If you are feeling a bit out of control around food at this time whilst trying to juggle being at home and trying to work, I will give you some pointers in this post that will help you work at home and have a happier routine with your meals.
Structure and routine are something many of us enjoy, even if we don’t know it. When our normal work/home life balanced is thrown out of whack, the craving for having something solid and firm becomes a bigger need.
Working from home might now be more like living at an all day buffet and that’s definitely disconcerting for many.
The idea that forcing a routine onto your day might seem like the obvious thing to do, but that might backfire through rebellious fridge scoff sessions.
Here are some pointers that will help you.
1. Don’t give yourself giant to-do lists
Basically – manage your expectations. This isn’t normal working from home. This is being stuck at home and trying to work because of a scary global pandemic. From my own experience of working from home part time, I can say that creating a giant to-do list is very stressful. It feels much better to schedule two main tasks a day, and enjoy the accomplishment of achieving those two things.
A longer to do list will drive you to seek a quick break via some comfort snacking.
2. But do plan some you-time
This doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having a rough idea of two or three things that are going to be just for you each day is going to be very helpful. Keep it simple. A bit of a lay down on the floor doing some stretches, a walk if possible. Even planning out time for a cup of tea, a shower, and some play time can all be used to create a new sense of structure and not feel so lost.
3. Forgive yourself – there’s a reason for your eating.
This isn’t the right time to be critical, harsh and mean to yourself for eating more when you’re home working. Give yourself a compassionate break, and understand that you probably need some comfort or distraction right now, as you might be both bored and overwhelmed at the same time.
4. Think about your meals
In terms of what and when. Have a rough idea of what might be on the menu. If you have anything yummy at hand, look forwards to it. Allow yourself to anticipate it so you can enjoy it fully rather than eating it furtively and quickly, when you don’t even register it at all. Basically, allow yourself to eat food with some time and allowance for it.
5. Do you really have to do 9-5?
When do you work best? What chunks of time are realistic for you now? You don’t have to work in the same way anymore. Can you allow yourself to relax a little bit?
6. Start the day in a nice way
Get a longer morning routine going if you can. You don’t have to rush about so much.
7. Don’t underestimate the ‘vitamin effect’.
This is something I noticed with myself, and I called it the vitamin effect. It’s when you do something small that’s obviously directed to help yourself. When we take a vitamin, we don’t’ do it because we don’t like ourselves. We do it because we hope to help out our bodies and maybe feel a bit better. What this can do is to serve as a positive cue to do other things to help you. You’ll see yourself take a vitamin, or do some stretches, and your brain receives the signal that you are looking out for yourself. It’s such a tiny thing to do, but one small thing a day can actually give you that feeling that at least you did one thing to help yourself, and it might even lead to another small thing, and another – until you actually do feel quite well on the whole.
8. What’s the cue? What’s the trigger?
Novelty is important for our brains, especially with attention spans dwindling (at least it feels like that for me). If you’ve been working at the laptop or talking on the phone – it is totally normal for you to want to have something different. Be aware of what it is that makes you go “ok, that’s enough!” so that you can plan in quite actively a new response.
I’d might be useful to literally write out a list of responses to feeling:
Can you stretch? Walk? Make a coffee?
When are you fine with eating? When do you think something else is better.
9. Are you actually relaxing?
Being on your phone for a long time can zombify you. This can be fine when you need some numbing out, but it’s not always relaxing. There’s a difference between active relaxation where you are really aware of breathing and moving, and actually putting in effort – and just letting yourself drift into a state of non-awareness. I love a good scroll into the land of endless memes, but that needs to be balanced out with some time stretching, breathing, noticing sensations, smells, colours around you so you have the sense that at least for 5 minutes that day, you were really there. Awake and present.
Food can also serve to numb us out. But what we might want to do is actually relax. So set some time to relax AND allow some numbing out time. It might been the food-numbing doesn’t become so desperate.
10. Don’t Diet and Don’t Try to Lose Weight
Finally – and probably most importantly is to step away from the idea that you should be eating and looking a certain way. Diet culture can cause food obsession and unhealthy eating patterns. The more you try to control your way of eating that is borne out of not feeling good enough – you will ruin what could be a healthy relationship with yourself.
Trust yourself and work on self-acceptance. It’s okay to be hungry and to eat.
If you can learn to like yourself a smidge more each day, you’ll want to care for yourself. This means no cruel food rules, but treating yourself with kind curiosity and compassion.
To end – just think, what if you had a strange pet that you didn’t know what it ate.
You thought this thing was so darn cute, and you’d be like “Do you like lettuce? Do you like this tomato? Oh you like a bit of this yogurt, okay sweetie.”
I mean – basically, do that. Be kind and give yourself time. There’s no hurry to change. Try to work as best you can, and know that things aren’t going to be perfect right now. Breathe, we are in this together, and it’s okay if it doesn’t feel normal. Give yourself time, and things will find a new balance for you soon.
Take care – Rebecca x