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How to Fight FatigueThe holiday season can be entertaining, exhilarating and exhausting, with gift-buying, decorating, parties, school events, travel, year-end business responsibilities and more. Adding all these extras onto typically busy schedules can leave us stressed, overwhelmed and tired.

But it’s not just during the holidays that we feel worn out. Today’s frenetic pace and 24/7 connectedness can make even the heartiest people drag from time to time. Instead of filling up on caffeine, here are some valuable recommendations for how to fight fatigue.

One tip: don’t just read these and agree. Be intentional and implement them. Your body and mind will feel better!

How to Fight Fatigue

  1. Schedule smart. Plan your days and allow for some margin if possible. A schedule helps keep you organized and feeling in control, and flexibility helps you better manage the unexpected, like traffic, having to work late or caring for a sick child.
  2. Say no. Especially at this time of year, it can feel like we must accept every invitation or attend every special event. Don’t immediately agree to add more to your plate until you check your schedule first; then assess if this is a necessary obligation or if you can skip it.
  3. Rest. While this may seem obvious, to fight fatigue, it is critical to get enough sleep. Try to maintain a relatively consistent sleep-wake cycle as well to feel your best. That may mean leaving the party a bit early and not sleeping until 10 a.m. And take advantage of catnaps if possible, keeping them under 30 minutes to feel refreshed. Look for even short opportunities to close your eyes and meditate or just clear your mind for a few minutes.
  4. Exercise. You don’t have to do an all-out, grueling sweat session that leave you dragging. Exercise should give you energy by stimulating your breathing and circulation, producing endorphins and helping you to release stress. If you’re tight on time, do a quick routine at home or even just perform some calisthenics or stretching to feel more alert.
  5. Eat regular meals. Skipping meals slows your metabolism and leaves you running on an empty tank. Fuel up with a healthy breakfast daily – even if it’s just a piece of fruit or a protein bar – to get off to a good start. Eat lunch and dinner to keep your blood sugar stable, or grab a nutritious snack if your meals will be more than 6-7 hours apart during the day. Decrease consumption of junk food.
  6. Hydrate. Dehydration causes fatigue, and many of us are dehydrated and don’t realize it. Carry a water bottle to the gym, work, school or in your car, and use it. While caffeine can offer a quick buzz, it is a diuretic and can contribute to dehydration, so limit coffee, tea and soda. Avoid high-sugar drinks like juice, soda and smoothies, and minimize alcohol consumption, which ultimately is a depressant.
  7. Get outside. Bundle up if necessary and take in some fresh air and sunshine to be invigorated and benefit from a change of scenery and perspective. Walk the dog, shovel snow, hike, go ice skating or just sit still.
  8. Breathe. Sounds obvious, but we take shallow breaths when we are stressed. Intentionally slow down and deepen your breathing for a few minutes each day for an oxygen boost.

If your efforts to fight fatigue seem to be ineffective, and you feel tired regularly, you should seek your doctor to check for health conditions like thyroid disease, anemia and sleep apnea. Your physician also can evaluate your medications to see if they may be reducing your energy level.