Chronic fatigue is defined as a feeling of extreme fatigue for at least a 6 month period. Have you ever woken up from a solid 8 hour sleep, and felt frustrated that you’re still tired? Chronic Fatigue often worsens with activity, but doesn’t improve with rest. Sometimes it feels like no matter what you do, your eyelids still feel heavy and your body is weak with exhaustion. Brain fog, muscle soreness, and a general feeling of restlessness often accompany these feelings of tiredness and can severely impact your quality of life. But how does one develop chronic fatigue?
There seems to be no end to the hidden and lasting effects that COVID-19 can have on our bodies. Long covid, also known as Post Covid Syndrome, is a collection of new, returning, or long lasting symptoms associated with COVID-19. These persistent symptoms can last for months or even years and studies have shown a link between long covid and chronic fatigue.
Chronic Fatigue can also accompany depression and anxiety, or can emerge as a side-effect of medications and general lifestyle traits. Here’s some simple and effective tools to help you cope.
First, consult a physician to discover the possible cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help fight your chronic fatigue. Dr. Shah is an expert on chronic fatigue in both the medical and mental causes that may be leading to this.
We all know the importance of sleep, but how do you know if you’re getting those important quality z’s? A regular sleep routine is one of your strongest weapons against chronic fatigue. Create a schedule and a short list of habits and rules to protect your rest: set a time, keep screens out of the bedroom, keep your sheets washed and clean, be active throughout the day, and track your sleep with an app such as Sleep Time or Pillow. Once you have a plan for the night, it’s time to tackle the day.
Behavioral activation is a tool physicians use to help prune your mental state. Sometimes, when you’re perpetually tired, the last thing you want to do is, really, anything at all. Yet, this practice has shown that if you take direct actions, such as investing in your hobbies, intentional exercise, meditation, and healthy social behaviors, the body adapts and steers the mind towards more positive habits and thoughts. If your fatigue stems from general feelings of anxiety and sleeplessness, practicing behavioral activation can do wonders to alleviate your chronic fatigue.
Your body is an engine, and it is important to know what it’s running on. Alcohol, diet, and substances all play a huge role in the quality of your rest and how your body creates its energy. Be honest with how much and how often you’re exposing your body to different substances. Journaling your diet for a short period of time can be a great way to determine a baseline from which to improve on. Keep a food journal for two weeks, and determine which areas would be easiest to improve first. Start there.
There are many medication options that have shown to be helpful for energy. A thorough review of your symptoms, prior medical history, and family history can determine many clues that may be affecting energy. Medication options such as antidepressants and stimulants have been shown to lead to improvements in energy, motivation, and attention.
Don’t feel like you need to change everything all at once. Take small steps week by week. Be patient with your failures and double down on your victories. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, so be proactive and get the ball rolling little by little. It might be heavy at first but before you know it, these habits will be in your routine and your exhaustion a thing of the past.