Guest Post by Lisbeth Overton
I’d like to share three oversights that I have noticed and that people share with me in my coaching practice that contribute to chronic stress and less than stellar health. I will also share simple ways to address each issue starting today.
Top Three Mistakes
- Time Vampires: The most common thing people say about time is, “I wish there were more hours in a day, so I could get more done.” It is amazing to see how this plays out in life. I believe when it comes to the “time vampires” people fall into one of two categories, the auto pilots and the multitaskers.
The autopilots are just that-on auto pilot. There is nothing really intentional about what they are doing and one day turns into the next and they really are not paying very close attention and joy and passion are probably lacking here. This is a problem because if people are not paying attention they can miss things in terms of their own health or make errors in their jobs. It is also not a very fun way to live.
The multitaskers are doing just that-a million different things at once. Multitaskers are not actually focused because they are multitasking and this is not only dangerous, but also a major hack on your energy level, even though it may seem as though you are being super efficient.
- Sleep Robbers: It seems we have managed to lose all respect for sleep. It seems most people feel as though sleep is something that may get some attention if there’s time for it, if not, no sweat.
This is a major problem, especially considering that people who do not get enough sleep increase their risk for: insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, and mood disorders.
Sleep, and the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle in particular, the portion of our sleep when we dream is necessary because when we dream, the brain assimilates information. If we do not have this time to assimilate the information that we receive every day from all of our interactions, things get clogged and there is no place for the new information to go. As a result, we age faster and have a harder time remembering things.
Sleep is also crucial for hormone regulation. When we don’t get enough sleep we increase the hormone responsible for hunger (gherlin). The other hormone affected by inadequate sleep is leptin and is associated with the sensation of being satisfied after a meal (satiation). So, on the nights you don’t get enough sleep you may find yourself hungrier than usual the next day and it may seem that no matter how much or what you eat, you are never really satisfied.
We use substances like caffeine to wake up and sedatives like sleep aids or alcohol to help us unwind and prepare for sleep.
This phenomenon is portrayed well in a quote by a renowned neurologist and sleep expert, Dr. Rubin Naiman, “We need to know how to hit the brakes before the car is actually in the garage.”
We have to learn how to give our bodies natural cues that it is time to prepare the body for bed and not just expect to live the way we do and then be able to jump in bed and fall right to sleep.
- Nutritional Nightmare: Chances are you’ve heard that saying, stressed is desserts spelled backwards?! What do people typically go for when they are tired and stressed out? Convenience foods right? Foods that are loaded with unhealthy fats, salt, and sugar. What does this do for our stress? It makes it worse. Our blood sugar spikes and then in the body’s attempt to stabilize the sugar after it crashes, we crave more sugar and the cycle starts all over again. We have adopted what Josh Rosenthal, creator of IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), calls the “road warrior diet.” Everyone is eating on the run. This alone causes stress on the body and makes digestion more difficult. No one has sit down meals with their families. It’s more like a hotel, everyone coming and going at different hours and no one is eating home cooked meals anymore.
Awareness is Key
At a minimum, if you don’t do anything else, just simply start to pay attention to your patterns and what you always do. You can start to identify what activities, foods, and patterns make you feel your best and if they don’t, you can adjust accordingly.
- Time Vampires:
- Get a calendar if you don’t have one and document exactly how you spend your time. I promise you may discover some areas of opportunity.
- Cluster similar type tasks together and schedule them in blocks of time throughout your day. For example, if you have to check emails a lot at work. Commit to 2 or 3 times/day instead of stopping what you are in the middle of something else to check an email or voicemail.
- Meal prep is a huge time suck for people. Commit once a week to planning the menu for the week and go to the store and get the supplies and spend time on a dedicated day prepping food for the week. To eat well takes planning. When we have healthy food ready to grab and go, it’s a win-win.
- Focus all of your energy on what you are doing-one task at a time and practice being more aware and mindful in all that you do-it is safer and a whole lot more meaningful too.
- Sleep Robbers:
- Explore drinking warm decaf tea an hour before bed.
- Try taking a warm bath with Epsom salts and essential oils like lavender.
- Try meditation or prayer before bed.
- Try some easy stretching or yoga 30 minutes before bed.
- Avoid stimulants after 12 noon and do not engage in strenuous physical activity 2 hours before you sleep.
- Avoid screen time 2 hours prior to sleep.
- Nutritional Nightmares:
- Begin every day with a healthy breakfast-try making green smoothies or anything that you enjoy
- Begin every day with a cup of warm water with lemon -it boosts your metabolism and stimulates digestion
- Each at least one meal/day for your immunity (greens, colors from the rainbow) these foods are more alkaline and help reduce overall inflammation which is the underlying cause of all chronic disease
- Eat at least one meal a week mindfully-focus on your food using your 5 senses and refrain from doing anything else other than eating-you will naturally eat less and perhaps enjoy your food more and your body won’t be as stressed and digestion will be easier
I’d love to know any tips you have to share about making the most of your time and that makes it more enjoyable. I would also love to know your favorite sleep hygiene habits and what you do to boost your nutritional intake. Leave a comment below with any additional tips that you find to be helpful.
Lisbeth Overton is a nurse and spirit junkie and is passionate about helping nurses who are stuck in transition design a life that they love with what they have. She shares her nurse life design tools in private coaching and online at her camp for the nurse soul, Nurse Boss Soul School. She can be reached at www.healthynursebydesign.com.