The conversations I’ve been having with clients these past few weeks have included words like “confused”, “anxious”, “overwhelmed”, “worried” and “scared”.
Our routines are shaken up and our bodies are reacting to the confusion and uncertainty which is resulting in people reacting from a place of fear.
All of us are struggling with a strange mix of normalcy and emergency, where we either feel like we are over or underreacting (or both). And no one is sure what’s going to happen next, including the experts because we are in uncharted waters.
What I do know is that you don’t need yet another person telling you to stay inside, wash your hands, stop hoarding toilet paper etc.
I know words can’t do justice at a time like this, but I feel it’s important to reach out to those around you and check in on one another because your emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health matters and more so at a time like this. Sure, we need to go into “social distancing” but that does not have to mean “social isolation”. A lack of physical social interaction doesn’t mean we can’t find creative alternatives to stay connected.
I’ve also attached below some strategies from Dr. Pedram Shojai (acclaimed qigong master, master herbalist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine) on some simple steps to reload and relax during stress.
Stress causes our bodies to operate in a sustained level of high cortisol, or “fight or flight” mode.
Over time this wears out our adrenals that are in charge of our emergency source of energy.
When this happens, an experience of chronic low energy will be the norm. This is commonly referred to as adrenal fatigue.
There is normal “tiredness”… like having a normal busy day, staying up late one night and needing to catch up on some sleep.
Yet a more serious exhaustion can be found from a chronic state of fatigue or adrenal fatigue or scientifically named HPA Axis Dysregulation.
If this fatigue has been going on for a while, symptoms may include:
- Poor Memory
- Abdominal Fat
- Tiredness upon waking
- Low body temperature
- Need for coffee or other stimulants
- Craving for salt
- Get colds frequently
- Easily stressed
- Feel dizzy when standing
Whether you feel a little tired… or a LOT… these 7 tips will start moving your energy levels in the right direction…
1. Catch the Zzz’s
Regardless of the severity of your symptoms the place to start is with a good night’s sleep.
We spend a third of our lives asleep so getting into a routine can help get the 8 hours that is ideal for most people.
During sleep, your body is busy cleaning up shop and getting ready for a new day.
An Epsom salt bath with lavender can help up your magnesium, relax your muscles and the lavender will stimulate your limbic system and bliss you out.
Some of the sleep hygiene routines to get into are turning off electronics at least an hour before bed, making sure there are no laptops, televisions or desks with piles of paperwork on them in your bedroom.
Keep a consistent bedtime like 10 pm, lights out.
The bedroom should be a relaxing environment, a comfy bed, a good book, dim lighting, and a fluffy pillow to get cozy with.
Draw the curtains, lower your eye mask and off you go into dreamland.
2. Low Carb
Adrenal fatigue and blood sugar dysregulation go hand in hand.
Keeping your blood sugar steady will help calm the body so maintaining a low carb, low sugar, and low caffeine diet of all kinds really helps fatigue…
Eat a high protein breakfast and every few hours if you are hypoglycemic. Just say no to refined flours, vegetable oils and sugars.
Regulating your blood sugar alone can help tremendously with exhaustion and even help with getting more sleep.
When we are trying to forcibly raise our blood sugar to keep up with our hectic schedules, it is usually caffeine, processed carbs and the ruler of the “quick fix”:
Although it is tempting, it will make the problem worse in the long run.
Avoiding added sugars is critical to keeping your insulin and cortisol at the right level throughout the day.
PLUS: You will avoid the sugar crash after that macchiato and scone at 10 am.
Focusing on low glycemic foods like green leafy veggies and all vegetables will give you the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to give you sustained carb power with proteins and healthy fats on the side.
Try a superfood smoothie for a burst of dense nutrition. Just keep the added fruit on the lower side.
3. Pump it up
Exercise is so important for health overall.
Moving is one thing that we do less and less of since we are chained to our electronic devices and during the period of ‘lockdown’ but we can engage our creativity and still be active
Standing up every 20 minutes has been found to avoid the effects of sedentary work.
Moderate exercise is best, a few times a week, along with the simple act of walking every day (maintaining 1.5m distance).
Don’t get caught up in an “extreme sport” mode. Watch to make sure your workouts are not draining your energy. Overtraining causes stress to the body.
This can aggravate and tip the scales over to adrenal fatigue.
For those hard-core fitness fanatics, you will have to slow it down and get into some restorative movements like yoga or walking or just take a break altogether.
4. Extra Help
If you are feeling completely at a standstill, it may be time to reach out for help.
Finding counsel and working with your healthcare professional can be helpful in putting all of the pieces together with fresh eyes.
Sometimes when we really are fatigued, it is hard to get the energy to get off of the couch.
If that is where you are, pull that phone close and let your fingers do the walking.
These are a group of herbs, roots, and fungi that are great normalizers and work to bring the body back in balance.
As the name says, they help the body adapt, cause no harm or stress.
These unique healers magically increase energy or decrease it depending on what your body needs. They help the body in supporting all of the major systems; great for soothing the stress response, increasing immunity, brain health, etc.
If you are just getting started or have been doing all of the right things but haven’t completely improved with increasing energy and lowering stress, try working with adaptogens.
Some powerful adaptogens include:
- Ginseng – most potent for anti-stress, antioxidant, antidepressant, and lower blood pressure.
- Holy Basil – fight fatigue and stress, boost the immune system, regulate blood sugar.
- Ashwagandha – Ayurvedic medicine, regulates the immune system and lowers cortisol.
- Astragalus – Immune booster, reduces cortisol and heals and repairs the body from stress.
- Licorice root – increase endurance, protects thymus, help depression and leaky gut.
- Jiaogulan – antioxidant, regulates cholesterol, enhances cardiovascular and immunity.
- Rhodiola – relieves anxiety, protects from oxidative stress, increases oxygen and memory.
- Reishi mushrooms – slow aging, improved cognition, detoxifier, and immune booster.
The thing that we always put last should be brought to the front of the list.
The value of relaxation and happiness is effective in refilling the tank. People that struggle with low energy are likely overworked and severely fatigued and need some TLC.
If that’s you, try the following:
- Call a friend that is upbeat.
- Say grace or be grateful for your food can be a mini self-care moment.
- Take up journaling or a Gratitude Journal.
- Sit in the sun for a minute and breathe deeply will lower your cortisol.
- Get a new book from an author that you love.
- Treat yourself to a superfood smoothie or nutritious meal.
- Try meditation and yoga.
- Play with your dog (if you have one).
7. All you need is love
A 75-year-old Harvard study called the “Grant Study” followed the lives of a select group of men from childhood to adulthood.
They had a detailed yearly check up to see how they were doing.
It turns out that people that have strong connections to family and friends lead longer, healthier lives.
The men that were most satisfied in their relationships in their 50’s were healthier well into their 80’s.
The study goes on to show the negative effects of loneliness so reaching out to someone you love or smile at the person next to you is so very important.
Chances are they are needing connection as much as you are.
Try to implement at least one of these 7 tips this week… Your body will thank you!
To your health,
Dr Pedram Shojai