As we reach the last push of the year, it’s likely that many of you are feeling worn out and tired. This is a common trend I see in my patients in October as people begin to get worn out from a busy home and work life. Fatigue, tiredness, recurrent infections, brain fog, poor concentration and headaches are common as it starts to become difficult making it through each working week. While this level of burn out is common in people with busy lives, it’s not normal and it sign that your body needs some rest and recuperation! Pushing through the fatigue with multiple coffees won’t help your energy levels in the long run. It’s time to listen to your body and rest up. Here are my top tips to reduce burn out and improve your energy levels:
Get to bed earlier and wake up earlier
You might feel like a nanna getting into bed at 9:30pm but our brain much prefers an early bed time and an early wake time. The type of sleep that we have before midnight is much better for stress levels, energy and cognition so the earlier you can get to bed the better. On the flip side of this, waking earlier in the morning gives you some extra time to ease into your day, rather than snoozing until the very last second and running late for work. Research has found that the best times to sleep is around 9:30/10pm until 5:30/6am, aiming for 7-8 hours’ sleep.
Start the day with some gentle morning exercise
Now that you have some extra time in the morning, you can fit in some gentle morning exercise. Exercise between 6-7am has been found to be the best time to exercise for mood, energy and stress levels. If you are very tired, a simple walk for 30mins is enough to wake up your body and get the endorphins running for the day ahead.
Stick to 1 coffee a day
When burnt out, it can be easy to fall into the trap of having a few more coffee’s to get you through the day. However this can make your brain much more scattered and unfocused as you will crash after your coffee high. It is best to stick to 1 coffee per day, as early in the day as you can. This is because our stress hormones such as cortisol are naturally highest in the mornings and your body can tolerate the caffeine hit better at this time.
Use superfoods for an energy boost
Superfoods can be a great way to get an energy boost. Superfoods are natural foods that can be added into your diet for increased nutrition and there are some specific superfoods that are great for energy levels. Try green tea throughout the day for its antioxidants and energy boosting effects- aim for 3 cups a day. Maca is a Purivian root vegetable that comes as a powder and is amazing for energy levels. It has been shown to increase stamina and endurance and can reduce stress levels. Add raw cacao powder into smoothies, yoghurt, porridge or cereals at breakfast time for a natural energy increase. Take spirulina as an alternative to a multivitamin for a nutritional boost.
Rest on the weekends
This may sound obvious, but it is very easy to fill your weekends up and not leave aside any time for rest and recuperation. Shopping, going out for meals, catching up with friends etc. are all forms of relaxation but please keep in mind that your body needs physical rest as well. Sleep in, watch a movie, have an afternoon nap, read a book or read the paper in the sun- anything that you enjoy that gives your body some time-out for physical rest.
Have protein based snacks between meals
Eating protein based snacks can make a huge difference to energy levels. It will help balance your blood sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Eating high protein snacks will also help you avoid that 3pm crash when you look for a sugar hit. Try snacking on a handful of raw nuts with a piece of fruit. Cheese, cottage cheese, natural yoghurt, hommus, miso soups, boiled eggs, tuna, salmon or edamame beans all make great protein based snacks.
Get some fresh air and sunshine during your work day
Long days in the office without seeing the sunshine can be detrimental to your health, not to mention affect your work capacity. Studies have shown that people who work in an office next to a window have much lower stress levels and better sleep than those in a windowless office. Next time you are feeling tired and flat, take a walk outside into the sunshine. Take a few deep breathes and a walk around the block every day after lunch for a boost in energy levels.
Incorporating these little tricks into your daily routine could do wonders for you when feeling burnt out and exhausted.