Food Fitness Flora takes action on anxiety with boxing, productivity and gratitude goals. Plus, there's pizza.
A long run, with the sun on my face, makes for a very happy Flora
What does feel-good look like?
A long run, with the sun on my face, makes for a very happy Flora. The sound of birds and trees in the breeze. Listening to nature instantly relaxes me, which is why I spend so much time in it. Most of my runs are without headphones so I can listen to nature. I'm always drawn to it after too long inside and I can't imagine life without that.
Act against anxiety
My biggest cure for anxiety is action. There’s nothing worse to me than sitting and stressing, unable to do anything to help myself. I love planning so that helps too! Having experienced quite bad mental health issues in the past, I have pretty good coping mechanisms now. At the beginning of lockdown I lost two months’ work, as there wasn't any going. As a social media consultant, usually I work with a couple of clients face to face or over the phone, but obviously wasn't able to see anyone over lockdown. So I created a general social media growth guide for anyone wanting to work on their social media over lockdown. It's been a great success!
Work to live
The start of lockdown was difficult because of all the unknowns. But as I work to live, not the other way around, I found myself really enjoying the slower pace. Usually, my week is filled with at least five events, daily meetings, travel between Dorset and London to see my partner, lots of workouts and classes…. then a little bit of home time. Then a little bit of home time. At first, I panicked that without these I'd be bored, but I found things that benefited my mental health, from landscape gardening to writing.
Free up mental space
My two-minute productivity rule states if something will take two minutes or less, do it now. There are so many things we put off again and again – booking an appointment, logging meter readings, unloading the dishwasher, posting a letter, sending an email, paying a bill.
We tend to stress over each until the sum of all the ‘small tasks’ feels insurmountable. The rule is from a slightly irritating self-help book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. But, for me, it really does work. This, combined with a to-do list (because I forget), means I get so much more done. This leaves more leisure time, which I don't fill with more work.
More important than freeing up time, it frees up the mental space I would have spent worrying about everything I had to do. I still have my moments, but I’m certainly better than I was.
Check your intention
I started doing ‘fitness’ (as opposed to sports) as a way to lose weight, mainly because I felt like I ate too much to lose weight through dieting alone. After finding several sports that I loved, I saw results that I didn't see with training that I hated. The less I focused on aesthetics and the more I focused on enjoyment and performance, the better I got. And the closer I ended up looking to how I wanted to look when I started out. Now, my training is entirely focused on enjoyment and performance, in that order.
I love competing, but I won’t do it so frequently that I stop liking it. Before the Tokyo marathon and my boxing fights, I was stressing so much about the events that the training became less enjoyable. The events were worth it, in the end, but I wouldn’t do either more than once a year. They take up so much time and mental capacity!
On my social media platforms I encourage people to train for enjoyment. You can end up training more because you love it. Then performance, health and often aesthetics will follow.
Move to mood shift
If I’m very tired, a walk will do. If I’m stressed or feeling anxious, nothing beats a run. Boxing always does the trick for pretty much every mood and, currently, weights have taken its place.
Get your gratitude on
I actually stopped doing my gratitude journal a few years ago, but I find my mind logging things I’m grateful for without even trying now. That’s amazing about a journal – it doesn’t just remind you of the great things in your life, it also rewires your brain to search for what to be grateful for in every situation. It’s a skill to practise, but it can change your mindset in just a few months.
I credit the gratitude journal that I did religiously in my teenage years to changing me from being incredibly pessimistic to someone considered as ‘happy go lucky’ or, at least, ‘positive’ now. Even the worst situations have my brain searching for the positives and that helps me every day.
I am grateful for the opportunities social media has given me, but it’s no replacement for real life
Keep it real
When really stressed, I spend more rather than less time on Instagram and Twitter, and it never helps! My favourite days are those I spend without my phone, roaming the countryside with Fiann and chatting about everything under the sun. I am grateful for the opportunities social media has given me, but it’s no replacement for real life.
I don’t reach for any particular food when I’m feeling low – a walk clears my head better. But I don't deprive myself. I have a whole room filled with snacks and I go there often. I love pizza, as much for the experience of making it as the actual eating. It helps that it tastes great. My partner and I make handmade pizzas pretty much every week at the moment.
Find instant gratification
Mine is morning coffee. Even the thought of coffee makes me happy. I drink decaf mostly now but I still love it. Dogs – all of them. I often find myself talking to someone’s dog as they walk past. I did this as a child, but I clearly haven’t grown out of it yet.