Set realistic expectations of yourself and your schedule. Do what is possible over trying to do it all, writes Simrun Chopra, as she suggests ways to reclaim good health and joy in these stressful times
Ever realised it’s nearly dinner time and you haven’t had your shower? With lockdowns ahead of many of us in the country, pressure of working from home and schools starting with the online classes, everyone is doubling up as parent, teacher, entertainer, cleaner, chef and not to forget employee. Juggling so many roles can be daunting and leave you feeling frustrated and out of control.
The mind is a powerful thing and when it feels out of control, disoriented, everything around you seems to fall apart. You feel like you are drowning in responsibilities somehow grabbing at straws to stay afloat. What you need instead is a life jacket. Let me throw you one.
What if you are unable to check your frustration and that feeling of having lost all control? What if, at the end of the day, you truly feel productive, like you achieved something? How do you tackle such extreme swings?
Let’s begin with something that we largely remain unaware of or take for granted — our time. In particular, let’s look at our priorities and how we should manage our time.
Start with a SIMple exercise to improve awareness — Time Diary. Grab a paper, spreadsheet or whatever you like and a clock. The stopwatch on your phone will work fine. Now, write down how you spend your day from waking to sleeping. Note down every action including time spent on the phone, throne or social media. Time that you spend drinking tea, chopping, cooking or cleaning up.
We are looking for time “suckers”or energy wasters — Where is my time going? Where do I waste time? Woah, do I really scroll through my phone for 40 minutes on the pot? Find your time suckers and remove them.
Ask yourself — what can I do less of, so that I can do more of the things that matter to my physical and mental well being?
With an active social media presence myself, I ensure I have a time slot for each activity because without it, I will get sucked down the rabbit hole.
We are not in a contest; we are not trying to come out of this with a doctorate in UI design. If you are safe and healthy you are doing a great job.
Ideally aim for three big to-do items a day. Three must dos and if you finish them, then do some more. Setting realistic expectations of yourself and others is imperative to your mental well-being at the moment.
In these times, parents, especially mothers, have found themselves overwhelmed and inundated with work. The pressures of raising a child coupled with managing home and work from home office can be a daunting task. Here are a few things that have truly helped me as a full time working mother.
- Batch Cooking. Cooking for multiple meals simultaneously saves times and energy.
- One pot meals make cooking simple and quick. You don’t need a buffet spread at each meal.
- Listing out your three top to-do items right at the beginning of the day. Setting a goal helps one stay focussed.
- 10 minutes of quiet me-time. Use this time to relax and do nothing. Works as a great recharge.
- Delegate. Get your spouse, children, family, partner, roommate or any human you can find, to share the workload. If you cook, someone else can clean. If you iron, someone else can fold.
- Don’t compare. If someone says they are acing this time, that’s great. But that is not your life and not your circumstances. So, don’t compare what’s happening in your life with that of the others or for that matter, anything. You do you.
- Be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself as you would to your best friend. We often judge ourself harshly. Know this is the best way that you can handle.
- See if you can add 15 minutes of something important while removing 15 minutes of something unimportant. You’d be surprised to know how wasteful our mind/certain habits can be.
My top tip to staying fresh, sorted and in control of the game is a good night’s sleep!
One of the biggest reason for people struggling with weight issues, feeling low and slow in general, is lack of adequate sleep.
Here are some of the signs that indicate you are not getting enough rest:
- Your mind feels unclear maybe even a bit foggy. Think reduced alertness, confusion, forgetfulness.
- You feel low or not happy. Maybe you are feeling more stressed, low in terms of mood. When we sleep we repair and regenerate and not getting enough of sleep starts to show up quickly.
- You are more susceptible to illnesses, viruses, bacteria. Something you do not want right now.
- Low energy, lower reaction time, lethargy...
Some of these can also be indicators of vitamin deficiencies, but before you run out to get tested, try getting in more sleep. Aim to get in atleast seven hours of sleep. I know you’re possibly thinking: “You have no clue how much work I have”. But, let’s be honest is working out an assessment. Time dairy is your friend here. All research shows a delayed bedtime is from a voluntary delay — that extended TV time or watching videos online. Unless you are a new parent!
Ideally, aim for the same sleep and waking time. Seven to eight hours is ideal. If you don’t think this is priority, think again.
Sleep loss increases your risk of weight gain, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Time you paid attention to proper sleep.
Hold on, there’s more
A study was conducted on 11 healthy men in their 20s. They were allowed to sleep only four hours per night for six nights continuously. At the end of it, it was found that they had the insulin sensitivity of a 70 year old pre-diabetic! This when only one parameter was changed. While it’s a small sample, it is suggestive. The solution is cheap and easy to do.
If you have some trouble falling asleep try some of the measures listed in the chart. See if those help.
Life throws many curve balls at us and 2020 is just one of the many. You just need to learn to hit that ball. It does not have to be a perfect shot and you don’t need to hit a six each time. You just need to learn to hit the ball. It’s as simple as that.
Set realistic expectations of yourself and your schedule. Do what is possible over trying to do it all. SIMplify where you can, that’s all you need right now.
The writer is a Lifestyle and Transformation Coach