Some days…I feel so OLD and tired!!! (well, I don’t feel 21 any more…)
I am trying to understand how much our health is a balance of nutrition, emotional stress, psychological/mental happiness, environmental factors, age and natural hormonal fluctuations, sleep, exercise, hydration and so on.
What do I mean?
Imagine a scenario where a person is eating a great diet, getting plenty of sleep, staying well hydrated, enjoying regular and varied exercise, in an emotionally ‘happy place’ and not working too hard – but living in a place with terrible environmental pollution, dirty air, ceaseless loud horrible noise, dirty water, and so on. That person will likely not be enjoying optimal great health.
Or imagine another scenario, where a person maybe eats well, rests, sleeps, is well hydrated, doesn’t have too much work stress, lives in a nice clean environment, but is in the middle of an ugly, acrimonious divorce.
Or imagine a third scenario, where maybe a person has all the good lifestyle factors lined up, but is being persecuted by a colleague at work on a hate campaign.
What’s the point here?
Well, good health is about a whole lot more than just making sure you eat broccoli and avoid too much TV. Good health is a holistic deal, holistic meaning ‘the whole’, meaning ‘everything’. What’s that old saying – any system is only as good as its weakest link. So if you have all the boxes ticked except one, that one will bring your whole ‘overall result’ (I.E. your health) down.
- If you are eating right and exercising well, but not getting enough sleep, you will not achieve optimal good health.
- If you are sleeping and eating well, but not taking any exercise and just sitting on the sofa all the time, you will not achieve optimal good health.
- If you are eating and sleeping well, exercising and stretching, but you are poorly hydrated and stressed at work, you will not achieve optimal good health.
- If you are exercising and eating well, hydrated and sleeping, but stressed out in work or relationships, you will not achieve optimal good health.
- If you are missing out in any one key area, if you have most things right, but you are stressed, run down, too tired or worried sick in one area of your life, this ‘weakest link’ will be bringing down your overall health.
Of course, by the same token, the strong areas can help get you through tough times in the other areas. So if you have work stress or relationship stress, a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle will help get you through those tough times better than a poor diet and bad lifestyle. I remember one year some time ago when I was having a terribly stressful time with work, money and family all at the same time, and I was working between 12 and 21 hours every day! regular 18 hour days are gruelling. My solution was to drink a bottle of wine every evening while I worked til 1, 2 or 3 am. It really didn’t help.
In hind sight, eating well, not drinking and getting more sleep probably would have resolved my work and money issues much faster, say in 6 months not 9…but often times, we find a temporary solution to our problems in the strangest of places - like in the bottom of a bottle, in the biscuit barrel, or in a packet of cigarettes. Comfort eating, stress boozing, smoking, recreational drugs - these are common short-term pain relievers, but not real long-term solutions to our problems and challenges in life. We all know this, right? Instead of drink, we also all know that our problems always look better after a good night’s sleep, right?
Feeling rather weary…
So at the moment, this last week or two, I feel rather OLD and TIRED! And my gut instinct is defensive, I say to myself ‘hang on a minute, I’m eating this most excellent diet, I’m exercising hard (since my recent ankle injury, the last 3 weeks has been a mix of weight training and cycling, as both offer minimal impact on the ankle area), I am sleeping well and I should feel absolutely tip-top, so how come I just wanna crawl under a rock and sleep for a month?!?!?!?’ Feeling this way is unlike me, I am usually ‘the most energetic person around’ but by my standards, I feel pretty tired.
Applying the holistic thinking, above, to how I feel right now, we see the bigger picture. I am working very hard, long hours, 14 hours per day in front of a screen most days, the last 2 or 3 weeks, I have often been at my desk from 7 am til 11 pm, so the long screen-hours will be dragging me down. I have a lot on my plate at work at the moment, not all negative things, just a lot on, so my mind is annoyingly active and I am not sleeping great – too much screen time late into the evening, my eyes and brain are still pretty ‘wired’ at bed time.
My life is sometimes just too busy. I’m not complaining, it’s my own fault, I like to have a full and interesting life, but I don’t rest enough, I hardly ever chill out and just relax. When you work from home, your home is your office, and it can be hard to shut off mentally. And finally, I train pretty hard, pushing myself through gruelling workouts several times per week, and this builds up over months, and I rarely give myself ‘an easy month’ to recover. I like to think I am younger than I am (laughing now…) and I don’t really give my body enough recovery time between hard sessions.
I guess it all makes sense now. I feel pretty old and tired this week, I have periods during the day when I feel buzzing, awake, alive, and then slumps where I just want to sleep and I feel shattered. Looking at the bigger picture, I see the whole ‘system’ and I see the weakest part bringing the rest down.
Holistic thinking. So many factors have a play in our overall health. Think about your own life, how balanced are you?
Food for thought.