The other day I came to the realization that, right now, these are The Good Old Days. And I am missing them. I am going through the motions but not truly participating, absorbing or enjoying them. There are many reasons why, most of them my own fault. Overextending myself. Not taking care of myself physically. Being distracted. Multitasking. And then I feel stressed out, like, ALL THE TIME. Then I yell at my kids and act in ways I regret. And I am pretty sick of it. And frankly, I think I am making myself physically sick.
This past weekend I had a work conference in Toronto with my entire office staff, which is basically a bunch of working moms like me. We went to the conference by day and at night we had dinner, wine, went to shows, acted silly, laughed, danced, talked. It was fabulous. I felt good. I felt, what is that word?.....RELAXED. I liked the feeling. So I decided that, starting NOW, I was not going to be stressed out anymore. I truly think that this is MY decision. I can take control and not let external factors dictate my reactions to them and my feelings.
How am I going to do that? Really, I'm not sure. And I know it will be a learning process with many failures along the way. But my instincts tell me I need to start by doing these things:
1. Get enough sleep.
Being rested helps me cope with the external stressors of life and help me deal with them appropriately, with patience and efficiency, instead of react to them in a reflexive and negative way.
2. Get up early in the morning.
This one sucks. I like to sleep in. but then I often wake up feeling rushed and behind the eight ball. By getting up a bit earlier, I can slow my pace and have time to think as I do things. Get organized and plan. It keeps me more calm.
3. Fuel my body with good food.
I have noticed in the past few years that I am gaining weight, and much of it in my midsection. This, my doctor tells me, is a common place to store fat when you have too many stress hormones circulating in your body. Also, when I am stressed I have the bad habit of turning to food for that instant gratification, thinking I am treating myself, but really, it is kind of destructive, isn't it? I am not talking about that big desert you share with your girlfriend on a night out, or the popcorn at a movie. Those things are fun and occasional. I am talking about the chocolate bar I shove in my face but barely taste as I drive from one event to the next because I haven't planned a proper meal. Or the bag of chips that disappears when I collapse on the couch at night for some "me time" while watching tv. Social eating- okay. Binging alone- not. I know that I feel so much better, physically and mentally, when I eat healthfully, but I really struggle to do so. I need to try, and to do that I need to plan.
4. Sometimes, "Me Time" is doing the laundry.
I know that sounds downright lame. But sometimes that pile of unfolded laundry or messy house sits in the back of my mind and stresses me out for days, making me tired and grumpy, when really if I just deal with it, I will feel more relaxed and organized. No, it is not FUN, but in the end it will make me feel good to have it done, and being productive feels better in the end than a lazy hour on the couch. It is good to get organized.
5. Exercise most days, preferably outside.
I have seen so many times how being outside positively effects my mood. It makes me, and my problems, feel small when I am surrounded by big sky and trees and air and nature. It is a kind of meditation really. And exercise gives me that rush of happy hormones that makes me feel so good. It makes me think clearer and sleep more soundly. But often, because I am feeling tired and sluggish, I skip out on this ritual in favour of another restless hour of sleep. I need to remind myself that this is quiet time FOR ME and just get to it.
6. Take time to cuddle every day with children and pets.
Nothing better for the heart than a good cuddle.
7. Quit multitasking.
Do one thing at a time, well, and give it your full attention. This especially includes having conversations with others. Give them your focused attention. Put down your phone.
8. Cut down on social media time.
This is a hard one for me because I SO enjoy my interactions with my internet friends. They inspire me, make me laugh, and make me feel good. So I would never cut it out completely. But I need to focus on the people in my life who are physically here, too.
9. Remember Dad's two rules of life:
1. Don't sweat the small stuff
2. It's ALL small stuff.In the end, how much of what we worry about every day really matters? It will all work out.
10. Remember my friend Anna's rule of life:
Everything in moderation, including moderation.Sometimes you just have to go big. Stay out until the sun rises. Eat a second helping of cake. Drink all the wine. Have fun and live life's moments. That is why we're here.
So I am going to give this a try, starting NOW. I had a healthy breakfast, have laundry in the machine and have my workout clothes on, ready to go for a run outside despite the rain. I might use the blog as a forum to track my progress along the way, and if any of you out there want to take this or a similar personal journey with me, I am happy to lend support! Strength in numbers, we can encourage each other :)
Whatever your day brings, I hope you have a good one!