Hi, Byrdie readers, I’m sure you’ll agree that our modern lifestyles can be super hectic and stressful at times. So, this month I want to talk about how to stay focused and balanced. These are my tips and tricks for getting everything done in a day and still being able to sleep soundly at night.
I have two diaries. A paper diary and one on my phone. I have a week-to-view organiser from Smythson—I like to see everything written down so I know what meetings and shoots I have scheduled. But then I also have an online diary that I can share with my team.
On a Sunday, I’ll look at the week ahead in my diary and plan when I can slot my workouts in. I’ll message friends who I exercise with and see what they are up to, so when I book my sessions in with my trainer I can make it a duo session if anyone is around, which is fun.
It’s really personal, but for me, I like to work out first thing in the morning either before or after breakfast. I then shower at the gym and start my day from there. An early session gives my metabolism a boost and has me burning calories throughout the day. Some people like to exercise in the evenings as a way to mentally de-stress from the day. As long as you can slot it in, do what works for you.
Two rest days a week is ideal. But if you’re really, really busy and there literally aren’t enough hours in the day, you should weigh whether it’s better to have an extra couple of hours of sleep or to go to a workout—listen to your body (but don’t let your mind trick you into making excuses). Some weeks I exercise more than others, but it all balances out in the end. If I can’t fit a proper session in then I just do something, whether it’s 10-minutes of skipping, an ab blast routine that you can find on YouTube or some stretching.
Listen to what your body feels like it needs. If you’re going through emotional stress you’re more likely to get an injury, so those two rest days are really important. On my rest days. I’ve started foam rolling to help ease my tight muscles; if your muscles are tight you won’t be able to work out effectively in your sessions. Lie on your foam roller like you’re doing a plank with it placed under your thighs, rest on your elbows and slowly rock back and forth over any sore points. Do this slowly and support your body weight to take some of the pressure off. It gets less painful the more you do it!
I also like to have a warm bath with Epsom salts on rest days. You have to stay in the water for 20 minutes to get any benefit (Ed note: It can help to draw out toxins and relax your muscles). I throw a good mug-full of salts into the water and then either Dr Hauschka Rose Nurturing Bath Essence (£18) or Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil (£45) and I’ll either read a book or prop an iPad up and watch an episode of Girls.
When it comes to food, I like to be prepared if I know I’m going to be busy. So, for instance, today I made a healthy chicken and egg fried rice for lunch. Tomorrow I know I have back-to-back meetings, and I’m not sure what food I’ll be able to get, so I’ll take that with me in a Tupperware box with an avocado, some nuts and blueberries to snack on.
Sometimes I batch cook chilli con carne, which I can have with different things like quinoa, cauliflower rice or sweet potato for lunch or dinner. Or, I top it with an egg and have it for breakfast.
I also like to make batches of chia pudding. I combine 80g chia seeds, 500ml almond milk with one tablespoon of maple syrup. You have to stir it constantly for 10–15 minutes, otherwise the seeds clump together. I then put it in Tupperware in the fridge. It makes six to eight servings, and I’ll have it with Coyo, and then top with goji berries, desiccated coconut, raspberries or blueberries. It’s good if I want a snack or fancy a dessert.
If I want to give my metabolism a bit of a boost, I add cayenne pepper to hot water and lemon first thing. I always have cinnamon in my black Americano, which tastes really good. (Ed note: Cayenne pepper and cinnamon both have a thermogenic effect on the body, which means your body has to use more energy to process the food, leading to more calories burned.) To boost my circulation, I body brush before I shower focusing on the backs of my arms and legs (brushing towards the heart)—it helps removes toxins by boosting your lymphatic drainage and it helps to remove dead skin too.
Go to bed early. I work out what time I need to be up and work back. For me I need six hours sleep to feel human, eight is my optimum. You want to aim to get into bed earlier than when you need to be asleep; you don’t want to lie there being stressed about getting eight hours in. I’ll do my foam rolling or stretching then I’ll get into bed and read, make a to-do list for the next day or chat to a friend on the phone.
Wake up gradually. I’ve started using the app Sleep Time (free, iTunes). You set it like you do an alarm, so if I want to wake up at 7 a.m. it starts to gradually wake me up with a noise at 6:45 a.m., which is much better than the shock you can get from an alarm! It also has different sounds like the ocean, which you can listen to before you fall asleep.
Be mindful. If I find during the day I’m feeling frantic and panicky, I try to slow my thoughts and breathe deeply. I overthink things, I’m always thinking about the next thing and I’m quite a planner; I’ve realised now that it’s fine not to have a plan and to enjoy being spontaneous sometimes. Recently, I’ve started lying in bed with my eyes closed before I go to sleep and in my mind running through everything I did that day and pausing on each thing just for a second. It helps you put your day to bed so you’re ready for the next one.
How do you balance a hectic lifestyle with keeping healthy? Let us know your tips in the comment box below.