Some of you may heard of the terms ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ which derive from Ancient Chinese philosophy. It is the concept of dualism which describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may in fact be complementary, intertwined and interdependent. It is basically the balance of the two, one light and one dark. In this week’s blog I will be speaking on maintaining balance when it comes to eating and sleeping during this difficult period. Aspects of mental health play into this as the physical wellbeing is interlinked to healthy mental being. A lot to manage, right?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched myself fluctuate a lot in terms of being productive, maintaining sleep hygiene and staying on top of everything. From waking up at 9am and speeding through my to-do list to sleeping at 5am and rising at noon lacking in motivation. As dull as it sounds, eating correctly and sleeping ‘properly’ are vital areas to focus on, now more than ever as the pandemic pressures seep into our thoughts, day and night.
For years, I’ve been entertaining the toxic habit of skipping breakfast after barely getting enough sleep only to then wonder why I’d find myself drifting to sleep in lessons or why I was so low in mood. Well, the answer to that is energy. Energy is essential to function. We gain energy through eating, sleeping, or exercise. Like a well-kept machine, we too have to recharge our batteries from time to time.
The domino effect
I’ve struggled with my eating habits since I was little. I’ve gone through different phases of not eating a lot throughout the day, then going crazy in the kitchen late at night, or ‘forgetting’ to eat completely and just eating barely nourishing snacks here and there. Evidently, this is not the route to confine yourself to as it pretty much sends a domino-like wave of lacking essential nutrients your body needs to function properly.
Now, pair decent sleeping with rubbish eating and you’re just about scraping through your workload; poor sleep plus poor eating however, that’s a downward spiral right there. I get that it’s easy to lose track of healthy routines as times get stressful and you are entirely right in feeling this way, exceptional circumstances and all that.
You have to give some to get some
Thankfully, many shops still stock a variety of ingredients and supplements that do us good. It’s mainly about having the drive and motivation to cook and prepare nutritious meals.
I know what I’m talking about when it comes to the time and effort it can take to cook properly as for the best part of three years, working as a chef was how I was able to afford my rent. Once I stopped working in that field, I was so drained that I decided I’d never enjoy cooking ever again. I went through a long phase of only buying ready-made and microwavable meals. This is perfectly OK; as long as you are still getting what your body needs through other foods too. A lot of food is processed, so I cannot stress how key it’s to overindulge on fresh fruit and veg.
Keep your priorities in mind: staying safe and healthy
Financial hardship, the daily struggles, it’s all breaking through the roof all over the world, and honestly, it’s becoming more difficult and exhausting. Amidst the crisis, the boundaries between the rich and the poor are blurring together. No matter who you ae or where you come from, you are in some way being affected by what’s going on and that’s the harsh reality.
The goal right now is to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe and sane as possible. Binging on Netflix all day and staring at your phone till your you can hear the birds getting up at dawn just isn’t healthy; and yet a lot of us find ourselves drifting as we let go of our usual routines.
It’s important not to feel guilty about this. It happens. It’s a perfectly normal reaction to what’s going on around us, the negativity and everything that’s completely out of our hands. All we can do is sit tight and follow the government’s instructions; all the while looking after ourselves; what a mission!
A realistic mission
Handling money is a sore subject for many these days; its hands wrapped tightly around our throats. There are small changes in the way I’ve been doing things recently, things that, as I realise now, should have been part of my routine all along. Writing things down, for example, from shopping lists (aids budgeting), to thoughts about my day, to keeping track of what I eat (in a healthy, non-obsessive manner). Writing is a form of release and reflection. I am a strong believer in the saying “better out than in”. As difficult as it is to communicate our thoughts and emotions to others, once we tackle this challenge, it’s a wonderful thing.
Letting go of things and releasing them from our system, is as important as taking in sunshine. In order to survive and budget well I’ve started writing down a list of weekly essentials and I tick it off mentally as I go along. Another tactic is straying from online boutiques and pages that support retail therapy because it’s too easy to purchase that jumper you’ve been preying on or get some cheeky makeup products in. Now and again this is perfectly fine, of course, but not whenever you feel down there are other ways to make you feel whole again including eating and sleeping properly.
Key bits and bobs I came to realise and practice regularly:
- Unless it’s part of your established healthy routine, do not skip breakfast! It might just be the most important meal of the day for you 😉
- Write down your spending and monitor it closely ✅
- Eat fruit and veg whenever possible 🍉
- Aim to switch your phone off by 11pm daily 📴
- Take a detox from virus updates ⛔
- Unfollow any social media that is affecting you negatively ❌
- Cook hearty meals and box them in portions 🍲
- Clean the possessions you handle the most regularly, this includes keys, phones, wallets, cards, door handles, taps and jewellery 🔄
- Give meditation a go 😊
- Practice mindfulness for 30 minutes a day, possibly before bedtime 🙂
- Ground yourself when feeling nervous by noticing objects of the same colour in your surroundings, listing similarities around you or simply putting your bare feet on the ground and literally planting yourself down whilst paying attention to your breathing 👣
- Exercise your facial muscles daily, this can also be done through sharing smiles and radiating good energy 🤣
- Appreciate your progress and list at least 3 things you feel good about every day 👍
"Trying to open eyes softly not harshly. Bloom where you’re planted." Maya is 21 years old and currently studying English Literature and Philosophy.