In the past month, since my last blog, my life has made a significant shift and a couple of the Top Life Stressors have occurred. (Some in the Top 10 and some in the list of additional 7 stressors added by readers of the article). See link   It’s a difficult time for me personally as I make some momentous life changes. Even when those changes are right, it doesn’t make them less difficult.
These circumstances have forced me to do a lot of soul-searching, introspection and reflection. I’ve had days where I really embraced self-care and all I stand for and represent in my effort to help myself and others in our commitment to well-being. And then those other days, I sucked! Some days I was at peace, practicing what I preach, living S.L.O.W. and allowing the universe to guide and direct my steps. And then conversely there were other days… I was uptight, edgy (prickly), anxious, tense, short-fused and difficult to be around (I didn’t even want to be around myself on some of those occasions). The positive in all that is at least I was self-aware and able to warn people “I’m not in a good place and my fuse is short” or I could excuse myself to avoid hurting people I care about. There were also times I thought, “How can I even blog this month with the way I’m feeling?”, “What do I possibly have to offer anyone this month on self-care?” or” How can I help others put themselves first if I can’t model this myself?”
Then I realized… maybe this is exactly what I need to blog about. To write about the real struggle it can be to take care of yourself when you feel like you are on a tightrope, are in a super fragile place and facing one of the most difficult times in life. People experience times like this frequently and learning how to build in moments, even tidbits of self-care, can maybe feel impossible. However, in my opinion, it is so necessary, even essential!
One particular week in the last month I was unable to sleep. I would crash hard for about 3 hours and then be wide awake. My mind and emotions were on overload and I could not shut my brain off. Adrenaline was surging through my body and I did everything I could think of to try to rest. I streamed relaxing and reassuring music, I did meditations and mantras, I read, I journaled, I took soaking baths and I walked around the house aimlessly trying to tire out. Sometimes those things would work eventually and other times I would resign and use that energy to be productive. I’m in a much better place now, a couple weeks out, I’m back to my healthy sleeping habits (sleep is one of my most favorite things in the world and I try to get at least 8 hours a night. I need it for my health). During this time, there was one night, before I went to bed, I was texting with my son, who is living near his college this summer, sharing with him about my sleep struggles and he said “try to be patient, present and peaceful. Control your emotions and calm your mind as best as you can….” Those words helped me so much!! Be Patient, Present, Peaceful. Controlled and Calm. I wrote “calm” on the notepad beside my bed (free self-care tip: put a notepad next to your bed so if you wake up fretting over all your “to do’s” in the middle of the night you can write things down to help your mind rest. It works for me frequently). Every night as I crawl into bed, hoping to sleep well, I look at that word and think, Be CALM. Seeing that word as I end my day (and as I begin the new one for that matter) has helped. Remembering to be patient and gracious with myself and to not be so self-condemning, to stay present in the moment and at peace knowing all is well and all will be well. It has made a difference.
The beautiful thing is it doesn’t take a lot of time or money or energy to use a word as a go to, to help CALM the worried spirit or anxious mind. This recent life change and extremely hectic time has really forced me to look for easy ways to incorporate self-care strategies when there seems to be NO time and I have so little energy. It makes me appreciate the busy life of teachers and other professionals who go non-stop throughout the day being pulled in a 1000 different directions at one time. How can we maximize brief moments of time, throughout the day to take care of ourselves? Can you take a moment to laugh at a funny video or hug someone you care about? Can you name 2 things you are grateful for? Can you close your eyes for 3 mins? Can you be more patient with yourself or present or peaceful? Can you control your emotions and stay calm? Do you have a word that works for you? If not, I’m happy to share mine.