After almost two years, most of us have been impacted by COVID-19 viral infections in one way or another. For many who have had COVID, living through it is something to be thankful for, but learning to live again after COVID presents its own challenges. COVID-19 survivors report long-lasting struggles with fatigue or loss of energy.
With a novel virus-like this coronavirus, we have been on a journey of discovery since we learned of its existence. We may continue to learn of its more long-term effects for years to come. We can start to address one effect that we know is present after COVID-19, loss of energy.
Anytime you’re recovering from an illness, You may experience feelings of being extra tired. Occasionally, you may experience fatigue. Sleep and rest do not seem to help when you feel fatigued. When you feel fatigued, you can feel tired all the time.
The COVID-19 infection is no exception to fatigue from illness. You may feel exhausted quite frequently, wake up tired, need to rest more often, or find that normal activities take a lot out of you. Tasks that were once simply part of your day, like dressing or bathing, may make you feel that you need a break afterward.
While you were sick, you may not have been very active. During this time, your muscles May have lost some of their strength. You’ll need to build your strength and restore your energy.
Here are some of the signs of fatigue and how to get your strength back after COVID-19.
Symptoms of Fatigue
Remember that fatigue is a feeling of tiredness that doesn’t go away with typically adequate amounts of sleep. It’s mostly associated with being overly tired to the point that it interferes with your daily life.
Some common causes of fatigue include:
- Physical activity to an excessive amount
- Extreme jet lag
- Insufficient sleep
- Poor diet
When you are sick with COVID-19, you may not have been very active, eating or eating healthy meals or getting proper rest. In addition, your body was working hard to fight the virus.
Common signs of exhaustion are:
- Difficulty concentrating, especially on more than one thing
- Autopilot - Going through the motions without thinking
- Irrational sleep patterns
- Constant yawning
- Easily frustrated
- Low mood
- Increased anxieties
- Cognitive impairment
If these sound familiar to you, there may be things that you can do to reduce the feelings of fatigue. Remember to seek guidance from your physician about returning to your normal activities.
Reduce Your Feelings of Exhaustion
Before you were sick, you could probably reduce your tiredness by getting enough sleep. However, since COVID-19, reducing the exhaustion you feel may be more challenging.
Here are some things that you can do to reduce your tiredness and improve your energy after COVID-19:
1. Establish a Sleep Routine
Even if you haven’t returned to life as normal, it’s important to establish a normal sleep routine. During sickness, it’s easy to get your sleep patterns out of balance. It's especially important to take part in relaxation when you're sick so that you can have a speedy recovery.
To give yourself a fighting chance at regaining your energy, try these tips to help you reestablish your sleep routine:
- Give yourself a dose of morning sun to wake up your brain for the day.
- Check your sleep space. Where you sleep should be cozy, cool, quiet, and dark.
- Consider a supplement to help you get to sleep and stay asleep naturally at the right time of night.
- Get some exercise, as tolerated, during the day to help you sleep better at night.
While it’s important to establish your sleep schedule, you shouldn’t rush your progress.
2. Power Nap As Needed
As you’re getting better and healthy again, it’s vital that you listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Rest when you need to rest. You don't have to wait until bedtime if you are struggling to stay awake throughout the day. A quick 20-minute nap can do wonders for improving your energy levels.
We all want to be back at our normal level as fast as possible, but there is no shame in resting to help your body heal.
Be sure not to take too many naps, as you'll still want to be able to get a good night's sleep when the day is over.
3. Hydrate Yourself
When we’re sick, our bodies are fighting all the time to make us well. Every function of our bodies relies on proper hydration to perform at peak efficiency. At times like when we’re sick, our bodies work so hard that they need more hydration. However, hydration often gets neglected when were sick, even though it's essential for our wellbeing.
If you still feel overly tired, you may also be dehydrated from your recent illness.
Aim to drink the recommended eight glasses of water each day. To space it out, you can always sip on water throughout the day. Also, incorporate hydrating foods like cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, and strawberries. Soups and broths can also be very hydrating.
You'll want to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugary juice as they can dehydrate you.
4. Choose Healthy Food
If you lost your senses of taste or smell like many others have when they were sick with COVID-19, you may have found it challenging to have an appetite and keep up with your nutrition. For many people, being sick is enough to kill their appetite, especially if they feel nauseated. Because of this, you may have experienced weight loss.
When you regain your appetite, it may be easier to overindulge or enjoy less healthy foods.
While you should enjoy your foods, it’s important to remember that food is your body’s energy source or fuel. Like a car that needs premium gasoline, it may run fine regularly, but it was made to run on premium. Your body is made to run on quality foods like fruits, vegetables, and for some, lean meats.
As part of the healing and recovery process, if you want to really ease into eating full meals again, try including nutritional supplements like protein powders in smoothies for some extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
If you are unsure what you should eat post-covid recovery, talk to a nutritionist or a dietitian about setting up a meal plan.
5. Take A Supplement
While you were sick, your immune system was hard at work to help you get well. Your immune system is still working hard like essential workers, but it’s certainly been taxed by the heavy load lately.
Unfortunately, a tired immune system is a weakened immune system. Since you’ve been sick, it can be easier to get sick again with another illness.
You can give your immune system a little support with a daily supplement. Superhuman Supplements are a daily pack of proven ingredients that are formulated to provide you with a boost of energy, support your immune system, improve your focus, and help support your overall mental health.
Supplements are meant to complement your healthy habits. When your energy is waning, a daily supplement can help provide you with a natural energy boost.
If you are concerned about your energy levels, there is no substitute for medical advice from a trusted physician, so talk with your doctor about what else you can do.
6. Start Moving Again
When you’ve been focused on recovery, rest is a high priority. You can’t afford to expend a lot of energy when you need that energy to fight the virus, breath, or just change location from the bed to the couch.
When you’re ready to start moving again, you may have to start slow. Many people have found that they are exhausted after ordinary tasks when they’ve had COVID-19. About half report that this fatigue is a lingering problem.
If you are living in the land of life after Covid, start increasing your activity levels slowly, as tolerated and under the guidance of your healthcare provider. Small gains are still gains.
If yesterday you could only fold laundry for twenty minutes before you needed a break, and today you made it 22 minutes before you needed to rest, that’s a win.
During the day, if you aren't feeling up to running quite yet, you could try yoga or meditation.
As you incorporate more activity, you may start to notice that your energy levels are increasing. Take it day by day, and listen to your body.
Practice Energy Conservation
You may find that your energy levels will differ each day. In addition, as your lifestyle changes, your energy levels may shift too. Sometimes that may change throughout the day or between activities.
Remember to take your time, and set small goals to help you increase your energy levels at a pace that won’t set you back later.
Here are some tips for conserving your energy and using it wisely.
- Do what you feel comfortable doing.
- Learn to stop when you don’t feel comfortable.
- Allow your body time to digest before starting other activities.
- Do small tasks. Then, rest between.
- Add more activities in small increments.
- Avoid overdoing.
- Approach larger tasks in manageable segments with frequent breaks.
- Place frequently used items close at hand.
Remember that you have encountered a serious virus, and be patient with your body and yourself. If you find yourself feeling frustrated, consider journaling or meditating to soothe yourself.
Surviving COVID-19 is undoubtedly something to be thankful for, but it can be frustrating to realize that your energy levels just aren’t what they used to be. Be patient with the process of increasing your energy without overtaxing your body.
You can start building your energy with common sense healthy practices like establishing a sleep schedule again, eating a healthy diet, exercising as tolerated, staying hydrated, and taking a daily supplement to help give your immune system some support.
Meet our Experts
This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.
Former Olympic Athlete, Founder, B2ten Foundation (coach to multiple Olympic Champions)