For most of us, feeling fatigued, groggy, and a bit sniffle-y—no matter what time of the year it is—has virtually become a way of life. Overwhelmed with stress and responsibilities, we listlessly soldier on, fighting brain fog and exhaustion with shots of caffeine and spoonfuls of sugar to prop ourselves up just long enough to make it through the day. Then, when it’s time for lights-out, we’re too jacked-up to sleep. Small wonder so many of us are physically, emotionally, and mentally spent!
The good news is that you don’t have to live like this. Simply by living a little smarter and making a few health-supporting choices every day, you can banish fatigue from your life and live it the way you were born to—with vibrancy and energy!
Here are ten health-enhancing ways to fight fatigue—and win—morning, noon, and night:
CREATE THAT MORNING ENERGY BURST
1. Say good morning to your body.
Even if you usually rise in the dark, greet the day with a few classic yoga sun salutations or gentle stretches to get the blood pumping, easing your body into the day. Still tense and achy from yesterday? Then try my two-step release-and-stretch moves first thing in the morning to bust tension, open blocked energy pathways, reduce pain, and energize you for the day. Start with the Neck and Shoulder Release with tennis balls. Follow this with the Wall Stretch. These simple moves will stretch your shoulders, legs and back, as you stimulate muscle tissue and blood flow throughout the body, waking it and energizing it without artificial stimulants.
2. Boost body and brain with the perfect breakfast.
In the morning, protein and fat are essential for energy. And a large, healthy breakfast of the right foods is exactly what your body needs. And what is the perfect breakfast? The morning smoothie. It’s quick to prepare, easily digested, and can be packed with the healthy fats, proteins, nutrients and phytonutrients you need to fuel your day. My favorite ingredient for boosting energy naturally is whey protein. These two whey protein-based smoothies, the Green Mojito and the Blueberry Avocado are creamy, satisfying, and delicious. If you don’t want to use whey, try these equally delicious pea protein-based smoothies, the Coconut Bliss, and the Chocolate Love.
3. Recharge your batteries with an adaptogen.
Try adding an adaptogen formula to your morning routine—but consult your doctor first to check for allergies or possible interactions with any medications you may be on. For centuries, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have used adaptogen botanicals as energizing herbal tonics to naturally support the body’s ability to cope with anxiety, fatigue, and the aging process. They also rejuvenate and tone the adrenal system, which in turn promotes the healthy regulation of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Armed with the unique ability to “adapt” their function to your body’s specific needs, Panax ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola are my favorite adaptogens. In fact, I’m such a fan of their rejuvenating, re-energizing effects, I’ve combined all three into my fatigue-fighting Be Well Adaptogen formula.
4. Got greens?
When you’re fatigued, what you’re eating makes a massive difference in how quickly your body will recover its strength. To supercharge your diet and energy reserves, you can’t beat “green drinks.” Why? Because they deliver nourishing, high-octane, drinkable doses of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and digestive enzymes to every system in the body, quickly, easily, and efficiently. The effects? Nothing short of wonderful: Concentrated green powdered drinks boost immunity, aid digestion, sustain energy, promote mental clarity and enhance overall wellbeing. Add powdered greens to smoothies or just add water and swig ‘em on the way to work—you’ll arrive energized, alert, and naturally powered-up, instead of amped and jittery from caffeine. I have made it convenient and delicious for people on the go with my single serving packets of Be Well Greens. It’s a simple and transportable way to keep your energy engine humming.
SUSTAINING DAYTIME ENERGY
5. Put the “mind and body breaks” on.
You’re tied up on back-to-back conference calls. The e-mails are arriving faster than jets into O’Hare. Multiple deadlines loom large and energy is being sucked out of your mind and body at warp speed. Believe it or not, now is an excellent time to s-l-o-w i-t d-o-w-n. Combat the mayhem around you and re-energize naturally by tuning in to some relaxing music for a few minutes. Giving yourself a musical time-out will help calm your body and brain with gentle, soothing rhythms that will slow down your heart rate and breathing to healthier levels. The result? A feeling of wellbeing in just minutes, plus a clearer mind and calmer body. My go-to, slow-it-down favorite tunes include anything by reggae genius Bob Marley or brainwave music master, Jonathan Goldman. No time or space for music, try some breathing exercises.
6) Have a good-sized lunch.
Just make sure it’s a healthy lunch. And remember, skipping the meal or eating like a bird at 1 p.m. will not adequately fuel you through the afternoon’s labors, so lunch large! The perfect, nourishing lunch will include wholesome, unprocessed ingredients, comprising protein, good fats, and vegetables to help you maintain alertness. Another reason to lunch large? Because lunchtime is when your digestion peaks—and your body is burning calories most efficiently. And if you like a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, here are some healthy choices.
7. Open your chest
To avoid the afternoon slump, you have my full permission to close your office door, roll up a towel and lie in Reclining Open Chest Pose. This uplifting Restorative Yoga pose helps elevate your mood and energize you when you are tired. When we support the back in this way and open the chest, we tend to feel more emotionally buoyant and physically energized. Stuck in an office cube? Book a few minutes in the conference room, borrow an unused office, or duck out to a nearby park if possible.
8. Connect with your co-workers. And the deli guy. And the dry cleaner.
In other words, practice “ubuntu.” Ubuntu is an African term that means what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It’s a worldview that sees humanity as a web of family rather than a mass of individuals. When you start to relate to those around you in this way, you’ll feel more connected, energized, and you’ll have a sense of abundance. Another bonus? It will add a pleasant sense of community to even the simplest interactions. My advice? Get up from your office chair every now and then to reconnect with your officemates in person instead of via e-mail.
EASING INTO THE EVENING
9. Power down your body.
Restorative yoga is my favorite nighttime cure for the high-stress day. As you’ll be supported in these poses, for instance, by a chair or a wall, you’ll enjoy the healing and calming effects of yoga without having to exert any energy. Better yet, restorative yoga poses are a particularly effective way to relax and power down your body before bed. One of my favorites is B.K.S. Iyengar’s Reclining Belt Pose, which is the best “chill pill” I have experienced. Ten to fifteen minutes in this pose works wonders, gently preparing the body for sleep. Another simple power-down pose: Legs up the Wall which feels soooo good after a day on your feet. Lie on your back with your legs perpendicular against the wall, close your eyes and breathe for five-to-ten minutes.
10. Power down your home.
Create an electronic sundown to prepare your body and mind for sleep. At around 10 p.m., turn off your computer, charge your cell in another room and turn off the TV. Scan your bedroom for blinking or glowing lights—the alarm clock, the charging indicator on your cell phone, the DVD clock and timer, etc. Turn these off or cover the lights. Every little bit of light can stop your melatonin levels from rising, which you need to fall sleep and to reach the deep restorative sleep your body requires. If you can’t darken your room all the way, wear a sleep mask or add blackout curtains to help darken the room.
For a specific Supplement program to counter fatigue, try my Fatigue Fighting Plan
For many more tips on fighting fatigue, read my book, REVIVE, Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again.
Dr. Frank Lipman is an acclaimed Integrative Physician and the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City. For over 20 years his personal brand of healing has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality and recover their zest for life. Focused on sustainable wellness—instead of quick fixes—he offers patients a customized blend of Western medicine with acupuncture, nutritional counseling, vitamins and herbs, relaxation techniques, physical therapy, and bodywork. In 2010 he developed Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman, a line of leading-edge supplements and health programs. He is the author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again and Total Renewal: 7 Key Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health.