Thieves of our Day

Quote of the Day

“It isn’t the burdens of today that make men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are the twin thieves that rob us of today.”

                                                                     – Extract from The Station” by Robert J Hastings

My Week

Well the sun has left us temporarily in London as I type this. That’s Ok though as being a Brit through and through, it wouldn’t be right to not have the opportunity to say that well, we needed a little rain didn’t we! Mind you, I loved the lightening show that tickled the skies last night over the Thames – it’s nice to realise how little we are on the backdrop of nature’s show.

So the quote of the week was sent to me by my Uncle in the States. I am a big fan of quotes – I find for me anyway, that they rouse my inner desire to achieve and press on when I doubt myself or worse, when I have doubters around me. Self-belief is a powerful weapon for you, me – anyone. So with that Hasting’s words went round and round my head this week and I soon found myself reciting it in my head. Then not before long, along with the already inked marker pen phrases “Option B” and “Take Another Step”, I found his words scrawled on my bathroom mirror. In case you are wondering – yes, there is plenty of space on the mirrors and I can still see my face in it (though some days I wish I couldn’t!). For some reason my house equipped my bedroom’s en suite with a celebrity style changing room with two HUGE mirrors and light bulbs around them. So plenty of space for more messages to myself…

So, Hasting’s to answer your question of to regret yesterday, do I? What about the years gone by? Do I regret becoming a doctor? I ask myself that question a lot some days because whenever I tell people that I am a new doctor I get the same response – “oh that’s difficult” and “oh you’ll have no time for anything else” and so on. These answers frustrate me. Nothing in life worth doing is easy. Medicine is worth doing and yes I know it’s not easy. Why state the obvious. I realise many have a fascination with the job and love the idea of it crippling the young junior doctor in some morbid voyeuristic fascination but how about just wishing me good luck instead. You know, sometimes, I look back and realise how lucky I was to even study medicine as my grades weren’t great and to be honest I am sure there were far better candidates. Plus I have learned so much about myself through the good times and probably more so through the more difficult stages of my life and the mistakes I have made. It’s framed me for what comes next – a future as a doctor.

So onto Hasting’s next question – to fear tomorrow? Do I? Well to be honest, I am not going to sit here and state bravely whilst beating my chest “NO! I fear no man, woman or beast!” because that just isn’t true. Of course I am fearful a little – I would be stupid not to be and I would also be worried if I didn’t as it would highlight a distinct lack of caring of what the future outcomes may be. So Hasting’s yes I am fearful but in a positive constructive manner (that sounds like such management consultant’s spiel I know!). Will this fear cripple me on my first day as a doctor, right through to my last day as a doctor? I hope not. I will fight that feeling every step on the way. What I fear most is what most doctors fear most – making a fatal mistake. There is little else to say on that one.

So after a week at home seeing my family, re-engaging my brain with medical related matters thanks to the 6 editions of the British Medical Journal that I have tactically avoided like the last girl standing on the dance floor at the end of a night, and having that internal dialogue with Hasting’s, it is finally here – Next week, I have my induction at my new hospital – working life as a doctor awaits me with warm, welcoming hands…or should that be an iron fist in a velvet glove…or perhaps there’s not even a velvet glove but just an iron fist waiting. Who knows. Either way I will approach with Option B in persona and Hasting’s in my head.

…what can go wrong…

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Pic: Don’t spend a lifetime looking over your shoulder to the past – look to the future

Medical Thought of My Week

This week I read an article that my mum had left out for me while I was back home in Essex. It was about a young teenage boy who has a congenital heart condition that ultimately now required a heart transplant. This boy, like many had been robbed of many of the childhood pleasures that we have had the privilege to enjoy and had instead seen the inside of a hospital for more days than he cared to remember. In the end he went to ITU and was induced into a coma. He had all of his basic functions controlled mechanically and with medications and tubes – from his breathing to urinating to tube feeding. His parents visited his bedside on a daily basis religiously not sure what lay ahead for their son. When we has finally taken off the ventilator and awake he and his mum would talk about the future and all the things he wanted to do – see the world, play football with his friends, get married and so on. It was the words of a future that he and his family knew would never happen if a donor was not found. In the end a donor was found and this young teenage boy survived and went on to leave hospital with his new donor heart. Before long he was making plans to go to University and was asked to play in a friend’s band. Two things amongst many that lit up his life – not least the sight of his parents so happy.

This young man then wrote a letter to the donor’s parents. A letter, or rather the extracts that he was willing to share, that immediately brought a tear to my eye. He explained to these grieving parents that he will never take for granted the heartbreak that their son’s death would have inevitably have had on them and that he will made the most of every single aspect of his life in full respectful recognition of this fact. Since this young man was given a second chance at life because somebody else had to tragically lose theirs he has earned a perspective that many of us don’t have.

And this is the message – why is it that tragedy and death are so often needed to give us perspective on life? This young man will see life richer in colour, louder with laughter and with an eagerness to drink in as much life experience as he can – for he has been very thankfully given another chance. In the word’s of Hasting’s – I doubt he fears the future. I found myself so pleased and happy for this stranger that I surprised myself. I wish him every success.

So look around you, realise how lucky we are and go and enjoy life to its very maximum opportunity and potential. Do this now. Don’t wait for a tragedy to give you perspective – work out how to give yourself that without it. You do that and you have a wonderful life ahead.

See you next week,

Dr Nick

Life: Friends, bad dancing and reaching 100 years of age

Quote of the Week:

“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred” – Wood Allen

My Week: Friends and Then Some

It’s amazing how quickly seven days comes around. I know last week I was rattling on about my fears of starting life as a fully fledged junior Doctor coming around too quickly. Now, I have to say, this is still probably the case – but this week, maybe for one week only (well, hopefully more!) I am in a more meloncholy mood. Why might you ask? No, I havent  been hitting the sauce more heavily this week…but I did attend my third (and definitely final!) university graduation at Southampton.

The sun was out warming the Southampton air up to a sweat-inducing 30 degrees as I stood outside in a full suit and graduation robe and mortar board (trust me – nobody can look good in one of those things….and it just so happened that the girl I like walked by just as I donned it – not my crowning moment of the day..), smiling for photographs with my mum and brother. Sadly, no hotter inside the graduation hall, I had committed myself to keeping my jacket on now for I sensed that a drenched white shirt turned see-through by sweat would not be a look best encapsulated in a timeless photograph of my graduation. Still – a great day and thoroughly enjoyed.

…Which leads to my point about friends. They are incredible if you have the right ones. I realised, you see, that I do – have the right ones that is. I’m never one to surround myself with lots of friends all at once – I’ve never been that way – I like one or two at a time – people who I’m close to, bonded with by some experiece or another. For as my mother, brother and I strolled around the campus, me slowly baking, all those dear friends came to say hi, meet my mum and join in with some mutual celebrating. As day led into night and I headed off to the graduation ball (still quietly hoping to bump into the one girl I really liked!) this celebration with those friends went one. I hope, with any luck, that they will remain friends for life – for mine will be much richer with them in it.

Finally, as I lay in the baking sleeping bag around 3am, my mind fuelled with whisky, my legs to tired to fidget in the heat – exhausted from the last 5 hours of terrible dancing I had been expertly demonstrating, I realised that I have so many wonderful friends – not just from medical school but from further a field – in London, New York, Canada and Kenya to name just a few places. I know that no everyone is fortunate to be in this position and that for many, the act of making friends can be a nervous, painfully shy process but whomever you are reading this, I do really hope there is at least one person whom you can really count as a true friend for life.

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A toast to all my friends that graduated as new Doctors…Time for the real world..

Point of Interest for the Week: Don’t Die Young

Having spent the last 5 minutes going on about friends and life after graduation #3, I wanted to talk a bit about life-span. The average life-span has changed a lot of the decades and in the UK a male can expect to live to 77 years and female to 83 years. Women have always been the tougher of the genders. But what about those that reach the ripe old age of 100 years young? How do they do it – what IS their secret? I for one would love to know as I have a long list of things that I would like to enjoy and achieve with my life and may probably need the next 70 years to pack them all in!

So what I wanted to do is to share with you just five of the wonderful suggestions that I read about of how to not die young and to live to 100 years young…

1. Choose a career you love

Apparently life is too short to be unhappy at work. Social support from colleagues at work can also reduce your overall risk of death from any cause.

2. Keep your brain, organs, and muscles in good shape by constant use

Physical activity triggers new brain cells and slows the decline in memory. Dissuse atrophy is your enemy so get out there and use everythig your body has

3. Have a laugh every day

A Norweigan study found that those who laughed most often in everyday life where 35% less likely to die in the study period. Go on, tell me a good joke!

4. Be independant

90% of centenarians in a New England Centenarian study where still living independantly up to an average age of 92!

5. Be curious

Dont ever switch off and think you’ve no more to learn.

Of course there are also the things that you’ll want to avoid if you want to receive that letter from the Queen…

Avoid: smoke (direct and second-hand); white chocolate (dark is Ok as it is rich in anti-oxidants); salt and excess sugar, obesity.

And you know what we are doing alright here in the UK. We have the 4th highest number of centenarians in the world only behing Japan (who are very clear front-runners), France and Ireland – with our number of 100yr champs doubling every decade!

Life is a very enchiching experience if we allow it to be. For us to have all the opportunities available to us we need to ensure our vehicle to experience them i.e. our body and mind, is as fit and healthy as possible.

Go on, why not make a list of what you want to do in life…

See you next week!

Dr Nick

     

The Clock is Ticking Louder

Quote of the Week:

If a man does his best, what else is there?”

–          General Patton

My Week: TICK TOCK

I like the quote above (although yes, I feel it should be ‘person’ rather than ‘man’) above as it sums up how I have been feeling this week – or rather what my thought process has been. You see I have found myself increasingly being aware of the ticking clock, the turning over of calendar days, and the rapid encroachment of August 1st and the hand in hand beginning of my duties as a junior doctor.

Now I still stand firmly next to Option B. In fact, I have written it on my bathroon mirror. It is kepy company by another statement on my bathroom mirror (it’s a big mirror don’t worry..) that read “Take Another Step”. There are up there for one reason and one reason only – to remind me to always strive to do a little better, work a little harder, be a better person and, in the context of this blog, be as good a doctor as I can…

But I am nervous.

This week has been filled with images of my first day, that first task I am not quite sure what to do and that “ohu sh*t” moment when I make a mistake. These events will invariably all happen and  they are ways in which I will grow and learn as a doctor but right now I wish they would vacate my head and let me enjoy the next 16 days. That’s the problem you see – I am now in a running gorilla warfare battle with my mind; On the one side I am feeling very relaxed (especially post holiday) and just happy to let my mind me consumed by what I’ll cook for dinner and what movie to watch. On the othr side I have the diligent, sensible side of me telling me to start doing so preparation work for starting work, to get focused and transition out of holiday mode. So, I reached a comprise today. With one week before I start work I will begin this transition. In the meantime however, I am a man of leisure with not a care in the world (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

So what else has happened this week? Well like everyone else I was basking in the weekend glow of a Lions Tour and a Murray victory . It left me inspired to think what could I achieve as well?…And then it arrives..the offer to join a crew for the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race for 11 months in 2015. If it was free of course I would take it up in a heartbeat…however the £50K price-tag for the experience is a little hard to digest at the moment. Sponsors, if you are out there – HELP! But 2015 too is a long way away. I could after all be married by then (that is if my new jaunt into online dating proves as successfull as it claims to be – 1 in 4 relationships now start on line. Really? Wow.) and that could be a game changer. Then again I may still be a single doctor who spends his weekend writing a blog…oh sh*t I hope not…

But for now, I hope that next week the clock gets a little quieter, the dates on the calender get a little blurrier and that I continue to live a blissful existence for the next seven days.

Point of Interest: SCORCHIO!

It is pretty hot isnt it? According to our reliable weather team it was 32 degrees celcius in London this weekend. To be fair, after going for an exhausting run this morning, I wouldnt be surprised if it is true!

The body is great at coping with heat…to a certain point. It promotes sweating, vasodilation of the peripheries to aid in convection of heat, and increased respiration to remove heat (although no, we don’t have the incredible tongue of our canine friends). It does however not particularly enjoy being stressed in that way. Our bodies instead prefer to exist within quite a fine set of thermo-parameters – between 36 and 37.5 degrees.

Of course these thermoregulatory (fancy for ‘how the body manages temperature changes’) are great but they are not withouth their side effects – the main one being dehydration and loss of electrolytes like salt. So when we don’t find that shade, rehydrate or find some way of artifically cooling down that’s when we open ourselves up to all sorts of heat related injuries like heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke (which can really knacker your organs and a true medical emergency).

The mercury is howevers till rising isnt it. Will 32 degrees soon be 40 degrees…then 50 degrees? How would we cope? In some countries like Australia, they are already experiencing this predicament. In fact I read that meteroligists have already had to increase the temperature scale to 54C! We need to find more ways of dealing with these extreme heatwaves – paying particular attention to the elderly, the very young, and the sick. Their bodies struggle even more than ours.

Now, if you are reading this and thinking, “Oh Nick, you’re over-reacting”, let me gently lay this fact down for you – one that I had to read twice because I didnt believe it the first time! Of all the natural disasters that occur – extreme temperatures are the most lethal and have a higher mortality rate that floods, earthquakes and tornadoes.

That is scary. However, the upshot is that we can all help each other by staying cool, drinking plenty, not over-exerting yourself and keep in light-weight, breathable clothes.

And on that note, I’m going to go and get a glas sof water and sit on my balcony in the shade!

Have a great week all,

Dr Nick

“Take another step”: Medicine on the high seas and the lost art of a healthy advert

“If you are going through hell, keep going”

– Winston Churchill

It’s amazing how quickly a week passed – and incredible how much can happen in a week! As I sit here back home in Essex armed with a cup of tea made by mum (isn’t it odd how tea always tastes better when someone else makes it!) with my parents pottering around in the garden, I cant help but feel lucky. Why so lucky you might ask? Well apart from us all enjoying a natural rush of endorphins from the summer sunshine and the heightened expectations of welcoming in a British Wimbledon champion for the first time in decades, I have personal cause for celebration.

Now, admittedly the first one is going to have little bearing on you reading this blog – BUT I hope it may give you a little insight into who I am and my life – and so in time bring what I write to life a little more. Last night my oldest best friend asked his girlfriend for her hand in marriage. He then, at a BBQ for friends and family last night, celebrating the return from their month long travels in Australia and New Zealand, asked me to be his best man. For every guy reading this…yes…

STAG!

It will be a low key wedding as they are private people but with beautiful children created between them I cannot tell you how happy I am for them to be wed. Having been forced to endure The Notebook on DVD by my mother I must admit that recently I have had a change of heart on, well, matters of the heart and perhaps, just perhaps, at 30 years of age, it’s time for me to start looking for someone special. What this space.

Ok – down to a bit more health and medicine thoughts for the week…

I like very much the quote I started this blog post with. It is about adversity in the face of hardship – something we Brits are very good at. And with this I explored going into hell…You see this week I went down to Gosport for a rather unique interview. It was for the 2015 Clipper Yacht Race – a 40,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe over 11 months. The Clipper Race is pretty special as it is all crewed by sailing novices who race other crew (14 in total). Obviously so as not to assume they will all meet a watery grave, the crew skipper is a seasoned professional and the novices are trained up over 4 weeks. I know – 4 weeks – it’s not much! About 6 months ago as I was returning on the train from a Surgical rotation in Guildford, I saw the advert for this race “Clipper – Have the adventure of a lifetime” as we pulled up in one of the stations. I glanced at it and before I knew it I had fired off an email to register interest. In my mind I was saying, “Ok, Nick, 2015 – soooo that means I would just have finished my 2 years as a junior doctor…could I take a year out for an adventure after that?”….well, after one poorly written application I find myself down in Gosport being interviewed for a position as a crewmember (and doctor) on one of the racing yachts. Being a single guy with no financial constraints it would be a dream come true – see the world, have an adventure and “find myself” (I had to say that last point as that’s what everyone says, right!).

Slight snag,

There is a £50,000 price take attached the privilege.

Now being the other side of broke that is unlikely to happen. If I could get a sponsor – great but in this economy I doubt that very much.

The whole experience would, however, be a fantastic opportunity to cut my teeth in a remote, extreme environment as a doctor. As I explored one of the 72ft racing yachts down at the Clipper HQ Marina in Gosport, I found myself excited at the romantic dream of being the doctor on board, looking after the 19 other crew members and myself. Then, in ports around the world, exploring the local healthcare system and broadening my understanding of health around the world. But, with a £50k price tag I am sure this will remain a dream. I will continue to seek out this challenge though – to practice medicine in an environment that places external pressures on you beyond the comforts of a hospital or a general practice – with the elements of nature pressing you to succeed and apply knowledge and treatment in an environment that is barely compatible with even just surviving. One day…

Now we are going to make a right turn 90 degrees and talk about something utterly unrelated. Adverts of TV. WHY at 10.30am on a Sunday morning am I hit with two adverts of premium Russian vodka and ASDA £1 deals of every obesity-promoting product they own. If I were in the least bit easy lead astray I would be a fat drunk if I listened to these adverts. How then are we expected to give kids, many of whom will inevitably be watching TV at 10.30am on a Saturday morning, who are more open to influence, a fighting chance to be fit, young, sober healthy men and women. We truly need to get a grip on media promotions of these products. By popularising products that are without a doubt bad for our health we are setting ourselves up for failure. As the Government voices desires for our children and population at large to be healthy – what drives this antagonistic advertising?

Money.

Personally I feel this is a tragedy and harks back to something I will often bang on about – The Knowing-Doing Gap for our health. That is, we know what we should do, but don’t do it. Is the government on the same? They make the right knowing ‘noises’ but allow though lack of interference for such advertising to be allowed. In a world that’s driven my media content – whether that be TV, Facebook, Twitter or online content – we are at risk of electronically manipulating our health down a very dark path. Not to sound too movie clichéd – powers can be used for good – or for evil – and so perhaps this wonderful technology should be turned around a little more and used to promote better health. It does go on I know but maybe it’s time to supercharge it.

Finally before I wrap things up – I am now 3 weeks until I start work as a junior doctor in London. Am I nervous? Yes. But, I will still stick with Option B (which if you read my earlier blog on my visit to my new place of employment this August 1st, will  know what I mean). In an effort to maintain this mind-set I have written on my bathroom mirror “Take Another Step” – it is a reminder to me that each day I (WE) should all push ourselves and whatever the journey or goal – it begins with another step. I am at the start of a long journey. One I relish but one I am perhaps not in a hurry so start right this instant. So for now, here’s to a relaxing 3 weeks…!

Have a great week and I hope to announce a new adventure to you next week – one that could have you seeing a little more of me in the future.

Nick

 

Perspective for an often frightened world

I have finally got a routine to the blogs you’ll be pleased to know! So if you’re reading this – keep an eye out for next Sunday for the next one. I promise it’ll be there! Before I start on the main blog for this week I wanted to share a fantastic poem that I chanced upon while reading Ben Fogle’s book the “Accidental Adventurer”. Now I know he isn’t everyone’s cup of team but I really warmed to him as I read his book and his modus operandi of wearing his heart on his sleeve is something I can truly relate to. So – thanks Ben – you have fuelled my ambitions just that little bit more! Anyway – I digress. The poem I chanced upon is called “Risk” by William Arthur Ward. We live in a risk averse society – fearful of our surroundings, others and the temptations that have the potential to lead ourselves or loved ones down a darkened path in life. As the media regales in the sharing horror stories of lives ripped away, we rarely seem to get the happy, positive stories that we all need. So, when I came across this poem, I took a step back, had another sip of Green Tea (something I have yet to form a bond with but know it’s packed with some good health properties) and leaned back on the balcony over the London skyline, and smiled. This poem is right on the money boys and girls – risk is meant to be part of our lives for it opens it up into a world that is far brighter and colourful that we perhaps realise or have forgotten about. So I hope you enjoy it and do pass it on…

RISK by William Arthur Ward

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental,

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss,

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow, But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

Turkey: Is their a doctor on board?

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Turkey: Is their a doctor on board?

I am sitting typing this probably looking and feeling as healthy as I had in a long time. Freshly back from a week in the Turkish sunshine with a nice tan, a full stomach, aching muscles and joints and a recovering hangover – to be blunt – I feel alive!

You see I am now 2 weeks after receiving my Medical school finals pass and a month after my last exam. Since then I have sprung back to life. You see there is something odd about going into a medical finals. For me at least, life essentially ‘shuts down’, you become tunnel-visioned and slip into a mild depression that rumbles on. Life for me, had lost it’s colour.

A holiday in Turkey marked the return on that colour! Seven days of windsurfing, wakeboarding (shameless photo to show off my delights!), kayaking, swimming and tennis. What more could a sporting boy want!

The nice thing about this holiday too was that it afforded me time to reflect on medicine and the year ahead. As I lay sprawled on the cabana with the 38 degree sunshine beating down and a cool breeze aiding my rum-induced hangover I found myself getting setting out the goals for a year ahead. Now many of these are private and not for this blog, I hope you understand, but I am happy to share my medical goals:

1. Be the best junior doctor to my abilities
2. Enjoy being a doctor
3. Get to know my patients
4. Be the best team member on my Firm I can be
5. Continue to learn, revise and consolidate my knowledge
6. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help
7. ALWAYS KNOW MY LIMITS

That final one is so important. I remember once a senior consultant explaining that the most dangerous mind-set of a junior doctor is a over-estimation of their own ability. That will get patients hurt or killed. I don’t want to be that guy.

The holiday also heralded a new step for me – I found for the first time telling someone I was a doctor. It was a really odd sensation and if that hadn’t had gone “Really?! You?! Noooo..” it would have been even better! To give you some context so you don’t think I’m some arrogant new doc telling everyone, I had rather ungracefully fallen off my windsurf board as a I tried to jibe (that’s a sailing term not a bad dance move I tried to throw on the dance floor) and I cut my ankle pretty badly (as well as bruising my ankle). The windsurf staff were insistent I went to their first aid room and fill out a form. Now, knowing that I had my own first aid kit with me and that the cut was pretty superficial I was sure I could take care of it – and to be honest I was on holiday which meant I had self-banned myself from holding any work related instruments…even a pen! So out it came…

“Look, it’s ok – I am a doctor – I will take care of it”

As I type it I cringe at the thought of me saying it…but I did!

It’s funny how qualifying changes the oddest of things. On the flight to and from Turkey I found myself worrying about what I would do if the call for “Is their a Doctor on board?” came out over the tannoy speaker? Would I suddenly find myself being fascinated by my shoes…head down…pretending I wouldn’t hear it..OR…would I spring up from chair, strip off to my scrubs, demand a plastic knife and spoon, some sticky-back plastic, biro, and a glamorous air-stewardess as my assistant!

Well, I think that fact is neither of those – even if the latter does make me smile. I would of course stand up. I would feel it my moral (even though not legal) obligation to assist a passenger. I would declare myself as a recently qualified junior doctor yet to begin work. I would further request they but out a second call for any more experienced doctors, nurses or first responders for example on the plane. You see although you may get the impression that I joke about a lot in blogs (and I do because that’s my personality!) – when it comes to it I will be the utmost professional when it comes to medicine. I will pride myself of that. It’s just how my parents raised me to be – and how I want to be.

Of course…no call went out. Though, as I sat back in the plane, fighting my way into the earphone cellophane bag….mum leans over and says: “you know the thing with the biro when you have to stab it in someones neck to help them breathe…can you do that?”. I smiled and just said – “let’s hope I never have to, eh?”.

Thanks for a great week, Turkey and to all the great people I met.

Embracing Your 24 Hour Body Clock: Tips for Success

Life can be the simplest of joys or the hardest of tasks. Sometimes it depends on the time you have, the company you share, or if you’ve yet to find what you’re looking for! One aspect we often over-look as we hurtle through life at an increasingly busy pace – is our own body.

You see our body, like our lives, has its own in-built, stead-fast, 24 hour body clock. It’s called the circadian rhythm and it has a lot to answer for. This clock, which sits nestled in our brain in an area called the hypothalamus, is partly responsible for the daily change in how we think, feel and even act.

So how does it do this? Well, for starters, it takes information about how light it is through our eyes to work out the length of day (and when it’s night) and then helps to regulate the release of lots of hormones and processes that go on in our body. It is these commands to processes and hormones that contribute to making us energetic, sleepy, and perhaps, how physically and mentally ready do take on the next 24 hours. So let’s have a look at 5 ways that we can tailor our hectic lives to it….

1. Best Time to Active and Alert

At 9am there is a stress hormone called cortisol that is at its highest natural level in the day time. Now this hormone is central to our ‘fight or flight’ response as it prepares our body to perform periods of physical activity, for example, by ensuring there is plenty of available energy to fuel our cells. So if you are planning some energetic play-time with kids or a long, enjoyable stroll in the park, or that big shop and want to be at your best, then perhaps the morning is best for you! Don’t forget the value of a good night of sleep since ‘sleep debt’ is linked to a lower ability to think more clearly.

2. Best Time to Exercise or Play Sport

Ever noticed that the Olympic sprint finals are around the early evenings? Well, it is because our core body temperature rises to a peak at around 6pm as kindly arranged by our circadian rhythm. This evening temperature peak helps to boost our energy metabolism and improve muscle function. This is therefore the second bite of the apple for showing some sporting prowess, gym workout, or even your big energetic shop completing all those tasks you couldn’t get around to in the morning!

3. Worst Time for Focussed Thinking and Energy

At lunchtimes, many of us slip into the physical and mental trough known as the ‘post-lunch dip’! We often experience this after lunch and attribute it to ‘digestion’ diverting all that much needed blood from our brain as we think – but it’s also because our circadian rhythm naturally produces a dip in our core body temperature that is linked to our increased propensity to feel sleepy and want to nap! Some even experience this even if you don’t have lunch or even know what time of day it is! If you need to really concentrate on a task or rush around doing the hard-choice shopping – get it in before lunch and then enjoy a relaxed lunch, a catch-up with friends, or maybe even that afternoon movie!

3. Best Time to Share that Good Mood

Now this may come as no surprise but we are often in our best moods on the weekends! Interestingly though the same goes for first thing in the morning. After that though, we sadly seem to decline in mood during the day. Although impossible to separate the effects of the daily grind of a tough, tiring day at work, and the circadian rhythm that controls our level of sleepiness – the two both have a part to play. So share those good times on the weekend with friends and family but be mindful of those weary evenings when arguments may be more common as we get craggy!

4. Best Time to Be Creative

Our circadian rhythm largely helps determine if we are a ‘morning person’ or an ‘evening person’. It does this by optimising various hormones and body processes at different time points, and even helping us to focus. But your creativity is not where you think it is! You see if you are a morning person you may actually be more creative in the evening – and visa a versa for an evening person. The reasoning is that when are in these ‘off peak’ thinking times and less focused, our minds are more available to ‘outside the box’ ideas and possibilities and hence more creative! So if you are planning that surprise birthday gift, or new wallpaper design, think about when the best time is!

5. Best Time to be Mentally Focussed

Now unlike your best ‘creative’ free thinking time, your circadian rhythm sets your best thinking time to a slightly different point. This IS based on if you are a morning or evening person, as determined by your circadian rhythm. It is here that you are most task-orientated having filtered out any distractions and ready to tackle specific challenges like your accounts, those bills or that recipe!

So there we have it, a brief guide to your circadian rhythm and all the highs and lows (emotionally and physiologically!) that it brings you in a day. When you are charging about in your hectic lives maybe try to take a minute and plan when the best time is to do all these things. After-all, you might discover a hidden energy, creativity and mood that just required a little reshuffling of your day.