The recovery from drugs or alcohol is hard. Within the first couple of days, people will experience a range of thoughts and feelings. This shift can make it hard to participate in daily activities – especially if you are attending treatment. A vast majority of people entering recovery feel lethargic throughout their day. Without enough energy, it can be had to not only carry on through the day but staying engaged and focused as well.
Before we get into how to help with fatigue, we must first learn where the fatigue is coming from. It can be the effect of years of drug abuse, maybe just the withdrawal from the drugs themselves, or even from the medication during treatment. If you are feeling overly lethargic it is important to talk to your doctor as they will be able to run tests to see if you have any health related problems that can contribute to the fatigue such as sleep apnea, thyroid disease, anemia, or diabetes.
We all have those days that no matter how much coffee we drink we still can’t shake off the morning languor. Whether or not you are in recovery. fatigue happens. Luckily there are preventative steps we can take to keep from feeling tired and actions to overcome the feeling when we feel dull.
1. Drink Water
This is number one because it is probably the most common cause of fatigue. Most of us fail to intake our daily water requirement as we only drink water when we are thirsty. When we are thirsty it is actually too late as this is the first stage of dehydration. Keep a reusable water bottle on you to remind you to drink water and as a way to keep track of how much you are drinking each day.
“How do I know if I’m drinking enough water?” A good sign is the color of your urine. It should be a very light yellow if not clear. The darker the urine the more dehydrated you are.
2. Go to Sleep Early
This should say “get plenty of sleep” but the problem usually lies in not going to sleep early enough. This takes a lot of self-control and willpower. When we are working all day, sometimes the nights aren’t long enough to relax so we try to stretch it out as long as possible. Since we can’t push our mornings into the afternoon, staying up late only hurts us in the long-run. The benefits of sleeping go beyond feeling energized so try to make it a priority instead of another episode of Game of Thrones.
We all remember the recommended 8-hours of sleep but it should be pointed out that this is only a benchmark. Some people might be able to get away with 6 hours while others might need 9-10 hours. Experiment for yourself. With a proper diet, you should be able to stay energized throughout your day and into the night. This leads to the next tip.
3. Eat Properly
Sometimes we are so consumed on what food should taste like and forget how it should make us feel. I mean come on, who doesn’t love some good ol’ chicken and waffles in the morning?! As delicious as these comfort foods are, they don’t make us feel that great afterward – food coma anyone? We know that what we eat directly affects how we look and feel; so when we eat a chicken caesar salad for lunch, chances are you won’t be feeling sluggish during the mid-afternoon meeting. Maybe you even opt out of the coffee at the AA meeting! The point is, as much as it can sometimes be boring earting properly, your body and mind will thank you. Experiment with some dishes, who knows, maybe you will find something that you like and tastes good!
If I were to recommend one type of food it would be fish – especially salmon. Fish is high in healthy protein and Omega-3 oils which are important for a healthy heart and brain. Countless studies have shown Omega-3 oils (both in fish and supplemental) to have an impact on one’s mental clarity and vigor.
4. Be Aware of your Inner Clock
Have you heard of the circadian rhythm? It is the cycle in our body that helps regulate physical, mental, and behavioral changes throughout the day. It can depend on a variety of factors including genetics, sleep pattern, and diet. What this means is that some people might have more energy during the mornings and others at night so try to keep time with your body clock and schedule your demanding activities when your activity levels are generally at their peak.
5. Get that Body Movin’
This one sort of sounds like a paradox; it’s kind of like saying sleep can help Insomnia but bear with me on this one. Moving and exercising has been studied and proven to boost energy levels. The same is true about not exercising: i.e. binging Netflix all day. Much like going to bed on time, finding the motivation to move can be a challenge of willpower but any little bit can start a snowball effect. Stand up, take your dog for a long walk, dribble a basketball around the court – any bit of activity can jumpstart your body. Just Do It!
6. Feel the Stretch!!!
Sometimes it can be hard to go for a run or even lift weights. That’s where yoga comes into play. Yoga might not seem very physically demanding but you’ll be surprised. Yoga is a great workout of your core, legs, and back. It also helps keep you limber and is especially effective for boosting energy. After six weeks of once-a-week yoga classes, volunteers in a British study reported improvements in confidence, energy, and clear-mindedness. You don’t have to spend $20 a session at a studio; all you need is internet access to YouTube. Grab a towel and strike your best warrior pose.
The jury is still out on supplements so take them with a grain of salt (maybe even literally).
- B12 – This is the most common vitamin for boosting energy levels. Be sure to take it with food as it functions by turning your food into energy.
- Fish Oils (Omega-3’s) – As stated previously, these oils can have been shown to boost heart health, cognition, and overall vitality.
- Iron – If you already have sufficient iron levels this may not be necessary. Iron helps make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to the organs and tissues throughout your body.
- Ashwagandha – This herb has a long history in eastern medicine (specifically Indian). There are some studies that show its effectiveness for increasing energy levels and lowering stress hormones.
- Rhodiola Rosea – Very much like Ashwagandha, this is an herb thought to relieve stress symptoms as well and physical and mental fatigue. Studies vary on effectiveness compared to a placebo.
- Himalayan Salt – Himalayan salt has been said to add energy levels when taken in the morning. Normally you should limit your sodium intake, but a teaspoon of Himalayan salt in water can resotor electrolytes to your body. Himalayan salt, compared to standard table salt, has 84 trace minerals, plus a unique ionic energy that is released when the salt is mixed with water.
Before you do anything, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor first. This way he/she can run tests to ensure there aren’t any health problems or vitamin deficiencies that can contribute to your fatigue. They may be able to offer additional advice for boosting your energy levels. If you have an addiction counselor or therapist, bring your weariness to their attention as well.
We know the recovery process can be a difficult road, we hope this article makes the process a little easier. At Coalition Recovery treatment center, we enforce each of these measures while in treatment to help teach the proper techniques to stay motivated and energized while in treatment and/or recovery. Thank you for reading and stay strong my friends!