Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel pretty partied out, man. Sometimes I just allow myself to get totally consumed by the Internet, taco trucks, cheap wine and late nights. Sure, it’s fun for a while, watching my social calendar fill up as money flies out of my bank account and into the pockets of Bay Area bartenders. I stay up too late watching Netflix, as if finishing one more episode of Bob’s Burgers before bed is absolutely imperative. And then, after a few hours of crummy sleep, I arise again, stretch my weary body, pop an Advil or three and head into work. Here, I settle into a chair and spend the day scouring the Internet, caught in an endless loop of Buzzfeed lists, Facebook statuses, celebrity meltdowns and passionate political rants. It doesn’t take long to get completely sucked into the vortex and, after a couple weeks of maintaining this pace, I no longer feel human. I need to shake all the ickiness out and get back in the groove of adult human life. So, after extensive personal research and some professional assistance, I’ve compiled this basic guide to repairing your mind, body and soul. With these elements working in conjunction, you will not be stopped.
1. Eat Well
Stop filling yourself up with garbage. Take the time to think about what you’re putting into your body. This can be tough when you’re shoving cheesy grits down your food hole at 2 am, but you have to try. I recently decided to visit a nutritionist and it was expensive so let me save you a trip. The USDA got wise to the fact that the Food Pyramid we grew up with was confusing, difficult to follow and not necessarily setting us up for a healthy diet. So they did the smart thing and dumbed it down a little. The new food rules are easy to remember and follow with MyPlate. Notice, half of your plate is produce, the other half is divided by grains and proteins. That’s it. Just strive to make your plate look like that 3-5 x a day and you’re on your way. Throw some chicken or flank steak in there, or tofu, or tempeh, or black beans, or whatever. It’s not that tough. Living in the Bay Area, you’re never far away from a farmers market, so take advantage! It’s ok if every so often you fall off the wagon and onto a taco truck, vegetables will always be there for you to pick up the pieces and put you back together.
Now that you’re refueled it’s time to get moving.
2. Move It
Get your blood moving, get your heart beating, fill your lungs with delicious air; this is what it’s like to feel alive! Figure out how to get yourself some cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Exercise doesn’t need to be a chore. It’s an escape, a time to let your brain clear out and relax. It’s a time when you can trample the problems of the day to the soundtrack of your choosing. If you’re nervous about going to the gym, don’t be. Nobody there cares what you’re doing. No one is looking at you or judging you, they’re all doing the same thing, sweating just as much and probably wearing shorts. No one looks cool at the gym, no one. So don’t worry, we’re all in this together. The important thing is getting there. Once you’re there, you’re halfway done, so make it a point to get there.
If the gym isn’t your cup of tea, go outside: take a walk, a run, an urban hike. The Bay has no shortage of footpaths or bike lanes, what are you waiting for? Prefer a group setting? Run Bay to Breakers in your skivvies. Assemble a Color Run team. Just make sure you get your butt in gear. Besides, being fit gives you more stamina and generally makes you more fun at parties. Your quest for fitness may lead you to try yoga. If you’re already a fan, then you know the tremendous benefits of this practice go far beyond fitness. Yoga allows you to bring your mind and your body together. It allows you to reach a meditative state, to push yourself, to focus, to find balance and to fully let go. It’s awesome. And around here it’s everywhere. My favorite studio in San Francisco is Yoga to the People, with a sliding scale fee and numerous class offerings, no one has to do without their yoga.
You’re all limbered up and eating well so it’s time to talk about your mind. It’s no secret that you’re at your best when your thoughts are clear and free flowing. That’s why the next step is so crucial.
It is imperative that you give yourself some quiet time to just let your mind wander. You cannot schedule every moment. You cannot spend 100% of your time with your face buried in a screen. The Internet is pretty awesome but so is your imagination. Play a movie inside your head. Stare at a large body of water. Think of everything or nothing, just let your mind go. I promise it’ll come back. Giving your brain a little break only strengthens it. Some of the best ideas come from relaxed brain, so give yourself a break every now and then.
Coffee’s great and all but, you must rest, child. Allowing your body to fully rest is essential. In fact, it’s your responsibility. Some people require more sleep than others; make sure you get what you need. Make the time for rest and don’t feel guilty about it. Go ahead and enjoy ever second of sleep, you earned it. When you’re body is filled with junk food and booze, your sleep sucks. I mean, sure you sleep a lot but it’s not restful or reenergizing. But when your body has been fueled by whole food and jumping jacks, sleep is awesome and fulfilling. Choose option “B” whenever possible.
“Now that takes care of our minds and bodies, but we should do something good for mankind or the planet for a couple of hours.” – Cher Horowitz, Clueless
5. Be Grateful
It’s easy to list your troubles. They can pile up quickly and really snowball if the mood is right and that gets real messy real fast. The easiest way to pump the breaks on that freight train is to simply be grateful for what you do have. Just think about the things that you have going for you — I’m breathing! I have arms! I make delicious soup! — whatever it is, big or small, just think of it and be grateful. I know it sounds hokey, but the positivity you put out will come back to you. If you’re having a particularly bad day or just feeling down, the fastest way to pick yourself back up is to help someone else. Donate your clothes, or your time, or your blood. Pick up trash, paint a building, feed someone who’s hungry. Invest in a local business’ Kickstarter campaign or look around your neighborhood for opportunities to volunteer. If you are able bodied, there are bodies that need your help. And besides, helping others feels good, so everyone wins.
And finally, the part I’m still working on…
6. Be Fearless
Going with the flow is cool but never lose sight of who you are. You are awesome. You’re probably a little weird, you probably have different opinions than other people, but that’s rad. All those little quirks are what make you you. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. When you love you, the world will love you back. Haters can buzz off.
Add eight glasses of water and sunscreen daily. Repeat steps as necessary.