigue, ranging from autoimmune conditions to undiagnosed illnesses, to hormone imbalances, allergies, and more. Chronic fatigue or extreme fatigue often goes through phases and can show up throughout the day for women. You may have a flare up or be in remission. You may have good days or bad days. Managing chronic fatigue is often a process of adapting and listening to your own body. The following tips, strategies, and ideas may help you feel better.
HOW EXTREME FATIGUE AFFECTED MY LIFE
Just a few years ago, I wasn’t this calm momma, drinking kombucha, and using essential oils. Actually, I was surviving on the gluten free version of ramen noodles, barely staying keeping my stress under control, and on the verge of being fired from my job because I was always tired.
I knew my health was on a downhill spiral, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I woke up one morning and had to go right to the emergency room. It was my birthday, and that was the last place I wanted to spend it.
I had shooting pains running up and down my neck, and I couldn’t turn from side-to-side. After some routine testing and blood work, everything came back normal. There was a feeling of frustration yet relief on my end that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with me.
But, the doctor told me something had to change.
If I didn’t change my diet to mostly real foods and my lifestyle to ditch the stress, things would just keep getting worse.
As a nerdy librarian, this meant ‘going back to school’ and taking classes on nutrition, dietary theories, the connection in the gut and the brain, mindfulness, meditation, and essential oils. You can read more about my story here.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST EXTREME FATIGUE + START FEELING MORE ENERGY
While there is no ‘one size fits all’ for getting to the root cause of your extreme fatigue, there are ways that you can fix it. Here are exactly the steps I used to ditch the fatigue:
Choose Real Foods – The food you eat can have a dramatic impact on your energy. Strive to eat real foods and skip common allergens like gluten and dairy. Experiment with your lifestyle. There are over 100 different dietary theories out there. How do I know? I’ve been trained on them as a health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. One common mistake people make is thinking that healthy foods will be good for them because our bodies are all designed differently. You’ll want to uncover foods that help you feel energized, and avoid those that make you feel tired, sluggish, or bloated. Avoiding or limiting alcohol, caffeine, and sugars and sweeteners can also help you fight back against the fatigue.
FIND EXERCISE YOU LOVE
Cue the eye roll. I get it, girlie! You’re feeling exhausted and the last thing you want to do is spend more of your limited energy on exercise. When you’re dealing with a really bad day of extreme fatigue, exercise may be as basic as taking a 5-minute walk. On the days that you can manage it, exercise. Move your body. Studies have shown an improvement in fatigue symptoms for those who exercise. Yoga, walking or hiking, swimming, bodyweight strength training, and other exercises are easy to start and can be done at home or in a gym. For me, I find that I have to commit to a class to get in the exercise I need. Usually, it’s a yoga class.
I’ve talked about essential oils for heartburn, brain fog, and digestive issues. Essential oils can also provide a pick-me-up without the caffeine like Peppermint. I’ve found Lemongrass to be effective when I’m feeling extreme fatigue. I’ll put a few drops in my diffuser or one drop in my palm, rub my hands together, and take a few nice deep breaths.
TACKLE CHAOS WITH SYSTEMS
Create systems to help you streamline and simplify your life. Stress and overwhelm can worsen your fatigue. Simple systems can help you manage extreme fatigue by reducing the daily stressors in your life. In women who are mothers, the creation of systems is especially important. You have people counting on you. Your two-year-old isn’t going to cook dinner on her own. Create meal planning and prep systems. Have your groceries delivered. Have backup meals for those days when you just can’t. I like prepping some gluten free crockpot recipes in batches then freezing them for days when I’m really feeling tired. Planning ahead and scheduling things, even sex (wink wink), can help you live a happier and more fulfilling life.
I don’t mean spending 20, 40, or even 60 minutes in deep meditation here. Just a simple 5-minute meditation in the morning can start your day on a new path. If stress, anxiousness, or chaos are the tipping points for your fatigue, then mediation can clear the clutter and give your brain a few minutes of calm. Meditation can be a little scary to start. I remember thinking – what do you mean I’m just supposed to sit here and ‘clear my head’ like that will work?! So, most people start by listening to guided meditations. I’ve actually recorded a free 5-minute guided meditation for you to listen to in the morning to create clarity.
Realize that extreme fatigue in women is common and there are a number of causes. You’re doing the best you can and it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s a good idea to ask for help. Sometimes advice from people that you know, trust, and love just doesn’t cut it. Bring in a health coach to help you uncover the foods that give you energy and learn how to ditch those that are just wreaking havoc on your fatigue.
The daily struggle of living with extreme fatigue is real and it requires you to take it seriously and to love yourself unconditionally. That means taking care of yourself. It means planning and preparing for good days and bad ones. It means asking for help and accepting it when you need it.