Monday, October 26th, 2009
Can dark nights affect routine?
Yesterday the clocks went back and of course the immediate sign was an extra hour in bed!
But of course with the change in time, comes the change of season and how many people will be heading home after work tonight and realising it’s a little darker than it was last week? Or come to that, how much brighter was it when you got up for work this morning?
But while some animals are supposed to hibernate for Autumn, the same is not supposed to be said of us, and slipping into habits of lazing and eating can become too easy. And the more we laze, the more tired we can become.
So what sort of things can we do to prevent ourselves getting too tired?
1. Assess yourself. Think of personal energy stores as a “bank.” Deposits and withdrawals have to be made to balance energy conservation, restoration and expenditure. Note when you are most fatigued and consider what may be contributing factors, so that you can try to control them.
2. Be aware of warning signs. Be alert to warning signs which may include tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, decreased energy or a lack of energy, inability to concentrate, weakness, boredom or lack of motivation, sleepiness, increased irritability, nervousness, anxiety or impatience. Take time to rest when you feel the onset of any of these symptoms.
3. Conserve energy. Minimise expended energy by improving your posture (both sitting and standing), and limit work which increases muscle tension (isometric work).
4. Pace yourself at work. Plan ahead and organise workloads, so things do not overwhelm you. Prioritise your activities; using your own energy for important tasks and delegating those less important. Pace yourself rather than rushing through activities and try to curtail sudden or prolonged strains.
5. Consider detrimental environmental effects. Steer clear of extremes of temperature, stay away from smoke or harmful fumes and avoid long and hot baths.
6. Rest. Schedule rest into your daily routine – balancing work and rest periods – and rest before you become fatigued (frequent short rests are beneficial).
7. Eat properly. Fatigue is often made worse by not eating enough or not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for many of the body’s processes, and a healthy diet ensures your body can function at its best. If you are underweight, gradually increase portion sizes and overall calorie intake. If overweight, try to get your weight under control. Cut down gradually on caffeine and alcohol, avoid crash diets, and optimise the digestive system to ensure all nutrients are extracted, by consuming a quality probiotic every day.
8. Exercise. Being unfit makes you susceptible to tiredness – and being tired often means you don’t exercise enough. To break out of this cycle, introduce physical activity into your routine, gradually increasing the duration and intensity. Ten minutes a day is fine to start with; the most important thing is to keep it regular. If you exhaust yourself for some reason, don’t give up. Just do a small amount of exercise again the next day, and keep going. Exercise that involves all the major muscle groups is recommended (e.g. swimming), however, walking is the often the easiest exercise to start with.
9. Manage stress levels. This can play an important role in combating fatigue. Do this by adjusting your expectations (e.g. pare a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, down to two and leave the rest for other days). A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress. Investigate relaxation techniques that teach deep breathing or visualisation. Take up activities that divert your attention away from tiredness; activities such as reading, or listening to music require little physical energy but require attention.
10. Sleep. The need for sleep can vary quite a lot between individuals, although it is usual to require less sleep as you get older. Most adults need six to eight hours of sleep, but this can differ from one person to another. If you are having trouble sleeping, aim for a better sleep routine; go to bed and get up at the same time every day, ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable and that it is neither too hot nor too cold, eat earlier in the evening, find time to relax before bedtime.