4 Strategies to Help Break Your Exhaustion Cycle

Good news! A simple change could fix your fatigue problem.

July 8, 2015
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Energy is one of the strongest indicators of our physical health and emotional well-being, and it shapes our life experience every moment of the day. As a doctor, I used to start out physical exams asking the open-ended question, "How are your feeling?" But now, I start with the question, "How is your energy?"

More often than not, my patients (mainly women) are going through the motions of everyday life truly exhausted. I'm hoping to change that—particularly for women, who consistently report higher levels of fatigue compared to men. And this is personal for me. For nearly 20 years straight, I suffered from debilitating fatigue, from morning to night. From the moment I awakened, I'd start thinking about how and when I could take a nap.


Despite my unrelenting exhaustion, like most women I know, I simply forged through the daily grind. I put one foot in front of the other and did what I had to each day, as I became a wife, mother, doctor, and TV medical correspondent. But I was running on empty, drained and depleted, and not fully enjoying the life I was living and building.

I tried numerous interventions to ease my fatigue, from traditional and herbal medications to nutritional supplements, acupuncture, and yoga. I even gave an oxygen chamber a whirl. Eventually, some hidden medical conditions that were contributing to my fatigue were uncovered, and treating those helped some. But through a process of trial and error, I have found a combination of approaches that work for me; and I now have enough energy to be fully present in my still busy life.

No one should accept fatigue as her fate. And you should never feel that unrelenting exhaustion is the price you should pay for living the life you want. Fatigue should be investigated until you get to the bottom of it and treated until you have reclaimed your energy. Some of the most common (and commonly overlooked) illnesses in which fatigue is a primary symptom occur more frequently in women. These include thyroid disorders, anemia, depression, and autoimmune conditions (like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis).

More: 10 Foods That Will Ignite Your Energy

They all can and should be diagnosed and treated. For the many people who don't have a medical condition causing their exhaustion, hundreds of simple lifestyle-related habits—including non-restful sleep, nutrient-deficient eating, mismanaging stress, or dehydration—could be stealthy energy drains and damaging to your body over time.


This is why I wrote my new book, The Exhaustion Breakthrough: Unmask the Hidden Reasons You're Tired and Beat Fatigue for Good: to empower women through the journey of reclaiming their vitality. In the book, I guide readers through hundreds of common but commonly overlooked energy drains and show them how to find lasting solutions.

My Four Strategies to Help Break Your Exhaustion Cycle

1: Make sleep a priority. If you don't snooze enough, you will lose mental sharpness. So figure out how much sleep you need to feel and function at your best and carve out enough time for those precious z's on a nightly basis. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to keep your sleep cycles running smoothly.

2: Get moving. Exercise is one of the best energy- and focus-boosters on the planet. Even a 10-minute brisk walk can clear the cobwebs from your head, enhancing alertness, attention, and mental clarity.

3: Harness omega power. Consuming omega-3 essential fatty acids—which are plentiful in fatty fish like wild-caught salmon and tuna, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fortified foods—helps keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

4: Drink water all day long. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue, crankiness, and foggy thinking. Even before your thirst mechanism kicks in (typically after the body’s hydration level has dropped by 2.6 percent), you'll experience lethargy. The Institute of Medicine suggests that the adequate fluid intake for women is 9 cups (2.2 liters) per day, and for men, 13 cups (3 liters) a day. (These things could indicate you're chronically dehydrated.)


Adapted from The Exhaustion Breakthrough