Fatigue Symptoms: Causes of Fatigue & Cures


You know the common fatigue symptoms: three hits of the snooze button, a must have second cup of coffee, and an unplanned nap on the train ride home.

So what are the causes of fatigue and what can you do about them?

With almost every woman you know complaining of exhaustion, it's easy to write off sluggishness as an inevitable part of life. "Feeling tired constantly isn't normal-and it can take a huge toll on your well-being," says Woodson Merrell, M.D., the chairman of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City. "It can kick up food cravings [contributing to weight gain], hinder your productivity, and even weaken your immune system."

The obvious solution is to log more shut-eye each night, but sleep may be only part of a larger problem. Research reveals that causes of fatigue may involve the food we eat, people we interact with, and decisions we make; each of those can also influence our energy levels. We asked the experts how to tackle some of those hidden drains so you can have all-day stamina.

Causes of Fatigue # 1. You're Faced With Too Many Options

From which coffee you order in the morning to the TV show you watch at night, you're faced with hundreds of choices every day. Weighing your options takes work, say researchers, which can lead to fatigue symptoms. According to a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who made a series of shopping decisions at a mall reported being more tired-and were less able to think clearly-than those who only browsed. What's more, "feeling overwhelmed can also lower your confidence levels and make you feel stuck," says Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Yale University. So if you've spent your day negotiating, put off making any major life choices.

How to Fight These Fatigue Symptoms

To get through the day without becoming bleary eyed, avoid weighing every possibility, says Judith Orloff, M.D., the author of Emotional Freedom. For less important decisions, like what healthy entrée to order at a restaurant, zero in on two top contenders-the first dish that catches your eye, along with a standby-then consider the benefits of each.

For weightier issues, such as buying a home or selecting a graduate school, make a list of the pros and cons of each option, then sleep on it to allow your intuition to kick in. "Give yourself some time to process your decision," says Orloff. "Your gut instinct, which draws up unconscious memories, can help guide you."

Continue reading to find out about Internet fatigue symptoms and what you can do to fight them.

[header = Fatigue symptoms: fight off Internet fatigue and feel like yourself again.]

One of the common causes of fatigue nowadays is Internet fatigue. Get the facts on these fatigue symptoms and discover how to boost your energy.

Causes of Fatigue # 2. Internet Fatigue: When You're Wired 24/7

Staying perpetually connected may help you get ahead on the job, but you just may hit a wall on the home front. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that women who frequently take business calls and e-mails at home-whether on the weekends or after work-are more likely to report feeling tired and distracted all day than those who don't. "Being accessible at all times puts you on edge constantly, which causes your body to release a steady supply of stress hormones," says Larry Kubiak, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Tallahassee, Florida. Long-term stress can slow your metabolism and compromise your immune system.

How to Fight Internet Fatigue Symptoms

If you can't unplug after work, set aside a block of tech-free time. If eating dinner with your family is important, for instance, log off-but make it clear to your co-workers (and yourself) that you'll check messages after 9 p.m., when the kids are in bed. "If you establish a routine, you can relax without feeling worried about missing out on something," says Diane Halpern, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College. Also commit to not checking your BlackBerry, iPhone, or work e-mail one day (or even for a few hours) each weekend.

Another way to combat Internet fatigue symptoms is to cut down on the time you spend online is to get your in-box under control. One British survey found that people waste up to an hour a day searching through e-mails and switching between tasks because they don't organize their incoming messages. Start deleting notes you don't need, responding immediately to messages you can answer in two minutes or less, and flagging e-mails you plan on addressing later.

Did you know that a lack of magnesium is another of the common causes of fatigue? Is that your problem?

[header = Causes of fatigue include magnesium deficiency, remedied by dietary changes.]

One of the less well known causes of fatigue is a magnesium deficiency in your diet – and food with enough magnesium is the cure.

Causes of Fatigue # 3. You're Not Getting Enough Magnesium

"Your body needs this mineral to help convert food into energy," says Tara Gidus, R.D., an Orlando, Florida spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. In fact, one study from the Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, found that women who were deficient in magnesium used more oxygen during physical tasks than those with adequate levels. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is common; 65 percent of women fall short on the recommended daily allowance for magnesium: 320 milligrams.

How to Fight These Fatigue Symptoms

Meet your quota with foods high in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds (151 milligrams per ounce), white beans (130 milligrams per cup), brazil nuts (107 milligrams per ounce), bran cereal (64 milligrams for three-quarters of a cup), and halibut (91 milligrams for 3 ounces). Spinach is also a top source of the mineral (160 milligrams per cup, cooked), so slip this leafy green in your omelets, salads, and sandwiches.

Enjoy helping others too much? Find out how to fight off compassion fatigue symptoms next.

[header = Compassion fatigue symptoms and cures & getting out of a slump: info you need.]

Always being there for others can take a toll on your health with compassion fatigue. Check out cures for fatigue symptoms & feel like yourself again.

Causes of Fatigue # 4. Compassion Fatigue: You Listen to Everyone's Gripes

Your drama queen friends can do more than run up your phone bill. "They can suck you into a cloud of negative thinking, which triggers your body to pump out extra stress hormones," says Orloff. While you should offer empathy, trying to fix your pals' problems will only create new ones for you, such as compassion fatigue.

How to Fight Compassion Fatigue Symptoms

Being supportive doesn't mean passively listening. "Shake a needy friend out of victim mode by saying, 'I'm sorry to hear about this. What do you think you can do to fix it?' " says Albert Bernstein, Ph.D., the author of Emotional Vampires. If nothing else works, Orloff suggests this kind but firm intervention: "I have only five minutes to spare because I need to finish this project, but how can I help?" Having a time constraint will force your friend to edit her thoughts or find someone else's ear to bend.

Causes of Fatigue # 5. You're in a Slump

"When you hunch over, your chest collapses and your lungs compress, reducing the amount of air you take in," says Patrice Winter, a physical therapist in Fairfax, Virginia. "As a result, less oxygen gets to the brain, leaving you fuzzy headed." Slouching can also strain the muscles in the upper back and neck, sapping your stamina. "For every inch you lean forward, it takes about twice as much physical effort to hold up your head," explains Winter.

How to Fight These Fatigue Symptoms

"Check your posture every few hours throughout the day," says Janice Novak, the author of Posture, Get It Straight! Make sure your shoulders, ears, and hips are aligned. "Over time, this posture will become more comfortable and natural for you," she says. Having strong core muscles can also support your spine, so incorporate strengthening moves, such as slow crunches, planks, and push-ups, into your workout.

Read on to learn more about cures for fatigue symptoms associated with office clutter.

[header = Clutter is one of the causes of fatigue and clutter control is the solution.]

One of the primary causes of fatigue is the common . . . clutter, with clutter control and organization the cure.

Causes of Fatigue # 6. Your Office is a Mess

A dearth of desk space isn't the only collateral damage from those teetering piles of papers. In one survey, 90 percent of employees said having a cluttered office drags them down. There's an explanation: A Princeton University study found that clutter suppresses the brain's reaction time, making it more difficult to mentally focus, leading to fatigue symptoms. "When you're surrounded by lots of visual cues, it takes more cognitive effort for your brain to filter through all the information and hone in on one thing," says study author Sabine Kastner, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology.

How to Fight These Fatigue Symptoms

To conquer office clutter, you need clutter control! Toss or file anything you haven't used in the past month. When it comes to purging the endless piles, start small. "Find an area that's driving you crazy and focus on clearing out that spot," says Kit Anderson, a professional organizer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "When you're done, place something pretty there, such as a small candle or plant, so you have a constant visual reminder to keep that space clear." Then create a few boxes to manage your paper flow, such as mail to review, invoices to file, and projects to work on.

Becoming familiar with the common causes of fatigue can make it easier when fighting fatigue symptoms so you can feel reenergized and refocused.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles