Always Tired? Here are 5 Clinical Psychologist-Approved Ways to Fight Fatigue During the Day

Jessica Yu, Ph.D.

Written by Jessica Yu, Ph.D.

Published 04/09/2024

The question I always ask patients when meeting them for the first time is: What brings you to therapy? And the response I often get isn’t anxiety, depression, or stress, as one might expect, but rather—I’ve been feeling really tired lately. 

My anecdotal experience is backed up by clinical and research studies showing the link between fatigue, mental health symptoms and mental health treatment seeking. According to a 2018 study, over 90% of individuals with major depressive disorder experience fatigue. And it makes sense why. Symptoms of depression include difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, and low motivation, which could result in low energy due to lack of restful sleep, inadequate nutrition, and/or lack of regular exercise.

Fatigue also exists on its own. A recent study on the global prevalence of fatigue found that fatigue is one of the top five reasons individuals see their primary care physician. And a survey conducted by the Hims & Hers Customer Insights and UX Research team found that feeling tired or having little energy is the top reason people seek mental health treatment.


Need some clinical psychologist-approved tips to help you combat the energy pull? Here’s what I recommend.

1. Prioritize sleep. This may seem obvious, but it really is the case that sleep deprivation can take a toll on your mental health. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night. You can learn more about sleep and healthy sleep habits here.

(Related: How to Fall Asleep With Anxiety)

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2. Stay hydrated. Studies show that mild dehydration can increase feelings of fatigue and significantly affect mood, memory and brain performance. We all know we have approximately 1,000,000 water bottles lurking around our house. Let’s put them to good use!

3. Go for a walk.
A lot of us work from home and have likely formed a habit of sitting most of the day. This can paradoxically lead to feelings of physical exhaustion as well as mental fatigue because we are so intensely focused on work while we’re sitting. So, do yourself a favor and get up and out of the house to go for a walk, if even for just a few minutes. Another great option if you’re at your desk all day? Consider investing in a walking pad that slips under your desk, allowing you to get your steps in during the work day. 

4. Meditate.
There are myriad benefits to mindfulness and meditation, with research showing that mindfulness and meditation can help alleviate the adverse effects of mental fatigue. Take just 5 minutes to focus on yourself, take some deep breaths, and anchor yourself in the present moment.

(Related: How to Meditate for Beginners)

5. Limit screen time.
Screens are ubiquitous. We reach for our smartphones first thing in the morning, we work at our computers all day long and we scroll late into the night. Research shows that all that screen time can have a detrimental effect on our physical health, psychological health and sleep patterns. Limit your screen time by giving yourself an hour each morning to get yourself together before being whisked into the day, taking much-needed breaks during the work day and finding non-technology based ways to relax at night.

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It’s important to note that we all experience low energy or fatigue from time to time. This can happen when we’re sick, experiencing stress or in a season of life where fatigue seems to be par for the course (I’m looking at you, parents). The above tips can help you restore some of your energy. 

That being said, if you’ve been experiencing fatigue for a while, it’s always a good idea to talk to your primary care or medical provider to rule out any physical causes, or to work with a mental health provider if you’re experiencing anxiety, stress or other mental health symptoms. Here’s to helping you feel like your best self!

6 Sources

  1. Ghanean, H., Ceniti, A. K., & Kennedy, S. H. (2018). Fatigue in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: Prevalence, Burden and Pharmacological Approaches to Management. CNS drugs, 32(1), 65–74.
  2. Yoon, J. H., Park, N. H., Kang, Y. E., Ahn, Y. C., Lee, E. J., & Son, C. G. (2023). The demographic features of fatigue in the general population worldwide: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in public health, 11, 1192121.
  3. Suni, E., & Singh, A. (2024, January). How much sleep do you need? Sleep Foundation.
  4. Ganio, M. S., Armstrong, L. E., Casa, D. J., McDermott, B. P., Lee, E. C., Yamamoto, L. M., Marzano, S., Lopez, R. M., Jimenez, L., Le Bellego, L., Chevillotte, E., & Lieberman, H. R. (2011). Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. The British journal of nutrition, 106(10), 1535–1543.
  5. Fan, J., Li, W., Lin, M., Li, X., & Deng, X. (2023). Effects of mindfulness and fatigue on emotional processing: an event-related potentials study. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 17, 1175067.
  6. Nakshine, V. S., Thute, P., Khatib, M. N., & Sarkar, B. (2022). Increased Screen Time as a Cause of Declining Physical, Psychological Health, and Sleep Patterns: A Literary Review. Cureus, 14(10), e30051.
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