What are your minimum daily requirements (MDRs)?

We’re all familiar with the concept of “daily requirements” when it comes to food. Whether we’re tracking macros on an app, or just paying attention to how many vegetables we ate today, there are things in the food world that we know we need to be healthy and function at our best.

 

But what about the rest of life? Holistic health is about much more than food. Chances are, there are times in your life you remember feeling like the best version of yourself. Think back: what were you doing or not doing that made you feel that way? Most likely, you were applying the concept of “minimum daily requirements” without even knowing it. There are five key areas that we all should be paying attention to:

 

Sleep.

After a particularly bad night of sleep, making sleep a priority the next night might come easy for us. But what would happen if we prioritized getting the recommended 7-10 hours of sleep per night, consistently, every night? The cumulative effect of not sleeping can add up, but so can the cumulative effect of getting enough rest. You’ll reap the benefits of being well-rested in your ability to focus at work or school and in your relationships with family and friends.

Consider: set a consistent bedtime and wake time, allowing for a minimum of 7 hours per night (or more!) and commit to stick with it for a minimum of 30 days. See what positive changes you notice at the end of the month.

For me, this looks like a 9pm bedtime and 6am wake time. On occasion I’ll have a social event in the evenings that means I’m in bed later than my scheduled time, but after reaping the benefits of consistent sleep, I keep them to a minimum (read: avoid them like the plague and am the resident party pooper).

 

 

Exercise.

Raise your hand if you start a workout routine, stick with it for a week, miss a day or two, give up, and then suddenly now it’s been three months since you last exercised. We’ve all been there! Like sleep, exercise is something that if it’s not prioritized, it won’t happen. Exercise doesn’t have to be miserable, either. Pick something that you like and that works for your lifestyle. Join the gym around the corner from you. Commit to a unique gym like Crossfit or Orange Theory. Find an at-home workout plan that you enjoy. Commit to daily walks or runs. Whatever it is, have a plan and make it a priority. The laundry will still be there when you’re done (sadly).

Consider: think about what types of movement you enjoy and feel best doing. Then create a plan, and like sleep, make it a priority. If you miss a day, get right back on track the next day, don’t wait weeks or months.

For me, this looks like doing a Pilates workout from The Balanced Life 3-4 times a week, and then taking a walk (20-40 minutes) 3-4 times a week. I prioritize walks over pilates on sunny days because getting enough sunshine has its own set of benefits.

 

 

Food preparation.

Planning for what you will eat is, in my opinion, the most important part of the food process. Not planning usually results in eating whatever is available. And usually… what’s available after not grocery shopping for a while isn’t much. Planning what meals you will make when and going to the store once for all the needed ingredients is much more time efficient and convenient than figuring out what’s for dinner each day when you get home at 5pm. For some people, this may look like batch cooking 2-3 big meals on the weekends and then reheating for lunches and dinners the rest of the week. Others may cook 3-4 nights a week, making lots of leftovers. Still others may cook every night, but have set meals that they have planned out based on how much time they will have for food preparation that day. There are many different ways this can be done, it’s about finding what works best for you so that you can be consistent.

Consider: figure out what system will work best for you. Trial and error is ok! Consistency is what matters (notice a theme emerging?).

For me, this looks like planning four main dinners and grocery shopping once per week. Currently I’m using the Mealime app to choose four simple dinners, increase the servings per meal to account for lots of leftovers, add eggs, cheese, fruit, and nuts to the list the app creates and voila- meals planned for the week!

 

 

Connecting with loved ones.

For many, this has been challenging and looked very different over the past year, but perhaps it’s also highlighted the need for quality time with the people we love and who love us. It’s easy to be together if you live in the same house, but quality time is a different thing entirely than just being in the same room with someone. Technology has done wonders at keeping us connected with people outside of our bubbles this year, but it might be keeping us more disconnected from the people we live with.

Consider: how can you have more quality time with the people you love and care about? This doesn’t necessarily have to be “another thing to do”. Could you go on a walk with a friend, or join a specialty gym with your teenager and go together (exercise!)? Could you cook dinners as a family (food prep!)? Have a phone free night and play games instead?

For me, this looks like prioritizing date night with my husband every week. Rarely do we do anything fancy- our favorite thing is to make tea, eat dark chocolate, and play Rummy, Farkle or Qwirkle while we chat. I usually go from a walk with my mom once a week, and I also have nephews in the area, and try to see them often- they grow up so fast! As a person who loves to plan, I have a hard time being spontaneous. But I’ve made an effort to capitalize on spontaneous times with family and it’s those times that have produced some of the best memories.

 

 

White space.

This is my favorite- and hardest- MDR. White space is unplanned, unspoken for time. Time to do whatever sounds the most lifegiving to you. Time to read a book. Or sit in the yard with a cup of tea. Or sit at the beach by yourself for a few minutes, watching the waves and seagulls. Being quiet is a hard practice as we are bombarded by technology, an overwhelming to-do list, people needing things, and on and on. The need to be busy and keep our brains busy is almost an addiction. But when we make some space to be quiet and recharge, it gives us space and time to think, feel, process, and be creative.

Consider: how can you clear out time for white space? Scheduling it may or may not work for you, but make it a priority. Then decide what to do with it. Doing anything phone-free is a great place to start!

For me, this looks like setting aside a few hours one day a week that I can think, pray, and journal. Like the spontaneity I’m learning to embrace in my relationships with others, I’m learning to do that for myself, too, taking advantage of spare moments to sit still by the ocean or take a quick walk around the yard.

 

 

Your MDRs will be different from mine- as it should be! But take a few minutes to think through these five areas and write down your MDRs for each one. Then, make it a priority to do them! Evaluate them briefly every week, making adjustments as you need to. They should be serving you, not the other way around. 

 

-Moriah, front desk staff

Beat the winter blues with Exercise

 

Get your body moving every day to beat the winter blues!

 

Higher Energy option: 

When temperatures are low outside, warm up your body from within by getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat! High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is great for this. In as little as 15 to 20 minutes, you can do a full-body work out right from your home with no equipment necessary. HIIT incorporates short intervals of intense exercise (when your heart rate can reach about 80% of its maximum capacity) with periods of rest or active recovery.

Here are some examples of exercises you can include in your HIIT workouts: burpees, mountain climbers, plank jacks, squat jumps, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches. There are many great HIIT resources, guides, and videos out there that you can customize to your fitness level and schedule. Try HIIT this winter, ideally in the morning within an hour of waking, and get your heart pumping, blood moving, metabolism firing, and energy going! 

 

Lower Energy option:

Get outside! Sunshine (when we can get it), fresh air, and movement can go a long way to boosting your mood and relieving stress, even if it’s cold out. Bundle up and try one of these ideas:

-Keep it simple- take a lap around your neighborhood.

-If there’s no snow (or if there is snow and you have the right gear), try a local trail like Mt Agamenticus, Stratham Hill Park, Urban Forestry Center or the Great Bay Wildlife Refuge.

-Put on an extra layer and go to the beach! Winter is a great time to find treasures washed ashore by stormy seas.

-Walk around your neighborhood during a snowstorm- the quiet stillness is so peaceful.