In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.
Often we forget about things that were once significant but now have become completely ordinary. For example, most people don’t wake up every day grateful for electricity and a refrigerator. However, you take these two things away and we could quite possibly loose our minds very quickly.
Gratitude is all about finding something, anything really, that brings thankfulness into your heart. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been grateful for my washer and dryer. (I realize that may sound silly, but go ahead and let your washer quit working for a few days. You’ll be extremely grateful for that machine!)
We also don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving 2018 rolls around to know about gratitude. What things are you grateful for in your life?
Do you have a good job? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food in your belly? Do you have a vehicle to get you places? Do your kids go to a school that helps them grow into smart, good people? Do you have friends and family? Do you have a network of people who support you? Do you have one close friend, significant other, or family member whom you count on?
All of these things may seem ordinary, but they aren’t guaranteed. They are blessings. The breath in your lungs is a blessing. The beating of your heart is a blessing. The ability to read this is a blessing.
Don’t take your blessings for granted.
I don’t take medicines unless I’m burning up with a fever or the pain somewhere in my body has finally got to the unbearable threshold. I’ve always been this way. Vitamins, supplements, and the occasion vitamin C are my daily pills.
But there are people who are dependent on medications they truly need (not the ones that are toxic and destructive). If you asked one of these people how important their medications are to them, I’m sure they’d tell you they are a completely different person without them. They need them. They physically and mentally don’t feel like themselves unless they get the proper dose each day.
This is how I feel about gratitude and prayer.
Sure, I can live without doing it. I won’t die. I’m not going to collapse one day because I forgot to get down on my knees and pray to God above. But I know I won’t be myself. The signs won’t show up immediately. It’s okay if I miss a dose once or twice ever so often. But it can be detrimental to my well-being if I don’t get my “meds” for several days.
I turn into a person my family doesn’t recognize. I turn into a person I don’t even recognize.
Gratitude and prayer are my stabilizers. They keep me grounded and my head clear. Their ability to steer me in the right mindset has proven more effective than any dose of anything else.
Try it some time. I promise it can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul.
It’s easy to say, “I wish I had the celebrity lifestyle. Then I’d have a stylist to deal with my fashion choices every day, a manager who takes care of all of the nonsense schedules, and a nutritionist/health expert to keep my body in tip-top shape! Oh, plus piles of money surrounding me. Like the gold coins they had in cartoons where they are deep enough to swim in them. Then I will have made it.”
Well, I don’t have that kind of lifestyle. Not even close. The money would be nice. But I prefer my comfy jeans and t-shirts, my seemingly predictable schedule, and my workout/eating habits aren’t killing me.
I’m doing what I can with what I got.
I use this platform as a source of healing and motivation on days when I simply can’t make it to a meeting, which is basically every day. (I really should find one I can go to around here.)
I manage to make it to our local YMCA for workouts. They offer childcare there so I can take my youngest with me. Win-Win! I eat salads several times a week and I shove vegetables in my face even when I really want a donut instead.
I write here, as well as multiple other places, to keep my mental health in check. (Trust me, mama doesn’t need to get off her writing. It’s like my meds. It keeps the crazy at bay.)
I’m doing what I can with what I got.
It may not be the glamorous way to live life some days, but I don’t really care. I’m happy. My family is happy. We are all healthy. What more really matters?
There is a lot of time wasted asking the question, “Why?” Questions can be a good thing for someone getting their education. But it can be detrimental to someone who recently lost a loved one. “Why did this happen to me? Why did it work out this way? Why did everything fall apart?”
I question a lot of things all of the time. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Should I go back to work? Am I wasting my time trying to make it as a writer? Should I take a step back for awhile and see if there’s something better out there for me?
These questions don’t do anyone in my household any good.
First of all, of course I’m doing the right thing. This is where I belong for this season of my life.
Second, I am working. Though I may not be getting paid thousands every month, I’m happier being home with my kids and writing than I ever was at any of my other jobs…combined! I have the dream job. Make my own hours. Work around my family’s schedule. Work at my own pace. I’ve accomplished more personal goals this year than I ever would at my previous job.
Third, maybe writing as a paid career is my destiny. Maybe it’s not. Regardless, I’ve uncovered a piece of me with writing that I never knew needed to escape. I can’t live without this release of emotion and energy now. So paid or not paid, I will continue to write.
And lastly, taking a step back from my life is like telling my kids, “Mommy will be home in 6 months when she figures out how to handle this argument over who had the toy first. Love you, bye!” Nu-uh. Ain’t happening that way. While there may be something better out there for me (career wise), I’m perfectly fine honing my writing skills until that opportunity presents itself.
Y’all, don’t bog yourself with life’s questions. It’s more important to focus on being a good person. Live your life every day to the best of your ability.
Maybe you’ve come to this blog believing there might be some good advice every once in awhile. Maybe you’re here because you’re ashamed to reach out and go to a meeting. Maybe you’re here to get the dirt on other people’s stories and compare them to your own. Maybe you’re here because…well, you’re not really sure.
All of these answers are sufficient. All of these answers are part of the reason I’m here. (Except getting the good advice part. I find that from other people and try to share it here.)
Every day, something about my knowledge of alcoholism affects me in some way. It’s not that my past haunts daily. It’s more of the positive things my husband has learned from his part of the program and how I’ve learned to incorporate some of those tools into my life as well.
For example, yesterday was a mood swing kind of day for this mama. (Those happen every now and then.) Knowing myself and when I’m about to reach the point of no return, I took a long, slow deep breath and repeated the words, “Patience, love, and tolerance.”
These words have become a mantra of sorts in our house. I’m sure my kids by now know when mommy is saying these words to stop, turn, and slowly back out of the room.
The meaning of these words calms me down and helps me refocus. As I’ve stated for the one millionth time here, I’m not perfect. I yell at my kids. I lose my cool. I wind up saying things I have to apologize for later. But when I know to stop, take my deep breaths, and repeat our little mantra, I’ve taken control of myself.
Progress, not perfection!
People often think they have individuals figured out from the moment they meet them. “I’ve got them pegged as a ____________,” has slipped into my mind more times than I can count. But people continue to surprise me.
The homeschool mom who recently put her children into public school isn’t as kooky as I thought. She is actually one of the nicest, most direct people I’ve ever met.
The lady at the soccer game who wants to steer every single conversation towards her own life doesn’t seem to do it maliciously. I think she really just wants someone to talk to. (Maybe she doesn’t get much focused attention at home from her family.)
The person at an Over-eaters Anonymous meeting who is super skinny and doesn’t appear to have any real issues with food. She just whines a lot. (Okay, maybe I stole that last one from the TV show “This Is Us”. But it’s still valid here!)
We don’t always know people and their stories. Friends who have only recently met me would be shocked and need to pick their jaws off the floor if I told them all of the titles I keep behind closed doors: an alcoholic, an adulterer, a cussing machine, and a liar. So, it’s safe to assume the people we meet in our lives every day have a skeletons of their own.
And that’s okay.
What’s not okay is judging anyone…anytime…for any reason. I’ve messed up. You’ve messed up. The lady down at the donut shop has messed up. The more important thing to remember is who we are today. The best versions of ourselves.
Progress, not perfection…