06 Oct

five nourishing things

I started this last week really, really tired. I was worn out physically after a busy week, lots of driving and several nights of only a few hours sleep, and I was worn out emotionally because last week was pretty tumultuous. I had an early morning chat with a friend who challenged me to do five nourishing things for myself during the day. So I’ve kind of taken this on as a challenge for every day. And I am really finding it helpful.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing.

Little things

These are the little things that don’t take a lot of effort but have a lot of impact.

Starting the day with a green smoothie

For the last fortnight, I’ve been having a smoothie for breakfast every day (and one for a snack in the afternoon, too). This week I screwed up all my courage and graduated to green smoothies and surprisingly, I am loving them. They are refreshing and filling and satisfying, and (the biggest surprise of all!) delicious. Here’s the recipe for my current favourite.

Breakfast banana blueberry smoothie

  • 200ml almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 8-10 pieces of ice

Drinking lots of water

When I work at the office, I drink heaps of water. When I work from home, I don’t. Lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to drink lots of water. This week I switched back to having a bottle of water on my desk so I remember to drink up big.


It’s not actually normal to have aching hands or a bit of a dead feeling in your arm. Who would’ve thought? This week I went looking for some hand stretches and worked through them a couple of times.

Going to bed really early

I went to bed at 8.30pm one night and my light was out by 9pm. Unheard of! Unfortunately I couldn’t back this up with another early night the next night, but I did get a couple of early nights during the week.

Listening to new music

I’m not sure how this is possible, but I didn’t know about Spotify until this week. Well, I knew about it, I just didn’t give it much thought. When I’m having an average day or I need a productivity boost I usually go and buy some new tracks on iTunes. But now I know about Spotify, I can have new music all day long.

Knocking off at normal o’clock

Since I’ve been on sabbatical, I have noticed I can’t work as many hours in a day as I do when I have all my usual work commitments. Working on one concentrated task – particularly when that task is analysis – needs to be confined to a certain amount of hours each day. I have learned that I can put in about six hours on analysis in a day, as long as I use the Pomodoro Technique┬áto break the work up and take regular breaks. So this week I knocked off at 6pm a couple of days – completely, not just from PhD.

Going out. At night. Like a grown up (or even just going out for coffee during the day)

One night last week I went out. At 8.30pm. And had a cocktail. Just one, and I was only out for about an hour. But it was kind of nice. While I was out, my sister called and she wanted me to check if I had something at my house. I had to say ‘I’m out’ three times before she understood and it wasn’t because she wasn’t listening. It’s just that I don’t go out. Which is a bit ridiculous, really. At 8.30pm I’m usually stuffed and staring mindlessly at the TV, or I’ve abandoned my desk in favour of sitting on the lounge with my laptop, or I’m teaching. So I’ve just gotten into the habit of hanging out at home. Normally this isn’t a problem, but at the moment I am climbing the walls at home because I haven’t been into the office for three weeks. Getting out of my PJs (because I was, of course, already in them) and leaving the house was really, really good for my sanity. I also made a point of getting out to get a coffee or pick up some fruit a couple of days this week too.

Whacking on a face mask

Pretty self explanatory! This isn’t a difficult thing – you’ve just got to think of it ten minutes before you have a shower and then you’re all set.

Bigger things

These things take a little bit more effort, time or money, but they make a big difference.

Having an extra massage

I have been having fortnightly massages since I’ve been on sabbatical, but this week I was really sore and pretty stressed, so I had an extra massage. This takes time, effort and money, and since it’s remedial massage, it involves some discomfort. But I always feel so much better the next day.

Cleaning up my online life

I was forced to do some long overdue website maintenance and I turned that into a prompt to clean up all my sites. I spent most of yesterday updating content management systems and plugins and just generally tidying up my sites and my server space. I plan to extend this to tidying up all of my online presences in the next little while – including changing passwords, because this whole project was prompted by a compromised password.

Having a PhD free weekend

There’s a difference between taking a day off purposefully and having one accidentally (that is, as a product of procrastination). The main difference is that the latter never ends up feeling like a proper day off. Yesterday morning I realised I didn’t have any PhD energy in me, so I just did other work and I didn’t let the PhD guilt get a hold. That’s not an easy feat, but I did it. This morning I had to do some errands and when I got home I felt so tired it was distinctly possible that I was already asleep and just didn’t know it. So I didn’t do any PhD work today either. I also didn’t do the other work I should have done because it was also analysis and I just didn’t have it in me. And I think this break from thinky thinking was the very smartest thing I could do, because for the first time in many weeks, I actually *want* to dive back into my analysis and I’m looking forward to getting on with it tomorrow.

Getting my eyes tested

I caught myself leaning right into my monitor when I was working on a spreadsheet and it reminded me that my annual eye test was actually about four years overdue. So I made an appointment and got my eyes tested and ordered new glasses.

Future things

This week I’m going to extend the list and incorporate some new stuff into my five nurturing things. I might even blog them each day… Or at least compile them into a post at the end of the week.

Do you have any suggestions for nurturing things I should try?