how i’ve been making my day healthier
Last week on Instagram, I mentioned the Use It Or Lose It phase… because that’s where I’m at right now, Next year is the big half century deal… which by the way, feels pretty damn exciting – 50 years on this earth! Celebrations and monumental moments aside, the feeling of “It’s now or never” when it comes to physical health and mental wellbeing is real and present.
Alongside the bigger decisions (we took out a family health club membership last weekend), I’m a firm believer that every little step towards a goal counts. Baby steps, no matter how insignificant they may feel at the time, will eventually get you to where you want to be. And if you’re anything like me, where you want to be is constantly evolving anyway.
Where I want to be right now is healthier, stronger, fitter and able to find a state of calm when I need it most.
The body is getting older and I feel needs to be in the optimum shape to deal with “The Second Half”. There are also many things I need to get to grips with in terms of internal struggles and how I’m dealing (or not) with the emotional rollercoaster that appears to accompany menopause. I also accept that life part two will bring it’s own share of grief, challenges and life hurdles that’ll be somewhat easier if I’m already in the habit of making self-care a priority.
So what to do in the short term?
When significant chunks of progress feel almost impossible to achieve because… well…life, I think there’s a lot to be said for keeping the targets more achievable and celebrating the small wins. It’s better to list three small things that I did well today than berate myself for not reaching that one looming goal that quite frankly, seems completely unobtainable in this moment.
So I thought I’d share a few tried and tested things that are written with working for yourself or from home in mind, but with a little variation, hopefully could be easily adopted if you’re office based…
For Peace Of Mind
B E F I R M W I T H T H E P H O N E
I’ve taken to keeping my phone on Airplane mode or switched to silent until I’ve completed the morning domestic routine… and I’m ready to face the work part of the day. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve picked up my phone with the intention of absorbing a quick two minutes Instagram inspiration over a first cup of tea and before I know it, I’ve let in three irritating or demanding emails, noted two texts or What’s App messages that “Sh*t! I really need to respond to!” and been distracted way too long with Instagram DM’s.
Cue rising stress levels and one mother who’s forgotten to leave plenty of time to remind the teen that she really does need to get dressed NOW before she misses the bus. Cue shouting. Cue rising stress levels. And all that before breakfast.
It can wait another 30 minutes until I’m ready to deal with it. There’s a lot to be said for attending to one area of life at a time.
And I’ve adopted a similar theory at night. Once past about 8:30pm, the phone gets switched to silent mode and turned face down. I have family and friends who use this time of day for getting in touch via text and What’s App, but having spent the majority of time on my phone all the live long day, I really need to switch off in order to get to sleep a couple of hours later.
Whatever comes in after 8:30pm can be dealt with in the morning – in between the domestic and work slots.
It’s called self preservation.
A C C E P T T H E S L U M P + W O R K W I T H I T
When I feel myself hitting mid-afternoon slump territory, which is usually around the same time I start telling myself I’m failing at being an inspired blogger/Instagrammer/general all round creative person, I allocate a ten minute Do Something Else break.
But I’ve learnt that I have to be strict and set a timer – without this I’ve lost whole afternoons where I was meant to just put the laundry away and ended up carrying out an impromptu wardrobe edit!
Just ten minutes away from the desk doing something unrelated and not taxing of mind can really help. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll sometimes lie on the sofa for fifteen minutes (again – for goodness sake don’t forget the alarm!) and shut my eyes. It’s just a brain break, time to slow down the breathing and sometimes, I’ll fall into a deep doze, but it generally helps.
And if none of that works, I’ve been doing something really radical of late. Finish for the day. Put a pin in it right there and then and admit that it’s just not happening.
If the creativity isn’t there or I’m too darn tired to see straight, there really is no point. I now know that stopping today a couple of hours early means that tomorrow will be a whole lot more productive. It ain’t rocket science but it works.
Helpers With Health Goals
B E M O R E D O G !
Stop begrudging the dog walk! That’s me talking to me by the way. I got into the habit of feeling like taking the dog out was a thing I had to do that just took me away from work and broke my concentration. Not any more.
I started looking more closely at how joyous Biscuit looks when I get the lead and utter anything that sounds like it could be in the realm of the word “Walkies!” Then I vowed to enjoy her moments of sheer abandon as she realises its freedom time when I let her off in the forest or down at the beach. I never want those moments to end, although I know sadly, one day they will.
But for now I vow to enjoy every moment with our beautiful Labrador and emulate more of her happiness at being out in the fresh air and wide open spaces. There’s a lot of wisdom in that advertising slogan from a certain mobile provider – Be More Dog.
Even without a dog, it feels good to take a lunchtime walk. Twenty minutes fresh air is always better than thirty minutes spent eating lunch at the desk. The desk I’ve been sat at since 8:00am. A proper break, some fresh air and even the smallest amount of movement will do wonders for your attention span later on.
B I G U P T H E F R U I T S + V E G E T A B L E S
I’m consciously trying to add more vegetables and fruit to every meal. Even if it’s as simple as adding a side of salad to my sandwich or having a fruit smoothie as a late afternoon snack. Evening meals are easy when it comes to topping up the intake but I guess breakfast is a bit more of a challenge when it comes to vegetables. Now brunch I can do and love ideas like these Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Frittatas on Love & Lemons!
I know me and I know that if I start small, I’ll soon be inspired to make bigger changes. And don’t get me started on the whole food depravation thing in any shape or form.
If I hear the words “you can’t eat that” or “you need to cut this out” I want to go and eat copious amounts of whatever it is straightaway. Moderation is the thing that seems to work best when it comes to a healthy eating approach.
And speaking of healthy – lunches seem to be where I fall down the most so I compiled this post for a few ideas – all contain some sort of vegetable or another!
I guess you could say that invoking small changes is right there in alignment with celebrating the small stuff.
It’s not classed as groundbreaking advice or game-changing life hacks – it’s simply a way to feel like I’m winning even when there are too many other things on the agenda to keep me from those bigger goals.
But I’m all about the small wins these days. It makes life feel a lot more peaceful and calm…
If you’ve made any small changes to your day that seem to really be helping, feel free to share below. I’m happy to add more to my own list!