“Tell me what you are going to do about it.” I used that phrase often when I was working in an office and people would frequently come to me to complain about a co-worker or a policy or a schedule change or anything else. It’s more pleasant than saying, “You’ve talked about the problem long enough, and frankly, it is boring me silly. Let’s talk about the solution so you will leave my office,” provided that I am using the right tone of voice, and it moves the discussion along to a more productive end.
I’m not being flip. The truth is—and you and I have both heard this a million times—life is less about what happens and more about how you choose to react. You’ve told me what has happened. Now, tell me how you responded—or how you will respond—because that is the solution. Be proactive.
The other truth is that most people who claim not to have the answers are really selling themselves short. Most of us have enough common sense to step back, look at a situation objectively and come up with a plan.
So, yes, you can imagine my own voice in my head growing louder and begging for resolution every time I think about my health. I’m concerned about my weight. And my blood pressure. And my stress level. And my attitude. I’ve aged a decade in the past two years, and I know it has impacted every aspect of my life. I’ve written about it. Here’s an example. And another one.
So, what am I going to do about it? How do I respond? How do I react? What’s my plan?
Of course, it has occurred to me that once my mother-in-law dies the stress that goes with taking care of her will go away. Even the doctor said it—if I suffer from depression, it’s situational. Yep, the situation changes for the better and the depression goes away. Bam! For better or for worse, however, I have no control over when she dies, and it’s too morbid for me to dwell on how my own happiness rests on someone else’s death.
Besides, to quote or misquote Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess, “Life is just a series of problems, and then we die.” I’m afraid it’s true. I can say my pitiful attitude and lack of self-care are linked to my mother-in-law’s lingering poor health and need for constant care, and when she dies, my lot will improve considerably, but in reality, life is never truly easy. Another set of challenges are always on the horizon.
As bleak as that may sound, it also means that life is a series of solutions and opportunities to grow, to learn, and to experience. Solve the problem at hand, and future solutions will come easier. I truly believe that.
So, what are my plans for better self-care and a healthier environment for me?
Exercise. Getting to a gym on a regular basis is not something that works for me right now. Here, you can read about it.
I read somewhere that 20 minutes of yoga greatly reduces hypertension. Don’t ask me to cite a source because I can’t. I love yoga and in the distant past, I took classes. Classes don’t really work for me right now, but I can take what I’ve learned from past classes and practice yoga at home.
And walking! I don’t especially like to walk, but it’s a form of exercise that is free and convenient. I can walk my daughter to and from the bus stop. That’s a little more than a fourth of a mile in each direction and it’s hilly. My son and I need to get back in the habit of picking up trash at our favorite park. That could be another mile—easily—and over changing terrain. Again, please don’t ask me to cite a source, but I heard somewhere that it’s better to walk on an uneven surface than a flat, predictable one. It’s not just a matter of the muscles we use, but how we use our brains. In short, a hike outdoors is always better than mall-walking. But, hey, if I lived closer to a mall, I’d say that’s a great foul-weather alternative.
Even gardening and home-repairs involve a certain amount of movement, lifting, and physical exertion. I’ve always been a little intimidated by both because I know just enough to know that I don’t know what I am doing, but I could learn. And baking…what a physical act it is to knead bread or roll it! And dancing! Don’t forget dancing even if it is just around the house!
I’m not a fan of the title, but I think French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano makes a good point. If you have the right kind of lifestyle, activity just happens, and every day is a work-out of some sort. You just have to keep moving.
Eating. Okay, so you know I have tried fasting. If you don’t know, read this. I gave up on it too soon, but I’m open to trying it again.
Also, in my case, isn’t eating better just a matter of recognizing what I’m doing wrong and not doing it? I eat well. I love fruits and vegetable. I also have the tendency to overeat at meals and after meals. God forbid the leftover broccoli should go into the refrigerator and not my mouth—and the same is true of that last slice of pumpkin pie.
And then, there is the snacking I do between meals because I am bored or angry or procrastinating. Someone once suggested that I just not buy snack foods so that I won’t be tempted. I guess by snack foods, she meant a loaf of bread—because you see, for me, anything and everything edible is a potential snack. It doesn’t have to be chips, pretzels, or Goldfish crackers.
I bet if I didn’t overeat at meals or as I am cleaning up after a meal and cut out all the gratuitous snacking, I’d cut my caloric in-take in half. Seriously.
Internet usage. Recently, someone asked me if I thought I was addicted to the Internet. Hmmm…addicted? I don’t know that I would go that far. If I were addicted, I probably would have fought to keep that Smartphone and I don’t miss it one bit. When I’m up and moving and doing something productive, I don’t yearn for my computer. I don’t even think about it.
Still, I have days in which I can log some serious Internet time and those are never the days that end with me feeling happy or productive. Instead, I usually regret having spent so much time checking Facebook every five minutes or surf for political commentary that just pisses me off. Oh, and if I update my Facebook status or comment on a blog or an article, I will check again and again to see if anyone has responded—partly because I am bored and partly because I am craving conversation.
The thing is I know I need to limit my screen time. I know this is a downfall for me. So, the solution is to
commandeer the Nike slogan and Just Do It.
Sleep. I can’t control how much sleep I get per night. Almost every other night, I get a 2 am wake up of “I had a bad dream,” or “I need some water.” My son even climbs in my bed and tells me, “Mom, you need some snugglin’.” I never tell my kids that can’t sleep with me because I know the day is coming when they just won’t. Really, when is the last time YOU snuggled with your parents?
What I can control is how early I go to bed. I’m blessed with being a short-sleeper. I can get by okay on just five hours of sleep or less, but six–or even seven–hours of sleep is heavenly and leaves me feeling more capable of meeting the challenges of the day. Besides, if I am in bed by 10 pm, I will be awake and feeling good about it by 5 am—if not earlier.
This is the cool thing about being a short-sleeper: No matter how late I go to bed, I wake up early—without an alarm. I went to bed around midnight last night and woke at 4:30. I’ll probably want a nap in the afternoon, but for now, I’m good. I feel well-rested! Lucky me!
Water. I need to drink more. I know this.
I also know that one of my greatest challenges is that I want to see results immediately. I get discouraged easily. And that’s where prayer and meditation come in. I’m going to have to pray for the perseverance . Oh, God, please deliver me from the French toast my daughter didn’t eat and give me the strength to not only walk her to the bus stop, but the ability to run to the bus stop because You know we will be late.
All jesting aside, I am and will continue to pray about all this as spiritual growth is always a part of The Plan. Besides, making a plan is always the easy part for me. When it comes to implementing it, I need Divine Intervention. I know this.