So, here we are… IT’S SPRING! (Ah-choo!) Yep. Time to put away the all-black wardrobe from winter and - OH NO - pull out the shorts and short sleeves! But what about those few extra pounds that - I don’t know - just happened over the winter? Hibernation is over. Maybe, I’ll exercise. Yeah, that’s it! I will exercise! I’m going to start TOMORROW! Oh, and maybe I will watch my calorie intake too! Yeah, I’m going to start TOMORROW! Oh wait, that dinner party is coming up next week and my birthday is coming and I do love cake… Fill in the blanks……
When do we finally decide that it’s time to take control of our wellness?
Let me preface this by also including single dads and caregivers of all kinds. You are rock stars! But for the sake of this text, I am speaking in terms of moms.
I am my own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to actually thinking about ME. Not to be discriminatory to you dads but moms are born with a litany constantly playing in their heads, “You must take care of everything”. We juggle not only our own schedule but also that of every other member of the family, including our pets! I don’t know… Our family members obviously have decided that the womb is actually some sort of tracking device that can find anything that is missing, despite the length of time said missing object has been gone, in 2.5 seconds or less. That pile of laundry is totally invisible to everyone except mom and she has to do calisthenics just to enter and exit the laundry room. Somehow the food magically jumps from the fridge to the oven to the table and hopefully at the EXACT time that each person can make it to the table due to varying schedules. It’s a lot. To be fair, thank you to all of the dads, partners, and significant others out there who do help. But let’s be honest, when does anyone EVER come up to you and say, “You really deserve a break. Why don’t you take 30 minutes for yourself to just go outside and breathe some fresh air? You are doing such a great job, mom, wife, sister, aunt, caregiver, please just think about YOU right now.” Rarely. So, where does that leave us? Well, technically, if we want to assure that it will get done, we must take charge of our own self-care.
How many times have we heard, “You can’t pour from an empty cup?” We think, “DUH”, but let’s break that down! Our lives are SO fragmented these days. We work. We have kids (and grandkids). We have pets. We have after-school activities to chauffer (and maybe coach) … Because, OF COURSE, we want our children to know we’re doing all we can to encourage them (and their team) to victory! We have church. We have aging parents. We have after-work meetings. The beat goes on…….
We are literally running a marathon from the time our feet hit the floor in the morning until we fall face first, comatose, into the bed at night. Our brains never stop. This is life. Where do we draw the line? I struggle with this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I will speak for myself when I say that my typical way of handling this is to take whatever is at the top of the pile and work down. WAIT! That thing on the bottom just changed from this afternoon to this morning. So, yeah, not the most effective way to handle things, yet, it’s what I do.
Through INTENSE training, I am learning that even if I can only give myself what I call “mental health moments” throughout the day, it is enough to refresh, recharge, and reset. It has always been a joke to me when people talk about meditation. OH YEAH! That’s it. For someone who suffers from extreme ADHD (and has struggled with it for their entire life), this is what that looks like... OK, I am going to sit down now. Assume the position. Close my eyes, now. Clear my brain. Clear my brain. OH, MY GOSH! I meant to put the clothes in the dryer! Clear my brain…. Clear my brain…. Why is the dog barking? Clear my brain… Clear my brain. (Phone rings.) Well, you get the picture…..
So, I am left now trying to figure out how I managed to get onto the floor without a firm plan of how to get up again…. My granddaughter’s pajamas are still wet and she is in the shower getting for bed and my brain is even MORE scrambled than it was before.
So, since ADHD was not even a thing when I was young (or, at least, it wasn’t yet determined to be “a thing”), I learned early on that I had to pave my own road to survival in a world where I saw others doing well… So, why wasn’t I? I love being outside - walking, sitting in the sun, watching the birds, and gardening - and I can literally lose myself when doing any of these things. THIS, my friends, is the answer. You MUST find SOMETHING in which you can “lose yourself” to take your brain to some other place to escape the fragments of thoughts that grow totally out of proportion when unattended. Even if we can only do this for 10 minutes several times during the day. AHA! I just realized that there is some other form of “meditation”. Did I “invent” this? Let’s go with that. So, I invented this new way of “meditation”. Just kidding, but I just wanted to roll around in that moment for a bit! My brain has unplugged and gone to some “happy place”. Suddenly my blood pressure has lowered, my heart rate has decreased, and I am, for this moment, calm.
This is important on so many levels. Probably, first on the list is that my dogs and my family members are going to be spared my spontaneous combustion as the stress finally reaches fever pitch… But most importantly, I have let my brain know that it does not have to live in the stress of the moment. This is monumental.
For me, getting outside, listening to the birds, digging in the dirt, taking a walk, and trying to notice little things that probably others would never see, and just realizing that there is something at work here that is far greater than me is the takeaway for all of this.
What might that look like for you? Listening to music? Going to the gym? Working a puzzle? Playing with the dog? Reading a book? Just taking a hot bath and unwinding for a moment? There is no “one size fits all”. It is, plain and simply, WHAT FORM OF CALGON TAKES YOU AWAY??? (Oops! I think I just told my age!)
This is a rather lengthy way to say, “Don’t forget that you matter too. You may be the glue that is holding it all together! Don’t leave the cap off and allow all of the glue to run out of the tube, then you just have a mess. Same principle. Take care of YOU!!! You are smart. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are important. YOU MATTER!!! Treat yourself accordingly…and HAPPY SPRING!!!”
Written by Karen Hyatt, Grandparent, Guest Writer & JSS Parent Resource Consultant
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