I have this habit. It’s not a good one. In keeping with my “all-or-nothing” personality, I tend to have difficulty doing life at a slow pace. I run full speed ahead, charging at life with my sword drawn. Have you ever seen a movie or TV show with Scottish Highlanders running into battle, screaming like a banshee (side note: any Outlander fans? Are you not completely obsessed? My husband reads this, so I probably shouldn’t share my thoughts about Jamie. But let me just say: Oh. My.)? That’s pretty much my approach to life.
This approach does have its benefits for sure. It’s very efficient in terms of accomplishing things. I can get shit done like you wouldn’t believe. And for the passionate people, it seems like a great way to do all the things you want to do. Want to write? Great, start a blog! Love to take photos? Fantastic. Go into photography. Like to hike? Awesome. Find some hiking trails nearby and lace up those shoes. And on and on. Eventually, what started out as a zest for life turns into way too many projects and endeavors and meetings and things to plan. And ironically, this can seriously dampen your zest for life, because you’re just so freaking exhausted. That’s about when the other part of my personality kicks in. I hit the wall. I run full-on into the wall, actually. It’s like that scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry and Ron can’t get through Platform 9 and 3/4, and they run into the wall instead and just fall over on the ground, looking completely confused as to what just happened. All of a sudden I feel completely overwhelmed and anxious. Simple things feel impossible. I don’t sleep well because my brain won’t shut off. I feel jittery, like I’ve had four cups of coffee, even if I haven’t had any. In the past, I would just shut down when I got to this point. I’d cancel anything I had going on, I’d go to bed, and sleep for as long as I needed to. I’d take it easy for a couple days, and then as soon as I felt marginally recovered, I’d get back up and run straight towards that wall again.
Needless to say, this is not a sustainable plan. It got me pretty far, but it came with anxiety that wasn’t getting any better. Eventually, I realized I had to change my whole approach. I began to look at my overall wellness. I looked closely at each area and was honest with myself about how I was doing. I started making little tweaks here and there, improving my wellness bit by bit. And I’d love to say that this is where I turned my life around, and things have been so much better since then. But that’s not really the case. Yes, I did find ways to support myself better. I very rarely hit the wall anymore. I am able to notice much sooner when things start feeling out of control, and I can get myself back on course again. But all of this still does not come easily to me. My personality is still one that wants to do everything, all at one time. So I have to be very intentional about what I take on, and I have to keep my wellness tools nearby. Here are some of the things that keep me away from that wall:
Nature. Nature is a huge tool for me. It’s calming. It’s mindful. It connects me with my intuition. It’s spiritual. A walk outside, or sitting in the grass and staring at the clouds, can instantly get me back to what’s important in my life and what I can let go.
Photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it requires me to be still. i have to quiet all thoughts in my head and focus in on taking that photo. I can’t frame the photo and select the best settings when I am distracted. The very act of taking the photo is an exercise in mindfulness. Outside of that, photography has taught me to notice the big and little examples of beauty in my life that otherwise I would completely miss. And, it often involves getting outside in nature, which brings me back to #1.
Meditation. Even a few minutes of meditation can bring me such a sense of peace and inner relaxation. It reminds me that I don’t need to do anything other than sit and breathe. I don’t need to accomplish anything in life. I don’t need to cross things off a bucket list. I don’t even need to listen to my thoughts. I can just BE, and that’s enough. Learning how to shut off my thoughts, especially, has helped me enormously in falling asleep faster at night. Which brings me to…
Sleep. Ah, sleep, my dearest of friends. How I love you. How I relish your sweet embrace. How delighted I am when you gently stroke my face. How I want to chuck a shoe at you when you evade me, you fickle bastard. Honestly, the more sleep I get, the happier I am. The less sleep I get, the more I resemble Miss Havisham from Little Orphan Annie. My husband and children all want me to get plenty of sleep. It’s really what’s best for everyone. Meditation, protecting my nervous system, and essential oils all help me fall asleep faster. And that keeps me off the Wanted posters.
I hope this list gets you thinking about what your most important wellness tools are. Prioritizing my wellness has been a game-changer for me. It’s the difference between running around distracted and stressed all the time, and actually being able to feel myself in my life. It allows me to build the life I want, and not just cross things off a list. If you need help working wellness into your life more, feel free to comment below or email me. I’d love to help you talk through it.