Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River: Self-Help yourself

Humans seem to have a natural inclination to do what’s in their worst interest. Though evolution should prove the opposite is true, in this high-tech, chaotic world we live in, we tend to avoid our instincts and give into our impulses. Often, we know exactly what our bodies need and yet we do the reverse.

Sometimes it’s as simple as continually checking Facebook on your phone when you know you should be sleeping. Other times it might be something more serious like depression. Everyone has been in a funk and know that getting out of the house, or even out of bed, is just what you need. Somehow, depression creeps up, and you end up feeling lazy and sorry for yourself.

Just last week I was not in a great mood when I got home from work in the evening. The weather was beautiful outside, and I kept trying to motivate myself to get on my bike and go for a ride. Even though I knew the second I got on my bike I would feel better, I just didn’t feel like it. Instead, I wasted most of my night laying on the couch watching Friends and checking my newsfeed.

Someone posted an image that read: “The six best doctors are: sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet.” The second I read it, I thought: “So true,” and then I continued doing none of those things. Well, I stayed dormant for long enough that I ended up taking an unnecessary nap, but rest was the last thing I needed.

I forced myself to go outside and nap in the sun. Hey, it was a step in the right direction. Thirty minutes of Vitamin D can do a lot of good. Not to mention watching a sunset is always rewarding.

One thing I can check off that list is that I drink a lot of water. Honestly, I don’t think I ever drank water until I was 20 and I’m pretty sure 90 percent of my physical issues were related to dehydration. Now, I drink a few hundred ounces of water a day easily. Anytime I have a headache, or I’m not feeling good I try to double my water intake, and I almost always feel better.

If I still feel bad, I assume it’s my blood sugar and eat a snack. My husband, on the other hand, will spend hours in a foul mood not realizing he just needs to eat. Those Snickers’ commercials are dead on; not only does being hungry make you cranky and impatient it usually takes someone else to notice what you need and force you to eat.

I’ve been feeling very “blah” lately; not unhappy, just tired and somewhat lethargic. I know my diet is to blame yet I continue to eat carbs and other processed foods that make me feel not great. I have had (and continue to have) events planned every weekend for several months. It’s hard to get into a healthy eating pattern when you’re busy and eating at weddings and parties.

At least once a year I do a “detox” diet. I don’t mean some sort of lemon and cayenne or specifically liquid diet. I usually cut almost all sugar (even most fruits) and eat a very low carb, paleo-like diet for about 10 days. Sure, it’s nice to lose a few pounds, but the diet is more to reset my system and jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t care how many “scientific articles” someone posts on Facebook saying that detox diets don’t work. I know I feel better after eliminating sugar and any meal I didn’t make myself from scratch. Just cutting caffeine and alcohol for a couple of weeks will make a difference in your need and tolerance for those drugs. Similarly, I find anytime I do a diet like this my reliance on daily allergy medication stops for at least a couple months.

Knowing all this, I should start the diet tomorrow; my physical problems would be solved! Of course, I won’t start the diet tomorrow. Just the thought of the shopping list and the meal preparation is daunting, especially when I have a crawfish boil and party to plan for this weekend.

With my busy schedule, it’s definitely hard to take care of myself. When I feel anxiety creeping up, I know I need to stop and breathe, maybe do a few yoga stretches. Of course in my head, I just think, “I don’t have time for that!” And keep moving. It’s usually my husband who has to force me to slow down when I’m overwhelmed.

I guess that’s one of the major perks of having a helpful partner. You have someone to take care of you when you don’t know how to take care of yourself. Partner or not, we all need to be self-sufficient and learn to listen to our bodies. We all have that voice in our head telling us what will make us feel better; we just have to do it.

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