Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

Exercise
Getting to my kettlebells classes twice a week is a priority. I’ve turned down lots of ‘fun’ things to get my butt to kettlebells (of course, I also happen think swinging bells is fun). Keeping myself in good shape physically has been really helpful in staying healthy. The intensity of kettlebells is something that really helps me mentally, too. I can channel some of the frustration and anxiety that comes from my schedule into the workout. I always walk out feeling happily exhausted and refreshed. When I have to skip a class, I notice it from a mental standpoint.

Diet
The food I put in my body has a noticeable effect on both the way I feel physically, and my ability to cope with the stresses of my sleep schedule. Keeping processed sugar and white carbs (white bread, white rice, donuts) to a minimum is key. My perfect diet consists of eating lots of good veggies, protein, fruit, and keeping carbs complex. The last month I’ve taken a bad detour and there’s been a lot of sugar. The difference in how I feel is noticeable.

Fun
Climbing is fun. So, that’s been a priority. I’m still making it to the gym once or twice a week. Sometimes I’ll just go with no climbing partner arranged and stalk people with belay tools hanging off their harnesses. Most people are pretty cool with adding another enthusiastic climber to the group.

JTree climbing adventure with my hubby (photo: Terri B.)

Big or small, adventures keep me happy. I’ve been on a few bigger trips, which have provided nice breaks from the work schedule. The adventures will be on a smaller scale for the upcoming winter. I’m going to pick up a pair of cross-country skis and take advantage of the snow that doesn’t melt and the groomed trails all around the cities. I’m horrible on a pair of skis, but it’s still a great way to get outside in the winter, and it’s good fun, especially when there’s someone else to help pick me up when I tip over. I don’t have the energy for frequent adventures, but I make a point to say yes when friends invite me out for new things. It’s a great way to insert some fresh fun into my otherwise structured and hermit-like schedule.

Simplicity
I generally make an effort to keep my life as simple as possible, but it’s proven even more important now while I’m functioning at a different level than normal. My basic formula for simplicity is to identify a few (very few) things that are important to me and/or make me happy. I make those my priorities and pare everything else down. Simplicity in my priorities, my schedule, my living space…. the simpler the better. Ironically, this is something I need to work at, but it is such a huge help.

Knitting makes me happy.

My life consists of work, climbing, kettlebells, my husband, and good friends and family. Throw the occasional banjo and knitting session in the mix, and you have my version of a simple life. It helps keep me sane and happy.


When life throws an extra challenge your way, keeping yourself healthy will give you more energy to help you get through. Identify what keeps you healthy and happy and make those priorities in your life.

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5 thoughts on “Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

  1. 1nature

    Great article about balancing out ones life when the routine has taken a dive.

    I understand about the processed sugars….I have a bag of them at home.

  2. SG

    Our Sicky Gnar crew gives one another shit whenever we catch each other eating poorly. We critically suggest that a person is probably over the 'quota' and should skip the next meal. Its a healthy negging, although probably not so much for a teenage female. Between a good diet, and healthy neggings from friends. Its pretty easy to forget about work distractions, and focus more on the activity at hand. The solid mental break from work, in my case programming projects, is better than a vacation. I usually feel recharged, even if physically beaten, when a work week or new project starts up.

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I like the idea of supporting each other in making good choices (eating well). Having others around with similar goals is really motivating.

  3. ClimbingBetty

    Even thought I’m reading this several months after you wrote, it’s quite timely for me. I’ve been going through a very stressful transition at work and despite knowing better, the sugar & laziness have crept in. Not surprisingly, I’m not feeling my best. I’ve got a climbing vacation coming up in 5 weeks though, so that has been motivating me to train regularly and sleep better. Next thing to take on: food. (She says after just ingesting a couple of donut holes!)

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