wellness

'This year, I'm living by these three words: eat, play, rest. Here's why.'

Dementia Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Dementia Australia

The pandemic has fast become one of my ‘ick’ words. I have no patience for it and I — like so many others — are keen to be rid of it once and for all. 

Before it came about, I liked to believe I lived a fairly healthy lifestyle. I ate and exercised regularly, and my problems were trivial; my experiences, soluble and immaterial. All that mattered was putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on. 

I took that mindset into the COVID pandemic, with the utmost belief that all of this was just a very tiny bump in my long road to complete self-enlightenment. 

But whoever proclaimed it was right when they said ignorance is truly bliss. 

Watch if my brain could text me... Post continues after video. 


Video via Mamamia.

When my world as I knew it turned on its head and the country shuddered under the weight of our new reality, I found myself utterly overwhelmed with the mental load forced upon me. 

By 2021, every insecurity, every single worry for my loved one's wellbeing, and all the uncertainty I had bottled up inside ultimately pushed me to a breaking point. 

So, in 2022, I made it my mission to begin living a life that prioritised my wellbeing and brain health first, and above all else. 

How did I do this? 

I started off by tweaking the little things. 

I endeavoured to eat a full nutritious breakfast instead of skipping it. I chose to walk to the station to get to work instead of hopping on the bus outside my house. I dedicated 20 minutes each day to writing in my journal about everything going on in my head. I started deeper conversations with those around me, and instead of asking how they were and zoning out (as I so often used to do), I promised myself I would give my undivided attention to them for however long the conversation lasted. 

ADVERTISEMENT

My current reads! Image: Supplied. 

I chose to be better, fix my thinking and focus on getting my mind right in 2022. 

Of course, there were three little words that helped me. Three words I scribbled messily at the top of my journal each day so I couldn't allow myself to forget.

Eat. Play. Rest.

It's an initiative set up by Dementia Australia to inform people on how to make simple lifestyle changes in order to live and maintain a life that is brain-healthy. 

Basically, any person of any age at any time in their life can adopt small habits into their life to make them feel better in the old noggin. 

Here's how I did it (and how you can too).

Eat.

When the pandemic began, I stopped eating full meals and became a snacker. After all, the kitchen was right next to my desk, so what was the harm? 

Therein lies the issue: I wasn't giving my brain the fuel it needed to be productive and to think with clarity. 

What began as a cup of yoghurt in the morning instead of cereal and a bottle of water, turned into forgetting about breakfast altogether until it was 11am and I was clamouring to the kitchen to get a bit of last night's leftovers in my mouth before my next meeting. Not good! 

ADVERTISEMENT

So, instead, I made time to get out of bed a bit earlier and start with something extremely simple. Yoghurt with some fruit on the side and a big tall glass of water. 

And in all honesty, it was hard at the beginning. Like... really hard. 

After over a year of eating meals from 12pm to late into the night, it felt unnatural to have my first meal at approximately 9:15am on the dot. To begin with, I felt lethargic. 

But then eventually... I felt energised. I was excited to start work, and I felt better because my brain was processing things faster and I wasn't forgetting to do the small, menial tasks like hanging my laundry out or putting the dirty cup in the dishwasher. It was liberating I tell you! 

Play. 

If you hadn't already gathered, I work from home more often than not. So separating both my home and work life became non-existent after a while. But this year, I became determined to change my ways. 

I began by strictly logging on to my job (and logging off) on time. I didn't overwork myself just because my work station was right next to my bed, and I chose to create a divide to give myself more of a balance. 

Then, I made it my personal mission to never eat at my desk. I started having breakfast out in my courtyard. I took five minute snack breaks in my lounge room. I went out for small walks in my down time and I began obsessively reading again. If I felt the need to be on my phone, I decided the best way to use that time was to play sodoku. 

In all honesty, it's an obsession I never want to give up (and according to the app, I'm in the top one per cent of all players — yay!).

They were all small, incremental changes that made me feel happier, lighter and less foggy when it came to work time and socialising. Giving myself a few minutes to recharge was the most beneficial way for me to maximise my time and ensure a healthy mind space. 

I also gave my cat lots of cuddles — whether she liked it, I'm still unsure about.

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Rest.

Ah. Seems easier said than done, right? 

Well, let me tell you, it can actually be super easy when you remember being on your phone is not at all 'rest'!

As a 23-year-old social media obsessed gal, I always thought spending 20 minutes on TikTok or scrolling through my Instagram feed was the best way to spend my downtime but boy was I wrong. 

The Eat.Play.Rest campaign encourages everyone to spend some moments (whether it be minutes, hours or days) to relax and recharge. This can be done through a myriad of ways, like taking up meditation, fixing your sleeping pattern, or doing something you love.

Basically, rest is all about complete and utter zen. 

I'm no expert but I can't explain how much my life changed for the better when I began giving myself a full eight hours of sleep, a strict no-phone for the last few hours before bed rule and some designated minutes to let it all out in my journal. 

It kept me sane and my good old noggin very pleased. 

Overall though, I made extremely small changes to make my days a little less foggy and a little bit brighter. I'd recommend to anyone reading this to try something different in their normal routine — big or small — and see how it makes you feel. 

You never know, you may just feel a little bit better when all is said and done.

Dementia Australia is kicking off Eat.Play.Rest in March as part of Brain Awareness Week. To find out more about how you can better look after your brain health, visit the eatplayrest.org or follow @eatplayrestaustralia on Instagram.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Dementia Australia
Eat.Play.Rest is an initiative of Dementia Australia, created to inform everyone how to make simple lifestyle changes to live and maintain a brain-healthy life at any stage of life. Like any muscle, the brain needs to be stimulated to stay strong. Eat, play and rest are three critical areas that contribute to living a brain-healthy lifestyle. Small tweaks in your everyday routine can make a significant difference to your wellbeing and brain health. Head to www.eatplayrest.org.au or visit @EatPlayRestAustralia on Instagram, for brain-healthy inspiration.