How I came back to myself after a stressful move
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
When was the last time you told yourself I'll start next Monday, or next month, or even next year?
Maybe you even gave yourself a free pass for whatever it was you were putting off: if it was eating healthy, then until that random start date you allowed yourself to eat anything and everything, thinking Hey, if I start in a few days/weeks/months, then I should at least get to enjoy the things I will be restricting later! I deserve this!
Sound familiar? It's because we all do this, some to a greater extent than others, but we've all had at least one time (*cough* several times) when we did this to ourselves.
I am writing this as I am coming back to myself after a couple of hectic, stressful weeks that involved moving into a new home and getting my life back in order. I'm the type of person who loves having her nest organized and cozy (Cancers will feel my pain here), so if things are out of place I feel like I literally cannot function. Insert 3 weeks of mayhem for this girl right here, coupled with stress and anxiety and days spent on the couch feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed. Every day I would say ok, next Monday things will be more organized and I will be able to start eating healthy, to focus on my business, and to go to the gym (yes, I wasn't only putting off one thing; I'm an overachiever, I went for 3...). And with each coming Monday (surprise!) nothing would change.
HOW DO I BREAK FREE?
1. Identify the pattern and commit towards breaking it
In the middle of a stressful day you can notice your body tighten up, your jaw clenching, your thoughts going 1000 miles per minute, screaming I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE! In those moments overwhelm can happen in an instant, so try the following breathing exercise:
Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4
Repeat 3-4 times
See how easy that is? Right after this exercise, grab a piece of paper and write down 3 ways in which this helped you change something in your physical or mental body (for example: tense shoulders -> relaxed shoulders; restless, negative thoughts -> clear mind and better outlook). This will help you to 1.be more mindful of the effects stress can have on your body; 2. notice these effects more easily and start to take action, and 3.maintain your commitment towards feeling better.
2. Acknowledge that for a day or two things will feel harder than they actually are
Getting up in the morning and going to the gym probably won't feel like the best time of your life.
Cooking instead of ordering takeout will feel harder and more time consuming.
Sitting down and actually working on a project won't feel fun at first (probably because for the past few weeks fun meant watching Fleabag and eating ice-cream sandwhiches #oopsIdiditagain).
I don't know about you, but once I acknowledge all this I feel a bit more prepared for what's to come. I then grab a pen and paper and I write down all the things I need to do in order to start seeing a change. For example:
wake up earlier - do it gradually, 20 min/day; set alarm for each day NOW
schedule 2 gym sessions for the following 7 days, and enter them in my phone calendar NOW
make grocery list for the next 3-4 days and go grocery shopping
make one Instant Pot meal to have in the fridge for lazy moments when I don't want to cook
The list will invariably get longer as more time passes, but this is what I start with. The main focus here is not to overwhelm myself, because the moment I feel that feeling of dread or anxiety about all the things I have to do and haven't done yet, s**t hits the fan (but if that happens, I go back to my breathing technique). That's why I only scheduled 2 gym sessions, or why I'm grocery shopping for 3 days only: the point is to START, that's it! Because once I start things get way easier and adding more to my to-do list does not overwhelm me anymore.
3. Allow for slip-ups
This is the part I struggle with the most, and anyone who is a perfectionist will understand what I'm talking about.
Let's say you did great for an entire week: ate healthy, read a book, went to the gym every other day, and overall accomplished all your goals for the week. And then Sunday evening comes along and there's a tiny voice inside your head that says you can order takeout, you deserve it, you've done so well all week! And then you do, but the next day you feel so down about it that once again you don't want to work out or eat healthy, all because (in your eyes) you messed up.
I feel you, I do: I've felt like this so many times that I can't even recall. But here's a not-very-well-kept secret, my friend: we're not perfect, and we shouldn't aim to be. Perfect is boring and it takes the fun out of life. Perfect keeps you stuck in a routine that sooner or later will drain all creativity out of you! Allow yourself to break from the routine and to live a little! And for goodness' sake, please please PLEASE don't use one minor "deviation" from your good habits as an excuse for more.
OTHER THINGS YOU CAN TRY
take a walk: sometimes all it takes is doing ONE thing that you don't normally do to spark your motivation
focus on one thing at a time: while I chose to tackle all the things I was putting off at once, you might want to start with just one of those things. Focus on the one that seems most achievable to you, and make a plan for how you can slowly but steadily accomplish it. When you're ready, move to the next one
listen to an inspiring talk or podcast: nothing like some good outside motivation when there's none to be found within. My top 3 podcast are those from Dean Grazziosi, Mindvalley, and Do it Scared from Ruth Soukup.
talk to a good friend or family member that you look up to: they can help you feel less stuck simply by offering a listening ear. Make it clear to them that you are looking for guidance and for advice, and watch how fast your outlook can change when you listen to what they have to say!
I hope the action steps I outlined here will help you get your butt up and start making moves!! Remember, postponing something that serves your physical and mental health is simply keeping you from coming back to yourself and away from the life you want to create. And if you're in need of a helping hand, simply drop me a note below and I'll be in touch!
Till next time,