I was taught that health is like a three-legged stool, supported by sleep, food, and exercise. When one gets wobbly, you can bolster the other two and get some balance back.
So, if I’m feeling tired all the time, it’s particularly important for me to eat well and move around. Eight hours of sleep helps, too. It’s all pretty much common sense…but seemingly impossible.
The thing is, I actually tried this for three months. And I felt like a superhero. One glance at a set of directions and they were memorized. House keys were always in the same place. Energy was consistent and easy. It was everything I could have hoped for from truly taking care of myself.
And then I stopped. Who has eight hours to sleep?
Now I’m back to feeling sluggish, with a deep love of 20 minute mid-afternoon power naps. But until my pedestal is perfectly balanced again (likely perched on my high horse, at that point) I need some aids for daily fatigue, and I’ve found a few remedies that work.
Technically I have no authority whatsoever to dole out health advice. Sure, I study herbs with the tenacity of a chronic researcher. Yes, I make the occasional poultice and salve. And naturally I send Leandra elderberry syrup and oil of oregano during fashion week. But other than that, I’m just a girl who could easily hit snooze every 8 minutes for two hours in the morning.
With that in mind, a list of what I’ve found to help combat those midday urgent nap attacks:
1. Water. It may sound too simple, but drink a big glass of water. Dehydration can quickly make a person groggy.
2. Food. Granted, everyone’s different, but in general it’s a good idea to eat nutritious food every few hours, pairing carbohydrates and proteins with a veggie or healthy fat to avoid spikes in blood sugar and the subsequent crash. The idea is: if you grab a piece of fruit, have a few nuts, as well. And if you’re reaching for unsalted roasted almonds, definitely add a piece of Emmantaler. Which is cheese.
3. Rosemary. Here’s where I get a bit witchdoctor-y. Making tea with dried rosemary is great for calm focus, which can be difficult to achieve. It seems that most remedies either counter anxiety by knocking you out, or jack you up past the point of concentration. I put dried rosemary in my french press with hot water and drink throughout the day.
4. Adaptogens. These herbs are known to support the adrenal system, which regulates our body’s response to stress. Anxiety and stress can lead to nervous energy, a racing mind and ultimately fatigue. Herbs like Ashwagandha and Eleuthero (a.k.a. Siberian Ginseng) are fantastic for restoring balance.
For me, Ashwagandha’s too calming to take during the work day, so I boil the powder with cinnamon in water and have a cup before bed. I fall asleep faster, sleep better, and over time it’s helped me feel less stressed and therefore less worn out.
5. Coffee alternatives. If you’re transitioning off coffee, or looking for something with a different kick, kukicha and mate are great. They both have caffeine but are much less likely to make me jittery.
6. Finally, air. Getting up from my desk, stepping outside the office, and going for a walk around the block gives my brain a bit of a rest and gets blood pumping oxygen to both muscles and noggin, so I’m less tired both mentally and physically.
This works for me, but what about you? How do you guys combat midday fatigue?
— Kate Barnett, resident MR researcher of all that is healthy and herbal