Karina Antram spent ‘a decade being absolutely exhausted’ and has dedicated herself to battling the ‘pandemic of tiredness’ she says is plaguing our society.
With a mantra of ‘what I do today impacts how I think and feel tomorrow’, Karina is an advocate of taking micro-actions every single day to give herself energy.
The difference to her quality of life has been huge, she says, and she’s revealing her secrets in a her book, Fix Your Fatigue.
In 2014, soon-to-be mother of two Karina was working for a management consultancy firm as a senior HR leader when she began to experience some sleepless nights.
‘All it was was a bit of erratic sleep, which is quite normal, but very quickly it got considerably worse,’ Karina tells Metro.co.uk
‘I started to go to the gym and I couldn’t lift any weight. My body felt like jelly. I began not to be able to speak properly, my words would take a long time to come out and I wasn’t making much sense.
‘The real big moment was when I was having quite severe panic attacks in the bathroom.
‘It got to a point where I spoke to my boss one day and [told her] I had all sorts of symptoms – dizziness, nausea, pins and needles – she just turned to me and said: “I think you should go downstairs and see the occupational psychologist.”‘
The symptoms Karina had been experiencing were all due to burnout, an extreme form of physical and mental exhaustion.
She ended up resigning and moving to another company but the same thing happened again.
‘It was this perpetual continuation of burnout and I was in a vicious cycle at the time,’ Karina says.
She took the decision to retrain as a nutritionist because she was so fed up of going to the doctors and never hearing any solutions that worked. That decision completely changed her life for the better.
Karina says: ‘I realised that everything I thought I was doing right and everything I thought was healthy, wasn’t.
‘Now I feel so incredibly energised. I think people think it’s trivial and I think people think tiredness is normal, and what people don’t realise is that being tired all the time isn’t normal at all.
‘My friends and family just said “everyone’s tired, it’s normal to be tired” and it’s so frustrating because I think their level of tiredness was completely different to how I was feeling and there was a myriad of much more serious symptoms.
‘Panic attacks most days isn’t normal, it’s your body trying to tell you something.
‘We are so conditioned to over-achieve and it’s becoming almost like a badge of honour to over-work and almost celebrate tiredness and I think that’s really wrong.
‘I believe the secret to happiness is having energy.’
Studies suggest that a whopping 88% of people in the workplace are burnt out and we know that many of us get less than six hours of sleep per night.
So how can you stop feeling so tired? Karina shared seven of her top tips with us – just make sure you see your GP if the problems persist, in case there’s any underlying health issues you need to address.
Tip one: Diet
This step is all about ‘big’ nutrition, how you can eat the right foods to nourish your brain, immune system and gut.
Clean up your diet and focus on nutrient density, says Karina. It’s all about adding things in, not taking anything away.
She’s a big fan of adding ground nut and seed mixes to add to porridge, smoothies or salads for an extra boost.
Tip two: Gut health
Gut health is incredibly important for mental health, says Karina.
‘Optimise your gut microbiome by eating 30 plants a week.
‘Have as many fermented foods as you can tolerate, chew more mindfully so your food is broken down sufficiently and apply stress reduction techniques such as diagrammatic breathing to reduce the likelihood of having a stressed out tummy to also soothe your vagus nerve.
‘Add 1 teaspoon of spices to your food a day since scientific research suggests this changes the composition of your gut microbiome.’
Tip three: Sleep and exercise
Sleep and exercise are two core layers of wellbeing that you need to look at.
Ask yourself, why are you not sleeping well? When did the sleep issue start? Was there something that triggered the poor sleep episode?
‘If you can understand why you aren’t sleeping you can then apply the right tools to combat it,’ says Karina.
‘Try and exercise as much as you can but doing the things that you love that aren’t always high impact.
‘Don’t underestimate the subtle, more gentle movements that you can interweave during your days.
‘Using the habit stacking method to make this feel as effortless as possible – the 20 squats while having a cup of tea, the walk instead of driving to see a friend, a quick 5 minute sun salutation as you wake up in the mornings.’
Tip four: Create a tiredness toolkit
What tools and resources do you need in your toolbox when the tiredness hits?
‘It could be nutrient dense snacks, a journal to write down thoughts, great uplifting music to improve your mood and energise you, a brilliant book to escape your mind,’ says Karina.
What goes in yours?
Tip five: Harness your brain power
There is zero point in applying all the other tools if you don’t have the control to manage your mind.
Karina says this is the most important step. ‘If you are able to manage your mind then everything else follows suit. Good thought management and decluttering your brain is key to maintaining your energy.’
Tip six: Set a B-HAG
Set a B-HAG -a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’.
‘This can be set at any age and any life stage. What big goal terrifies and excites you in equal measure? Set it and go for it.
‘It will motivate you and get you through the tired and more difficult times in your life.’
Tip seven: Drink bone broth
It may sound weird, but switch one of your daily coffees out for bone broth.
‘It’s brilliant for your gut, hair, skin and nails due to its high collagen content,’ says Karina.
Pop in some brown rice and vegetables and you have a great nutritious snack or even a small meal.
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