Feeling Tired All the Time?

No, it’s not normal!

I recently had the opportunity to host an online talk for a company to delve into the unknown world of fatigue. I know, just hearing the word makes you yawn but it’s one we can all relate to in some way. The alarming truth is there are an increasing number of people struggling with low energy levels. So, stay with me and I promise to make this an engaging and relatable read.

We all have days we feel utterly drained, both mentally and physically, which is completely normal as long as it’s occasional. We take some corrective measures and life’s back on track. It’s concerning when the feeling of exhaustion continues for more than 6 months, getting progressively worse, despite trying to do ‘all the right things’.

Rather than discussing the snooze-facts of Chronic Fatigue, which are readily available on Google, I’d like to share a client’s experience (with her consent of course). Let me introduce you to Helen, who I had the privilege to work with a few years ago. She grew up in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, and while most thought she was just living a typical privileged life in the city, Helen was actually navigating some serious personal challenges. As a teenager life is already so overwhelming, so you can only imagine how much harder it was for her! Helen completed her higher education in the UK, which was interspersed with some study abroad, before beginning her career.

It was around this time she noticed something was amiss; her energy levels plummeted noticeably, even on days she tried to take it easy. The simple act of getting out of bed became an arduous task, often taking over 30 minutes before she could gather the strength to begin her day. Walking up a gentle incline was close to impossible, her muscles, joints and back ached all the time. Daily life was becoming a challenge, and when you are just starting out in the real world there’s no room for the slow -paced.

After undergoing several medical tests and Doctor consultations Helen was diagnosed with ME (Myalgia Encephalomyelitis), commonly referred to as Chronic Fatigue. It takes a while to detect this as there is no straight forward test or protocol, like for other diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis. With chronic fatigue it’s the process of elimination. Helen was served this as a lifetime sentence that has some better days, but overall, no specific medication to cure or manage the symptoms. The advice provided was ‘try maintain a healthy lifestyle and take it easy’, something I think we all need to hear from time to time. While there is no one to blame for the situation, an outcome like this will leave anyone feeling defeated and frustrated.

Feeling tired, all the time, no matter how much you rest, is an exasperating state. It becomes more challenging when there’s no clear next step or solution on improving one’s lifestyle (as directed by her Doctor). Fortunately for me, Helen trusted Wholesome to support her through the required changes. We decided her healing process would be gradual and steady, focusing on incorporating healthier choices, rather than simply eliminating “bad” food. This is termed as ‘crowding-out’, where we focus on positive additions that automatically make us reduce the consumption of less nutritious food, fostering a positive start to her journey. After all, merely instructing someone to stop eating junk food doesn’t require the expertise of a Health Coach, does it?

Breakfast was an obvious starting point where we focused on easy to digest foods that simultaneously support the body’s natural detoxification process, and boost of energy: Fruits! That’s right, it doesn’t make you fat, it doesn’t cause diabetes, and it doesn’t result in an energy slump! This simple change proved to be amongst the most effective ones Helen made for herself. Over the next 6 months we introduced a variety of natural foods, gradually eliminating the processed and packaged food she was regularly consuming.

Fast forward 1.5 years, I checked in to see how she was doing (and if I could share her on-going health journey), and this is what she said “So overall my symptoms have been better and it’s definitely been down to the improved diet (not as strict as when we were working together but keeping some of the habits like raw foods and reducing gluten/dairy) and regular gentle exercise with my morning walks. We’ve been going through some stressful times at home with work and some projects so I’ve definitely slipped the last few weeks and as a result my symptoms are slightly increased but even with that it’s definitely way better than when we first met”

The thing with health is there is no one size fits all; rather, it requires us to cultivate a meaningful connection between our mind and body while striving for balance each day. It’s this balance in mindset that enables us to savour guilt-free, indulgences, while being empowered to know how to refuel and nourish our bodies after a heavy meal or night of indulgence. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can address most of our health concerns, but it demands dedication, determination and consistency to enjoy lasting results. The best part is it’s never too late; I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a moment to introspect and hop on the balanced lifestyle wagon, embracing life to the fullest!

NB. This is an account of one person only so please note that Chronic Fatigue can be triggered due to multiple other reasons and each person’s journey is different.