Most of us have, at one time or another, been told by some well-meaning friend or colleague that we don’t look sick. And while it’s nice to know that we can still pass for healthy, simply looking well doesn’t change the fact that autoimmune disease is real and the consequences of an illness like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be huge. After all, you can’t see fatigue and just because someone has literally dragged their butt out of bed on any given day doesn’t make them well.
Not everyone coping with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis will have to deal with extreme exhaustion but many autoimmune patients do, and it’s very important to simply acknowledge that because being tired all the time can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression. It’s also good to remind yourself that while bone-deep fatigue can be caused by sleep disturbances or insomnia, sometimes the exhaustion that can go hand in hand with Hashimoto’s is a direct result hypothyroidism and therefor not something that you can beat with a couple of naps.
But while getting a few more hours of sleep won’t cure chronic fatigue, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing at all you can do about feelings of exhaustion. Here are seven simple lifestyle changes you can make today to feel more energized from morning until evening.
Keep blood sugar balanced: Eat small, protein packed meals throughout the day and never skip breakfast! Reduce or eliminate refined carbs, because eating them can lead to the kinds of mid-day crashes that will leave you feeling even more tired. Remember that smart snacking can boost your metabolism, too.
Take your vitamins: Nutritional supplementation can help fill gaps but it pays to consult with your practitioner about which vitamins, minerals, and herbs you should be taking and in what amounts. Everyone’s Hashimoto’s journey will be different, which means there are no one size fits all supplementation solutions.
Get a little sun: Practicing safe sun exposure is something everyone should be doing for the vitamin D, but there’s another good reason you should get some sun. When you’re in natural sunlight (and shed the sunglasses), your endocrine system gets a boost.
Embrace cleaner living: Hormone disrupters (i.e., xenoestrogens) found in everything from plastic water bottles to makeup and other personal care products can cause fatigue by throwing your system into imbalance. Try using natural products and avoiding plastic as much as possible.
Prioritize your time: One of the silver linings of Hashimoto’s disease is that it forces us to redefine what’s important in our lives. Your energy is a precious resource that you shouldn’t squander on things that don’t matter. Learn to say no and to reschedule engagements without guilt.
Give up caffeine: It may sound counterproductive to cut out coffee and tea when you’re exhausted beyond belief but caffeine can stress your adrenal glands, leading to a cycle of energy spikes and crashes that can leave you feeling entirely drained of energy.
Keep stress at bay: There are lots of ways to cope with stress, so do some exploring to figure out which ones actually work for you. Stress not only makes healing harder, but also is a waste of limited mental and physical energy. Yoga and qigong are great stress relievers that have the added benefits of anabolic exercise.
Unfortunately, if fatigue is a part of your Hashimoto’s journey it’s unlikely that any of the above tips will be a cure-all. More likely, one or all of them will offer some degree of relief – but that may be just what you need to begin devoting a little more time and a little more energy toward looking for and then addressing the root cause of your autoimmunity.