Do y’all ever feel like, even though you’re eating well and getting your exercise, your mind doesn’t totally feel at ease?
The other day I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts by The Healthy Maven, and her guest said something that resonated with me so much that I actually had to stop mid-walk and write it down in the notes app on my phone. Niki, from Healthnut Nutrition said, “Health isn’t just the food you eat, it’s the thoughts you think and the relationships you have.” I mean, I literally could not have said this better myself. How valid is that?!
As I get older, I’m starting to realize that, while eating well and sweating it out does make me feel great, that’s not the only thing my body (and soul) may need. Don’t get me wrong, when I’ve had a stressful day or I’m totally freaking out about something, I crave a cardio session or POUND class to let it all out, but I also think that this isn’t the only way to calm down, get some perspective and gain peace of mind. For me, sometimes the last thing I want (or need) is an intense workout, and what really will make me feel better is writing it all down, talking it out with a friend, or even just unplugging from my phone and social media for a bit.
I don’t exactly meditate, not because I don’t think it has benefits, but because I think I just meditate in other ways than silently and sitting, you know? I think my meditation comes in the form of walking and maybe listening to an uplifting podcast (swear my a roundup of my faves is coming soon!), or writing in my planner. I’m still with my thoughts, and thinking about how I feel, but without having to sit in silence. Does that make sense?
I’m no health expert, as you all know, but I will say this – being happy, in addition to healthy, requires a certain mindset. And running around like a crazy person trying to squeeze in a workout 7 days a week for an hour and a half plus thinking about how you can eat every single superfood in the 15 hours you’re awake, can often do more help than good. I’m working on this myself, and have gotten a lot better at it in the last year or so, but this whole “self-care” thing is more important than I have a feeling most of us think it is.
Here are some of the things I do to help de-stress before or after a long day, on a lazy Sunday when I’m not quite ready to get back to Monday, when I’m on vacation hoping to reboot, or even on my lunch break…
Make a to-do list before bed at night or first thing in the morning – I don’t know about you, but sometimes it literally takes me 5 hours to fall asleep (just ask my boyfriend who gets woken up by me asking him if he’s still awake at 3am…). A lot of times this is because I’m thinking about all of the things I have to do the next day, week, month, whenever. I find that writing things down in my planner right before I go to bed not only helps me organize my plans, but also keeps me aware of things that are happening days from now. I do the same thing in the morning at work so that I know how to organize and time-manage my day. It definitely keeps the stress at bay when I have everything written down in front of me that I can check off throughout the day!
Keep a journal – This one sort of goes with my point above in the sense that getting our thoughts down on paper helps get them out of our heads. I used to be a huge journal-er when I was in grade school, but it became less of a priority and more of a time commitment over the years. Instead of writing massive entries like I used to, chronicling every single thing I said and did in a day, I use the 5-minute journal method or the 52 Lists Project (my favorite) to jot down some thoughts and move on. Even though it takes only a few minutes, it puts my head in a better space and re-focuses my thoughts. (I’ve linked my favorite journals/notebooks at the bottom of this post!)
Go for a walk – If you know me at all, you know this one’s my go-to. I try to take at least a 30 minute walk every single day in the middle of the day, and sometimes one at night as well, just so that I can get myself away from my desk. I find that if I’m having trouble focusing, a walk helps me re-center myself so that I can come back to my work feeling refreshed. It gets the creative juices flowing and also allows me to step away from my tech, where I often have 8,000 tabs open and get distracted super easily! I also think walking kind of forces you to think/feel since there’s nothing you’re responsible for in that moment except for putting one foot in front of the other.
Call a family member or friend – While I think it’s super important to think through things on your own, I also know how incredible and important it can be to get someone else’s perspective, or even just talk it out without expecting a response. Depending on what’s going on, I’ll call either or both of my parents, my brother, my boyfriend, or my best friends to get their opinions if I’m dealing with a tough situation. Other times, I just like to hear someone else’s voice, listen to how their day is going, and separate myself from my own problems. Not only does this help take your mind off of things that may be bothering you, but it also allows you to be there for someone else if they need it and gives you an opportunity to fortify a relationship or keep in touch with someone far away. After all, Niki did say that health is about relationships, too!
Find a good hardcover or paperback book (not an audiobook!) – As you probably know already, I am a die hard fan of audiobooks and podcasts right now. However, I think unplugging completely, holding a book in your hand and focusing on just that can do wonders for our minds. When an audiobook is on, it’s easier for us to multi-task, and I think part of unwinding should be the opposite of just that! I recently started going back the local library and it’s been amazing. Books are always worth it, but the library makes them so accessible and free for this #BabeOnABudget!
Alright y’all, that’s it for now. I hope everyone is having a stress-free week! Don’t forget to make time for the things that make you happy!