Burn-out resolutions: ‘After one month of small changes, I feel better than I have in years’ – The Guardian

Posted: January 29, 2021 at 7:52 pm


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Well this is the final instalment for Guardian Australias burn-out recovery journey, but the hope is that you are set up for whatever 2021 throws at us.

We may not know where this year will take us. We may lockdown again. We may be homeschooling again, we may repopulate our cities (and our gyms). Or maybe a combination of all of the above.

The experts consulted by Guardian Australia were asked to provide tips and advice that were pandemic proof. They all advised that modest changes approached consistently can be more effective than big, sweeping resolutions.

And after one month of trialling their advice, I have to say I feel better than I have in years. This is due to three relatively small but also kind of big adjustments that have been gamechangers.

These three things all built on one another (habit stacking) as our experts suggested in week one.

Burntout resolutions: a feel-better guide for the already tired

The first habit was the hardest to embed but has made a profound difference and that is quitting the booze for January, which Ill continue into February. This change has had a big impact on the quality of my sleep, and this in turn has given me more energy to exercise.

As a result I have started exercising four times a week. I have enough energy and motivation to turn up to the gym, rather than make excuses.

These three shifts in habit (alcohol, sleep, exercise) have not happened overnight. Its taken around three weeks for me to see benefits of increased energy from better sleep, and parlay that extra energy into exercise.

It would have been great to make shifts in nutrition too and that was the original plan. But its been a lot just to get to this point so far sticking with booting the booze and starting regular exercise.

This slowly does it approach is good practice, apparently. All the experts I consulted for this series say its unwise to try to make too many changes too soon. Instead you have cut yourself some slack; give yourself the room and permission to screw up occasionally. Expecting perfection then stopping all the good habits because of one bad day or night is apparently a common mistake.

Dr Breanna Wright, a behavioural change expert from Monash University, says, Its really important to be under ambitious or realistic. If we aim too high, and then miss a session at the gym for example we feel like weve failed at our goals and were less likely to carry on with our resolutions.

Right now, as a lot of us return to work or the office, our routines (which may have included home-based exercise) are being shaken up again.

Wright advises that its about building in contingency time because life happens. Say we plan to go to the gym at lunchtime but dont get there. Realise meetings go over, our time will naturally blow out. We have to build in that buffer time so that were not disappointed in ourselves because we dont do the activities each day.

This might be allowing half an hour extra either side of meetings in order to protect that time at the gym.

She suggests at the start of each week (or on a Sunday) we plot out a schedule for the week that includes exercise. The most important thing is to plan. Some people are very calendar based, some people are reminder based. The most important thing is to write down your plan but allow this contingency.

Personally on a Sunday, I plan out my week. I try not to do too many things in one day. I wont go to the gym or do a class if Im meeting my friends that same day as Ill be rushing and cutting things too fine. We can get over-ambitious when we are planning thinking we can get more done in a day or a week.

In many respects, nutrition is the trickiest thing of all to get right. There are so many mixed messages out there. For every person spruiking a high fat, low-carb diet, there is someone else advocating the opposite.

Likewise meal times: should we fast and eat once or twice a day or have five or six small meals a day?

Burnt-out resolutions: retaking control of yourself when the world is chaotic

I ask personal trainer Tania Drahonchuk from Vision Personal Training Bondi Junction what nutrition regimen is best. There are no easy answers here. We dont prescribe diets at all, says Drahonchuk. Instead she recommends tracking my food to get an idea of macros that is, what portion of protein, fats and carbohydrates I consume each day.

We advise people to limit refined foods (including refined sugar and processed foods), track portions and balance food by looking at the macros. The average person consumes quite a high amount of carbs and fat. By making small changes you can see results.

Vision Personal Training has an app to track macros but you can also do it through free apps such as My Fitness Pal.

Drahonchuk is keen that I dont feel like Im on a diet but rather improving the food I eat. I should ideally steer away from oily, fatty, carb-y, processed foods and towards more whole foods.

OK so bring on February. Ill be tracking my food and conscious of what I eat but I wont be dieting or denying myself. Ill be trying to exercise four times a week but not beating myself if I miss a session at the gym. As all the experts say this stuff should be for life, not just for January.

See more here:
Burn-out resolutions: 'After one month of small changes, I feel better than I have in years' - The Guardian

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January 29th, 2021 at 7:52 pm

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