We are hitting epidemic proportions with the number of people worldwide experiencing fatigue. Constant tiredness, physical and/or mental weakness is something for which doctors struggle to find any explanation and, therefore, treatment. Government website www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au says that fatigue may be caused by a number of factors working in combination, such as medical conditions, unhealthy lifestyle choices, workplace problems and stress. And I agree with them. But this is the exact scenario, where our conventional medicine fails us. Doctors work within the frame of a diagnosis. Fatigue is not a diagnosis, it is a result of so many factors, which are usually tied together. What can be done within the medical system? Doctors can run some tests, order investigations in order to try and discover where the body is not functioning properly. For example, a person with the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may have low iron, which may cause tiredness as well; in this case, iron supplementation will be prescribed. Or a thyroid condition may be diagnosed via blood tests, and a medication would be prescribed accordingly.
But the underlying causes for the thyroid dysfunction, anaemia or any other disease will not be addressed. The CFS may persist and even progress further.
CFS is a complex issue and will not have a streamline solution. The solution will be an individual holistic approach, where not only physical problems will be addressed, but the emotional component will be covered as well. We are not only physical beings, our emotions have long been known to affect how our systems work. Strong emotions like grief due to a relationship breakdown, loss of a family member, friend or pet, job loss, unresolved fears leading to anxiety, any other stressors in life, such as losing a credit card and having to go through the process of replacing it, a minor car accident, being late for an important meeting, constant deadlines at work, children’s extracurricular commitments where a parent is responsible for getting the there on time. When these things happen on a daily basis, our nervous system goes into the perpetual agitation, and finally, it becomes “the new normal” and our mind does not identify it as stress, but stress hormones are still released and the body chemistry is disturbed.
Over-commitment, digital pollution, lack of exposure to nature, insufficient quality and quantity of sleep – these are the main drivers of the chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic stress leads to overbreathing/ hyperventilation, which is a routine reaction to stress from the sympathetic nervous system. It stems from the olden days, when men used to hunt, and if things went wrong, they would have to run away from the predator, experiencing extreme distress of the real danger of losing their life. To mobilise all reserves and protect life, our body will push us to mouth breathe. But in the current chronic stress environment, there is no real danger of dying from being late to an important meeting, but the programmed pathways are still in place and this becomes a chronic stress leading to chronic fatigue situation.
Just a few words on overbreathing – it inhibits proper oxygen delivery to the cells and propels the progression of the fatigue further.
What is the solution, how can we support ourselves, especially in the current challenging times, to regain the energy, vitality and bring more joy into our lives?
They are all no small questions. Here are SIX things you can do:
- Correct our breathing patterns. This will ensure all our cells and tissues are getting enough oxygen, and oxygen means energy!
- Review your nutritional needs and your diet.
- Exercise smart, not hard! Breathing exclusively through the nose when exercising will make your practice smart.
- As a short-term measure include a few supplements to help you cope initially, so that you have the energy to cook for yourself and do some basic exercises, like stretching and walking.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep! How to sleep well – learn all about your circadian rhythm, sleep hygiene and nutrition for better sleep.
- Learn relaxation techniques, how our emotions affect our health.