In January 2014 I was read the Riot Act by my doctor. Take care of yourself or face an early death. Well… I had too much to do to die, so I decided to look after myself better. I am not on top of all aspects of my life, but I have made some radical changes which have made an enormous difference in my life.
My top six life hacks are:
- Get up early and exercise.
Now this might not suit everyone, but I get up between 4.30 am and 5.00 am on weekdays and between 5.30 am and 6 am on weekends. I throw on my active wear and go for a run or a long walk. I do this every day. It’s a non-negotiable part of my day. It energises me and makes me feel like I can take on anything through the day. I get to feel smug knowing that most people are asleep and I get to do an hour of work whilst everyone else is commuting to work.
And I sleep so much better now than ever before because I am both physically and mentally tired at the end of the day.
- I don’t drink alcohol
Woah – that escalated quickly! I know, I know – but this is vital for me. One, I have a dodgy liver from drinking too much in my first 50 years on this planet and secondly, I’m not very good at moderation. I used to drink red wine like I drink water. So now I just drink water. My doctor said I could drink occasionally in moderation but I find it easier not to drink at all. It also means that I don’t generally have an issue managing to get up early every day and going out for a run.
At the end of the day, I have had a lot of experience watching people I love drink too much. It’s not pretty and it significantly increases the chance of conflict and unhealthy relationships. So I don’t go there any more. But I am more than happy to meet you at a pub and have a drink with you; it’s just that mine will be soda water.
- I deal with stuff (most of the time)
This is a hard one but I know, better than anyone, that worrying about things is way worse than actually dealing with it. So rip that bandaid off and make that hard phone call, tell that person that you need to end the relationship, give the feedback you feel uncomfortable giving. Just remember to do it all with kindness. And if the thing you are dealing with means having a difficult conversation with another person, be thoughtful in your approach and remember that at the time of making that phone call or giving the feedback you have pretty much all of the power at that time – you’re the one in charge of that conversation because you started it. The other person might not be expecting you to call them or to raise this is an issue – so be gentle. But do it. You will feel so much better when you have dealt with stuff that is keeping you awake at night.
- I write a journal
I keep a journal that I write in every day (well nearly every day). I write it as I eat breakfast.
I have a structure to what I write, because it makes it easier and faster or me to complete, but it also keeps me on track and focused. My journalling includes:
On page 1 I have the following headings;
- 3 people/things I am grateful for
- 3 most important things I need to do today
- Quote of the day (based on what I am feeling)
- 3 best things that happened today
And then on page 2 I write a free flowing piece – just let my thoughts flow.
It helps me be more grateful, to be more focused on the issues, to talk through with myself the issues that I am dealing with or to brainstorm an idea.
- I eat well
I lost 30 kgs in 2014 in response to my doctor’s lecture. For me eating well means not eating carbs. I haven’t had any potato, rice, pasta, biscuits or pizza in over three years. I do eat bread but only very low carb bread – that’s my treat. I am allergic to refined sugar so sweets have never been my bag.
I acknowledge that not everyone has to eat really low carbs to keep their weight down, but I do. The main thing is to eat well. Junk food is just that – junk. It makes you feel awful (unless you are managing a hangover and then it makes you feel so much better).
And I don’t cheat. I refer you to my earlier comment on not being able to drink in moderation. I find it easier to just not eat something than to eat a small portion of something. I just treat carbs as though I’m allergic to them and it works for me.
- I get enough sleep
Back in the bad old days when I drank too much and ate terrible foods, I slept badly. Really really badly. That was the reason that I went to the doctor in the first place – give me drugs so that I can sleep.
Now, I go to bed much earlier, I get up earlier. I sleep well, most of the time, despite going through menopause. I sleep well because I exercise and I manage stuff better.
And I’m never going back. I’ve never felt better in my whole life. I wish someone had given me the memo much earlier but to be honest I don’t think I would have listened. I justified my bad behaviour because I had a lot of stress in my life. I wasn’t in a good place. I still have a lot of stress in my life but these days I am able to manage it so much better because of these life hacks. I don’t have it all under control all of the time but I know what I need to do when the wheels fall off.
What are your life hacks?