So here we are in the depths of January. So how are you feeling at the moment? Energised? Enthusiastic about your new year resolutions? Enjoying dry January? Wondering why you're feeling tired and heavy in spite of a fortnight of clean-living? (I really hope you haven't gone all out on some horrid new year detox, but that's another blog in itself!)
I'm regularly told by people that they love reading my posts because of their positivity. This one doesn't feel particularly positive, but I've added a cheesy photo of me to help it along...this was today - what an absolute joy to see the colour of the sky!
A dip in energy and not feeling your best is definitely the reality for quite a few people at this time of year. And if you live with a long term, niggling, underlying or fluctuating health condition, it is likely that you are feeling quite bothered by it right now.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Wintry Dip Pattern (I feel like I should trademark that!) or haven't noticed it, maybe you're wondering what you've done differently and why it's a bit more tricky at the moment. Possibly even more so if you've managed to stabilise your condition over time, and right now it feels like it's gone back a few steps.
Over the years, closely observing my own ups and downs has helped me greatly to have an awareness of this potential seasonal dip ( I have Multiple Sclerosis, and have lived with it for nearly twenty years). Because for me, this tends to be the biggest one. Knowing in advance that it's likely and that it will pass, not only helps me feel much less anxious about it, it also helps me put things in place beforehand so that it's not as bad and is easier to manage.
If your main symptom is fatigue - I fully sympathise with you. It's the most frustrating, unmanageable and random symptom, which can appear unexpectedly and is not resolved with what you think it should be resolved by - sleep. Not only can you not sleep because your brain won't let you fully rest, but regular exercise, minimising levels of anxiety and good nutrition is one of the most helpful tools. Knowingthis can be frustrating because this feels way too much to deal with when you're fatigued.
So what's the solution?
In my experience there is no quick fix. But what we can do is develop a way of living all year round, that has enough focus on your wellbeing to reduce the frequency and severity of any flare ups (good nutrition, fitness, good quality rest and hydration, regular relaxing practises such as yoga, meditation, swimming, being outside in nature/your version of a happy place) so that you have a formula which helps to reduce overall levels of stress/anxiety/depression which can for some increase the likelihood of a flare up.
Any healthy choices you make during the year are going to support you during the more difficult times when its not as easy to maintain your regular routine. And those small choices you make on a daily basis, all add up to have a much bigger effect. For me it's like a savings account. Just a few quid here and there, and before I know it, I have a much larger sum.
Noticing what and when is likely to cause a flare up is a good idea so you can either avoid those scenarios or plan ahead to better support your system. e.g. big supermarkets exhaust me, so instead of battling through the experience, I order my shopping online, or I get my hairy husband to go instead. If you don't have a hairy husband, a hairy friend will do just as well.
Filling up your fridge/freezer/cupboards with easy to prepare and nutritious foods for those more difficult times is a good idea. e.g. after the Christmas craziness I usually feel pretty exhausted, so I fill up my freezer in November with homemade soup for January when I know standing up for ages is more difficult.
Saying no to stuff without guilt is great. And understanding that everyone is happy to rearrange or cancel. Please can everyone find a way to know that some people may even do a little happy dance when you cancel because they are also tired and already in their PJ's.
Focus on creating a realistic combination of regular exercise and rest and allowing it time to build gradually and mindfully over the month (or longer term depending on the intensity of your flare up). If you're already fatigued, get someone to help you plan it out.
Get outside regularly - ideally before midday to support your sleep cycle
Remind yourself regularly that it will pass.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences so please get in touch if you feel inspired to.
It's getting lighter every day woo hoo!