Nicky Park: Sorting your life out

3 comments
Ditch the to-do list and cut yourself some slack.
Photo / Thinkstock
Ditch the to-do list and cut yourself some slack. Photo / Thinkstock

I've just landed back in real life after a month of backpacking around Colombia.

My reality as an Aussie living in New Zealand is pretty chipper, as I've written about before. But despite this, it's been bloody hard to shake the backpacker buzz and get back in to the swing of things.

I love holiday concerns. You know, things like; should I stay in Medellin another night or move on Salento? Is there such thing as too much meat? And, which hammock shall I take my afternoon kip in? Every day is the weekend. It's a wonderful way to thrive.

However, when it all comes to an end it's important to shake the holiday hangover and get back on with flourishing in real life.

I admit, this time it's been a bit of a battle. I flew in late at night. I returned to work the next morning. My backpack lay on my bedroom floor, still full, for four days. I used products straight from my bathroom bag.

I was weary in the afternoons. Then I started getting overwhelmed with life and procrastinated.

It's not just holiday time that can trigger this feeling of always being behind the eight-ball.

Biochemistry expert, Dr Libby Weaver, says it's quite common for people to feel spent.

"I don't know whether anyone ever gets on top of things these days," she says.

"Don't ask yourself how am I ever going to catch up on all of this? Because you probably won't."

We tend to write to-do lists as long as forever and then when we don't tick everything off we feel overwhelmed, unmotivated, maybe grumpy and sometimes weary. (That's me, right there.)

Dr Libby says we tend to give ourselves grief for not getting everything done.

A better way of looking at what you'd like to achieve is in "chunks".

"Capture everything ... (you) can think of that does need attention ... chunk it in to categories and decide on a focus," Dr Libby says.

For instance, make it your outcome to get on top of your emails, to spend 30 minutes outdoors or to touch base with the girls from high school. You might have just one outcome for the day, or a couple from different aspects of your life, but make them achievable and then allow yourself the chance to rest and bask in your glory of satisfaction.

If you don't chill out and cut yourself some slack then your body goes into "red alert" and this affects hormones, digestion, sleep and moods.

Speaking of which, I'm also a big believer in your body responding to what you put in it.

On holidays, or periods of feeling overwhelmed, it's easy to shelve this concept. Heck, on vay-cay you want to try new foods and sip cocktails at sunset. Sometimes you just have to eat what's on offer because you're on an overnight bus ride and your belly is moaning for supper.

And sometimes, after a long day, when you're still at number 16 on your to-do list and your desk is covered in post-it notes all you want to do is pick up Pad Thai on the way home.

But, if you want to get your head in the right space, naturopath and fatigue expert Irene Lok says it's important to fuel your body with the right kind of food.

Feast on lean proteins such as fish, chicken or tofu for lunch and team them with some veges and your cells will be bursting with enough energy to get you through the afternoon without feeling hungry, distracted or sleepy. Aces!

Dr Libby's top five tips for sorting your life out:

1. When you look at what needs to be done, ask "what outcome do I want to achieve today?" instead of "how will I ever got on top of this?" Your brain will give you an answer to whatever you ask it. This slight change in language is powerful and empowering.

2. Capture your thoughts and tasks and then group them together into categories. Instead of having a big long to-do list, you now have five to seven categories you can focus on.

3. You must rest, either once the outcome/s have been achieved or regularly schedule it. Rest and recreation are just as important as work.

4. Take part in a breath-focussed movement class or simply greet the new day by flinging open the curtains, observing the day, placing your hands on your tummy just below your belly button and breathing from your diaphragm. Exposing your eyes to sunlight destroys melatonin, your sleep hormone which then allows serotonin, your happy, calm, content hormone, to surge.

5. Eat real food. It is very difficult to remain calm and not anxious when we are amped up on stimulants such as caffeine and are fuelling ourselves with processed food that is almost devoid of nutrients. Make a soup, stew or casserole and keep some frozen so you can warm it up if you do work some longer hours.

Does life sometimes overwhelm you? Do you have any tips for achieving your outcomes?

Follow Life & Style Editor Nicky Park on Twitter.

Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 24 Oct 2014 07:35:59 Processing Time: 358ms