Why We Shouldn't Ignore What Our Bodies Are Trying to Tell Us

by - November 20, 2017

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If you are someone who has always struggled with a lack of energy during the winter - you are not alone. I've tried to deal with it, I've tried to ignore it - every Friday afternoon looking at the dark circles under my eyes in the bathroom mirror at work and telling myself that I'm fine with it. Thinking of another hour spent commuting and then diving into bed with a giant mug of hot tea and a great TV show, because reading would exhaust my already tired eyes. The truth is that I wasn't fine with it. Ignoring doesn't really work when it comes to problem affecting your everyday life (ignoring probably doesn't work at all, but that's another topic). I wasn't fine with not reading because it's something I love. I also wasn't fine with my body's need to stay at home another week instead of going out and making an attempt to have some fun outside of my bubble.

So at one point I decided to try again and do more research. Maybe there was a way and I just wasn't aware of it? There was plenty of good advice about proper diet, exercise, sleep... you know it. But I've already been following this routine and obviously it didn't work for me. What was there left to do? Perhaps I was just an exception? Well, thankfully, I wasn't. During the year I spent living in a very hot country with an abundance of sun and light, I recalled that I didn't feel the gloom of tiredness that much. I was aware of being tired at the end of a day, but I still had the will to do things, meet people, explore and enjoy my environment.

After some further investigation, I was surprised to discover that my symptoms match those of mild Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Reduced exposure to sunlight during winter leads to a melatonin rise, which is known to increase sleepiness and can also affect our mood due to low serotonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, while serotonin maintains mood balance (also known as the 'happiness hormone').

Being aware helped me better understand my lack of energy and low moods, offering new possibilities that I haven't tried before such as using a light box in the mornings to recreate that missing sunlight. In addition, I've started to use my weekends more effectively and aim to have a walk outside even when it's cold in order to get enough natural day light that I'm usually lacking stuck at work five days a week.

If you experience tiredness all year round and you don't know why, it is worth checking your health. Fatigue and low energy might not be posing a serious threat, but they could also be a symptom of something else going on in your body. If you develop supplemental/secondary indicators, make sure you pay close attention and consult a professional. Tiredness is manifested in a number of issues from chronic fatigue syndrome, anaemia, and untreated infection to problems with the thyroid gland's function. The undiagnosed prevalence rate of thyroid problems in the States is approximately 1 in 20 people (4.78%), while the spontaneous prevalence in the UK is approximately 2 in every 100 people.

What I learned is that there is no universal answer that checks everyone's box, but if you feel that something is not exactly right, you owe it to yourself to find an answer. It might not be always the solution you want, but it shouldn't be the reason that stops you from trying. Eventually you'll find out what's wrong and a healthy way to deal with it. And while living a hectic lifestyle that brings us high levels of stress can drain our energy, don't use it as an excuse to ignore what your body is trying to tell you.

Wellness is the place where you can join us on our journey to test some of those lifestyle tools and techniques the world has given us in its attempt to help us 'relax'. Working out, breathing, foods to avoid or cling to, journaling, and so on. We will share with you what worked, what didn't, and what surprised us most. And of course, encourage you to try your own!

Previously on Wellness - Your Guide to a Stronger and Happier You

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