Today I was not OK
After hearing the inevitable news of lockdown yesterday I felt a lot of emotions.
I wasn’t in great fettle really and felt a bit ‘meh’. Just like everyone there is a little fear and anxiety, a sense of a lack of control, a feeling of sorrow and loss and even a sense of injustice in all of this.
Rather than allowing myself to lean in to my self belief and trust that I could look after the things that are within my control, I let that sense of being overwhelmed get the better of me.
I am going to talk you through my day and tell you how Lockdown 2.0 can have a serious spiralling effect in as little a one day. As you know I am a trained Mindful Eating Coach so this is what you can learn from me today.
As a human my default disposition is joyous, playful, content, happy and grateful. It is just the way I am.
However, last night I was sad and tired going to bed. I did a mediation to help me get to sleep. I am normally asleep before it ends, truth be told but I wasn’t last night. I didn’t sleep great and woke at 4am. I dozed again until it was time to get up. It was lashing rain, dark and windy this morning.
I did not do my usual little gratitude practice. I always say 2 things I am grateful for every morning as my feet touch the floor. I didn’t this morning. You know what I did instead. I said the morning prayer while I was putting off having to get out of bed.
Remember the one you learned in primary school.
Father in heaven you love me, you are with me night and day, I want to love you father in all I do and say. I’ll try to please you father, bless me through day amen.
I say this when I am stressed – I know this now about myself. It is really about getting to the last line – ‘bless me though the day’. It brings me a little comfort, it is like I need to know someone is there holding my hand and minding me.
Whether its God, or someone or some thing else a lot of us do this I believe.
Let me explain the rational here; I am fiercely independent, much to my own detriment sometimes.`I believe I can figure it out and won’t need to ask for help most of the time. Then there are days when I figure I might actually need a bit of help but I know I won’t ask. I’ll just get on with it … Today, I knew I needed a little something or someone so I said a little prayer and hoped God would do.
I am heading into a really busy week and a really busy day with too much to do on my “to do list”. In reality I am overwhelmed and I know I am never going to achieve all of it so I am setting myself up with a failure mentality before I start.
For breakfast we normally start the day with fresh smoothies, boiled eggs and toast. As I made the school lunches I gave them weetabix, juice and toast with peanut butter for their breakfast.
I gobbled down half a bagel with a slice of cheese on it while standing up at island and had a coffee. I broke a very important rule in our house this morning, which is we all sit at the table and eat together – no tv, no devices just us. I left them sit at the table and I did not join them. I felt guilty about this then as soon as they were all gone out of the car.
After the school drop I picked up what I needed at the shops and returned home to work.
Still raining, cold and windy I felt I needed a treat, a reward before I started. So I made a big mug of comforting milky coffee and had some chocolate. I soothed with food.
I spent most of the morning and in to the afternoon cooking and tasting – mindlessly grazing on food I had no real interest in eating in that moment. I didn’t want lunch as I had no appetite so I kept working.
My adrenaline and stress levels was high all day. My melancholy and feeling sorry for myself was being emulated by the weather outside which didn’t not help. I found myself in this react and not respond mode all day.
We all have triggers for our behaviours – good and bad, motivating and harmful. A lot of eating triggers were launched at me today – the lockdown immediately led me to feel this sense of restriction and deprivation.
Anytime we feel this a very common reaction ( quick, harsh, rash, irrational ) is rebellion. I rebelled and in my head said “as the control over my life in these areas is being taken away I will take control of this part – you can’t tell me what to do about eating – I will eat what I want today! ”
And so I did. I did not nourish my body. I was not capable of it in my current mindset. I didn’t know what I wanted, I couldn’t hear nor listen to my body in an instinctive and intuitive way.
So, I ate 4 sugary jelly babies, then I ate the last of a packet of sour cream & onion crisps. I was still not satisfied or satiated. I needed to work. I had no real break today. In an attempt to distract and procrastinate from some of the work a little later rather than take a break and get out in nature or move my body I went back to the pantry. I made a cup of tea and had a chocolate biscuit. This trigger was seeking comfort, warmth and energy from sugar when what I really needed a little power nap to overcome the 3pm slump, or even a hug or a rest.
I am on the Six O ‘Clock Show on Virgin Media One every Tuesday night without fail and tonight I was not – I had to swap my days. This really threw my whole routine out of sync on a day I really probably needed to feel a little normality.
My kids where at my mums for dinner so I didn’t have to cook dinner today. I had a night off ( an almost non existent event in my world). I was so done in at this point… I was beyond not even caring about the work I was still doing. I wanted a rest, I wanted to see the kids, I wanted my routine, I wanted to sleep and I could really have any of those things in that moment so what did I do …. I reached for the ultimate comfort food I know.
Toast with butter and marmalade. When I was little I would spend lots of time with my nanny and grandad. I can still smell the warmth of the bread toasting, the melting butter, the steam from the teapot and the sweet old style marmalade. For me when I eat that, it feel like comfort and reassurance and escapism and safety.
When I get there I know I am reaching the bottom of the spiral in the day and something has to happen. The more of these foods I ate the worse I began to feel too. An overriding sense of guilt and shame was starting to emerge. Now I know better than this!
I needed to reset. There is one guaranteed, sure fire, quick reset for me – the beach… the sea ….
I hopped in the car with Isabella when they came home and we drove to the beach in the pitch dark. The tide was fully in, the waves were crashing and we were getting sprayed by the sea mist. The air was calm though. We took a couple of minutes and just stood. I delighted in Isabella’s wonder at the night-time wild sea. We took a few deep breaths and then drove home again.
I took a shower, packed my bag, prepared for tomorrow and responded to messages on social media I had to bypass earlier. That social connection that I cherish with people I know, people I don’t know and people I am getting to know was missing all day and I missed it.
When it comes to mindful eating, it is a process, shrouded by a framework which guides us to breath, become self aware, feel empowered to be responsible for our choices and listen to our intuition.
It allows us to align our body, our mind and our soul and when these are in balance the rest comes easy.
Today I was all out of sync…. I was overwhelmed and undernourished with little or no self care.
The knock on effects of this on our behaviours are huge and can be detrimental.
I am trained and work as a mindful eating coach. I know how to lean in to this framework now as my support system and my guide. I needed to reset – I needed self care in the form of nature, nourishing foods, hydration, fresh air, movement, sleep, creativity, mental stimulation and social connection.
Emotional eating is OK ! The neural pathways in our brain connect food with soothing, safety, love and security. These are the emotional links we developed with food from the moment we emerged from the womb – why would we not know this. Over the next 6 weeks food will bring you comfort, but more so hopefully it will bring you joy.
As long as you have a self care toolkit full of other coping strategies along with emotional eating occasionally you will be ok. I will be ok. We will cherish that phrase “and this too shall pass” ….. and we will all be ok.
So how can I help you. Learn from my errors today :
- Start your day with gratitude.
- Eat something nourishing, wholesome and delicious for breakfast that will satisfy you and bring you joy.
- Engage with the people who are present with you when they are sitting right beside you. Be present with them and for them.
- Don’t harbour guilt over what you should have done – use the phrase “ and thats ok”. Offer yourself a little self compassion.
- Don’t allow yourself be get overwhelmed. Set realistic goals for the day and cross them off as you go.
- Do something creative for yourself and as your distraction.
- Establish simple new routines for your day if life is now changing for six weeks.
- Spend a moment name checking or listing ( physically or mentally ) all the options that are open and viable to you right now rather than focusing on restrictions and experiencing feeling of deprivation.
- Reach out to people who offer you social connection in whatever format works for you. Enjoy their presence in your world and be grateful for them.
- Be self aware – pause, take a breath and reflect on what is happening.
- Reset and take back control.
- End your day by being grateful for all this day has thought you and brought you ( a word of thanks, a prayer… whatever it may be…. )