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My week in wellness: A 34-year-old trying to improve his sleep with a white noise app

This week, our diary writer heads out for some evening walks to boost his energy levels.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Live, TheJournal.ie’s wellness diary series.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of their mental and physical routines every day for one week – what their stress levels are like, how much activity they fit in (or don’t fit in), and how much sleep they get.

Each wellness diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that this is simply an account of a week in someone’s shoes, and their situation may not be relatable for everyone.

This week, we hear from a 34-year-old in Dublin who uses white noise apps to help with his sleep, and is trying to make time to socialise and get outside while working from home.

Option 2A Final

Occupation: Editor/team lead
Age: 34
Location: Dublin
Who you live with: Two housemates

I’m currently living and working in the Dublin South City area, working from home since March 12 and for the foreseeable future. The transition to WFH was pretty seamless apart from having to learn which physical spaces work and didn’t work in the apartment I share with two others.

In general I feel I’ve adapted to and coped with 2020 life fairly well. I would consider myself an introvert with extrovert tendencies, so spending time alone and socialising virtually has suited me for the most part. This, and a healthy regular reminder of my own privilege, keeps me in check.

In terms of activity, I actually think I’ve become more active since everything changed.  Since March I’ve started walking and using local parks and would now consider anything less than an hour or under 6km to not be “a walk”. The 2019 version of me would be in shock.

Daily activity levels: Very sedentary during working hours, but usually get out for a 6-8km walk every other day, and at weekends.
Daily stress levels: Not really an issue unless there’s a work dilemma that needs immediate action. 
Eating/drinking habits: During the week I tend to stick to the exact same breakfast and lunch. Dinner changes on mood and what’s been bought in the weekly shop, which allows for some creativity and the illusion of free will.
Sleep quality: I’m a light sleeper so have to rely on things like white noise apps to guarantee getting to sleep – especially living in an apartment with two others who tend to be up past 1am, and have alarms that go off from 6am.
Self-care: I am quite generous to myself in terms of self-care. I am strict with my working hours and availability so the rest of the day is very much me time.

Tuesday

7:20am: Hard to get up after getting four hours sleep, having been woken shortly after going to bed and not getting to sleep again until 3:15. Shower, coffee and banana and am at my laptop and on email from 8am.

10am: Back to back team calls with junior and senior members to set the day’s agenda and check in with everyone. Take a quick break to make a yoghurt and granola bowl, which will be munched on periodically until around 12pm.

12:30pm: Usual lunch of eggs and pancetta on toast, with the added luxury of the end of a black pudding from the weekend gone. Down the hatch and back to work in 30 minutes.

4pm: Struggle through the end of the day thanks to the lack of sleep, immediately have a nap after work ends and sleep until it’s long dark outside, which rules out any long walk for the day.

6:30pm: Dinner is fried mushrooms and onions in a supermarket pasta sauce and spaghetti. I like to try meat-free dinners as much as possible, but don’t always succeed. Takes a lot longer than required thanks to post-nap grogginess.

8pm: Settle down to Bake Off finale, retire to my room afterwards for some Netflix.

11:30pm: Bedtime, but am awake until 1.30am due to apartment noise.

Wednesday

7:25am: Awake with alarm and more refreshed than the day before. Shower, coffee and banana before 8am, this time managing to make a yoghurt and granola bowl to take with me to my desk.

8am: Usual start to the day, flurry of activity in the morning setting day up and busy enough that lunchtime wheels around quite fast. Have forgotten to eat half the breakfast bowl so that’s finished begrudgingly, because I grew up in a Famine rules house (always clear your plate because you never know when your next one will be – luckily for us there was always another meal).

12pm: Another quick lunch of pancetta and an egg on toast, interrupted by the postman and a courier, so takes longer than usual. A slightly more manic energy takes hold for the afternoon, but is easily resolved by the time work finishes up.

4pm: Out the door on the dot for an 8km walk to make up for previous days’ lack of activity. Only get one lap of the local park in before it starts getting very dark and I have to stick to the footpath.

5:30pm: Home and in from the cold, leftovers from yesterday are dinner, and then it’s more TV time, with a movie thrown in for good measure to fill the evening.

11.30pm: Bedtime, but mind is pretty spinning from an evening of TV, news apps and social media. Am awake until 1am-ish.

Thursday

7:25am: Same amount of sleep as the previous night, and routine is much the same. Shower, coffee, banana, breakfast bowl, desk for 8am.

8am: Down a team member so the day is pretty hectic from the get go. No time for messing or niceties. Generally stressed all day trying to cover and sort other projects before I head on annual leave on Monday.

1:30pm: Don’t have time to be away from desk really so get a Boojum burrito on Deliveroo, which is exceptionally speedy, especially when you tip your rider (always tip your rider!). Boojum is both a time-saver and a soothing treat on a manic day.

5:45pm: Working day ends much later than usual. No time for a walk, annoyingly. Take a brief breather before setting sights on dinner.

6:15pm: Turkey steak and some homemade sweet potato wedges thrown in the oven make a quick and relatively light meal after the heavy Boojum.

7pm: Relax with flatmates and passively watch some TV while catching up on each other’s news (there’s very little – thanks lockdown).

9pm: Head to bed for an early night, but the endless smartphone scroll takes over and the early bedtime fails to materialise.

Friday

7:25am: Managed to sleep through from 12.30am until now, which is an improvement and makes the morning easier. Show-coff-bana-desk.

8am: A much more pleasant day, with most people in Friday mode from the get go. Quiet enough until lunch, so the breakfast bowl is polished off well before lunch.

12pm: Scrambled eggs on toast and a slightly longer more relaxed lunch today, a tiny act of rebellion after yesterday’s madness.

4pm: Wrap up the day and Out Of Office is on, so it’s out for a good 6km walk in the dark, before dinner with a friend. We’re in an actual restaurant for the first time since July.

7.30pm: Dinner in the restaurant is a real treat, as are the two bottles of wine consumed across the whole experience.

9pm: Make my way home and attempt to watch a movie despite being overly full and already feeling a headache brewing.

10pm: Bedtime.

Saturday

8:30am: A rough night of sleep after last night’s indulgence and waking every two hours with a fullness and a headache. Manage a shower while there’s hot water, take some painkillers and back to bed for more respite.

11am: Awake and somewhat more human, manage to make a poor breakfast with what’s left in the fridge, a shop is needed but definitely not in my capacity today. Back to bed for another nap.

2pm: Awake again, and itching from restlessness but also too hungover to do anything but veg in front of Netflix and doze through some nonsense reality TV.

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6pm: Promising to never drink again, takeaway is ordered and begrudgingly collected from the front gate after getting the shortest straw with flatmates. Does the trick, as always, although still exhausted from the lack of sleep.

9:30pm: An early night, depressingly for a Saturday, but don’t feel too guilty because coronavirus, and promise to be more productive tomorrow.

Sunday

7:45am: Very rested after yesterday’s lack of activity, take myself out for a morning stroll in the cold and fog, don’t last long so do weekly grocery shop instead.

10am: Cook a hearty treat breakfast with fresh groceries, and then set about doing the workout of changing bedsheets and cleaning bedroom and general apartment maintenance. Penance for yesterday’s sloth.

12pm: Spend the afternoon getting the apartment festive with housemates, which generally becomes a frenzy of moving furniture, cleaning newly discovered mess/damp spots, and putting everything back in its original spot and adding sparse decorations because the consensus is there’s not room for much more (a position I held from the start).

4pm: Relax after the afternoon’s efforts with a festive movie marathon. Happiest Season (good), Dolly Parton’s Netflix movie (very bad).

7:30pm: A fancy sourdough pizza from yesterday’s shop is Sunday dinner, flicking aimlessly between TV channels while eating it before resting on The Den on RTE+1. Manic joyful chaos.

9pm: Am convinced into having a drink because I’ve no work the next day. Swearing off drink lasted 27 hours. It’ll be a nice nice nightcap.

Monday

7:25am: Forgot to turn off alarm thanks to the one drink that became three. Head is surprisingly clear, so perhaps the culprit on Friday was all the food and not the wine? Unlikely lies.

8:30am: Lie in and then perform a much overdue beard trim before shower and a breakfast in my room watching Netflix while flatmates work.

11am: Out in the cold winter sun to do some life admin – laundry run, post office run, pharmacy run. The errands mean I get my steps in while getting some vitamin D too.

12.45pm: Toast with eggs and bacon for lunch while catching up with flatmates about their working day. I’m not smug at all.

1:30pm: Do some Christmas shopping online with my day off, managing to get everything done and dusted by 5pm, wondering if it’s appropriate to give a gift to the postman for Christmas after the amount of post he’ll deliver in the coming weeks, and if so, what to give.

5:30pm: An early dinner, homemade burger and chips, which feels messy and juvenile and like an actual treat. Who needs Eddie Rocket’s?

6.30pm: Retire to my room to give flatmates the run of kitchen/living area after their workdays and not rub my delight and relaxedness in their faces. A mix of reading and watching for the evening.

11.30pm: Bedtime.

What I’ve learned…

  • I don’t feel like I have a lot of stimulation or activity in my life right now. Apart from apparently watching all of Netflix. I’m not sure if that would be different if I was still in the office every day and meeting friends after work. I’m not mad about my current schedule and I’m glad this is anonymous…
  • I think it might be time to speak to my housemates about the noise levels between the hours of 11pm and 7am. And I should probably buy good earplugs. And maybe get a life.

Last week’s diary: A 27-year-old software engineer who plans his workouts with ‘military precision’>

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