It may seem a simple point that it is pretty much essential for wellbeing to get out of the house every day even for a short period of time. I had never really considered this specifically until my best friend very wisely pointed it out when we were first at university. I have remained conscious of this ever since. I have not always managed it and a day will definitely feel less satisfactory if I have remained within four walls.
The other thing that most of us know can make a massive difference to wellbeing and energy levels is exercise. And unfortunately it is one of the things that can easily get pushed out when life gets busy.
Months ago, I realised I needed to get more exercise. Comfort eating and a relatively sedentary lifestyle were causing my weight to go up and I am now also getting recurrent low back pain and sciatica, presumably not helped by being unfit (as well as picking up small children!). I started putting my swimming kit in the car on work days thinking I would go swimming after work. It got pushed out; I was either too late finishing at work, too tired to go or worried about having enough time to get everything done at home that evening – or all of the above!
I had a bout of low back pain and also tonsillitis just before my psychological crash. I then did even less than usual as I withdrew completely. The tonsillitis recurred and then came a chest infection which is still lingering on a little even now nearly 2 months later despite two courses of antibiotics. I am sure this is partly due to lack of fresh air and exercise. Sciatica also decided to hit again just after everything else!
I got to the point a few weeks ago psychologically that I was ready to start going out again and wanted to go and walk in the fresh air as I knew I should. But my body hasn’t really let me; I am still restricted by physical constraints. I managed one good walk when I was away, but most days I can still only walk short distances due to pain from the sciatica which is showing no signs of resolving yet.
What is absolutely overpowering though, is the fatigue and lack of motivation. Sleep is now better than it was. But energy levels are not recovering yet to a level that I can function anywhere near ‘normally.’ Why is this? Is this all part of depression? Is this that my primary trigger was sheer exhaustion and burnout in the first place? Is it partly just recovery from the tonsillitis and chest infection? Have the physical ailments come out of the fact that my system was so low and run down? Is this all one entity in a way rather than completely independent issues?
Clearly, physical and psychological wellbeing are not exclusive; there are definitely interactions between them. This is well known.
At this stage though, I cannot work out what is attributable to what and how I proceed from here. It has been put to me that the physical problems are, in part, my body’s way of forcing me to rest – including psychologically (rest has always been a bit of a foreign concept to me!). Yet, I know it would be good for my mind, physical health and energy levels now to be more active. I just can’t do it yet. When is it going to get better?
A ongoing complex vicious cycle.