How Do You Take Your Breath?
I love Sunday’s. It’s the one day of the week that I’m not racing off to see a client so I can relax in bed with a cuppa and contemplate life. Today was a treat day for me as well – I enjoyed some yummy bacon, hash browns and baked beans on toast. I also enjoyed a fantastic lunch with my family, who I haven’t caught up with for a few months – life has been busy.
One of my favourite ways of distressing is going for a day hike (or an overnight) in the Tararua Ranges. The other weekend, when the sun was finally shining, I went for a day hike in my favourite place. It was a hard slog to through the snow, but the views were amazing and calming for me. When I got to the top I stopped and took a breath. I thought about how lucky I was to live in this beautiful country, with the incredible nature and nothing in the bush that will try and bite or sting me (unlike my homeland of Australia). But most of all I appreciated all the positive things in my life. Unlike my hometown of Sydney, I had the freedom to go on the hike. I have a wonderful, supportive partner who helps me in so many ways. I have a great family who are always there for me. And while some of my body is a bit broken, I’m still in great health. Ultimately, I’m happy, healthy and loving life.
For me, it’s really important that I stop and take a breath often so I can take stocktake of my life and assess the good, the bad and the ugly. How do you take your breath?
There are many things you can do to take your breath. Some people enjoy a quiet read on the couch, others like binging a Netflix shows or writing in a diary while for extroverts – hanging out with friends is where they get energised and refreshed. No matter what you do to take your breath, do it often.
I’m so pleased that there has been a real push in recent times to normalise being aware of your mental health and seeking support. While taking your breath often is very important for your mental health, I absolutely advocate eating quality, unprocessed food as well - I’m a big believer of food as medicine. After many years of punishing my body with cricket, rugby, martial arts, mountain biking etc I carry many injuries. I know that I need to be careful of the food I eat so that I don’t add unnecessary inflammation to my body. I’m in enough pain most days and that can really bring me down, but the most important thing I can do is be good to myself. And for me that means, eating the right food, keep moving my body and getting into nature regularly to recharge my soul.
I know that after a difficult or busy day, sometimes it’s hard to summon the energy to make dinner. It’s so easy these days to go through the drive through or as my partner does, go onto the Deliver Easy app and order dinner to your door. For me, after a hike in the mountains I crave one of two things – fish & chips or hamburger & wedges. So as part of preparation for my hike, I make my homemade hamburgers in advance so they’re ready to cook when I get home. While back in the day, I loved my MacDonald’s Big Mac – I think my hamburger is more delicious than that. Not only is it more nutritious, but I know what has gone into it.
Making nutritious food in advance and having a stock of it in the freezer can really help out on those days when you just can’t be bothered cooking - and it saves you from eating those yummy takeaways that ultimately give you short term pleasure but long term health repercussions e.g. diabetes, obesity, heart disease, inflammation etc. In the end, eating poorly has negative long-term health outcomes, including to your mental health. So while you have the energy, cook up a healthy version of your favourite takeaway, like my hamburger, for those days when you need some comfort food while you take your breath.