A message to new Councillors – Have you had all your MEALS today?

Have you had all your MEALS today?

The elections are behind us and the adrenaline which fed us through the past few months has now gone down. I came short of four votes so my life is back to normal for the next four years (or until the by-elections which aren’t unusual here in Warwickshire) but for so many others – their victory means excitement and… more work, and often new responsibilities. Pressure from others but also, be it unconsciously, from Green supporters means that many will be working extremely hard and might forget about themselves as a result. Yet, if we don’t look after ourselves properly we limit what we can do.  

What do the flight attendants say at the beginning of every flight? “If the cabin looses pressure… put your oxygen mask on first, then help others”. Selfish as it sounds, it is an act of sense and care for others as having run out of oxygen you can one of no help to those around you. 

They remind passengers this simple rule before every flight and so here is a reminder for you to prioritise yourself – for the good of everyone.  

You might want to ask yourself the following question daily: have I had my MEALS today? 

M for Move:

Keywords: any movement, stretch, walk, barefoot, regular. 

We often hear about exercise, e.g. NHS talks about 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. Exercise might sound scary and hard, something to properly prepare for and… rarely to be done. Yet, if we think about it as movement, we find that movement is much easier incorporated into our life, doesn’t require that much preparation or special equipment and thus can be free or very cheap. A combination of walking and stretching is the best and normally simplest option. For some muscle strengthening, gardening and carrying shopping bags as well as climbing stairs might be considered.

If you feel like doing something more: yoga, Tai Chi and – my favorite – Aikido are wonderful activities, which address not only physical but also mental health.

Small changes to your daily practice can go a long way: short morning walks, stretching at least every 20 minutes, standing up and writing with your laptop on a sideboard or a special stand, abandoning your chair while talking on the phone, walking barefoot at home (or, for those braver souls, in the garden too!), and switching to Freet and VivoBarefoot shoes designed to enhance our walking experience, retrain our feet and improve our balance, thus reducing underlying stress.

E for Eat:

Keywords: whole food, plant-based, variety and fixed routine. 

If we throw in ‘local’, ‘seasonal’ and ‘organic’ as well, our diets will be perfect. There are a number of techniques to ensure one eats a variety of food every day: Dr Chatterjee recommends thinking about a rainbow of colours, Ayurveda suggests eating six tastes etc. Investing in a good quality blender (I currently use Nutribullet and we are now saving up for a Vitamix with many more functions) and a ceramic slow cooker can help you add to your diet things you wouldn’t normally bother to eat and make them appealing (or unnoticeable – in my case, spinach magically disappears in smoothies).

Mealtimes are probably even more important than what we eat, so fixing your breakfasts, lunches and dinners can be a good move. In the ideal world, you will have 12 to 16 hours before breaking your fast, thus I tend to suggest breakfast at 8-10am and dinner at 6-8pm. But please check with a trusted and well-qualified doctor, if you have any digestion issues.

A for Apply:

Keywords: less is more, natural, tepid or cool water.

Skin is our largest organ, yet we often think less about what we apply to it than what we put into our mouths. This leads not only to skin issues, but also to slow poisoning of the whole organism and unnecessary stress. In the case of applying creams, cosmetics, perfume, using various washing gels and shampoos, less is more. Occasionally skipping any of those substances in favour of pure tepid (not hot!) warm water can make all the difference. This will also save you money, which can be redirected to purchasing higher quality natural lines. If many house-cleaning products are “harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects”, perhaps they’d better be away from our homes as well. 

L for Love:

Keywords: me-time, self-indulgence, quality time with friends. 

Our life starts with love, we are born of love, but then we often forget to carry it on. Or we remember to love others, yet forget about ourselves. Dr Gabor Mate writes in detail how this affects our health, how many chronic illnesses start from losing oneself. Stress accumulates from having no time to relax, thus it is crucial to prioritise some me-time: listening to a few favourite songs, enjoying a cup of tea in a cosy coffee-shop, reading a book, taking a bath or whatever is the ultimate indulgence for you and you only, and… let go of guilt for spending time by and on yourself.

It is equally important to spend quality in-person time with friends and family. It is not necessarily about the amount of time you spend together, rather about quality and intensity, which generate shared revitalising energy.

S for Sleep:

Keywords: darkness, tech-free, winding down, pre-bed routine.

As someone, who finds it hard to stop using my laptop or smartphone, I am a big fan of apps, which make devices almost useless – temporarily. There are many free and paid options these days, my favourite one is called Freedom (www.freedom.to). It shuts off most of my Internet-based apps (browser, email, WhatsApp etc) between 10pm and 8am. I hope to extend my curfew soon and shut off everything at 8pm. This allows me to have some time with no screen glowing in my face before I go to bed, which is crucial for a good night’s sleep. I have no TV, and the laptop never travels to my bedroom. Ideally, lights in the bathroom should be replaced with low-glow red light so that you don’t wake up fully when going to the loo in the middle of the night. As darkness is crucial to the quality of sleep, investing in a quality cotton or linen eye mask might be a good idea. Last meal is better to be had at least two or three hours before going to bed. Self-massage – especially your feet and toes – for just five minutes before bed will help you relax. Scribbling a few lines in your gratitude journal, strategically positioned on your bedside table, will get you in the right zone and help you feel more positive. If you feel peckish, Ayurvedic golden milk (ideally, non-dairy – search for its simple recipe on the Internet) will be a wonderful gift to yourself, as will be a glass of water first thing in the morning (enjoyed in the garden or on the balcony, if available, to readjust your body clock).

Please do take good care of yourselves. There are still fewer Green Councillors than we need and thus we cannot lose you. 

Ignaty Dyakov-Richmond, life coach, member of the Association for Coaching (www.lifesensei.uk)


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