Finally a moment for yourself! Since early in the morning, you have been working only for others, you are tired, you feel like something… Do you recognise yourself in this? This is the moment when most people make a choice that is not only unwise, but could be the cause of your future health problems.
Our society is becoming increasingly aware of the need to adapt our lifestyles for better health. We might go on a fast, have a massage, stick to juice for a while, go to a detox retreat or not eat meat for a day. However, our health does not depend on what we do once in a while, but on our regular habits. So don’t worry if you let yourself go every now and then, but make sure your regular eating habits and lifestyle are optimal. This requires an understanding of the effects of our habits.
One of the biggest mistakes we make is when it comes to our free evening. It starts with recognising that we need a moment to take good care of ourselves. However, what we do next is actually bad for us.
1. Straining the eyes
We plop down on the sofa and sit behind the TV. Our eyes are already tired from the day’s exercise. We lose most of our energy through the eyes. A screen ensures that our eyes do not get any rest, but instead strain even more. By looking at the same point nearby for a long time before going to sleep, you may find it more difficult to see clearly at a distance.
TIP! Don’t look at a screen or read a book at least one hour before you go to bed. Go outside and relax your eyes by looking into the distance.
We have been busy all day, our brains have not had time to process what happened during the day. These stimulants now linger and the entertainment of our choice adds more stimulants waiting to overwhelm us at the first moment without mental distraction.
TIP! Before sleeping, sit down in a quiet place and go through your day in chronological order, as if it had happened to someone else. It will help your memory and process the events.
Physically, we have built up stress. Although the sofa sounds very relaxing, a film, series or even the news is not. Try to observe yourself during your favourite series. Every poignant moment triggers emotions and adrenaline rushes through your body. This uses up unnecessary energy, oxygen and nutrients, of which we are in fact already short.
TIP! Do not get completely absorbed in the film and keep your emotions under control. You can do this by remaining aware of your surroundings, for example by watching the edges of the television. Do you feel tension coming on? Look away for a moment and take a deep breath.
Now that you finally have time for yourself, you can grab something you like. Often it consists mainly of carbohydrates (including sugar), fats and salt. While dinner is still in the stomach, we start to stuff ourselves, because of the distraction of the television and the addictive substances in our snacks, we miss the signals that we have had enough.
We now feel uncomfortable because of the full stomach, all the energy we have left goes to the digestive system which cannot convert all this input into usable components, nor break it down and dispose of it properly. Organs responsible for purifying the body become overloaded. Your body is busy all night, where it should be resting.
TIP! Are you often hungry in the evening? Try to eat fewer carbohydrates in the evening. They provide an energy supply, but can quickly leave you feeling empty. Eat more protein instead. Feeling peckish? Drink plenty of water or herbal tea.
5. Poor sleep
The combination of the first four constitutes the fifth effect. Our bodies are exhausted so we go to bed. Our eyes bulge, everything we have experienced that day rushes into our minds like a storm, our shoulder, back and neck muscles begin to contract into steel cables and our stomachs feel heavy and bloated. You end up in a kind of half-sleep, busy with the people you spoke to during the day, the problem pieces you were working on and what your favourite actor had to deal with. The next morning, you wake up tired and cranky, have two cups of coffee instead of breakfast, and that evening… you do the exact same thing again.
TIP! Sit in a meditation posture. Slowly go from the toes to the crown of the head by all parts of the body and relax them. Focus on your breathing. Let all thoughts come, but do not pay attention to them, and let your attention return to your breathing.
The healthy habit
What do you think an evening looked like before there was internet or television? Or even before electricity was invented? You will realise that in our modern civilisation we have gone pretty far. Although there are many things that we enjoy in the moment, in the long run they only cause us pain or discomfort. So how should we spend our evening?
Have dinner around 5 or 6 o’clock and don’t eat a heavy meal. Pay attention to the food itself and take advantage of the time outside of dinner to talk about what you have done or experienced that day. Then do not eat anything until breakfast. Your body needs this time to digest the food, store energy and clean out the digestive tract. Think of it as a daily fast.
If the situation allows, get together with your partner, family or housemates afterwards to do something relaxing, such as chatting, playing a game or going for an evening walk.
Go to bed early. The last hour before you go to sleep, dim the lights and stop looking at a screen or book. Listen to relaxing music or do a meditation exercise.
If you make a habit of this, you will dream less and you will fall into a deep sleep more often and for longer. You will notice that you wake up early in the morning full of energy because in time you require less sleep. That early morning is a wonderful time to pay attention to your hygiene, to do activities like Yoga exercises, to prepare a healthy breakfast and if you want to do some chores or work. The people around you will be amazed at how energetic, positive and well-prepared you are already that morning, and you will feel great yourself.
Courtesy of the knowledge and wisdom of the Gurus of The Yoga Institute and teachings by Dr. ALV Kumar, The Yoga Healing Foundation.