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My week in wellness: A 57-year-old in Cork who's trying to cut down on screens, wine and late bedtimes

This week, our diary writer makes time for morning walks and a family Scrabble session.

TheJournal.ie reader

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.

If you’re interested in submitting your own How I Live diary, email wellness@thejournal.ie with your name, age, location and a few lines about your current health and wellness goals.

This week, we hear from a 57-year-old in Cork who is hoping to put her health psychology background into practice in her own life. She’s starting with small changes like cutting down on alcohol and reducing her screen time.

Option 2A Final

Occupation: HR trainer and counsellor
Age: 57
Location: Cork
Who you live with: My husband, my eldest son (24) and two crazy dogs

I have been mainly working from home since June. I feel the rhythm of it suits me, but I do miss spending time with others at work, giving training courses and popping out for tea or lunch. My husband still goes out to work as he is in essential services. Our oldest son is living here at the minute and working from home too. I have set up a little home office which I share with my large rubber plant.

I have a good sense of the things I need to do for my health, both mind and body. Unfortunately, knowing and doing are not the same! I do try to take care of my health, but sometimes I let myself off the hook or put things off, so I am trying to work on that.

Daily activity levels: I try to get out for a walk most days before work. Lately, I have been doing a short online yoga session a few days a week too. I do need to build in more physical activity generally.
Daily stress levels: At this stage in my life, things are fairly okay. Walking, taking time on my own, perhaps just to read or write helps manage most stresses. My work normally involves people, so I need time by myself too. Otherwise, as my husband is aware, I get cranky!
Eating/drinking habits: Meals are fairly healthy, lots of fruit and veg and not very much processed or fried food. I like a glass of wine, though I try to limit it. I also have a long term relationship with chocolate. In recent years my weight has crept up. This was never an issue until I hit my 50s, so I do need to be more aware of what I eat and when. 
Self care: I was involved in a fairly intensive project at work for several months and it was quite demanding. My self-care slipped during this time, so this is something I need to get back on track. I’m trying to build some mindful meditation into my days.

Tuesday

Morning: My sunrise alarm clock (my best purchase) wakes me today at around 7.10am by gradually filling the room with light. My husband is already up and around. I’m not a leap out of bed kind of person so I take a few minutes to think about the day before getting up. I have some water and get ready for a walk before work. Unfortunately, our dogs are a bit manic on the leads so I don’t take them on my own when I walk, but they always look hopeful! I try to use this time as a mindful practice. Back at home, after showering and dressing, I have my usual winter breakfast of warm berries, yoghurt and muesli. I eat this while looking out at the rain, which I love to do. Work starts for 9am.

Afternoon: I am putting together a training programme that I will facilitate live online on Thursday, I’m a little anxious as I want to do it well, but I do love this kind of work. I have a few glasses of water as I work and stop for lunch at 1.15pm. I share an omelette with bacon and veg with my son, and we have a chat.

A surveyor comes to look at our roof which is leaking over the dining room. I tell him proudly that the water was ‘pouring’ in through one of the leaks the day before, I’m not sure if he is impressed.

Evening: I’m still tweaking the training course at 5.30pm, so my son kindly offers to cook. I have a quick hello with my husband and fill him in on the surveyor’s visit, we will need to get work done on it or will be in for a soggy winter. At 7.30pm I stop for dinner, chicken fajitas with peppers and kidney beans, lovely! I have a mock mimosa with it – tonic water with a splash of orange juice in a Prosecco glass. It feels like a treat!

Lately, the three of us do cryptic crosswords together, so this happens tonight as the dishes are being done (dishwasher gave up the ghost during the first lockdown). My husband and I then watch two episodes of a series we like and I have a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

Bedtime: Though we had planned to go to bed earlier, it is after 12am by the time we head up. I read for a little while as it helps me get to sleep.

Wednesday

Morning: I wake up at about 7.15am, my husband is already up and dressed and leaves early for work. I snuggle in bed for another 20 minutes listening to the rain. I put out my yoga mat (a Christmas present from my lovely daughter) and find a simple session on my phone to do, as I’m still fairly new to it. After breakfast, a quick shower, then I dress with a bit of care for work and put on a little make up. I have three different video calls today so I want to look a little presentable! I ‘go’ to work armed with two big glasses of water, one for me and one for my rubber plant for his weekly watering, it’s about 8.50am.

Afternoon: The day is busy with calls, but it is great to see my work colleagues, even on screen. Since lockdown I have missed the connection as we are a friendly bunch. I drink my water and between meetings I grab a cup of tea and have a chat with my son while he is on his break. I take a late lunch break at 2.30pm to send my sister and her husband an anniversary card. I buy a gift card from the kind lady in the post office who warns me that sending the gift card in the post is like sending cash, I can’t see another way of getting it to the other end of the country, so off it goes with hopeful wishes for safe delivery! I have a quick lunch at my desk, not a good habit.

Evening: I make homemade burgers (no bun for me), salad and wedges for dinner, we eat about 7.30pm. We all agree that we would like to eat earlier, but somehow are not managing that. I phone my mother for a chat, she lives quite far away and I haven’t seen her for about four months. She doesn’t linger too long as her soaps are on and nothing and nobody gets in the way of them

I do some laundry then join my husband and son to wrestle the cryptic crossword. My contribution is one clue! My husband bakes a loaf of oat and yoghurt bread, it smells lovely. I take a magnesium supplement, listen to a podcast on mindfulness and gratitude, lovely practices to live by, and I decide to paint my toenails, mindfully!

Bedtime: Somehow or other it is 12am by the time we go to bed, we both read for a little while. At night I try to read about topics like positive wellbeing, as I find it more relaxing than fiction (though I read a lot of that at other times, our house is always full of books).

Thursday

Morning: I wake at 7.15am. I feel tired though I have been sleeping so much better lately, for a while I wasn’t. I think getting outdoors more helps, and maybe the magnesium too. I wrap up and go out for a morning walk. I have some water before I go and as my hat has been on the radiator it feels lovely and cosy. The little things! The sun is shining as I get back.

I have some of my husband’s baked bread with marmalade and a cup of tea in my favourite mug. I have time to have a leisurely shower and wash my hair, then get dressed and start work at 9am.

Afternoon: I decide to use my lunch break to make vegetable soup. The beauty of working from home is I can leave it simmering and pop down to turn it off later.
The online course I was meant to be delivering today has just been rescheduled for a few weeks’ time. As I have the preparation already done, I really try to appreciate what it feels like to be ready so far in advance – very unusual for me! I hope this will motivate me the next time I have something similar to do.

Our new dishwasher arrives and is installed by two masked men, which sounds sinister, but these are the times we are living in. I work until 5pm and then have a bowl of my soup.

Evening: My husband makes dinner. I can never remember the name of the dish, and he tells me (again) that it is ‘fejoida’, a Brazilian recipe shared by our daughter during the first lockdown. It’s a black bean, veggie sausage and sweet potato stew and we all have a bowl at about 8pm, I have a glass of white wine and my husband does too. We all happily load the dishwasher, a welcome addition to the household.

I have a WhatsApp video call with my sister after dinner. She is in great form because she has now lost over 23lbs and is walking every evening, I’m full of admiration. I watch an episode of The Queen’s Gambit with my son, which we’re loving, and then watch another episode of Line Of Duty with my husband.

Bedtime: We head to bed at 11.45 pm, but as I’m opening the window I notice we’ve left a light on downstairs. My considerate husband goes down and switches it off. When we are both in bed we can hear a loud drip-drip-drip as the rain lands on the plastic bin outside. We both know this will stop us from sleeping (well, mainly me) so my kind husband dresses again and goes out to sort it out. It’s now after 12am… again!

Friday

Morning: It’s nearly 8am by the time I get up. I have a shower and get dressed, more video calls today so I try to look presentable. I have a quick read of the news on TheJournal.ie, a habit formed during the first lockdown to keep up with all the Covid details. I have some muesli with milk and chopped apple, and a glass of fizzy multi-vitamin. I mean to have vitamins every morning but I often forget.

Afternoon: I spend some time sending thank you emails to work colleagues who have been so supportive during and after the big project I had been involved in. At lunchtime I go for a walk in my favourite park with a friend, we have a lovely catch up and a takeaway tea and scone (his treat). When I get home, I have some vegetable soup, which is even nicer today, and a glass of water. I’m feeling nicely energised and work again until 4pm, when I have a cup of tea, a biscuit and a quick chat with my son – we’re still intrigued by the US election – and go back to work.

Evening: I have counselling clients today on Zoom so I work until 7pm. I then start cooking dinner, Quorn shepherd’s pie with green beans. I get a call from my husband to say that his car battery is flat. Thankfully, my son gets the jump leads for me as they are in the shed which also houses many creepy crawlies. I head out and watch supportively from the warmth of my car as my husband gets his car started! We have dinner with a glass of wine each at about 8pm. When my son comes in we have a game of Scrabble as a break from screens – a family ritual we developed during the first lockdown. This time the cryptic crossword is also done at the same time between turns, good brain-training for sure!

Bedtime: Bed for 11.45pm, this time no lights and no drips.

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Saturday

Morning: I lie-in until 9.15am, and feel rested. I do about 20 minutes of yoga and feel looser and straighter after it. I go for a longer walk today of about an hour. I love just looking at houses: how they are painted, their names, the little details. There are lots of lovely houses around our area and it’s a nice mindful walk. When I get back I have a long relaxing shower. I make some scrambled egg on toast and a cup of tea and tackle some housework.

Afternoon: My husband and I do the main weekly shop together, now a social outing! We are obviously losing the run of ourselves with kitchen appliances, as we decide to replace our under-the-counter fridge with a bigger one. Plans are made to go looking later. I can feel a slight rising panic as suggestions are made to pull out cupboards, radiators or bits of kitchen counter to accommodate the new fridge.

After a lunch of soup and toast we go fridge shopping. I am disappointed to see that all the fridges are white or grey, I’m thinking orange or turquoise as I love colour, but no luck. No purchase is made.

Evening: We have leftover shepherd’s pie and I have a mock mimosa, followed by tea and some dark chocolate. I eat less chocolate when it is dark. Milk chocolate just seems to disappear of its own accord. My husband has some work stuff to do, I read for an hour and try to ring my mother but her number is engaged (or she doesn’t want to be disturbed from her soaps), so I go back to my book.

Bedtime: I go to bed at about 12am and read a little more, I love weekends.

Sunday

Morning: I wake about 9am feeling rested and the sun is shining. I have some water and go to our local park for my walk. It’s lovely to see lots of people just strolling in the sunshine and little kids on the swings! When I get home I have a shower. Sunday morning is my time for beautifying, so lots of exfoliating and whatnot. All three of us have a late breakfast together, I have eggs with toast and some warm apple and pear with cinnamon.

Afternoon: I do an (almost) Everest sized pile of ironing while listening to a podcast. Later I make some salad with lots of fruit and coloured veg and falafel. My husband is finished in the garden so we eat together. 

We go out shopping again for a fridge and find one or two that might suit, but they aren’t orange or turquoise! As we stand in the shop we realise that we still have no idea yet where to put one, we both decide that enough is enough for one weekend.

Evening: My daughter and I message each other over WhatsApp, and we have a nice little virtual chat. I cook chicken tikka masala with my son, it fills the kitchen with lovely smells. I think a glass of wine would be nice but I remember we decided not to buy any this week! Our younger son phones as we are cooking and we all catch up with his news from college. We find a film to watch later, which is action packed but confusing.

Bedtime: I get to bed at about 12.45pm, my stomach is gurgling as it always does after curry, so it takes a while to get to sleep

Monday

Morning: I wake at about 7.45am as my husband is off for a few days so we don’t need to wake as early as usual. I get dressed and go out for a quick walk. There’s a light rain but it’s nice. I come back and have some strawberries, muesli and yoghurt and I remember to take my multi-vitamin. I shower and start work at 9am.

Afternoon: I am feeling very tired today, not enough sleep! I realise I haven’t drank any water during the morning, which hasn’t helped. I decide to break for an early lunch. I have a chat with my husband and eat some scrambled eggs and spinach. I’m even more tired after a meeting as it involved a lot of reading of documents on screen and concentrating closely. I have a few stretches to loosen out. I work until 5.30pm.

Evening: My husband and I prepare a beef casserole, I feel like some comfort food and this will do the trick. I do some of my own social media work until dinner is ready at 7.30pm then we have the casserole, and yes, it is lovely comfort food! I have my mock mimosa and we have a nice catch up. The last week has been busy and we haven’t really had time to chat properly. I go back upstairs to finish a piece of work that needs to be done. I work until after 11pm. This can happen when I get into a flow and want to finish something.

Bedtime: I feel really tired and my shoulders are aching from sitting for most of the day, I head to bed at about 11.45pm, it’s been a long day.

What I’ve learned…

Working from home means I do need to make an effort to move about more, I feel so much better if I get outside walking in the morning or do some yoga. It energises me for the day and I just feel generally better.

Last week’s diary: A 25-year-old Dubliner trying to exercise more to keep her anxiety in check>

About the author:

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