Every time the temperature and/or the daylight shifts, our bodies need to adapt. Our adrenal glands are responsible for much of this adaptation. Given that they are your stress handling glands (and you’ve likely got a whole list of potential stressors to deal with), your body can get easily overwhelmed. When you factor in the numerous activities and demands on your time that often accompany this time of year – back to school, end of year business goals, holidays, etc. – you can quickly spiral into extreme fatigue and everything that comes along with that.

Adding coffee and other stimulants to push your body is the norm, but that only adds to the stress your body is experiencing. This puts you at even greater risk for undergoing a health crisis. And then your whole world can come undone in the blink of an eye.

It’s easy to get swept along with societal norms and expectations about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. It’s much harder to make thoughtful, conscious choices that protect your health, your time and your peace of mind. But I know you want more from your life and that you’re willing to do the work to create that for yourself.

So it’s time to ask yourself some potentially tough questions. Are there activities you’ve said yes to that feel like obligations, as opposed to aligning with your purpose and passions? Do you spend time with people who drag you down? Are you doing everything yourself instead of enlisting support and sharing or delegating tasks? Are you flying by the seat of your pants, when planning ahead could make a huge difference in how everything unfolds? What have you taken on that isn’t important right now? Are you providing the proper fuel for your body so that it can perform optimally for you? Are you getting enough rest and relaxation to allow your body and mind to unwind, detoxify and repair? Do you have something fun planned that you can look forward to? Have you scheduled time to be fully present and engaged with the people you love?

Examining how your life is unfolding, and aligning your activities and commitments with what you want, can be challenging. Making big changes can be invaluable, but only you can decide what’s best for you. Often, just a little tweaking here and there can be a game changer and make for a more comfortable approach, like dipping your toe in the water.

You can create the life you love, and that’s what you deserve. Every day that you spend doing things that dim your light is a missed opportunity. Every night that you sacrifice sleep to get things done weakens your body. Every meal that you eat that lacks nutrients diminishes your body’s ability to perform for you. You get to choose whether that knowledge feels overwhelming or empowering.

My path from sickness to health has been my greatest teacher and blessing. Staying tuned into my body is how I continue to increase my health and my happiness, year after year. The colder, darker months of the year are challenging for me. I need to decrease my commitments, get plenty of sleep, rest more and generally lead a quieter, slower lifestyle until the temperature and light increase once again. Pushing myself to maintain the life I live when it’s warm and sunny creates extreme and crippling fatigue for me, as well as a weakened immune system, causing me to catch every cold and flu going around.

Slowing down is hard and always brings up a huge amount of resistance, as there’s so much I want to do! Ultimately, I’ve learned it’s the only way to get through the long winter months without creating a huge mess of my health. Some day I hope to have the flexibility to avoid the cold New England winters entirely. But for now, my shift in self-care from season to season is an essential component to staying healthy, accomplishing things that are important to me, and living a fun-filled, happy life with great purpose and passion.