Living in today’s world can be exhausting. It feels like all of us are always on-the-go, and constantly connected with technology. There’s no avoiding work calls and emails or checking the constant notifications on our phones.
With a fast-paced lifestyle, busy gym routine, and an overflowing calendar, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed and fatigued. The way I’ve been describing it is that I feel like burnt toast. I’d wake up after a full night of sleep, with no alarm, and still feel completely exhausted. My solution? Drink more coffee. LOTS of coffee. But that only helps so much.
Something had to change, so I met with my primary care physician, Dr. Brennan Lawall
, and described to him the way I felt.
One of the first things he asked was about my diet. Was I eating a lot of processed carbs or refined sugars throughout the day? Even though I don’t, that’s a big culprit for a lot of people. You get those spikes and crashes during the day and you reach out for another candy bar or a different pick-me-up.
Then he asked if I used any substances like alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol isn’t a big issue for me, but it can really disrupt your sleep patterns and can lead to the same kind of fatigue I feel. Caffeine though, that’s a problem. I drink a LOT of coffee all day long to try to keep moving. Dr. Lawall said that can have the same sort of spike and crash effect and disrupt sleeping patterns. His advice was to cut down to one cup a day, which I’m going to try my hardest to do.
The next step was to dig into my busy schedule and stress management. I’ll admit, I’m terrible at this and I know that’s what is leading to a lot of my exhaustion. But I also know I’m not alone – this is a problem for a lot of us. Dr. Lawall suggested I practice saying “no” more to things that will just add stress into my life. Also, he suggested I take some time to meditate, practice mindfulness, do breathing exercises and have some “me” time, even if it’s just a little bit. Another thing he suggested which I want to try to implement is to take one “zero day” a week. This will be tough, but the goal is to take a day with no appointments or commitments, a day to spend doing things that relax me. All of these suggestions make so much sense. They seem obvious, but sometimes you just need someone else to point it out for you.
The last thing we did in our appointment was a blood test. Dr. Lawall thought it would be a good idea to check my blood count, thyroid, B12 and Vitamin D levels. Less than 24 hours later I had my results. I was all good except for my Vitamin D levels, those were low. And let me be honest with you, after I got my results I took a Vitamin D supplement and felt great a half hour later! I felt awake and alert, something I didn’t feel after the multiple cups of coffee I already had that day. And with the winter weather in Cincinnati, Vitamin D levels can be low for a lot of us this time of year.
What a great visit that made such a difference! I learned a lot! If you’re feeling the same way, I highly recommend looking into some solutions. Dr. Lawall says it’s time to see a doctor when your stress and fatigue start to impact your life or relationships. Take a look at your mood, stress levels and quality of sleep. A sleep tracker was also recommended to see just how much you’re tossing and turning at night.
Don’t be burnt toast! Take a deep breath and relax…we got this!
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