Stressed, tired? What you need to know to cope with a busy lifestyle. Part 1: The basics

Stressed, tired? What you need to know to cope with a busy lifestyle. Part 1: The basics

Feeling stressed or tired is a normal thing, but there are certain times of the year when things feel a little tougher than usual. Whether it’s the stress of the kids going back to school in September, or the tightening of budgets in January following a busy Christmas, the feeling of being rundown and overworked can be common.  If this is something that you’ve felt for a while, though, it might be a sign that your lifestyle isn’t aligned with what your body needs.

A healthy lifestyle isn’t necessarily rocket science, but it doesn’t come available in a magic pill either. Balance is essential to our health and vitality first and foremost, so make sure that you are getting enough of the following things first:

Sleeping! We weren’t built to last on a few hours here or there – at least 7 or 8 hours a night is necessary for most people to function at their best and stay alert throughout the day. Aside from quantity, good sleep hygeine practices are also important. That means avoiding screens ideally an hour before bed as the blue light can suppress melatonin production that helps us get to sleep as well as setting a regular routine and sticking to it. Other tips to help get to sleep include reading a book to wind down before bed, and leaving a notepad and pen on your bedside locker – jotting down any thoughts that are keeping you up can be very theapeutic for some people.

Eat regular meals! Skipping breakfast can backtrack our metabolism for the day, which can lead to a dip in our blood sugar levels and then lead to fatigue, cravings and before we know it, we’re eating junk food which can spiral into further drowsiness. A healthy, balanced diet is essential to fuelling busy bodies with all of the energy requirements needed throughout the day as well as perform the essential growth and repair when we need it. A healthy balanced diet needs to account for the macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrate and fat which are the main components, as well as vitamins and minerals to keep our enzymes and metabolism at work. The latest food pyramid is an excellent resource to resort to if you are unsure.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also really important, as dehydration can lead to drowsiness and loss of alertness throughout the day. 8 glasses of water a day is the traditional rule of thumb, although this number is open to debate – sipping water throughout the day and when you are thirsty should be more than enough.

Limiting your intake of caffeine might seem counter productive, but it can be quite beneficial to your sleep patterns and energy levels in the long haul, especially if you are taking quite a bit to get through your day. The upper limit that is thought to be OK is four cups of coffee, but bear in mind that coffee shops generally serve a double shot as standard. Tea is lighter in caffeine and herbal teas often have very little caffeine, and serve as a good substitute.

Drinking alcohol within the recommended safe limits can also help to regulate sleep patterns, as while it can have drowsy effects, alcohol is known to disrupt the natural sleep cycle. Remember that a standard unit of alcohol is the equivalent of a small glass of wine, half pint of beer or single measure of spirits – 17 units a week are recommended for men, and 11 for women with at least two to three alcohol free days recommended in between.

Exercise! It might be the last thing that you want to do when feeling like a dose, but exercise is known to boost energy levels and can also lift your mood with an endorphin buzz. It is recommended that everyone gets at least 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week of a moderate activity to the equivalent of cycling or brisk walking. If you’re in the office, taking your eyes from the screen and walking to the toilet downstairs rather than beside you can even help to freshen you up when time commitments are low.

If you feel that you have covered all bases, check out our second part of this blog where we explore other causes of fatigue and whether supplementation could be right for you. As always, refer to your local Allcare pharmacy if you have any further queries or questions, who will be more than happy to help out.