In last week’s post we looked at mental, physical, and emotional drains. This week’s blog is dedicated to changing these drains to gains by making minor adjustments in our routines. Each adjustment over time promotes a positive effect in our bodies.
Trap 1: Overbooking and overfilling our schedules. A solution is to block “space” into the day. Hold this space dearly and know that when saying ‘No’ to others, you are saying and committing a ‘Yes’ to you. Use this time to catch up, reset, take a 10 minute walk, snooze or meditate. Even doing 10 minutes of deep breathing exercises re frames our mind and our energy.
I think of it as akin to a pitcher holding water. We pour out energy, like water, on a daily basis. If we’re not careful, we can end up pouring it all out until we have an empty pitcher. Nothing’s left because we have not been refilling it as we go. So make it a habit to refill your energy on a daily basis.
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Trap 2: Technology. The minor adjustment recommended was to turn your technology off by a specific time and stick to it. Pick how many days per week you can reasonably commit to turning it off by a certain time. 4 nights? 5? No television, laptops, or cell phones. Remove them from your bedroom. No peeking before you go to bed. It’ll all be there for you in the morning. If the cell phone is your lifeline, then put it just outside your bedroom door, or across the room with it facing down (that way you won’t be drawn to the blinking lights of incoming messages.) Mute everything except phone calls.
Get your bedroom as dark as possible. Turn over or hide LED lights. Get blackout curtains. And, get into a bedtime routine just like you’d do with your kids or pets. If your current habit is 6 hours of sleep, push back to get into bed by 15 minutes per week until you reach approximately 8 hours in a couple of months.
As you form the habit of 8 hours of sleep per night, get as much as you can prior to midnight as it is often the most restorative. If your partner says you sound like a fog horn, perhaps it’s time for a sleep study to see if you have sleep apnea.
Trap 3: Dehydration and poor fuel. Garbage in is garbage out. So choose wisely. Think you’re doing well? In my experience, over the past 30 years whenever I’ve run a dietary survey on clients, they’re shocked by what they think they are eating compared to what they are actually eating. So survey yourself by writing down everything you eat for two weeks. Everything, including water.
You might just surprise yourself and find weak links or a pattern in your day. Forgot the meeting that happens to have donuts and coffee every Monday morning? Or, when you’re tired do you tend to skip a meal, only to crave and overeat later. Perhaps it’s a personal weakness when you’re sitting in front of the TV mindlessly noshing away.
From the hydration side, a minor adjustment is to take a stainless steel or PBA-free water bottle to work. Put it on your desk and ensure to empty it by the end of the day. Rather than reaching for your second cup of coffee, reach for a glass of water. If your diet is 50% or more fresh produce then you’re adding to your water content as well.
I know you know this and so much is written about it but I’d be remiss if I didn’t overview:
- Veggies for Vitality
- Proteins for Productivity
- Fats for Fullness
Remember we eat for energy!
What we eat becomes us so it’s important to eat nutritionally dense, well-rounded foods as close as possible to the form Mother Nature intended. I prefer organic for everything. When it comes to veggies think “colour” as much as possible and yes some fruit is fine. Protein amounts varies depending on your activity and size. A typical rule of thumb is a block the equivalent of the palm of your hand as an approximate serving size. When it comes to fats use the good oils – olive and nut oils, as well as, seeds and nuts. Higher fat foods like avocados. I’m happy if half my plate is “live” food in its raw form. Take a small bag of mixed seeds, carrots or an apple to work to nosh on.
Trap 4: Not enough movement, or over training. The small fix here had us consider that many people do not realize that movement actually stimulates the brain. Spinal movement and extension also encourages endorphin release, and we all want those feel good neurochemicals.
My advice is to look at your schedule and add a block of time to add movement to your day. One thing I’ve done is moved my printer into another room so when I print something, I have to get up and walk over to retrieve it. While there are days I curse myself for doing this, it’s usually when I need to get up and move the most. It forces me to change my position and in making that small change, I gain a new perspective. Twenty years ago, when I renovated my home office I added a levered mechanism that allows me to elevate a section of my desk so I have the option of standing while I work. Again, a simple physical change that changes my perspective.
I also set a timer to go off every hour and it’s out of my reach, so that prompts me to stand and move to turn it off. I gave you more ideas last week so check them out here to get more oxygen and energy into your system.
Trap 5: Mental exhaustion and worry, causing fatigue. A small but vital change is learning how to turn off your active mind. A warning sign of exhaustion is the feeling of running on empty, completely spent, nothing left in the tank, with a reduced ability to experience feeling. We’re so tired we are unable to enjoy the richness of life. Symptoms of depression often run in concert with exhaustion. Thoughts go round and round in our mind without getting us anywhere.
In addition to the ideas and recommendations already given, what might help you adjust and break free is to turn off your mind chatter. To do so, first take a moment and pattern interrupt your current habits. At work and home, regularly set an alarm that you must physically move from where you are to turn it off. When the timer goes off, go for a walk around the block, hit a flight of stairs and stretch, or just head into the washroom. I can’t tell you how many doctors, including myself, get the signal to go but we hold on for much of the day until the red light is flashing emergency.
- Begin mindful meditation, visualization or deep breathe. I have a visualization for you if you join up to get my FREE Best Version of You starter kit.
- What do you love to do as a hobby? A few minutes spent doing something that’s just for you can be restorative.
- Spend time with friends who are more balanced to re-frame to a new set point. Working 18 hour days is not normal and your friends might just provide a new perspective for you.
- Journal until you get what’s in your head out onto the paper.