What does your tiredness say about your health? And what can you do about it?
You drag yourself out of bed, yawning non-stop and need at least two coffees to start functioning in the morning.
You’re not alone.
One in five of us visits our GP suffering with tiredness and fatigue. Doctors see the issue so often that they have an acronym for it — TATT or Tired All The Time.
A blood test can rule out a medical cause, such as an underactive thyroid or anaemia, yet for the most part GPs don’t find anything physically wrong.
This Morning’s resident GP, Dr Sara Kayat, says: ‘There are many conditions that can cause fatigue, but usually stress is the underlying issue.’
Our adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol, vital for the body to function. But at times of high stress, cortisol spikes, and if it remains high, it can cause us both physical and emotional damage.
Sara says: ‘Stress tends to tick away, slowly wearing us out. Evolutionarily, we all need a certain amount of stress to motivate us and get us up every day in search of a “better life”, but it can get to a point where stress becomes detrimental to our health.’
Here are Sara’s tips on how to manage stress and prevent feeling TATT…
It’s imperative that we make time for ourselves. Set aside some ‘you-time’ once a week to read a book, do some drawing or dance like no one’s watching!
It’s become easy to spend your spare time scrolling through social media and, while you may think you are relaxing, your mind isn’t. It’s flicking through hundreds of images thinking: Do I look as good as her?
Take the time to think about what makes you feel happy, calm and in the moment, and shut the door to the outside world — at least for a while.
Slow down and do less
Ever heard of the saying, ‘less is more’?
Doing less makes you happier because, ultimately, you have less to be stressed about. Life is more enjoyable if you slow down and appreciate the little things.
Try switching to slow-mode in everyday activities such as driving, walking and eating. Focus on one thing at a time and try to avoid multi-tasking. Cut your to-do list in half and stick to accomplishing the things that matter most.
Poor sleep remains one of the biggest contributors to stress. We are working longer and harder than ever before and are always on call via our phones.
A bad night’s sleep can play havoc with emotions, making everything feel harder to cope with. You also tend to eat more sugary foods when sleep deprived, which only makes you feel worse.
When it hits 9pm, turn off your phone and give yourself time to wind down. Aim to get your head on the pillow for around 10pm. Create a dark, tidy and quiet space in your bedroom and sleep at roughly the same time every night.
Food and exercise
Making poor choices when it comes to food and drink zaps your energy. Caffeine and sugary foods will make your blood sugar levels fluctuate, causing feelings of stress and anxiety.
Instead, choose slow-release carbohydrates and seasonal fruits and vegetables that are still fresh and full of nutrients.
Being active for just 20 minutes a day can reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and bat away stress. This is because regular exercise helps your heart work more efficiently, delivering oxygen and nutrients around the body. It also produces chemicals in the brain called endorphins, that improve the ability to sleep.
Edited by Julia Sidwell
Dr Kayat can be found at instagram.com/drsarakayat