So, it’s the end of the school holidays for those of us with kids up in Scotland.
I feel like the last 6 weeks have flown in and, although I’ll be sad for the holidays to be over (I do enjoy being able to leave for work in the morning without the hassle of the school run), I feel I am more than ready to get back into a regular routine.
It’s been nice not having to do all the runs to various clubs and not having to make packed lunched for the kids as well as myself. It’s also been good to see the kids having a bit more ‘down time’ and to spend less time ‘clock watching’ to make sure we aren’t late for football/rugby/dancing or whatever.
What I have missed though is a bit of consistency.
Over the years I have come to realise that I feel better when I have a regular routine.
I don’t need every day to be regimented and I still enjoy a degree of flexibility in what I do, what I eat, who I see and how I spend my free time, but my wellbeing suffers when I fall away from some of the new habits I’ve built up over the last few years and fall back into some old ones.
Over the last few weeks I’ve started to notice that my energy levels have dipped, I’m putting things off rather than getting them done as I normally would, I’m feeling a bit bloated, more tired and am snacking when I’m not even particularly hungry. I’m also snacking on things I wouldn’t normally even look at just because they are there and not even really enjoying it.
I’d like to blame most of this on the school holidays but, if I’m being honest I didn’t feel the same last year. So what’s changed this year?
Well, the answer is probably nothing major. I think there are a few little things that have changed, for example the kids are a little older so have been staying up a bit later this summer which has a knock on effect on my own bed time. They enjoy eating out more so we have probably gone out for lunch or dinner a bit more this summer.
I think the what’s been different is that last year I didn’t allow these wee things to be the start of a domino effect. Yes, I ate differently, snacked a bit more but I made sure I always had lunches prepared for work, lots of fresh fruits, veg and nuts in my bag for snacking on and was much more focussed on making sure I got outdoors every day for a walk.
Last year I managed to intervene before all the dominos started to topple.
This year, I’ve just let them continue to fall.
Life is always busy and my job is often stressful but this year has been a particularly busy one both at home and at work and I think when I got on the plane to go on holiday at the start of the summer I took my foot off the accelerator and have just found it hard to get going again, especially with the later night of the school holidays.
I’m not at my best without a good night’s sleep. Add this to lack of exercise, eating more processed and high sugar foods and being less good at clearing my to do list day to day because I’m on ‘holiday mode’ has had the knock on effect of making me feel more tired, less motivated, less keen on getting my butt off the couch and more keen on eating anything in my path.
It’s hardly the end of the world but I know I can feel better than this if I make a few small changes.
I’m sure many of you have experiences similar feelings.
Common triggers include:
- Stress from life changes/break up of relationships
- Boredom or frustration at lack of progress
- Injury or illness
- Drastic change in environment eg moving home, new workplace, long vacation
- Trying to do or take on too much too quickly
So, I’m going back to basics and creating the good habits again.
I’m starting with this as the whole house could be doing with getting to bed earlier and getting back to a good night time routing with less TV and screen time before bed.
You know I love a bit of organisation. I’m going to get back to looking at the week ahead and seeing where I can fit in all the wee things I do to keep myself and my family feeling fit and well. We usually spend a few minutes on a Sunday sorting out what’s on for the week, what we are going to cook, where the kids need to be and when we each have stuff on like meetings/gym etc.
My favourite subject. I am a total foodie. I love shopping for food, cooking food and eating food. I even love looking at picture of food. (yes I am one of those people who photograph their food in restaurants). At the minute, I’m not getting as much enjoyment out of food as I usually would.
Because I haven’t been doing as much shopping, cooking and planning, I’m finding I’m eating more processed and ‘convenience’ foods and am definitely eating larger meals and snacking more often. Like I said before, I’m even eating when I’m not that hungry just because the food is in front of me.
This is a habit I had managed to break a few years ago but, like everything else, it’s easy to slip back to old ways.
Usually, Ill have my breakfast, lunch and snacks for the next day ready the night before. I’ve built up a good wee bank of recipes that are cheap, quick and easy to make and well balanced in terms of nutrition. They are, most importantly, food that I love. Instead I’ve been eating more on the go or what’s around at work and am definitely feeling like I want to get more fresh fruit, nuts and veg on board and less processed foods and sugary snacks. I’m not planning on cutting out anything from my diet at all but I want to get a better balance, eat when I’m hungry rather than when food is in front of me and stopping eating when I’m full rather than seeing every plate as a personal challenge!
As my friends know, I’m not a ‘sporty person’ by nature. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being short of breath, sweaty and at the brink of vomiting in my own mouth but I have to say I feel physically and mentally better when I exercise on a regular basis and I DO believe that there is some form of activity out there for everyone. I’ll never be a fan of running but I did enjoy doing the ‘couch to 5K’ with friends so I’m going to give it another go and get out walking when I can. I know if I plan in time to get to the gym to get some weights in I’m more likely to do it so that’ll be on planner too. This way, even if I miss a day or two I won’t get into the ‘f$*k it’ mentality of feeling like I might as well give up as the next day is already in the diary. I’ve also got a friend to tag along with! Got to love a bit of accountability.
Although I am not long back from a holiday, 3 kids at home with no real daily routine isn’t really conducive to creating a stress free life. I’ve not been as good at taking time out for myself to do something relaxing. The later nights have made me less inclined to get up a few minutes earlier than I need to gather my thoughts for the day. I’m hoping sorting out bedtime routine will help me get back on track.
Embrace imperfect starts.
Now in my 40’s, I’m well practised in terms of trying to get my life in order but I don’t expect to get there without a few false starts. And that’s ok with me!
I’ve got a few birthdays, nights out and a weekend away coming up. Many would say that this isn’t a great time to start making changes but is there ever a good time? I don’t need to do all of the above at once, I don’t have to have ‘perfect days’, I am happy to enjoy all these occasions without feeling ‘guilty’ (something else I’ve had to learn over the years).
We all have to start somewhere and, for me, today is as good a day as any to get back to the small changes I’ve made over the years and get back on track. These wee changes are like interlocking cogs in your wellness wheel. Added together they can make a huge difference to how you feel and reduce your risk of developing chronic disease.
If you can relate to any of this then why not join our facebook group ‘ouryearofsmallchanges’ and get some support in making changes to improve your wellbeing.
You can also look back at some of our older blogs including how to break old habits and how to create new ones for some inspiration.
Meanwhile, I’m off to get started on getting back to feeling….