Depression is exhausting. It affects us both mentally and physically, but the physical symptoms are often what we struggle with most in our everyday lives.Depression is exhausting. It affects us both mentally and physically, but the physical symptoms are often what we struggle with most in our everyday lives. Not only that, but the depression-related fatigue can worsen the feelings of emptiness and despair we’re trying to overcome in our minds.
The following tips for dealing with depression-related fatigue have been generously shared with us by Stacy Nash, a sleep expert with Tuck.com.
Depression and fatigue oftentimes go hand in hand, and it’s easy to see why. The emotional fatigue caused by depression takes a heavy toll on the body, but don’t lose hope. There are simple steps you can take to give yourself an advantage over depression and fatigue.
Start with a Healthy Diet
Everyone knows they should eat healthily, but if you choose a donut over whole wheat toast for breakfast, you may be setting yourself up for late afternoon fatigue. Eating nutrient-rich foods like whole grain bread, raw vegetables and fruits, and protein stabilize blood sugar levels and provide a steady energy source. We’re not talking about a fad diet for weight loss, but a balanced diet that uses all of the food groups in the right proportions.
Don’t forget that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. Skipping breakfast or lunch deprives your body of the energy it needs mid to late afternoon when many people experience fatigue. Eating a healthy snack, think an avocado on toast with a glass of water, every two to three hours keeps your blood sugar in check. While you may still experience fatigue, you’re creating optimum conditions for your energy levels to remain stable.
The Right Kind of Exercise
If you’re struggling with fatigue, exercise might seem like the last thing you would want to do. However, the right kind of exercises can give your body an energy boost and help clear your mind. A few exercises you might want to consider:
- Stretching: Stretching keeps your body flexible and increases blood flow to the muscles. It can also be used in conjunction with some of our other exercise suggestions to build a routine that prevents injury so you can keep up a healthy lifestyle.
- Yoga: Yoga has been linked to a reduction in stress levels and an increase in energy. Most movements are low impact and can be adjusted to all fitness levels. Poses like child’s pose, cobra, and downward-facing dog are all part of yoga routines that relieve tension and stress, two common factors in depression.
- Tai Chi: This martial arts practice does more than teach defensive skills. It uses a combination of slow, meditative movements that require focus of both the mind and body. The deep breathing and muscle relaxation it promotes helps many people battle the symptoms of depression.
Develop Good Sleep Habits
Healthy sleep habits create ideal conditions for your mind and body to successfully shut down at the end of the day. A comfortable mattress and bedding in a cool, quiet bedroom are the best place to start.
Sleep habits you’ll want to begin today include:
- Waking and going to sleep at the same time every day
- Limiting naps to 20 minutes or less
- Avoiding foods that may keep you awake like caffeinated beverages or those that cause heartburn
- Exercising early in the day so your body has at least four hours to recover
Make Time for Meditation
Meditation can bring focus and clarity to your mind which can be hard to find when battling fatigue and depression. Consider adding a few deep breathing exercises to your morning or bedtime routine.
The use of practices such as guided imagery, which uses a peaceful scene to bring the mind to a calmed state, can reduce the muscle tension brought on by fatigue. Other techniques like mindfulness meditation give you an active role in learning to not only relax the body but develop ways to change thinking patterns for a more positive outlook on life.
Have some other techniques you’ve found helpful? Share them in the comments below!
Stacey L. Nash is a sleep expert working with Tuck.com to bring the latest and most accurate information about sleep to the general public. She lives in the middle of 40 heavily-wooded acres where she and her family have adventures while avoiding the local bear and cougar.