Healthy Habits Newsletter

Stay informed with a FREE regular collection of information, advice, research and interesting bits from the world of Chinese medicine and beyond.

Get our newsletter
Email:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Are You Always Tired?

4 April 2013

Tiredness can be an elusive health complaint. You know when you have it but understanding why and how to correct it isn’t always straight forward. Tiredness can be due to poor diet or lifestyle, a symptom of another health problem, or a standalone illness as in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Always tired

In the absence of other health issues, tiredness is almost always a product of your diet and lifestyle.

Some diet and/or lifestyle practises have an obvious and direct impact on energy levels. If we have a late night, of course we would expect to feel tired the next day. If we drink too much alcohol or are inactive we would expect to feel sluggish. But when the tiredness is more persistent, the connection is not always so clear and direct.

When fatigue is persistent, overwork, a busy lifestyle, and stress in all of its forms, tend to be the worst offenders. There are, in my view, a few reasons why stress and over work are such insidious causes of stubborn tiredness.

Firstly, our modern world is warped in its view of what normal and acceptable levels of pressure and stress are. When everybody constantly operates on slightly raised levels of adrenaline it becomes our society norm. This doesn’t only refer to our jobs, but rather being busy generally. Having too much crammed into the waking day. It’s not easy to view a weekend full of social events as stressful, but if you are constantly on the go, that busyness is certainly a form of stress.

Secondly, the effects of a heavy period of physical or mental/emotional demand can be delayed and can last for some time, thus it is not easy to make the connection with fatigue. Such stress depletes the system, and if prolonged, can take some time to recover from.

Thirdly, there is not a lot of public awareness regarding the health consequences of overwork, busyness and stress. We are taught to eat well, drink enough water, consume less alcohol, exercise more and get enough sleep, etc, but rarely to slow down and stress less.

It is always important to explore persistent tiredness with your GP. There may be other treatable factors at play. Beyond your doctor being able to find anything wrong, it’s up to you.

Fatigue, to a certain level of severity, can be corrected with sound diet and lifestyle choices. Remember it is your daily habits over the long-term that make a difference rather than the short term corrections. A short holiday for example is helpful, but as I’m sure you’ve felt before, the effects are short lived when you return to the regular pace.

For mild fatigue, carefully tailored Chinese herbal prescription can be very helpful for fast-tracking your recovery. When the exhaustion is more pronounced, or when slowing down is not an option in the foreseeable future, such external support becomes particularly important.

If you have any questions about the treatment of fatigue, please be in touch. You can also get my suggested diet and lifestyle recommendations for those with chronic fatigue (see below).