Exhaustion is one of those things that can often feel permanent—especially during this time of year. There are stress and deadlines at work, mandatory family time, and late-night parties with booze aplenty. That said, feeling consistently tired isn't just a result of lifestyle choices, not for everyone. Sometimes, there are other factors at play. With that in mind, we set out to figure out exactly what could be causing our fatigue and any natural remedies to help.
After doing a bit of research and speaking with various experts, we found seven ways to keep your energy levels up, help with focus, and nix fatigue. Below, find all our best advice. (It's easy; don't fret.) Let us know what works for you by shooting us a DM on Instagram. Here's to better sleep and more energized days to come.
Let light in first thing in the a.m.
When your alarm goes off each morning, rather than turning over and letting out a groan (been there), get up and open your curtains. "Getting bright light first thing in the morning can be super helpful in anchoring your biological clock to a regular time," Britney Blair, a psychologist and sleep expert at Sleeprate, told us. "Ultimately, this will lead to more morning alertness and less-intense sleep inertia." Waking up with natural light allows you to have a smoother transition from your sleep. Try sleeping with the blinds slightly open so daylight can filter in naturally, and you may even start waking up before your alarm.
Try adaptogenic herbs
Adrenal fatigue, a hormonal imbalance, is often the culprit behind inexplicable daily exhaustion, London-based general practitioner Jane Leonard told us. Daily stress can set our adrenal glands, which help produce hormones and regulate our "fight-or-flight" responses, out of balance. Exhaustion is chief among the ways stress can manifest in physical ways. To help, try adaptogenic herbs, which help regulate and balance the body's natural stress response. Taking a teaspoon of Maca twice a day can do wonders for fatigue.
Consider your diet
In addition to impacting how well you sleep, your diet can mess with your daily energy levels. According to studies, there is a link between rising rates of chronic fatigue and poor diet in the U.S. Though difficult at times, the best way to help is to avoid processed foods whenever possible, stay away from too much sugar, and try to maintain a healthy balance of fats, protein, and carbs.
Consider your dopamine levels
Sun Potion's Mucuna Pruriens Powder ($20) contains 15% L-dopa, a naturally occurring amino acid that transforms into dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that allows for more dynamic functioning of the brain, and higher levels of dopamine have been linked to enhanced brain function, elevated mood and energy levels, and a more balanced nervous system. Jessica Rosen, a certified holistic health coach and the president of Raw Generation, confirms, "Healthy levels of dopamine are necessary in order to feel focused, energized, and motivated, so Mucuna pruriens may help you if you struggle with fatigue and staying on task."
Amp up your protein intake
If you're feeling fatigued, make sure you have enough protein in your diet. "Protein like tuna, mackerel, pulses like baked beans (or tofu) will help boost concentration and beat the afternoon energy slump," says Marilyn Glenville, Ph.D., author of The Natural Health Bible for Women. "Add some slow-release carbohydrates, such as a whole-grain roll or whole-wheat pasta, and finish with some fruit to give you the best possible chance of staying focused and energetic in the afternoon," she says.
Hit a workout class
According to science, a consistent fitness routine is definitely associated with higher energy. One study even showed that cancer patients' symptoms improved when they began exercising more. Just think of that incredible high you feel after a class—the up-for-anything euphoria that keeps you coming back for me (even at early hours of the morning). That's the physical proof it works to boost energy and stave off fatigue.
Make sure you're properly hydrated
If you're not hydrating enough, fatigue is often one of the first symptoms—and inversely, studies show that focus and energy levels improve when we're drinking enough water. Bring a water bottle around with you daily and make sure you're finishing it and filling it up again. It'll start to become second nature, and you'll notice you'll feel less tired to boot.