Yesterday, I went for a run. It was the first time I had gone for a run in weeks, and it felt amzazing. It wasn’t about the calories burnt, or punishment, it was so much bigger that that…and for me, moving my body always is. It’s about feeling the wind in my face, it’s about getting in touch with my body, my breath, and the way in which whatever song I am listening sings straight to my soul. Bottom line, working out makes elevates my energy, lifts my mood, and makes me a heck a lot more pleasent to be around. But yet, I do not consistently make time for it….and you know why? Obstacles. Some may frame that as excuses, but I don’t think that’s fair. I also think we live in a culture that feeds off of shaming women, often making them feel bad for working out too much, too little, eating too healthy, or not healthy enough, staying home with the kids, or having no ambition. I don’t want that kind of culture for myself, for my children, or for anyone. I want it to be okay for us to be a work in progress, I want to live in a society where a working mom, who also happens to be a mental health therapist, can admit that she is a work in progress, and that she too struggles with all the stuff life throws our way. I want to ditch the facade, and be real, so that I can help people live and feel better, WHILE learning to do the same for myself.
As women, we are used taking on everybody elses’s stuff, and putting ourselves, and our needs on the backburner because…something has to give. Here’s my list of obstacles: doctors appointments for the kids, school drop off (late again because we had meltdowns around putting shoes on) pick ups, a full day of clients, laundry, cleaning, call backs, making time for my husband, making time for my family, my friends, making, snacks, dinner, bedtime routine and I could go on. I am not unique. It is not just me who feels the weight of the world, I am also not a victim. I choose this life, and I LOVE this life, BUT I recognize a pattern of allowing obstacles to get in the way of my wellness.
I can not make the “to do” list go away, nor can I change the fact that I’ll always care about my family’s well-being as much as, if not more that my own. But here is what I can do, and here is what you can do too; remind yourself that you can not show up for others in the way you want to, if you are not showing up for yourself first. I know, and it pains me a bit to admit, that I can be a real unpleasant person to be around when I haven’t been caring for myself. Whether it’s that I haven’t given myself time to eat breakfast (I am a total victim of the hanger game), or time to organize my schedule, or move my body, or shower and get dressed in the way that I want to , I go from grounded/optimistic me to a more unhinged/glass half-empty, victimized version of myself. I don’t feel good when I am in that place. I don’t think anybody feels good when they are in that place.
I am learning, though, to be more patient with that person, because it is okay to have days where we don’t get it right, or days where we fall into old patterns, or days when we just unproductive, or just like crap. As far as I know, nobody has the game of life down perfect…not even the mom who always cuts her kids lunches in the cute little shapes, and is never late for school. Nope, not even her. I am also learning what it is I need it to pull myself up and out of that negative space.. There are a few things that work for me when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed, stressed, or anxious. So, I’m going to share with you my “get out of the dumps,” tools. These are tools that have worked for me, things that have worked my client’s, and things that you may consider trying.
Tools and prompts for getting “Unstuck”
Give yourself permission to feel the feelings. Try saying, ” this feeling isn’t dangerous and I don’t have to get rid of this feeling, whatever it is.”
Give yourself permission to move on. I also don’t have to stay stuck in this feeling, or drown it. This feeling, is just one feeling, and you can observe it, let it pass by, and move on.
Balance out your thoughts. What kinds of things are youI saying to yourself? Are they helpful (um, no), are they true? If not, which they’re usually not, how can you shift that into a thought that is both helpful and true. Are you catastrophizing? Predicting the future? Mind-reading? Taking part in perfectionistic thinking? Taking part in all-or-nothing thinking? If so, let it go. Instead you may try, “today feels hard AND I can utilize the resources I have to help me feel better,” Do I need to talk to a loved one? A friend? My therapist? Ask for some help with the kids? Take a long bathroom break? Go for a walk?
Do the Opposite. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is working for you. THe answer if probably, no. So, do something different. If you’re sitting, stand up and move. If you are doing everything else for everyone else before you allow yourself to eat, feed yourself. If you’re isolating, stop. Call somebody, go to a coffee shop, talk to your mom, a friend, your husband, join a meet up group, a mom group, Just get off that island.
Give Yourself Some Grace and Space- I don’t mean to be on repeat about this but it’s OKAY and normal to struggle. It’s okay that you don’t get it right at first, and it’s okay to have to start over. We are our own worst critic, and would never talk to others the way in which we talk to ourselves. Honor the fact that you are a complex being, and that not every day, or every experience is going to look the same. Real growth and real change take time.
You are worth whatever it takes to get “unstuck,” or to learn to navigate your feelings, heal, or grow.