Guest post by MaryEllen of Imperfect Homemaker
As a homemaker and mommy to three little ones, I know what it’s like to run, run, run from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until I can finally crash into bed at night. (And those responsibilities might continue throughout the night!)
Fatigue becomes the order of the day for many women.
Most women just accept it as a normal part of life, and press on (perhaps using caffeine to help keep them going).
I was in the same boat. After my third child was born, I began to feel more fatigue than what I felt was “normal.” Eventually I got to the point where all I could do some days was lie in bed.
My husband would come home to find me frustrated and crying because I hadn’t had the energy to make dinner or clean up after the kids. Sometimes I tried to tell myself I was being lazy and just needed to deal with it, so I would force myself out of bed and try to work. But I would end up with a racing heart and feeling so dizzy and faint that I thought I would black out.
Although we already ate fairly healthy, I stepped up my efforts and began a journey to an even higher standard of healthy living. Although I started this journey on my own, I eventually ended up placing myself under the care of a doctor of functional medicine. What I have learned both from her and from my own research has been invaluable.
Although I had some serious health issues that needed to be overcome, I have discovered some of the basics that all women need to prioritize in their lives in order to achieve a greater energy level.
Did you notice that I said “basics”?
Some of the things I could have done to combat the fatigue were so simple that I looked right past them.
Perhaps you are neglecting them, too.
If you’re fighting fatigue day after day, consider whether or not these 5 contributors to fatigue are present in your life. When you eliminate them, you will most likely feel an incredible boost in your energy level.
1. Not eating enough or often enough
The concept is simple: we eat food, and our body absorbs the nutrients and converts them to energy. No food = no energy. Little food = little energy. More food = more energy. When you’re busy, you don’t realize sometimes how little food you are eating. Mealtimes often become “picking sessions.” You pick at this and pick at that and think you have eaten enough.
I would encourage you to keep a diary of everything that you eat in a day. You need a good variety of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and you may be surprised to see how little you truly are eating. Besides the amounts that you eat, you should also be aware of the times that you eat. In order to keep a sustained level of energy, you need to keep your blood sugar regulated. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and don’t go more than four hours between meals.
2. Not drinking enough water
Dehydration is another common contributor to fatigue. You should be drinking at least half your body weight in water each day. If you are not consuming this amount, the chances that you are dehydrated are very high. Not only will your energy levels drop, but constant dehydration leads to a host of other health issues as well.
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3. Eating too much sugar
You may feel like you need a sugar-laden snack to keep you going during the day, but in actuality you are setting yourself up to become even more tired. Eating sugar in between meals will cause your blood sugar to spike, giving you a temporary sense of energy. But what goes up must come down, and when it does you will feel exhausted and groggy.
If you feel you must have something sweet, eat it along with your meal. Be sure to use an unrefined sweetener like molasses, honey, or pure cane sugar. Along with avoiding sugar, be sure to stay away from other refined carbohydrates which quickly turn to sugar in the body.
4. Not exercising
Exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired, but it is one of the most important things you can do to increase your energy. Exercising will strengthen your heart and lungs, optimize your circulation, and help your body carry oxygen and nutrients to your muscle tissues, which in turn will help your body produce energy.
Aim for thirty minutes of exercise five times a week and see how much better you feel. You don’t have to do anything complicated; walking is just as good an exercise as anything. You can also try my super-wimpy workout routine. It’s quick and easy, yet effective!
5. Not sleeping enough
I know this is a tough hurdle to overcome for many moms with children waking in the night, but it is imperative that you get as much sleep as you can. Aim for eight hours every night. You will find that you rest better if you keep your sleep schedule consistent. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning.
Create an atmosphere for sleep. Darken the room and make sure the temperature is comfortable. Turn off electronic devices well before bedtime since the backlight inhibits the production of melatonin, which helps tell your body that it’s time to sleep. Avoid caffeine (preferably all the time, but especially by lunchtime and after). If you do have a hard time getting enough sleep at night, take a fifteen minute nap in the afternoon. Fifteen minutes is enough to give you a little boost while not inhibiting your ability to go back to sleep at night.
You can see that all five of these contributors to fatigue are quite basic, yet with all our responsibilities as busy homemakers we still tend to place the care of ourselves low on our priorities list. If you will focus on giving your body the attention it needs in these areas, you will find yourself even more energized, and consequently more efficient as a homemaker and caretaker for your family!
How often does fatigue hinder your productivity? What do you do to take care of yourself?
MaryEllen Bream is a stay-at-home wife and homeschooling mommy to 3 littles. She is passionate about helping homemakers become all that God wants them to be. You can find posts on homemaking, homeschooling, and natural living on her blog, Imperfect Homemaker.
Thanks for the tips! I think you mean half your body weight in ounces…although, the “half your body weight” made me chuckle. I’d have to drink almost 65 lbs of water per day!
Yes – in ounces! 🙂 I think 65 oz. is a lot more realistic than 65 pounds! 🙂
Thank you, I agree as same happened to me, I had no idea why was so tired yet was almost not eating or drinkin anything!! We do overlook the simple whilst tryna keep everyone else in shape!! Thank you x
My biggest hurdle is requiring 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night. I was embarassed at 1st but after further research, I discovered it’s not that unusual to need that much sleep. It seems to be genetic. Once I commit to going to bed earlier, I am much more productive during the day.
Thank you for this post. Quite timely for me. I have been struggling with fatigue for a few months now. Unfortunately in my circumstance, part results in medications recently prescribed. The doctor has taken me down a notch, and hopefully, soon I’ll be free of them altogether.
I drink lots and lots of water (too much some say). Exercise is something I have not been engaging in-living in a very hot climate. I love to walk. I do try setting an “atmosphere for sleep,” as you describe. However, I know there is more I could do-sweets being one thing I can and should reduce or stop altogether. I am encouraged to get started again putting my lsleep habits back in order. The Lord is so good to bring us to the right place at the right time. Today, He lead me here as an answer to prayer regarding this subject.
The biggest one for me is drinking lots of water. I notice a huge decline in not just my energy level, but my overall health when I don’t drink enough water. Unfortunately, making coffee with that water doesn’t cut it. =) I’m anxious to try some other things on this list and see if they help me as well! Thanks for a great list, I’ll be sharing this!
Lmao!!! This article is quite wrong, saying, ” You should be drinking at least half your body weight in water each day”. This is would cause DEATH from hyponatremia. It lowers the sodium level in your blood and causes death.
Imagine if you weighed 100 pounds. That would mean you should drink 50 lbs water at 8 llbs to a gal of water that is 6.25 gals of water. A person drinking this much water (IF they could do nothing but drink all day) in a 24hr period would be DEAD. Don’t know where they got their facts from, but they did NOT do the math, etc. Don’t want to sound like I am dissing someone, but this is a serious blunder, imo.
I’m fairly certain she meant half your weight in ounces not pounds, a little grace for a typo goes a long way. Merry Christmas friend!
Thanks for this kind comment, Shalimar! Merry Christmas to you, too!!
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What about iron levels? I think this affects as well!
My problem was that my thyroid stopped working. My husband would say ” okay hun, lets go to our yoga class” and tears would silently be dripping down face because I wanted to be there but I just could not, I really felt like I was dying I was so, so tired.
I also have a bad habit of not eating because I am too busy for whatever reason.
I have had some of the same. I’m so sorry. 🙂
I am constantly exhausted. And I know why. I do not “deliberately” exercise and I do not get enough sleep. Im a healthy weight, and I eat very well. But excercise…. never. Ill run around after the kids, and am on my feet alot but I don’t put time aside to exercise. And when I did last year for 4 months… I hated it. I felt even more exhausted, less energized, and like id been beaten up and my asthma came back. It was horrible. I thought… give it a month or two and ill get that “buzz” people keep talking about. 4 months later I was worn out and exhausted worse than ever. And that’s only with about 30mins 5 days a week. (I built up to that) so I gave up. I also rarely get more than 6 hours sleep a night and I know it needs to change. But ive been saying that for 4 years now… my fatigue is mostly my own fault. Sometimes I have very low iron and that doesnt help. But not all the time. I need to commit to an earlier bed time…. and work out what kind of exercise will work for me. Just writing this out is helping to motivate me and see the need for action so thanks for letting me blab and thanks for this article
I hope this does motivate you! It is very hard to find time to exercise when you have young kids!
One other HUGE cause of fatigue, which is often overlooked by even doctors, is autoimmune diseases! Women in particular are MUCH more likely to have an autoimmune disease and we often go undiagnosed for many, many years. That being said, all the things in your list ARE extremely beneficial to those who do have AI disease, but when the fatigue remains even after you have done all you can, please see a doctor and ask for more tests! I have Sjogren’s Syndrome and went undiagnosed for God-knows-how-many years.
Yes! I have an autoimmune condition that attacks the space around my thyroid, not the actual gland, where it prevents the conversation of T3/T4 to free T3/T4 that gets used in the body. This is a major cause of fatigue for me. Since Erin first mentioned it I have realized that I HAVE TO be in bed by 11 for my 7-7:30 “wake up call” if I’m going to function at my best. I was able to ditch my progesterone cream with the help of homeopathy, and am looking forward to going after the fatigue as well.
Thank you for sharing this information. I had a period in my life where I had such intense fatigue that no amount of sleep seemed to alleviate it. I could sleep all day, wake for a couple hours, and sleep all night. I was almost always exhausted. These 5 things are so important and I appreciate that you said BASIC because for some of us something more is going on. I had more than one healthcare provider tell me to exercise to help with fatigue. I began running on my treadmill for 20 minutes per day. It made no difference. I eventually worked up to 20 to 30 minutes twice daily. No difference. It did not help. What was so frustrating for me was when I would tell people this and they would say “Maybe you are exercising too much.” It was like they did not hear that I started out slow, and each time I increased amount of exercise, I noticed no difference in the amount of fatigue. My doctor put me on a prescription that was new at the time. I was still exhausted. A woman from my church who had a chronic fatigue syndrome, fybermyalcia (sp) diagnosis tried using a quarter of the dose I was prescribed (her own prescription from her own Dr.) She could not handle it. It was overly effective on her. This was a difficult time for me. People did not understand. I was so tired I could not function. I did not like being that way. I was not doing it on purpose. People did not see it that way and thought they knew what I should be doing to correct it. Not knowing what is wrong can be very demoralizing for a person struggling with health issues , especially when the people around one do not understand and are quick to judge.
It is SO hard when people don’t understand and act like, and even say, you’re just making it up. Doctors will do this, too, unfortunately, and it’s hard to get a chronic fatigue diagnosis. Years ago I saw a naturopathic doctor who used homeopathy to treat symptoms like what you’re describing and I had tremendous results. How are you doing now?
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This is very timely for me, thank you! I am dealing with fatigue due to chronic dehydration, as well as lack of sleep and exercise. I will keep these basics in mind each day as I try to get back into a good routine!
Thanks for the article. I have two kids work full time plus take care of my ill husband and have lupus which comes along with its own challenges chronic fatigue being one of them. Some of the things I have recently started doing. Increasing my water and giving up coffee and soda has helped tremendously. I have always ate lots during the day which is hard to do at work. However a few months ago I realized even though I was eating meals and snacks in between the snacks were horrible for me making me crash. I LOVE junk food (along with everything that is good for me). I gave it up. Not all together but I only eat sweets and chips when I actually sit down to eat a meal so my body is fueled by the other food I am eating. I just tried this hoping it would work. So far it has made a HUGE difference. Now if I could just get more sleep…
Thanks for the reminders! You’re right that its so simple we often don’t even give it much thought. I’m currently exhausted all the time, and I could relate to all five of these. So now I have a game plan! Water, food, a walk and early to bed for me!
My wife had the some of these same issues with fatigue. We do a lot of the basics as well, but also added a vitamin D supplement which we feel has been a very important aspect of achieving greater energy. We discovered that two of our children were also Vitamin D deficient. We have also improved our eating and grow much of our own food when we can and eat very few if any processed foods. Sometimes the basics don’t work. What is frustrating is that the traditional medical community will only seem to recommend the basics and not look at things like thyroid, Vitamin deficiencies and adrenals. We were very frustrated and spent $1000’s on medical tests, none of which gave us any answers. I hope a blog talking about some of these issues, which we know are not isolated or unique to us, would shed some light on this problem.
Just to note: we did get tested for Vitamin D before adding the supplement. Though my wife was only slightly below the normal range, the added supplement made a significant difference. Too much supplemental vitamin D can also cause problems.
It is not possible to properly care for your home or for others if you do not first care for yourself.
This was such a valuable, useful post! I have been SO tired lately, but like you said, I just keep pressing on! Because that’s what moms do, right? I think a big reason we just keep pushing is because we think that’s what “good moms” do, and we see other moms going like the Energizer bunny. But our bodies weren’t intended to be pushed like that forever. Thank you for the reminder and the practical advice!
Yes–our bodies definitely weren’t intended for it!