26 Jul I’m Tired All The Time!
‘T’ired ‘A’ll The ‘T’ime!
TAT is the abbreviation commonly used in medical notes to denote that the patient reports feeling ‘tired all the time.’ The presence of this within patient notes appears to be becoming more and more common. So why is it that we are all reporting fatigue, what indications may this have for your health and what are some things to consider when trying to regain energy and vitality?
The causes of long term fatigue are wide and varied. Of course serious chronic illness such as diabetes, thyroid issues, digestive disorders and serious pathologies such as cancers can cause patients to feel on-going tiredness so it is always important to get assessed by a trained medical professional, however the reality is that many of our patients reporting TAT are not sufferers from any of these conditions. Being a parent and the inherent lack of sleep that comes with looking after a newborn is also a good reason that patients can feel exhausted but again TAT patients are not restricted to those suffering loss of sleep or new parents. Perhaps it is overwork? The working demands on Londoners in the modern day appears to be increasing with many if not most workers exceeding the standard 40hr working week, on top of which, many lead an active and demanding social life and end up burning the candle at both ends.
The reality is that there is never one simple cause but more so a complex array of lifestyle problems and demands that result in patient reporting high level fatigue. Whilst this is a common symptom however, it is important to remember it is not ‘normal’ to feel tired all the time.
The health of our body is largely determined by our life and our lifestyle choices. It is useful to think about these falling into 1 of 2 categories; those things that will make us healthier and those that damage or stress our bodies.
The key here is those lifestyle choices that damage or stress our bodies can pose a significant demand on our energy resources, influence our ability to absorb and utilise food-stuffs (our sources of energy) and push us away from a state of balance (homeostasis)….if these go on for too long then one symptom that can arise is…..significant tiredness.
As we often tell our patients, lifestyle and environmental factors are now recognised as the major cause of illness and dis-ease and are more important in prediction of long term health than genetic factors. This means it is what we do, not what our genes say, which in the majority of cases determines our overall health and vitality.
With this in mind, we can consider what lifestyle or environment factors will impact our health. These can be divided neatly into 3 categories:
1- Nutritional and chemical – How we eat and the toxins we expose our bodies to
2- Emotional – How we think and the emotional stresses that we are under
3- Physical – How much we move and the poor movement and postural patterns we have
Clearly you could write a book on these (and many have been written!) but we want to give you some food for thought so you can start assessing where you may be able to make simple changes on a day to day basis that will start to benefit the health of your body and therefore your energy levels and vitality.
Toxins: Toxins represent a ‘toxic stress’ to the body and in the presence of toxins, your body has to work hard to expel them to minimise their damaging effect on our physiology. Detoxification is an energy hungry process and so the more toxins you are subjected to the more energy your body has to divert to dealing with them. This can leave you feeling cloudy and tired. We commonly consider nicotine and alcohol as toxins but there are an array of toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis:
Food: What we eat has a huge impact on our body. Make sure you think not only about what you shouldn’t eat but also about what you should. We require an array of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids fats, carbs and proteins etc. to help maintain the normal function of the body. Some food stuffs provide us with these and some actually block our ability to absorb them from other foods. If in doubt a general rule of thumb is to stick to a varied diet of whole foods that are as unprocessed as possible comprising largely of fresh vegetables and limiting sugar, alcohol, gluten and dairy.
Air: Our air is full of toxins from exhaust fumes to cigarette smoke to dry air conditioned air and the toxins present in flame retardant chemicals used on many household items and cleaning products. Mould spores in old houses are also often responsible for causing respiratory upset and with many London properties being over 100 years old this can be a significant issue. In a city getting access to clean air is difficult but there are some air purifiers that you can use in your home to help control your immediate air quality.
Skin: Toxins are often absorbed through the skin very easily and so considering what to put on your skin is a good way to reduce your body’s toxic load. Beauty products, shampoos and suntan lotions are often jam packed full of things we know are not good for use (here is an interesting and extensive list). Luckily there are now a plethora of organic and chemical free options on the market that use natural ingredients and choosing these will help to limit toxins in the environment.
Cleaning Products: Just the smell of cleaning products will make you realise how potent and toxic these chemicals can be but often we spray and wipe them freely around our homes from air freshers to surface cleaners and washing powers to bleach. Again natural products can often provide an equally effective alternative free of concerning chemicals with phenomenally antimicrobial action with many of these companies working with an environmentally responsible approach to packaging and production. A favourite of ours is the Method cleaning range
Thoughts: The emotional stressors that we are under are hugely predictive of how healthy we will be and how quickly we will recover from injury. The connection between mind and body cannot be denied. Many people report that their pain gets worse with stress, they feel tension throughout the body, experience headaches, have digestive upset…just a few among an endless list of physical complaints that are experienced as an effect of an emotional stress. The science and physiological links are clear. (Whilst we can’t explain them here if you would like more information just ask one of our practitioners).
The fact is that emotional stress is rife in the modern world with the constant balancing act of work and home life, increasing hours in the office, financial demands of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, let alone personal and social relationship stress and our constant exposure to stimulation from technology. With these emotional stressors being so ever-present it is vitally important that we give our minds a rest and a chance for recuperation; mindfulness, meditation and yoga are all gaining traction for 2 reasons. 1 – they work and 2 – there is a desperate need in the modern human. We all need mental and emotional down time.
When was the last time you sat and did nothing?
Not read a book, not look at a computer or phone, not chat with friends….. many people can not answer this question despite most of us, and science, appreciating that having some mental down time is of phenominal benefit for our overall well being. Many patients report not wanting to stop and relax because their mind is too busy and they will feel anxious,…well unfortunately this is indication that there is even more of a need to do so. To be able to be silent, calm and rested in your own space without interference is of huge value to your health. It allows a processing of emotional and mental information and when incorporated with breathing techniques can help to reduce the presence of stress hormones in the body (a major predictor for long term health).
So if you don’t already, we recommend booking 5-10 minutes into your daily routine where you can sit quietly and focus on nothing but your breathing or simply take a quiet walk in natural surroundings; call this meditation, relaxation or mindfulness, it doesn’t really matter how you refer to it the principles are the same,…give your brain a rest and a recharge at least once a day, trust us you will feel the benefits immediately!
So in summary when we are feeling over-tired or exhausted it is useful to use this symptom as a motivator to assess and change your environment for the better, whether that be using more natural and chemical free cleaning products, eating more whole foods or simply taking some time out from the stresses of everyday life!