Being a mom is tiring, whatever the age of your kids. Even once the sleepless nights and breastfeeding are over, you might be running around after a toddler all day or dealing with the emotions of a teenager. It’s hardly surprising that you feel exhausted.
But does tired have to be the new normal? What if you could work out what is at the root of your exhaustion and do something about it?
In this article, we’re going to examine potential causes of fatigue: medical, nutritional and lifestyle. We’ll also discuss some simple strategies you can put in place today to boost your energy.
Are you tired of feeling tired? Read on for some fatigue-busting tips!
How is energy produced in the body?
In order to function at its best, your body needs fuel.
Specifically, it needs:
- Glucose from healthy carbs such as wholegrain rice and vegetables
- Fatty acids from omega-3 rich fish, nuts, and seeds
- Amino acids from lean proteins such as chicken, tofu, and fish
You also need a healthy heart that can pump your blood efficiently and deliver fuel to your muscles and tissues.
Finally, you need sleep so your body and brain have time to rest and your cells can regenerate.
What could cause fatigue?
If you stop to consider what you get done in a day, juggling the demands of raising a family, managing a household, and perhaps working outside the home, it’s hardly surprising you’re tired.
Moms are amazing at feeding their kids healthy, energy boosting meals but don’t always find time to feed themselves as well.
They are often really strict about getting their kids to bed on time to fortify them with enough energy to face the day but spend their own evenings catching up on chores or clawing back some alone-time rather than getting the rest they need.
All this is understandable, but if you often wake in the mornings feeling exhausted, experience brain fog, anxiety or raised levels of irritability, and/or have too little energy for exercise or normal daily life, perhaps you should consider what the root cause is.
There might be some simple steps you can take to help you feel better.
The first step in determining the cause of your fatigue is to work out if it could be a medical issue.
What medical conditions cause you to be tired all the time?
Three common causes of fatigue for moms are anemia, thyroid issues, and blood-sugar imbalance.
Anemia is caused by having too little oxygen in your blood. Oxygen is essential because it turns glucose into fuel for your muscles and tissues. You won’t have enough oxygen if you have too few red blood cells or if they don’t contain enough hemoglobin.
Anemia is extremely common and is most often caused by a deficiency of iron and other nutrients. If you are experiencing symptoms of fatigue it is very important to have a blood test as sometimes it could be a symptom of a more serious illness.
Most of the time your doctor will recommend a supplement to boost your nutrient-intake and changes in your diet.
Eating iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, kidney beans, and nuts and seeds will boost your iron and energy levels quickly.
Your thyroid gland produces a hormone that controls how quickly your body turns nutrients from your food into energy. According to the American Thyroid Association, 1 in 8 women have thyroid issues in their lifetime.
Hypothyroidism – where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormone – is a common issue for women. Symptoms include weight gain, depression, and tiredness.
If you are diagnosed with a thyroid disease, your doctor may prescribe antithyroid medicines. In addition, you may benefit from reducing the amount of dairy and gluten in your diet and avoiding toxins such as BPA in plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
Increasing levels of iodine and selenium may also help either through supplements or eating foods such as lean meat, some seaweeds, and brazil nuts.
We know that eating too much sugar is bad for us and as a result, most of us are vigilant about how much sugar our families consume.
But when you’re busy and tired, it’s very easy to crave a sugary snack to boost your energy especially as we are surrounded by temptation.
By reducing the amount of refined sugar you consume in processed foods and snacks, soda and fruit juice, and simple carbohydrates like pasta, white rice, and bread, you will avoid spikes in your blood sugar levels that cause energy highs and lows.
Not only will this help your energy levels stay constant, it will also reduce the risk of you getting diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other serious conditions.
To increase energy levels so you don’t need to reach for quick-fix snacks, try to eat a balanced, low-sugar diet.
Eat a breakfast of whole grains, protein and healthy fats such as eggs, yogurt, granola with oats, nuts, and seeds, or a healthy smoothie.
For lunch, choose healthy carbs such as wholegrain rice, vegetables and lean proteins such as chicken, fish or tofu.
When you need a snack, try to include protein as this will give you a slow-burn energy boost rather than a sugar-high. Snack on a handful of nuts, for example, wholegrain crackers with hummus, or apple with peanut butter.
We have discussed only three medical conditions that could cause fatigue, but there are many more. So if you experience periods of exhaustion, it’s important that you see your doctor, even if only to rule out the possibility of there being a medical cause.
How to increase energy
If your fatigue isn’t caused by a medical condition, consider your diet and lifestyle. Are there any changes you could make to boost your energy?
Here are 7 simple tiredness-busting tips that you can adopt today:
Eat foods rich in iron, magnesium, and omega-3
Food such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, oily fish, tofu, and lean red meat are rich in magnesium and iron. Eat foods that contain vitamin C at the same time to aid absorption. Omega-3 oils are known to boost energy, so include plenty of plant oils, fish and nuts, and seeds in your diet.
Minimise the amount of refined sugar you eat and drink by cutting out processed foods, junk food, sugary snacks, and drinks. When you need an energy boost, have some protein with your snacks such as nuts or hummus. Consider buying some quality protein powder to boost your smoothies, and make some simple snacks such as protein balls or oat bars made with nuts and seeds.
Drink lots of water
Even the slightest level of dehydration makes your blood thicker, your heart work harder and decreases the amount of fuel your body receives.
The amount of water you need varies according to your metabolism and lifestyle but generally, women are advised to drink 2.7 liters a day and men 3.7 liters. An easy indication of dehydration is straw-colored rather than pale urine.
Go to bed early
When you get the kids to bed it’s very tempting to try to catch up with the chores and try to have some time for yourself watching TV or catching up with messages. The National Sleep Foundation recommend adults have 7-9 hours of sleep every night. When did you last sleep that long?
If you have difficulty getting to sleep try the following:
- Switch off electronics in the evening. Blue light prevents the body from producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening which disrupt your sleep-wake cycle
- Regulate your sleep and wake times and try to keep to the schedule
- If you need a daytime nap, limit it to 20 minutes so you don’t go into a deep sleep that will disrupt your rest at night
You might think that exercise will make you feel more tired, but actually, it will energize you by increasing your strength and stamina. Increasing your heart-rate also makes your blood pump faster, ensuring that fuel is delivered to your muscles and tissues more efficiently.
Exercise is also really good for your mental health. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, boosting your endorphins through exercise will help you feel better.
Regular exercise does not have to be time-consuming. Find something you enjoy doing whether its running, taking a regular dance class, or practicing yoga at home.
Try to build activity into your everyday tasks. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, play ball with your kids, or walk them to school rather than driving.
Learn how to relax
When you’re in a cycle of being constantly busy it can be hard to remember how to relax but it’s really important for your health. No-one can keep going all the time.
Practice relaxation techniques or download a meditation app. Just taking a few deep breaths allows your blood to flow more freely and slows your adrenaline allowing your body and brain to relax.
Work out what helps you to relax and try to build some time into your day to practice. Exercise will help you feel energized and give you some you-time. Read a book for pleasure before bed or listen to a podcast or music. Taking some time out for yourself will help everyone in the long run.
Lower your expectations and focus on what’s important to you
You might get tired of hearing that motherhood is a “season” of your life but it’s true. Face the fact it might not be possible to keep all those balls in the air. Focus on your relationships and the things that are really important to you. Give yourself the grace to let the rest go.
Tired of feeling tired? Give yourself permission to put yourself first
Remember the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty pitcher?” It might be a cliche but it’s true. It’s very easy when you’re a mom to fall into the trap of putting everybody’s needs before your own. Taking care of yourself by eating well and taking time out for exercise and relaxation is essential for your health and will benefit your whole family.
Tired does not have to be the new normal. Take the first step towards a new energized lifestyle today!