Battling Fatigue

I’m the last person who should be talking to you about fighting fatigue! I regularly go to sleep after midnight, chug iced coffee daily, and consume a not-so-balanced diet. Between classes, clinics, preceptorships, jobs, schoolwork, extracurriculars, and NMSA International responsibilities, I’m constantly running on caffeine and the fear of unemployment. The joys of graduating in 6 months!

So, rather than pretending I’m an authoritative fatigue-fighting influencer, here are a few neat things I did not come up with on my own, and do not currently follow, that I want to try this month:

1. Sleep earlier/better, eat healthier, drink water, and get some movement in. Duh. We all know this.

2. Coffee can wait: I’m not going to give it up altogether, and why would I? Coffee has antioxidants, it’s neuroprotective, and consumption has been correlated with decreased incidence of certain chronic diseases. Cortisol levels peak in the morning and decline over the day. Caffeine further increases cortisol and epinephrine production, which is what causes jitteriness or feelings of anxiety. To maximize the energy-boosting benefit of coffee without overwhelming your adrenals, it’s best to start sipping 3-4 hours after waking.

3. Intentionally schedule time off: Early in my ND journey, an instructor told my classmates and me as a student, he reserved one day per week, every week, to set aside his books and assignments, turn notifications off, and allow himself to live his life. He’d go hiking, dancing, to trivia night, or stay home and do absolutely nothing. Maybe I don’t have a full day to escape my commitments, but I can commit half of Sunday to forest bathing or meal prep or meditating, you know, stuff that good NDs do.

4. “Eyes up” by Dr. Andrew Huberman (obsessed with him): According to science, directing our gaze downwards, as we do all day on our phones and computers, is counterproductive to wakefulness. On the other hand, gazing up towards the ceiling or positioning our computers at or above eye level triggers the locus coeruleus to release norepinephrine, which encourages alertness. If you catch me staring upward, I’m probably not daydreaming. I’m tricking my brain into revving back up!

5. Wim Hof breathing: I Googled this and am late to the party, but it sounds fun! It helps you “release your inner fire” and helps build resilience to stress while improving focus and mental clarity. His guided breathing video on YouTube is also pretty to look at.

We all know the root cause of our fatigue is school, but until we graduate, we must find ways to prevent it from overwhelming us. I will put this 500-word ramble to the test in the coming months.

Reid Kiyabu
NMSA International CFO

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