The secrets of the body

For Christmas, I got myself one of the fitness watches that track your every movement and physical metric. This one is a Garmin.

I was slow to that party. Most people I knew had some variation of it, but I turned my nose up at it – if everyone’s doing it, I probably don’t. Since getting it though I’ve learned a lot about myself, and about health in general – the signs and indicators.

I never thought about it before, but I can observe that when I’m not feeling well, my heart rate is elevated. There’s a stress measurement also, which reads off variations in heartbeat – the higher the reading, the greater the stress. I’ve noticed the more ‘stressed’ that I am, the more calories I burn. For the last couple of weeks, my stress readings have been high dealing with the challenges of work. Some of that is physical – going up and downstairs – but much is simply a part of dealing with so many things at once. In a way, for me, it’s almost a measurement of mental activity.

Recently they added a function called Body Battery. As it sounds, it basically measures how much stored energy you have, much as it would your mobile phone. I’ve really struggled with this in recent times, and no surprise. A few times it’s got as low as 5, and stopped there (thankfully). Any further I’d be in deficit, or dead. In theory, the battery is charged with proper rest, especially sleep – like you charge your phone. It’s depleted with activity and, I’ve noticed, with stress – using your apps too much, or making too many calls. Unfortunately, you can’t just plug yourself in to charge.

Part of my problem is that I’m not getting much out of my nightly sleep, but one. The big sleep I had Saturday night added about 70% to my battery – the next best has been about 30%.

I’m really struggling at the moment. I’m fatigued all the way through, and somehow my watch picks that up. By the end of the day, I’m completely stuffed.

But then, Thursday night, I’d been crook in the afternoon, due to fatigue, I think. In the evening I sat on the couch and watched TV. I felt myself slow. I was so still that I could feel myself slowly restore. I watched the app on my phone with the measurements showing coming from my watch. My heart rate slowed, as I could feel it, and fell as far as 54 bpm. At the same time, my Body Battery gained about 25 points.

Last night was the opposite. No matter how still I became, I didn’t rest – and my heart rate got no lower than the high eighties. I knew something was amiss, and now I could see it as well as feel it.

My sleep last night wasn’t great. It was full of strange dreams. It wasn’t restorative. I need a good few days of doing nothing and hopefully will see all the signs come good.

One thing I have insight on now is how to look after myself. I’m someone who’ll often work when I’m unwell, on the basis, it’s only inconvenience and discomfort. Now I understand, when I do that I don’t give my body the chance to correct itself. I stress myself when the body is already stressed. I need to rest and let nature take its course without disturbance.

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