Vitamin R—Are Your Getting Enough?

Rest. Relaxation. Recreation. I like to call it vitamin R.

What do you do for rest, relaxation, and recreation? Most of us have been conditioned to “do, do, do,” and we forget to “rest, rest, rest.”

The “do, do, do” causes the hormone cortisol to get out of balance, and this—as you probably know by now—is the number one reason most women are fatigued. When you get more vitamin R in your life, your cortisol levels should become more normal. So give yourself permission to rest, relax and have fun!

Take that vacation you’ve always dreamed about. Get back to that hobby that got put on the backburner all those years ago. Do something every day that brings you joy. Consider it doctor’s orders!

Stress Management—Body Chemistry Effects and Solutions

Fatigue is the third most common symptom of stress. Chronic stress causes cortisol to get out of balance, and cortisol is what is keeping most women in fatigue.

First the stress creates cortisol imbalance, which then has a domino effect and robs you of DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormones.

Stress is not only mental and emotional stress, either. There’s also physical stressors. Eating an unhealthy diet creates stress on your body. Eating food you are allergic to creates stress to your body. Chronic inflammation is a stress to your body. Toxins stress your body, as well as hidden infections. Estrogen surges stress your body too.

When we deal with stress, we need to deal with all the physical causes, and also the between-your-two-ears mental and emotional causes. Give yourself permission to talk to a therapist if needed. Talking to a good friend will also help a lot.

As you have seen me write over and over again, find the underlying cause, then fix the underlying cause. Then, and only then, will you fix your fatigue and feel normal again.

Deep Breathing

Want a guaranteed way to relax? Do some deep breathing. It always works.

Try it right now. Take a deep breath in, all the way down into your belly. Hold it for three seconds, and then slowly exhale. Repeat this five times.

I can already see the stress melting off you.

Do some deep breathing periodically throughout your day. I know women who actually schedule it into their day. Stick it into your electronic calendar with a reminder to take a break and breathe. Or use an old fashioned sticky note reminder.

Deep breathing works especially well when you’re in the moment of feeling stressed. Like when you’re sitting in traffic. Or when you come home and the kids have made a mess of the house. Or when your spouse is driving you crazy. Or when the boss puts another project on your already full to-do list.



Meditation is a classic way to increase your vitamin R. If you’re like me, you get very frustrated with meditation quickly. But what I’ve learned is to meditate in small amounts. Like any form of exercise, if you try to do too much too soon you will likely fail. So start with just five minutes a day.

There are many different types of meditation available. A quick Internet search will give you many Web pages, blogs, and videos to choose from. There are even free courses available, locally in your community, and online.

Personally, I’m the type of person who does better with a scheduled course. It helps keep me accountable. I don’t want to let my instructor down. Plus, forking out some cold hard cash helps too. I want to get my money’s worth, so I don’t miss a class!

There are two types of meditation that work best for me, so I’ll share them with you. The first one I call Four Square Breathing.

Four Square Breathing

You close your eyes and imagine a square. Inhale as you mentally follow one side of the square to the corner. When you get to the corner in your mind, hold your breath for a count of five seconds, and then slowly exhale. As you exhale, follow the next side of the square to the next corner.

When you get to the next corner, hold your exhale for a count of five seconds, and then slowly inhale again, following the square to the next corner.

The other meditation that really works for me I call Color Breathing.

Color Breathing

I imagine myself breathing in my favorite color. I breathe in that color and imagine it filling up my body. (When I do this meditation, the color usually changes from day to day, so I just go with it.) Inhale your favorite color. Imagine it filling up your body. Then hold your breath for a count of five seconds.

Exhale slowly, imagining a color you hate, or just breathe out blackness.

Repeat the process.

Try either of these meditations for five minutes. Focus on the square, or focus on the color.

If random thoughts come into your head, let them go.

It helps to shut off your phone, e-mail alerts, and put a “do not disturb” sign on your door. If you like, set an alarm so you know when your time is up.

Try it! Five minutes at a time. Slowly work your way up to twenty or thirty minutes.


A great stress-buster (or so I hear) is yoga.

Now, I’m the type of person who gets very frustrated with yoga because I’m not flexible, have never been, and never will be. So, I personally hate yoga, and the frustration of it all actually makes my stress worse. But just because it doesn’t work for ME doesn’t mean it won’t work for YOU. Many of my patients do yoga for relaxation, and get great benefit from it.

Hatha yoga is best for this. Hatha yoga is gentle stretching and gentle poses with a focus on breathing and meditation. You should be able to find this type of yoga quite easily at a local yoga studio. Consider it yoga for beginners.


Journaling is another effective way to let the stress go.

There are different ways to journal. You can just free-flow—whatever appears in your head you write down without thinking. Just let it all flow out.

Or you can do a gratitude journal. Every day, at the end of your day, list five things you are grateful for that day. No matter how big or how small. It could be that a stranger held the door for you when your hands were full. It could be that your boss recognized your hard work. It could be that your best friend was there to listen to you vent.

Take a moment now and write down five things that you are grateful for today.


It may seem kind of strange that here I am telling you about meditation and yoga and gratitude journals, and the next thing I recommend is boxing.

Boxing is great vitamin R!

I told you earlier that I personally don’t like yoga. I have little flexibility in my body, so I find yoga to be nothing but frustrating. But, I love boxing!

Putting on the gloves and hitting the heavy bag—man, that’s a great way to shut off my brain. (I don’t hit other people; just the heavy bag.) Every punch I throw has to be precise to hit the bag properly.

And, every punch I throw helps me release a bit of steam. It’s empowering too. We women don’t know our own strength until we do things like this! But mostly it helps me shut off my brain and let go of frustrations.

Up until I started boxing, I used to hate exercise. Sure, I would tell my patients to exercise, but I never did more than walk my dogs (I’ve got two Basset hounds). It was a typical case of “do what I say, not as I do.”

Until I found boxing. I don’t even consider it exercise. That is how much I love doing it. When the class is finished, I actually want to do more.

If you haven’t found a form of exercise that you love doing, keep looking, and consider trying out a boxing class.

Make a promise to yourself starting today:

Stop feeling lousy…rotten…awful…crummy…miserable…terrible…crappy.

Find a good Functional Medicine doctor to help you get to the root cause of your health problems.

Like I always say:

Find the cause.

Fix the cause.

Feel normal again!


Dr. Carri Drzyzga, DC, ND – The Functional Medicine Doc

Find the Cause. Fix the Cause. Feel Normal Again!

Please Share Your Thoughts Here