I didn’t really fall off the bandwagon this week. I fell off the whole concert series wagon. (Get it? Cause…band…concert…? Okay.) I only went for two walks, didn’t do any conditioning exercises, and obviously made no blog posts. I started to feel bad about it; I almost beat myself up for it yesterday. But I realized I’m still going to stick with it and I was/am figuring out a system. The chronic fatigue has made life pretty difficult lately. I feel like a zombie and it’s not until the early or mid-afternoon that I feel more awake. And then I don’t feel energized, per se, until evening. Very very frustrating. Especially with an almost 4 year old to raise.
So, instead of lamenting and telling myself how much I suck, I’m focusing on what DOES work. And it’s not necessarily easy things or things that make me happy right then. They’re things that matter and that have more benefits than instant gratification. I will almost definitely post more on this but to get started, I’ll share 5 “life hacks” that help me through Survival Mode – the metaphorical umbrella that keeps you from getting completely drenched when life shits buckets of rain on you.
1.) Have a notebook/binder of nearly everything
Obviously it’s great to have lists and schedules. But they aren’t so great if you don’t have a command center for all of them. “Oh here’s my to-do list…I need to go to the grocery store…where did I put my grocery list?” is on my Things I Have Said and Hate to Think About List. Which can be found in my command center – a binder with a yearly calendar, extra paper, and important phone numbers/documents relevant to any upcoming things.
2.) Meal plans/ideas
Having a few simple meals to put together is ALWAYS a great idea. It’s easiest to have these stand by’s always available if they contain ingredients that are easy to keep usable – like spaghetti sauce with frozen meatballs and pasta. There are also great websites with a lot of frozen meal options – you can make double or triple the usual amount (so a typical 4 person recipe is multiplied for 8-12) and then freeze it ziploc bags. A great resource is Ruth’s recipes over at Living Well Spending Less (link right to the recipes). There are tons of crockpot options, as well. Having filling meals that aren’t full of things your body could really do without is a huge relief for me when I’m either having a bad pain day or life has thrown some crazy shit in the day-to-day.
3.) Bubble bath, literal or metaphorical
Is there one thing that instantly soothes you, body and mind? Keep a list of things that you can incorporate into your day when you have 5-30 minutes, or longer if that happens. I think everyone needs to MAKE time for self-care, whether it’s journaling or taking a bubble bath. Reading does and doesn’t fall into stress relief for me. It’s a proven stress reliever and adds joy to my day but it’s also been something I’ve done my whole life and therefore doesn’t necessarily feel like a special treat. However, adding a luxurious feeling blanket and some hot chocolate/tea/latte can instantly add some novelty to…my novel *ba dum tss* Anyway, don’t give me that “I don’t have time” bullshit because that’s just 90% of the time not true. You make time. Stop being afraid to give a damn about yourself. My great uncle said to me “If you don’t take care of and speak out for yourself, why should anyone else?”
4.) A source of ass kicking
There’s a difference between relaxing (like in #4) and actively relieving frustration/anxiety and other stressful emotions. As much as I believe it is important to have calming self-care practices, I also believe you should have some more intense ones – kickboxing, running, even just walking briskly for a 10-15 minutes. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Department of Health and Human Services “recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running).” Notice it says 75-150 minutes A WEEK. You could do less than 15 minutes a day and still meet that suggestion. If you commit to 20 minutes a day, you can even do 10 in the AM and 10 a few hours later. Just doing impromptu jumping jacks and push ups can help a lot, too.
5.) Stop giving a shit
Okay, so this is pretty blunt. It’s also a tip one of my FAVORITE bloggers, Chuck Wendig, gives when talking about creating art. His words: “If you build a mental wall, you have to climb it. That’s just extra work. So? Stop […]”
I know this can be a hard one. It’s probably harder than making your self-care a priority. But it’s so incredibly liberating and feels SO GOOD. Just do it. Seriously. Please. I’m tired of telling people life is too short for modesty and pussying around. Somebody criticizing how you handle a situation? Someone telling you that you need to try harder or be a better parent/spouse/partner? Respectfully tell them to shut the fuck up and focus on doing the best you can as you can and when you can. As long as you are aware of the people and things around you, and you aren’t doing anything to make life harder for them, you can just worry about what you need to do. “Those who mind, don’t matter; those who matter, don’t mind.”
So, these are a few of my “hacks” and tips for survival mode. I believe they should be implemented 24/7 but when life declares some sort of battle, you should hang on to these especially. It may feel like pushing a boulder to take care of yourself, at first, but if you don’t then you become increasingly useless (and most likely unpleasant to be around).