Chronic Exhaustion: How to Cope, When to Call Your Doctor

Chronic Exhaustion: How to Cope, When to Call Your Doctor
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We live in a world that promises us more convenience, faster response times, and an increase in leisure. But for most of us, all we have gotten is endless stress. Chronic exhaustion might seem like par for the course in an increasingly demanding society, but it's no way to live. Exhaustion slowly tears down your body, makes it difficult to maintain healthy relationships, and erodes mental health. If you can't seem to kick fatigue, here's what you need to know.

Are you getting enough sleep?

In a world of social media, it may seem that someone is always doing more than you. The natural inclination is to push yourself to the point of exhaustion. It turns out this strategy is doomed to failure. According to one recent study, productivity dramatically diminishes when people work more than 50 hours per week. At the 70-hour mark, productivity is so low that you might as well not be working at all. There is simply no excuse for working yourself to death, and if you do, your body will suffer.

Give yourself the best gift you can, and focus on getting a little shuteye instead of endlessly doing “one more hour” of work. The National Sleep Foundation recently revised its sleep recommendations:

  • Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per night.
  • Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Seniors over the age of 65 need 7-8 hours of sleep.

Remember, you can't play catch up with sleep, and eight hours is inadequate for many people.

Lifestyle remedies for coping with fatigue

If you're overworked, occasionally battle insomnia, or can't seem to get motivated, a few simple lifestyle remedies can help you shake fatigue:

  • Drink a cup of coffee. It's healthier than soda or energy drinks, and may offer additional health benefits. Some research suggests coffee can stave off diabetes and liver disease. It can also improve heart health. If headaches or muscle fatigue leave you unmotivated, coffee is a healthy alternative to over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Get moving. 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week can boost your overall energy levels. Exercise also gives a temporary energy and mood boost, so work out in the morning if you struggle to drag yourself out of bed.
  • Distract yourself. If fatigue leaves you unmotivated, take a 15-minute break.
  • Consider napping. Keep the naps to 20 minutes or less. Short naps boost energy, but long naps can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling even more exhausted than before.

When to seek help

Still struggling with fatigue? Chronic fatigue is not par for the course of human life. If you can't seem to muster any energy even after cultivating a healthier lifestyle, chronic fatigue syndrome, endocrine system disorders, depression, or a host of other ailments could be to blame. If you experience any of the following symptoms, talk to your doctor:

  • Unexplained insomnia that lasts more than two weeks or that requires you to take sleeping pills to sleep.
  • Exhaustion due to physical pain.
  • Exhaustion accompanied by anxiety, feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of suicide.
  • Hand tremors or muscle spasms.
  • Fatigue that does not relent after two weeks of adequate sleep and a healthy lifestyle. 


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