Fatigue has been a real bitch for me. The kind of bitch that lingers on and won’t let go. It was the one symptom I couldn’t shake until recently. Fatigue from Bipolar can be debilitating. I’m not talking about being tired after a meal or a long day. I’m talking about complete exhaustion, bone-tired, total energy depletion. There were many days when I woke up feeling this way, but went to work anyway and pushed through. By the end of the day I could hardly make dinner or do the dishes. I’ve had to take vacation days and lie in bed for 24 hours when I pushed myself too hard. I’ve had to plan my weeks out knowing that I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything after a day at work. It was frustrating to say the least and my quality of life was seriously suffering. Through the years I’ve experimented in several different ways to find relief. The following are my 5 secret weapons to keep fatigue at bay.
- Limit Caffeine: I cut way back on caffeine a couple of years ago and I noticed a difference within a couple of days. I was drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day. That combined with constant stress from my illness did a number on my adrenal glands. These endocrine glands above your kidneys produce several hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Caffeine stimulates these glands and when your adrenals are overworked, production of cortisol can decrease in turn causing fatigue. I also noticed that I had trouble balancing my blood sugar when I drank too much caffeine. I was starving an hour or so before lunch time and if I didn’t eat, my energy would crash. I slowly began lowering my caffeine intake over a few days to avoid getting headaches from withdrawal, mixing regular coffee with decaf. I then switched to all decaf. I still have green tea and the occasional chai, but I’m careful not to overdo it.
- Move Your Body: I have a small gym at work and one of the best things I can do is a little workout at lunch. Nothing crazy, just a brisk walk on the treadmill or workout on the elliptical for a half hour. It breaks up my day, boosts my mood, and keeps me going for the rest of the day and evening. If it’s nice outside, I’ll talk a walk. The fresh air really helps and getting my heart rate up a little kicks my energy up a notch. I sit at work for long amounts of time and work on a computer which often kills my energy. Having this break and time to myself really pays off. If I am too busy to fit this in, I’ll do it when I get home at night. JessicaSmithTv on YouTube has tons of great low impact workouts to try as well and they are free. I am not a morning person, but I am sure a little exercise in the morning can rev you up for the day too.
- Ask Your Doctor about Deplin: Deplin is a prescription medical food that can help fight fatigue caused by depression. It contains l-methylfolate, an active form of folate (B vitamin). L-methylfolate is different from non-prescription folic acid which has to be activated by the body before it can be used. Up to 70% of people with depression have limited ability to complete this activation. I began Deplin about a year and a half ago and I noticed a change in my fatigue right away. It can also help other symptoms of depression. I encourage you to ask your doctor. This could be one of your tickets to a happy and energized life.
- Reduce Stress: Stress is a total energy zapper. I still struggle with fatigue when I’ve had a taxing day at work. I’ve found meditating to be helpful. I use an app on my phone called Insight Timer to help me. My mind tends to wander when I try to do it on my own. Listening to guided meditations on this app keeps me in the moment. I also use a HeartMath monitor. It is a techie way to meditate. It monitors your heart rate as you follow a visual to control your breathing. It doesn’t take long to reap the benefits. Essential oils are great too. I like to use a diffuser next to my bed with lavender, bergamot, or rose for relaxation. Reach out and ask for help when your feeling stressed. When work becomes too much for me, I raise my hand and ask for help. I am a little Type A and a perfectionist, but I’ve learned that I don’t need to pretend like I’m Superwomen. It’s ok to ask for help when you need it.
- Get Proper Nutrition: Nutrition is key in controlling fatigue. Pay attention to what you are putting in your body. Processed food will deplete your vitality. Sugar will give you a temporary boost, but then you’ll crash and burn out. I’ve recently found a super convenient and yummy way to get nutrients in the form of a super food shake. It has been extremely helpful in getting over the last bit of fatigue that was holding on to me. It has as much nutrients as three plated organic meals. I feel like I hit the jackpot. I had been looking for a meal replacement for a while, but I couldn’t find a clean one until I was introduced by a friend to these gems. I was spending hours on the weekend planning and prepping food for the week which got old fast. This plan requires much less effort and the results have blown me away.
What are your weapons against fatigue? I would love to hear your tips and tricks to stop fatigue in the comments. If you are interested in learning more about my nutrition plan, please reach out. I would love to give you the scoop.