Taking Stock

I learned a long time ago that self-blame and the inner critic are not my friends, and that beating myself up for what I did or did not do last week, last month, or even last year won’t help make me feel better.

So, when I’ve given myself some loving support and quelled the critic, I open my laptop and take control back, moving forward.  I don’t spend a lot of time on what happened in the past months that lead me to fall off the wagon, I look ahead and make some real plans to get back on track. This is not the same as making massive commitments that I won’t follow through on. These are called “Micro-movements”.

The author SARK has a great book called Make your Creative Dreams Real on the topic of micro-movements, which we at TEND sometimes also call 1% changes. These are very small, realistic and achievable steps.

I tend to take inventory (gently, with self-compassion) weekly. This may or may not work for you but let me share what I do:

Sundays are my “reset” day for the week that just passed and the one to come.  For example, this is the day where, in my house, we meal plan for the week. We pick 2-3 easy meals that can be done in 30 minutes or less for busy nights, or we make a big batch of something healthy that will keep us going for 3 meals during the hectic work week.

I make a grocery list, and go get what we need. If we opted for big batch, Sunday afternoon is spent cooking this up while listening to a great podcast or some music.

On Sundays, I also do a gentle check in with my physical health and finances:


Have I been able to exercise (long walks count, no need for sweaty Crossfit sessions here) at least 3-4 times in the past week? There is great literature on the benefits of 45-minute walks per day and lifting weights to help bone mass and ongoing strength as we age. Have I done at least 2 sessions of heavy weights? Mobility is also very important – staying flexible and strong to keep our hips and knees going. There is also some great new research on the benefits of shorter intense workouts. For some good reads on this topic check out the “7 minute workout” and the books Younger Next Year and The Telomere effect.

 If I am travelling a lot, I don’t get nearly as much exercise as I would like. In those cases, I move on and just plan to do more the weeks that I am home. Sometimes sleeping in is the best idea vs dragging myself, sleep-deprived, to an early workout.


Have I been eating enough greens? Too much caffeine or sugar? I don’t linger on the week that was passed, I just make plans to add some healthy things to my diet. I know what works for my body and what makes me feel bloated and uncomfortable. When I travel, it is harder to get enough fruit and vegetables so I try to increase those when I am home. I also don’t have forbidden foods because that is known to increase the likelihood of bingeing. But I ramp up the good healthy stuff on my plate.


Many helping professionals have told me that they are not particularly good with money management. If that is your case, I highly recommend reading Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book Debt-free forever. It is a simple, step-by-step series of tools to get a handle on your finances.

Numbing out

Now for the most important one – numbing out. Many of us who work in highly demanding and stressful fields also tend to feel emotionally and physically drained at the end of the day. Watching a show or two, playing a game of solitaire or enjoying a bit of online browsing might be a nice way to reset when our brain is full and we just don’t have the energy to do any heavy lifting intellectually. However, we all know the difference between a nice restorative break and numbing out, don’t we? One delicious glass of wine with dinner is the not the same as reaching for the bottle when we walk in from work. When watching two episodes of your favourite show turns into a 5 hour Netflix marathon, it is clear that we are using it to self-medicate from stress or overload.

Can you take a gentle inventory of your favourite unwinding activity? How do you know when it has morphed into avoidance and self-medication? I invite you to monitor your pattern for a week or two and see whether this is helping you reset or whether it has become a problematic behavior.

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