This is a post for the people who are tired, drained, overwhelmed, going through a tough patch. The people who have too much on their plates. Or just feeling a bit meh.
If that's you, I feel you! I'm 4 years into my sleep deprivation (thanks kid!) and the last year has been the toughest year of my life, with surgery, family illness, loss and poor health thrown on top of that sleep deprivation. Safe to say I haven't been feeling on top form.
We all have times like this, it's just a part of life. But what I see time and time again is people being encouraged (or encouraging themselves) to do more, be better, push harder. Sometimes that is what we need. But in those periods where things are hard and your body is under a lot of strain, whether that's physical, emotional or both, the thing that you really need to do is to stop and honour where you are at.
If you are feeling drained then "ab attack", "body blast" or similar mean sounding classes probably aren't going to help energise you.
If you feel like you don't even have a second to catch your breath then an elaborate meal plan of home cooked healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week is probably going to add to your feelings of overwhelm.
If you are stuggling to exercise then phrases like "no pain no gain" needs to be replaced with "grace over guilt" and "listen to your body, it's smarter than you".
I'm not advocating an unhealthy lifestyle. We all need to take care of ourselves.
But how we take care of ourselves and what that looks like will change depending on what season of life we are in.
In the last few months my body has been worn out. It would be easy to feed myself the story that "I'm a Pilates instructor, I should look a certain way, do a certain amount of exercise, push to all the hardest levels etc etc ". But that isn't helpful. Instead what I've done is to scale back to the gentler levels of exercises and to listen to my body. Some weeks I do hardly any "real" exercise and I just focus on stretching and mobility. That is what my body needs. And it's meant that I'm not injuring myself, I don't feel achy and I feel positive and happy that I'm still looking after myself.
If you push too much, for too long your body and mind will burn out.
Whether that's exercising too hard, eating too much junk, taking on too much stress, we all have a threshold that we need to respect. The trick (and the challenge!) is to take a really good look at what's going on in your life, where you are at and then be realistic about how you can stay healthy given your current situation. Pretending that you aren't drained/stressed/overwhelmed and trying to carry on as normal will only make things harder. Acknowledging and then honouring your situation is one of the best things you can do for your health.
It's about knowing what you need and when, knowing when you need to push yourself and when you need to take a step back and have a breather or a rethink.
So before you go on with whatever you were doing before reading this I encourage you to stop and really consider your season of life right now and then to make a list of a few ways that you can take care of yourself and your health without adding any extra strain.
For me it's been committing to a 10 minute stretch every morning and then seeing any other exercise I do in the day as a bonus. And eating a lot of the same batched meals to save me time and energy without having to resort to pizza! And taking this stress off usually means that I want to do more than 10 minutes and having batched meals a few times a week gives me energy to make fancier stuff on other days.
What will help you to feel good right now? Here are a few ideas for the times when you feel like you have no time or space for healthy living:
10 minutes meditation
Identify a recurring negative thought and decide on a positive way to reframe this.
Create an affirmation or mantra to use throughout the day to counter this negative thought, a favourite of mine for times of stress is "I am calm, I am happy, I am in control"
Clear your weekend schedule for a few weeks to give you time to breathe and reset.
Have a break from your phone! You might be surprised how much you need this.
Come to Pilates even when you don't fancy it (this is usually when you need it the most!)
Organise a catch up with a friend who makes you feel good
Fill your freezer with easy healthy meals - and lower your standards on what is a healthy dinner..Sometimes I eat homemade meals every night but in the harder periods of life that just isn't realistic!
Keep a gratitude journal consistently
I promise, these aren't as cheesy as they sound and I've found them all useful at some point. And remember, you don't want to be adding more stress to your life or more tasks to your never ending to do list, choose a few things that you think might really address the things that are a source of negativity in your life right now and remember, sometimes less is really what you need, less stress, less pressure, less self imposed expectations.
If you are in a hard period right now, do what you can to make life easier and be reassured that as with everything it will pass in time xx