I think it's fair to say that my health has taken more than a few ups and downs this year. The first lockdown during the spring and summer curtailed my plans to walk every day, as I'm in a clinically vulnerable group. Add on the anxiety about what might happen next, plus disillusionment over events here in the UK and over in America, and it's no surprise that my health wasn't great.
Eventually, I could resume daily walks, although I was a bit reluctant to do so until I'd obtained a face mask. But I was still suffering for poor sleep, as well as a lack of energy during the day.
Things came to a head this past month, with bouts of sinus pain and headaches. I resolved to start making changes to my habits and routines, to see if they improved my sleep and energy levels.
The first thing I did was to reduce my caffeine intake during the day, and drink more water and other fluids. I usually drank 3-4 mugs of tea each day previously. Making tea is a means for me to temporarily relax and step away from stuff that's got me agitated, and has been one of my strongest habits over the last few decades.
Skipping tea in the evening, I found myself ready to head to bed a lot earlier. The first night, I crashed into bed very early, for me, and ended up sleeping for about ten hours! I think my body must have really needed that.
I've since cut out the tea that I'd normally have had after lunch, and had an extra glass of water at lunchtime instead. Truth be told, I don't really need that caffeine boost at that time, and I suspect that it was causing my stomach to get irritated. So now I'm down to two cups of tea, one in the morning with or straight after breakfast, the other in mid-afternoon.
While I've yet to get rid of some weird dreams I've been having — probably related to news events plus continued anxiety — my sleep pattern is much more regular now, usually around seven hours.
The other change that I've made is to commit to doing exercise every morning, either before breakfast or after washing and dressing. I do some lying on the bed and then some more standing up. I also take the opportunity to open the bedroom windows a bit and change the air while I'm exercising. My focus is more on breathing, stretching and working my joints rather than strength.
I've been doing this new regime for just over a week now, and initial results are good. As well as getting a proper night's sleep, I now have more energy.
My next steps are to do more breathing exercises and take more regular breaks from the computer. The former are to improve my alertness, while the latter are to prevent reduced circulation.
As for my anxiety, that is still a work-in-progress. Changing my media diet has helped, but I'm still prone to overthinking and ruminating on stuff I have no control over. I'm already doing some meditation, but I'm now going to start doing some projects to help me learn new skills and reinforce existing ones. Creating things always pleases me, as does being reminded that I'm a badass at a lot of stuff already. :)