Some weeks I just feel so whipsawed.
Apropos of a lot it turns out! Elections, being less than on target writing my new book (yes, yes, I will make it up, but oy!), circumnavigating the rise in hate speech everywhere it seems, my daughter’s great week starting a new job, so yes, lots of joy for her, installing safety rails (bed worked, toilet, no), housekeeping (don’t ask, had Jed and his companion vacuum yesterday as a “therapy” exercise!), lots of healthcare discussions re: upcoming appointments for Jed (success and a big thank you to Lenox Hospital Cardiac Electrophysiology for their kindness and attention) … and then me.
Yes. It is okay to ask, “what about me”!
Starting with the inventory, ’cause hey, can’t take the project manager out of me:
- A few months in with a therapist … check.
- Boxing training … nope.
- Self care … hmmm …. no where near enough.
- Being centered in my emotions … no where near enough.
- Time for myself … no where near enough.
- Sleep … haphazard at best
In the tradition of the don’t mourn, organize school of action, the best way I have found to move forward is to put the mechanisms for self care success into place.
Yes, an inventory helps, but one needs to really ensure the full picture is captured along with some thoughts on how to mitigate those areas that are clearly putting one’s mental health and well being in jeopardy.
Starting with sleep and knowing I must practice what I preach: it’s all about routine and creating an environment of calm and serenity along with ensuring one is adequately hydrated and not logy from having had a huge meal right before bed. One should also put away the smart phone, iPad, or whatever other electronic devices are overstimulating the mind with crazy short bursts of sound and light. No, one does not need to check Twitter at one in the morning or watch crazy YouTube videos or TikTok. Just turn it off–and if one must engage with something, go old school and read a book until the eyes go all swimmy and one drifts into restful sleep.
Another big one is time for oneself–and not only time, but meaningful time. Laying sprawled on the couch mindlessly streaming baking shows for hours at a time is not the answer. I can surely attest that the practice is just as addicting and mind-numbing as any narcotic and other than a lousy alternative to sleep, it does nothing for one’s state of mind. I am a huge offender of this one–not only seemingly watching, but simultaneously playing ridiculous games on my smart phone. It is the opposite of mindfulness or appreciation for the little bits of time I can have to myself, and decidedly not restful, in fact, quite the opposite. And no, that doesn’t mean I can’t watch the next episode of Andor (or equivalent show) when it comes on, but it does mean I shouldn’t obsessively and mindlessly watch three more hours of nonsense I cannot recall because my mind escaped into a video induced haze. The solution I am striving for is to actually schedule the time on a calendar. From writing time to sleep routines and so on. Given that the stratagem has had splendid results during my work life, why not use it as a tool to better organize my life into spaces that can provide me with solace and meaning?
As for living in the moment while actually experiencing the accompanying emotions — that’s a huge one. If one lives an “awake” sort of life, it is much easier to find, touch and be in those experiences, but again, that means taking a turn at mindfulness in a way that can difficult to do if one has been out of touch for a while. I’ve graded myself a letter grade of C in that regard, but I’ll actually tweak it to a C+/B- given that I do hit the mark from time to time and can recognize when I’m letting myself off the hook. The emotions around Jed’s fall swirled for days before I really landed in them, but as I write this, I know that the work of being in the moment had been at play in the background.
Just doing this bit of writing, and trying to reach out to readers whose lives are circumscribed lets me know that I am on a more positive path. And for those caregivers among you, I can only say that mindfulness, even in tiny spurts, does bring a kind of solace and peace that allows the smiles to come back, both inside and out.
I can’t say when I’ll get work out with my beloved Lennox Blackmoore at Gleason’s Gym or feel that I’ve got the self-care fully in place, but I can say it is a work in progress. And as with most things in life, that’s a positive in the scheme of things.