Taking alcohol and sugar back up age twenty eight

So I want to do a revision on a post I have already posted about giving up sugar and alcohol as they weren’t serving me. I have actually now come full circle and think that for someone like me who tends to go for extremes (regular chocolate lent failure over here) that a more balanced, forgiving approach is the way to go. I am realizing that as soon as I try and not have something, the more I think about it.

I used to think it was down to lack of will power, well maybe it is, but I also have changed my perspective which has helped me have a better relationship with alcohol, sugar, food in general and coffee.

Drinking and eating are pleasures in life, huge features of modern society and life is there to be enjoyed.

I think excluding things creates a situation of anxiety, at least for me. Which then turns to overconsuming a whole chocolate bar. Feeling ashamed and being mean to myself. Vowing off chocolate and then thinking about it more. Eating another whole chocolate bar…. Vicious. Cycle. I think the key is more in trying to be present in the tasks so you are appreciating them in the moment and by doing so, knowing when to stop.

So, you can go to the gym a bit, eat salad for lunch and porridge from breakfast, but maybe a few glasses of wine at the weekend, an almond croissant on Fridays and a chocolate brownie or two.

Will power does play a part. I know I can’t buy a large chocolate bar and just eat one square so I don’t that to myself. I also kinda dislike people who do have that self control. 

But by letting myself have one or two normal sized chocolate bars a week, when I feel like them, in the present moment, I can stop the anxious over thinking about chocolate and denying myself it entirely which inevitably leads to the vicious cycle as outlined above.

Kindness is key. So, when you do get wasted on Aperol Spritz’, dance the night away in a cheesy club and getting a kebab on the way home, you then don’t beat yourself up the next day and go for an extreme diet and alcohol ban. Instead you embrace the hangover, treat yourself to a takeaway and Netflix day and get back on track on Monday and enjoy the memories (probably still feel hungover as hangovers now last two to three days).

#moderation #backstreetsback #selflove #semiironichashtags

Being happy at a base level

I love this video https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10154734275256939/

It is so true that we can choose to be happy, right here, right now, today. Instead of looking for things, an event in the future or someone to make us happy, we could choose to be happy in this moment. Be present in conversations, take in the view from your office window, enjoy the work task at hand (I’m currently on my lunch break writing this). Since taking up more regular meditation I’m slowly learning to be happy right now. I often surprise myself when I naturally respond to friends asking me ‘how I am getting on’ with how well I am, when nothing major has occurred today or this week, but instead I am just enjoying myself more moment by moment not needed anything in particular to bring me happiness and contentment. It’s pretty liberating to feel you could actually be happy anywhere too, something I have realized since relocating to Melbourne with circa 1 friend to my name when I landed.

I am slowly learning not to plan too far ahead and think about what feels right at the moment as I have realized that worrying, catastrophizing or even fantasizing about the future does not bring anything to my life. Even if this purely comes from a place of wanting to be more present I have found it has had positive impacts in other areas of my life over time such as exercise and an awareness of how my body and mind feel afterwards, and eating healthily, as I am more aware of how food makes me feel in and after the moment and also when I am full. It may sound silly but my addiction to chocolate doesn’t have quite the same hold over me which is truly liberating for someone who has craved and 99% of the time succumbed to something sweet after meals for the last 20 years. It’s definitely still a daily journey but one which I am enjoying.

Being kind to myself

Today I am channeling being kind to myself. When I look at myself in the mirror I’m naturally quite mean to myself about how I look. That’s quite a sad thought to have first thing in the morning, throughout the day when you catch your reflection and last thing at night.I am naturally tough on myself about what I am achieving each day too, from what I eat to how much work I do. Instead I am trying to smile at myself (in a non creepy way) and treat myself as I would a friend, and give myself a break.

I have a fit and able body which I am grateful for.

I am a kind, loving person.

Just do what you can and feels manageable and right today.

Nothing is a problem.

Giving up alcohol and sugar aged twenty eight

Today I am making the intention to give up alcohol, caffeine (1 cup is allowed) and refined sugar for one month.  But hopefully 2.5 months, as that is when I go back to the UK for my brother’s wedding but 1 months sounds less serious and less like I have a problem. NB. I don’t think I have a problem, well maybe I am addicted to chocolate, but I can see that sugar, alcohol and caffeine aren’t bringing anything positive to my life at the moment. They definitely don’t help if you are a naturally anxious person like me (hello hang over heart palpitations and freaking out) and I don’t want to feel like I ‘have’ to have something. I want to be in control of my cravings and mind.

Since moving to Australia I have had more time to myself to work out what I am interested in and what is a valuable use of time for me. It is probably an age thing too but going out isn’t a priority for me anymore. Yet I have felt torn over the last 4 months since I arrived as it is what I felt I ‘should’ be doing, I wanted to make friends, drinking gives you an easy escape from your thoughts and I genuinely love dancing and live music/DJs.

I have fully seen the benefit of regular exercise and meditation since the move. I used to run and do yoga in the UK 3 times a week but I never really saw or really felt the benefits. It was just something else that filled my very busy London life.  Out here, I am seeing the results on my body and my mind. I’ve been doing HIIT work outs for the first time (late to the party I know) and find the combination of exercises, weights (another first for me which I found intimidating at first but now love) and loud, awful-but-I-love-it dance music works really well for me mentally and for my body. I’m trying to do yoga 1 day a week ish alongside this (more as meditation) and playing tennis again, something I haven’t really done since school. This combination feels great for me and I have loads of energy and hardly feel tired during the week.

From this place, I have found it easy to break my other mini addictions to both sugar and caffeine quite easily. For me coffee and chocolate are heaven. I used to wake up thinking of where to get my coffee as I loved the ritual too and chocolate was something I obsessed over after dinner. I believe it is fine and natural to want and desire things but it should be a choice not something I should have to or need to do so I want to break the addictions and perhaps reintroduce them from a non grasping place. I

Right now each week I am pretty good, and healthy, food wise. I go to the gym, meditate a bit daily (/sit there and worry for 8 minutes and maybe meditate for 2 but thats okay because 2 is better than 0?, feel good, think about my work and what I want to be doing etc, but come Thursday or the weekend it all goes (very relatively) Pete Tong. I have noticed a cycle of drinking from a place of self induced peer pressure once or twice a week turning into unhealthy eating that night or the next day, feeling rough, heart palpitations (hello anxiety) and a sense of taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back.  I haven’t had the self confidence to try and break the cycle as drinking is such a feature of socialising, I don’t like to stand out and I don’t like to make a fuss (as an ever agreeable British girl).

However, I am going to listen to my heart and what feels right for me and make the intention here to give up alcohol, plus caffeine (allowing myself one…) and refined sugar for at least a month and see how I go. I think it will help with my anxiety stuff and fundamentally I want to be in control of my cravings.

Supposedly there are two types of people, those who can be moderate and those who need to abstain and if you want to break a habit or change something in your life you need to know which you are. Sadly most of us, including me, are abstainers. To make a change you need to go cold turkey and replace a habit completely. Limiting yourself to one glass of wine or one chocolate square won’t work for most of us. Something I also know deep down hence I can’t keep chocolate at home as I know I will eat it. With alcohol it is more of a social addiction so I will replace it with soda, lime and bitters which are yummy and look alcoholic and fill my mornings with nice activities so I don’t want to stay out late. I have tried opting for ‘one glass of red wine’ recently which can work okay, but the wine weakens my will power and I then often end up having more than one glass, ice cream on the way home from a club and coffee the next day as I feel hungover. Mega fail! Once I have broken these mini addictions over the next month I may try to introduce them back into my life from a point of non grasping at them as fundamentally I think it is good to have most things in moderation and enjoy everything in life that you want to, but I’ll see how I go first..

I’m writing healthy recipes over at @bxdideas if you want any quick, healthy lunch ideas too which will naturally be sugar (alcohol and caffeine) free too..

I’ll report back in a month!

A listening presence

Today I have tried to have a listening presence at work with a colleague going through some stuff. My mind constantly runs off into thought and when I am in conversations I am often distracted and thinking ahead about my own mental to do list, or worrying about what to say and trying to pre-empt the conversation. I am practicing settling back when someone is talking to me and really listening to them, allowing for a natural pause and dialogue to occur rather than rushing in and interrupting them (even if in agreement e.g. “that is like this time when I…”.).

It’s kinda scary and nerve wrecking at first, but I think other people can subliminally sense when you are really ‘there’ and it is a comfort to them and allows for a more meaningful conversation to occur. In a strictly ‘work’ sense too it allows you to de jumble your thoughts more and come out with a more constructed response.

The tricky part is being at ease with the natural pause between sentences. You can practice it when reading a book/paper or listening to a podcast or blog, what did I just type? 😛 Sometimes I listen to news podcasts but don’t really listen at all and then feel slightly annoyed at myself afterwards which is just silliness.

Happy listening!

 

Contributing

Naturally I veer away from putting my hand up and contributing, out of self consciousness, worry over how I will be perceived or distrusting my ability, but I am working on that. At work I am trying to be more forthright with my creative ideas, as well as more practical solutions, if I think they are worthwhile to the business. If my ideas don’t work out at least I am really engaging. It makes work more fulfilling and enjoyable. Either way, everyone around me welcomes, respects and enjoys the contribution and dialogue of ideas that emerge.

 

Not a problem

Just before I moved to Australia I watched the film Bridge of Spies (I’ll give it an 8.5/10). Just before trial, Tom Hanks asks the spy he is defending ‘Aren’t you worried?’ and the spy replies ‘would it help?’. For some reason I wrote it down and I think it relates to a new way I am looking at problems or decisions I have to make. If I feel they are making me anxious I say mentally ‘not a problem’ and see the issue in black and white terms of something to do or address rather than building it up as an issue in my head. It sometimes helps if I smile to myself as I am thinking it too.

Accepting Anxiety

I’ve been wrestling with anxiety for about 2 years now. As well as the mental unease, I’ve experienced heart palpitations and acne because of it. The funny thing is that people think I am very laid back, but I would describe myself like a duck floating around on a pond with legs rapidly paddling beneath the surface.

My anxiety started with work but filtered through into social situations . I tried to ignore it, got angry with myself, went to the doctor to see if a blood test would explain it, but I think I knew that deep down it was anxiety which in essence is part of you, needs to be accepted and may never go away. Some ways I have learnt to live with my anxiety:

  • When it comes, I try to accept and welcome it. Ignoring it or getting angry makes it worse. Deep breathing and a walk help.
  • Realising that it could lead you towards something positive. Why are you feeling anxious? Really think about it and address the issue or move on.
  • Cutting down on caffeine and sugar. Chocolate and coffee are two of my favourite things so this solution gives me anxiety in itself haha.
  • Regular exercise and being in nature.
  • Drinking less, and appreciating that drinking will give me anxiety the next day so not to be surprised/upset when it comes.
  • Meditating. I know this is everywhere at the moment but it really does help with so many things. I believe that anxiety often comes when I am lost in thought or not acting in a way that I believe in, through meditating I am sometimes able to notice that and drop back into the present moment more easily and realise everything isn’t so bad.

Although I don’t love my anxiety, I do think it has lead me to be a more compassionate person and I have also found that being honest about it has brought me closer to those around me, given me a broader connection and understanding of other people’s suffering and ability to listen, relate and perhaps help, which I am grateful for.

Small wins

If I think of something I need/want/should do and it takes less than a minute I am trying to do it straight away. I heard about this on Gretchen Rubin‘s ‘The Happiness Project’ podcast and it makes sense. The sense of achievement from doing little tasks like these is definitely worth the minimal effort involved. It is like crossing something of a life admin mental to do list. I love crossing stuff off lists to the point that I would almost write one for the satisfaction of striking through the text. If you do it in the morning as you’re leaving the house you’ll feel like your already winning and are in for a good day. I sat down to write this blog this morning and ended up doing the following tasks which took sub 5 minutes of my time but now they are out of my headspace and I’m looking through a clean laptop screen. #smallwins #lifeadmin

  • Cleaning my laptop screen, phone and phone cover [I’ve never cleaned my phone before…]
  • Washing up my plate
  • Replying to a text
  • Changing dirty flower water
  • Pouring and then drinking a glass of water [it doesn’t come naturally to me weirdly. I often do half the task and pour a glass of water and then don’t drink it so I’m consciously trying to drink at least half a glass when I pour one.]
  • Putting spotify on whilst I work [not a chore but I want to discover new music]