A year into the pandemic, with burnout from working full time and being an ad hoc remote school teacher, I made an appointment for the annual physical I had put off for far more than a year. The constraints of the world shutting down meant I was my family’s everything. All that output left little time for me to take care of myself. I had figured I was exhausted from the stress of the world, but I worried I might not be well. Despite an aversion to going to the doctor, I decided to stop putting off my health.
After a brief interrogation, some blood tests and the normal check of vitals, my doctor said she knew what was wrong with me. She scribbled something on her prescription pad, handed it to me and said she’d see me in a year. “Diagnosis: Burnout,” it read. “It all starts with food.”
I took her words to heart. Working and parenting 24/7 had left me drained and eating on the go. I couldn’t change the state of the world, but I could improve my diet to give me more energy and joy. Here’s what I did.
Water Water Water!
Not only does drinking enough water help with weight loss and keeping your skin looking fresh, it can actually help your mood and outlook. Dehydration can give you headaches and cause irritability, not to mention being bad for your health. I set reminders on my phone to drink more water throughout the day, instead of chugging a glass or two when I was already thirsty.
The pandemic turned me into a stress eater, which meant I was inhaling food or using food as a reward for all the hard work I was doing. I decided to cut the salty cabinet snacks that added no nutrition to my day and left me feeling lethargic (and still hungry!) I kept cut veggies and cut fruit in the fridge, which were easily grab-able when I needed a boost.
Add Some Color
I noticed the worse my diet gets, the less color is on my plate. By simply adding vibrant foods like mango, blueberries, spinach and broccoli to my repertoire, my meals become sources of energy that helped my outlook for the day.
Carbs Aren’t The Enemy
I’d always been terrified of carbs, but noticed trainers, elite athletes and my fittest friends, weren’t. I wondered if part of my burnout was the fact that I wasn’t eating enough carbs. I did some digging and decided to boost my healthy carb intake. Boom, I had more energy and didn’t feel like every day was an uphill battle.
And last, I decided to start prioritizing myself instead of making me last choice. From improving my diet, to getting back to fitness, to seeing more friends, I put the joy and healthy back in my life and put my burnout on the back burner.