When life gets busy, sometimes your diet and exercise plans can drop to the bottom of your list of priorities. So how do you get your headspace out of the land of overwhelm, and back to feeling like yourself again so that you can focus on yourself and your health?
Glad you asked…
1: Eat that frog
If you haven’t heard of this one before, the idea is (as ridiculous as it sounds) that if you had to eat a live frog, that’s probably the worst thing that you would do that day, and everything else would seem easy in comparison.
So think about what your frog is- what is that task, project, outing, or errand that you have been putting off or that you want to procrastinate on. It’s usually something that will be boring or unpleasant to do, take a lot of effort, something you don’t feel confident you are capable of doing, or that makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable.
It might be a big project at work that will take a lot of time and you aren’t sure you will be able to pull off. It might be working your way through a mountain of paperwork and you know you will be bored out of your brain doing it. It could be an uncomfortable phone call you need to make, like apologising, or telling someone their behaviour was not acceptable.
Something that is often a big frog for many of us is exercise. It makes you sweat, your muscles burn, your chest gets tight as you huff and puff, and you hate how unfit you feel. You know you should do it, you want to be healthy, but it feels really hard in the moment.
Take a look at your to-do list. What is on there that you immediately want to schedule for later, instead of tackling now. That’s probably your frog.
If you tackle your frog as the very first thing you do during the day, when your energy levels are usually the highest, then you be able to get it done quicker than if you put it off to the afternoon or evening when you are tired, hungry, or exhausted from making a hundred decisions that day already.
You’ll also get a sense of accomplishment for doing it ahead of time, and know that whatever else happens through the day, you won’t be rushing last minute to complete it because something unexpected has come up. Everything else for the day will seem easier after that.
Capture every task
The worst part about feeling stressed and overwhelmed is that feeling like you are forgetting things, or wasting time, or don’t have enough time to do everything. This is where having a system where you write down everything you need to do- including personal tasks- and keep everything in one place can work wonders.
It might help to sit for 5 mins and write down everything you can possibly think of, and then add to this as you remember things. Include things like shopping for healthy food, cooking healthy meals, and doing up a weekly meal plan. Separate tasks into “have to do’s” and “nice to do’s.” All of this will seem even more overwhelming at first, as you stare down at the massive list in front of you, but the next part is where you get your sense of control back.
Put due dates next to the tasks that absolutely have to be done by a certain day, and estimates for how long tasks will take. Then start slotting them into your calendar. Put your frogs at the start of the day, or dedicate an entire day to frogs, so that the rest of the week is all downhill from there. Add your “have to do’s” first, and your “nice to do’s” in any extra time spaces.
Make sure you give yourself some buffer time. A pocket of time here or there to account for unexpected things, rather than scheduling every single last minute in your day and then getting frustrated or anxious if you can’t follow the schedule perfectly. Also- overestimate how long things will take you, so that you can run ahead of schedule and feel like a superhuman, and won’t get stressed if something else takes 5 minutes more.
Lastly- schedule in regular breaks. At least 5 mins every hour or two. Let yourself drink some water, have a healthy snack or meal, and just sit quietly for a few minutes, so that you can keep good energy levels the whole day long and not get burned out.
When you look at your week ahead, suddenly you see that you can actually get done what needs to be done, and you know you aren’t going to be wasting time on non essential things. You aren’t starting the day overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin. You have a plan. You are able to exercise, eat healthy, and take care of yourself without feeling guilty that doing these things is taking away time from the other things you need to do.