Are you tired? Do you suffer from headaches, backaches or pelvic discomfort? Do you experience depression or feel anxious? Do you have allergies, rashes or autoimmune issues? Have you lost your sex drive? Dr Rachel Carlton Abrams' new book, Body Wise, might just hold the answers.
The Body Wise approach is all about listening to what your body and health are trying to tell you about your lifestyle. Boy, was this a book I needed back when I worked 60 hour weeks.
In the book, there are loads of cases studies of women who have suffered from strange symptoms like random patches of eczema when around someone who makes them uncomfortable, and a spate of pelvic pain when agreeing to move in with a boyfriend who wasn't emotionally good for them.
I think a lot of women, in particular, get themselves into situations that are not good for them, but because they're so emotionally resilient, they manage to put up with it far too long without reaching out for help (something I saw so much of in social services). As a consequence, I think our bodies start trying to signal for help. It would explain why I always have a spate of migraines when I've pushed myself too hard or I'm not being true to what I really want to be doing.
Dr Rachel Carlton Abrams shares lots of tips in this book for getting back in touch with what our bodies are trying to tell us and gives detailed lists the blood workups, medication and treatments for common conditions such as fatigue, low-libido, anxiety, depression, insomnia and other chronic conditions.
Throughout the book, there are quizzes to help you assess which area of your health you need to focus on and practical exercises to help you tune in and listen to your body's signals and really take stock of how you're feeling, physically and emotionally.
I especially love the holistic approach Dr Abrams takes here, combining medicine, with blood work for diagnoses, but also mindfulness and healthy living. She strikes the balance really well here and to be honest, I wish my own doctors took this approach.
It's all too easy to stumble on 'holistic' health blogs and 'Big Pharma' books that promise you the world if you'd just trade in your prescription pills for 'clean eating' and detoxes, and at the time same, within a cash-strapped NHS, there's a lot of GPs who fail to treat mental illness and chronic conditions using anything more than a prescription. Both of these approaches can be really dangerous and leave gaping holes in an individuals care plan.
Reading this book on holiday, alongside some other work I've been doing (more on that in a future blog post) has to lead me to take stock of my own health, and admit that I need help in my personal life. I've been struggling with emotional eating, migraines, fatigue, anxiety, depression and general brain fog. It's been incredibly difficult these last few years juggling freelancing with a fledgeling business and being a mum to a very active toddler and caring for both of my parents, coupled with the financial strain of my husband's redundancy.
When the plane hit the tarmac back in the UK, I knew it was time for me to hold my hands up and say
"I can't do all of this, on my own, all at the same time. And I won't do it all."
. When I came back from holiday, my parents had some support in place from friends and family, which took an enormous pressure off me and I've since placed my son in a nursery for 18 hours a week to give me the much-needed break and time to work and exercise in peace and quiet. I'm already feeling much more in control of my emotions and my day in general, my urge to binge and comfort eat has subsided, my thoughts aren't racing anymore and my energy levels are returning.
For anyone else on the edge of a breakdown or burnout, I highly recommend reading this book (alongside seeking help, of course) and really looking at your symptoms as well as the situations they appear in.
Body Wise, by Dr Rachel Carlton Abrams is published by Bluebird Books. You can grab a copy for £12.99 right here from Amazon.co.uk .