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Burnt-out Women & Bucket Holes - Exploring fatigue in women

November 10, 2018 • Healthy Living, Naturopathic Medicine

You know the feeling…wake up exhausted and fall into bed exhausted. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms that bring women into my office. Many factors contribute to fatigue and often multiple factors are occurring simultaneously. My existing patients are very familiar with my use of a wooden bucket analogy in figuring out the root cause of fatigue.

Burn Out Woman Cropped

Imagine your energy as a wooden bucket. When your bucket is full of water your energy is good. Things that keep your bucket full are adequate sleep, healthy nutrition, stress management and exercise. Your bucket may be low on water (i.e. you feel exhausted!) because you are not replenishing it well or there are holes in your bucket. There could be a hole in your bucket that is iron deficiency; one that is poor sleep; your thyroid function is low, or you are overwhelmed and stressed at work. You head to your family doctor and discover you have low iron, and you begin taking an iron supplement. Over time your ferritin and hemoglobin come up indicating the supplement is doing its job, and yet you still feel tired. Why? Most commonly, it is because you still have other factors coming into play, or other holes in your bucket. My job is to help you identify ALL the holes so that we can correct them simultaneously to get you feeling better, faster. We will also explore how well you are replenishing your bucket

Most common holes in the energy bucket, or causes of fatigue, in women:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Other nutritional deficiencies – B vitamins, vitamin D etc.
  • Poor or insufficient sleep
  • Chronic stress
  • Food sensitivities
  • Low thyroid function
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Adrenal dysfunction
  • Sex hormone imbalances
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Motherhood *see note below
Bucket Leaking

Ways to fill your energy bucket, or replenishing tools:

  • Restore healthy sleep
  • Dietary counselling to assess nutritional status; correct deficiencies; address food sensitivities
  • Stress management toolkit
  • Exercise appropriate to you as an individual
  • Herbal medicine to correct imbalances in thyroid, adrenal and sex hormone function
  • Appropriate support in depression and anxiety
Bucket Full

Motherhood sets the stage for a perfect storm resulting in many bucket holes. Nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances are common in the post partum time and the many years that follow. When you layer onto this sleep deprivation, no time for self-care and the lofty expectations placed on women in our generation to be supermom, superCEO and a Pinterest star all rolled into one super-skinny Zen-like package you have a recipe for stress and overwhelm.

Most of my practice is burnt-out women. Sometimes they come in for hormonal imbalances or weight gain or digestive concerns, but in almost all of them, fatigue is a top issue. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Let me help.