If you’ve been following my stories on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently caught a pretty horrible cold. To my distaste, this saw me defeated and slow for several days time. Now, I’m aware that doesn’t sound like long. For someone like me, however, those three days felt like a lengthy three weeks. I. Hate. Being. Sick.
As is, I’m a very stubborn person. I don’t like to slow down [unless it’s utterly necessary or say, in the pool of a Bali retreat]. Not on holiday, I’m a go-go-go type and for this sake, I rely on a store of optimum energy everyday. The second I’m not able to throw a determined and fierce step forward, I’m not myself. I’m an angry and frustrated version.
It ought to be said as well that being freelance doesn’t really allow you to be sick. I’ll admit this is one of its undeniable downsides. Your work doesn’t stop if you do. You can’t throw it in the bag and call in sick — because, well, there’s no one else to cover for you. It’s just you. So through endless sneezing and congestion, for the most part, you simply have to find a way to keep going.
Last week was probably one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while. I had events after work for several days. Essentially, I had no time to allocate for “being sick”, never mind for the recovery process. The way I saw it, I was pulling at plain nothingness to get better. At the things I could control — my sleep, my energy expenditure and my diet — I was forced to become far more wary.
A positive of being sick is that it always reignites my motivation to look after myself. I start to reconsider my eating habits, my sleeping habits, whether I’m getting all the right vitamins and nutrients [especially being vegan] and if I’m including enough opportunities to wind-down in my everyday.
Now that I’m almost fully recovered [touch-wood], I’ve come away from the inter-seasonal flu, feeling notably inspired. I’m trying new things at the gym now that I’ve got my energy back. I’m attempting to increase my running again [I used to run 10-15km quite easily and needless to say, I think I’ve lost the knack]. I’m making sure I don’t eat smoothie bowls 24/7 because whilst berries are great antioxidants, newsflash to myself: you actually need other things too. I’m also trying to be even more mindful and aware of what I need each day to maintain my wellness and health throughout Spring.
In case you’re coming out of sickness yourself or trying to avoid it this season, I thought I’d share where I’m at and what I’m doing. I’m only at the beginning of my wellness endeavour, but it’s one that I’m constantly expanding on — and I hope you can do so alongside me.
Introducing the second reflection of The Laundromat Series: 5 ways I’m looking after myself this Spring.
1. I’m going to bed at a consistent time.
I’m not the first to say it nor is it a recent epiphany — but I do know I need the constant reminder. Sleep is everything. The truth is, that we are all better people when we’re well-slept. We function better. We feel better. We have more enthusiasm towards the day ahead. Further yet, we’re not counting down the moments until we fall back into bed; rather, we’re maximising them.
Life is better when you sleep. I remember watching one of my favourite motivational leaders, Eric Thomas, speak about the most successful individuals going several days without sleep, in order to maximise opportunity. He even revealed that they forgot to do mundane activities like eat and sleep, for they were so intent on success. I personally don’t know how I’d just “forget” to sleep for three days, no matter how driven I was.
With that said, the words of Eric Thomas are powerful and they certainly took a toll on me. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was part of glamourising the no-sleep, hard-work hustle. Now, I still believe that there are times when to maximise opportunity, we should work that hard. We should sacrifice comfort. With that said, we can’t be expected to continue like that forever. At some stage, we have to give in and we have to go to sleep. In fact, to maintain a functioning state — even, consistent productivity that surpasses a single bout — we should try to do this at a consistent time every night.
In a recent Casey Neistat video, he spoke about his 4/5am wake-up time. Reading the comments, there was an element of backlash from individuals who announced that if they woke at this time, they’d be tired all day everyday. They also spoke about the importance of sleep. I felt there was value to Casey’s routine as much as there was to its commentary. I don’t see anything wrong with waking up at 4/5am to maximise your most productive hours. That said, I’d argue the need to be making up the hours elsewhere. We’re human. We need 7/8/9 hours each night to ensure that we operate our best the following day. I don’t have to take a poll to discern I’m not the only one.
2. I’m varying my meals and eating [slightly more] smartly.
For someone who loves spontaneity, change and excitement, I am quite the opposite when it comes to what I eat. I don’t like to spend too much time over the conundrum of what to make or what to eat — unless of course, it’s out at brunch. At home, however, I want a meal that’s quick and certain to satisfy me [for I hate the disappointment of a shit meal. What a wasted opportunity for joy, I’d argue].
For the past couple of years, specifically as a student, I became well-acquainted with pattern-eating. Now, I know what you’re thinking: that sounds great, right?! I’m sure you’re indulging in veggies galore and a sufficient amount of protein every night, and that’s you. Eh, not quite.
It’s more like this: I get obsessed with oats to the point where I wind up having oats everyday — if not twice a day. Why? Well, firstly, I can’t think of anything else to make and would prefer not to waste time in thought. Secondly, I’ve now eaten oats so much, I’ve trained my body to crave only oats. Currently, I’m in the smoothie bowl era. It’s lasted months.
Whilst I go through stages where I hit the “go-to” meal harder than others, what I realised when I got sick was “damn, I need more veggies in my life”. Also, that I need to fuel myself with more intention. True, a smoothie bowl isn’t KFC. It’s not going to kill me, if I have one everyday. But alone, it’s not going to give me everything I need to function optimally either.
When I say I’m trying to eat with intention, I mean that to some extent, I’m trying to consider what it is I hope to get out of each meal. Usually, that’s satisfaction, energy and sustenance. I don’t want to feel sluggish post-meal; more tired than I was prior or admittedly, unsatisfied. I’m now actioning meals that will avoid the onset of any said feelings.
Last night, instead of going to make a home-made pizza [which I should note, wouldn’t have been bad at all, specifically if it were topped with veggies], I wondered if there was something more nutritious I could whip up quickly. Note: A.J. and I tend to save our HelloFresh meals for when we’re cooking together. This super handy and healthy delivery service would have certainly answered my query last night too.
I chose to make a nourish bowl, filled with sweet potato [my ABSOLUTE favourite], quinoa, smashed avocado, hummus, Mexican beans and spinach. This FELT good to eat — not solely for my taste buds, but for my body and my mind. I knew that meal could be added to the list of valuable things I’d done for myself that day.
3. I’m walking [wow, big whoop! *Cue the applause.* Hold out, there’s more to this than I’ll admit it appears right now].
If you know me, you’ll know that beyond the gym or running, I’m perhaps the biggest advocate for walking there is. I walk wherever and whenever I can. In fact, I’ll choose it by preference over public transport [less stress AND more enjoyable].
Not only is it a great addition to any training you’re already doing — and an easy method for staying active throughout the day — it’s also just incredibly good for the soul. On a cloudy day, it’s comforting to rug up and head out for a walk. On a beautiful day, it feels the best way to spend it.
I’m lucky that A.J. has similar thoughts: he’s happy to walk 7km to a brunch spot alongside my batty, old self. We’ll even wake earlier than needed to walk somewhere together. While we walk, we talk to each other. We have long conversations we mightn’t ever have, if we didn’t have anything else to do.. but walk. When we walk, the journey becomes every bit as important as the destination.
I was once in Baker’s Delight [yes, fitting on the subject of wellness, right?], when an elder woman began conversation with me. She said she swore by walking everywhere. “You keep walking, and you’ll be healthy forever — just look at me!”, she laughed. I believed her. I’ve been walking ever since.
There’s something equally valuable in walking with someone else, as there is to be found in walking alone. If you’re looking for some quiet time to yourself this Spring, don’t spend it on your phone. Don’t spend it watching a movie. Spend it in a more valuable way: go for a walk. Move your body, and gravitate your mind with it. Whether you listen to a podcast or to your thoughts, I urge that you walk more. I’ll go as far to say that it’ll change your life — both physically and mentally.
4. I’m enacting mindful social media use. And when that use is over, I’m moving my phone physically away from me.
This sounds extreme, however, so is our attachment to our phones. It’s to a point where we’ll pick it up if it’s close to us. If we see it flicker with a notification, we’ll feel inclined to check it. We’ll aimlessly scroll. We’ll watch countless Instagram stories, subconsciously cluttering our minds.. and with what?
This Spring, I want to engage in content that means something to me. I don’t believe that social media can’t be valuable — but you do have to search and filter your feed to find the value. When I’ve gained what value there is [whether that’s educational, uplifting or entertaining in nature], I’m aiming to put my phone away. To put it on charge somewhere that requires too much physical effort to reach for again [because let’s be honest, no matter how #fitspo you are, that shit works].
As I’ve mentioned on my Instagram [seriously, if you aren’t following things there, you’re missing out on such day-to-day insight, my friends], moving my phone away a half before bed has really helped my ability to wind down. As someone who struggles to turn off their thoughts in the eve [just ask A.J. — my brain comes to life and all the biggest questions come out, like “do you think we’ll be together forever” lol], this has been really significant to ensuring I sleep effectively each night.
Overall, I’m making a conscious effort to look after what’s happening in my brain and to control it as best I can. It’s a shame to think a piece of technology or a myriad of digital messages could be infiltrating my thoughts and altering my mood for the worse. To some extent, it would appear I’m the one giving it access to do so. For the sake of my own wellness, I’m enacting a degree of self-surveillance when it comes to social media this Spring.
5. I’m prioritising the things that make me happy.
I know this sounds very obvious — but I often wonder if we think we do this more than we actually do. Take a swim in the pool, for example. I know that’s something that makes me happy. But sometimes I’ll convince myself it’s not worth it. I’ll throw around excuses. I don’t feel like swimming all that much. It’ll be an effort to get out into the cold again, to shower, to change afterwards.
But simply put, I’m such a water baby. I love the ocean. I miss the ocean all the time, here in Melbourne. This Spring, I’m making an effort to [as counterproductive as it may sound] dwell less on the consequences of my actions. To spend less time debating about whether an activity will be worthwhile. If it makes me happy — or even, has the potential to make me happy — then all questions aside, it is worthwhile and I should do it.
I’ve spoken about having morning coffee with A.J. on my Instagram before. This is a routine that I really value, not solely for the fact that I get to spend time with him. It means I ease into my day, feeling relaxed and at ease. Of course, it’s only made better doing so alongside the one I love. In my dressing gown, I feel beautiful and sexy. With a cup of coffee in hand and him beside me, I feel warm and I feel loved.
I love this moment, and whether I head to the gym in the morning or allow myself to sleep in, I always prioritise to be at home and awake for it. It mightn’t be a possibility every morning, but on the mornings it can, I try to ensure it happens. That it makes me happy, after all, is enough to prioritise it.
There are countless other moments or activities that make me happy; however, in the rush of everyday life, I often forget to prioritise them. Take writing. I forget to write. I forget to write for me. It shouldn’t matter if I’m writing for work. What about the words I wish to say, paired in the way I wish to say them? These deserve to be given a voice. To be prioritised.
I forget to dance. I forget to turn the radio loud and to lose track of time. That makes me happy. It always has. Loud music and new music too. I haven’t discovered new artists or new songs, compiled new playlists for so long. That used to make me so happy. Could it be that in the pursuit of productivity, I’ve lost touch with some of those simple things that make me happy? Is this just something that happens when we grow up?
If so, this Spring, I’d like to turn back time.
I want you to think for a moment; what are things in your every day [or perhaps they don’t exist here at the moment] that make you happy? Think of moments where you’ve felt sudden elation — and not as a result of something significant or rare. Think of the most simple or subconscious activities you do — and have ever done — that have filled you with contentment.
We should prioritise their upkeep this Spring, in preparation for a joy-filled Summer. Coming out of Winter, there feels no better time to re-focus our self-care and wellness routines. If you have any further tips, feel free to share below or on Instagram!
Here’s to bettering ourselves and our habits not just this season, but always.
Photos by Julia Krivoshev [edited by me], featuring this little puppy of whom I, a non-dog-obsessed soul [polite for “their unpredictability scares me”], actually found myself embracing! He saw his moment to be in the spotlight, and seized it [and to be fair, I’d probably have done the same thing. Perhaps this reasons the bond, after all.].
Make-up by Dominique Matthews.