Our personal energy level is a renewable resource

  • Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:03pm
  • Life

Modern life.

There’s so much to do. Work, kids, dinner, activities, pick them up, drop them off, laundry, dishes, email, Facebook, texts — it’s endless. In addition to kids, many adults take care of elderly parents too. It can be unrelenting.

As a result, many folks struggle with fatigue. At the end of the day, they’re just plain tuckered out.

A recent survey found that close to 40 percent of adults complained of being overly tired. Almost a third of individuals who see their primary care providers report fatigue. We are struggling with an energy crisis. Fortunately, human energy, unlike oil, is a renewable resource!

Vitality is like having gas in your car. Without it, even a Rolls Royce will sit in the driveway, unable to move. But a small hybrid, with a full tank of gas, can go to Portland and back. When we’re out of gas, we can barely do what we have to do. It’s important for us to be fueled up and topped off.

To some degree, natural vigor varies among adults. Some individuals are blessed with hearty constitutions with an abundance of get-up-and-go. I come from generations of Eastern European peasants who worked the fields. I have an engine like a VW bug — it can take all kinds of abuse without a grumble. On the other hand, my wife has an engine like a race car; a slight variation in the fuel and it needs adjustment. We all have different makeups.

There are many health conditions which can cause fatigue, including anemia, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, alcohol abuse, inflammatory conditions, heart problems or vitamin deficiencies. But more often than not, the cause is more common.

Here is a list of some of the factors that contribute to the current energy crisis.

Too little sleep. Worried about the national debt? I’m concerned about the national sleep deficit! Experts recommend a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. A recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey of 400,000 adults found that over one-third of Americans are getting less than seven hours of shut eye on a regular basis. Chronic sleep debt can cause irritability, poor concentration and attention, low sex drive, depression, and weight gain.

It’s better to let some dishes pile up in your sink then to run behind on sleep. Make getting enough rest a priority, rather than an afterthought.

Too little exercise. According to the CDC, only 50 percent of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week, which is considered the bare minimum for normal health.

Modern life has engineered movement out of our daily lives. Our bodies are designed for motion. Like cars, they don’t work right if they’re never driven.

Like everyone else, some days it’s a challenge to figure out how to get in even 10 minutes of walking. If you want to have more energy, it has to be a priority.

Too little high-quality fuel. Too much coffee, sugar, and refined foods can result in uneven and low energy. Excess caffeine shoots you up and then can drop you off of a cliff. Sugar can do the same thing. This roller coaster ride tires your body out!

Add some fruit, vegetables, complex carbs and high quality protein to your diet.Your engine will be thankful.

Too little time. There are only 24 hours to each day. Some of those hours need to be put in the savings bank for sleeping, eating, and moving. You can’t be everything to everybody. And, if you are tired all of the time, no one will be delighted to see you come around the corner.

If you try these remedies and you still have no kick to your step, do visit your primary care provider. A medical exam and some simple blood tests can determine if your engine needs a tune-up or repair.

What helps your keep your gas tank full?

Dr. Paul Schoenfeld is director of The Everett Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health. His Family Talk Blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog

By Paul Schoenfeld

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