Finding Motivation in the Struggle
Updated: Oct 26, 2022
Is it just me, or is October really hard? I personally find it not at all surprising that October is mental health awareness month, even for those of us not currently experiencing or recovering from grief, loss, or trauma. Once we finally hit our groove of getting back to our busy fall school or work routines, we already have to start planning for the holidays. Those opportunities for much needed sunlight (Vitamin D) are thwarted by deteriorating weather and fewer hours of daylight. If you also happen to be married to a bow hunter, as I am, you become a hunter's widow. (It's a thing. Trust me.) The stress of keeping it all together can sometimes feel like it's just too much.
Over the past few weeks I've found myself struggling. I dropped the ball on a work project, making my boss and the company look bad to a client. I forgot to attend (or even sign up for) the kids' parent/teacher conferences. I found several fleas and a tick on my dog (insert panic!) because... yup, I missed her monthly treatment. Oh, and on top of that, I have very few pants that fit me. I've been pretending for the last few months that I could squeeze into anything if I needed to (while only wearing flowy dresses and stretchy pants in public) but it finally hit me (hard in the face) that the 5 extra pounds I put on was solidly 10 pounds. And unless I want to be uncomfortable and look ridiculous, I need to go shop for some bigger "fat pants". None of these things on their own would usually have affected me so strongly; I have experienced plenty of adversity in my life and my personality is such that I typically don't let the little things bother me. But my ability to handle stress lately has been a challenge to say the least. In recognizing this fact, I decided to evaluate my current routines and I immediately recognized a shift in my habits that most certainly have contributed to my struggle. I put together a few tips - mostly as a list of my personal reminder list - but thought I would share with others that could use some motivation or desire to set some self improvement goals.
Get Back to the Basics. Do something. Anything. Often when people are going through a fit of depression, putting your pants on (even if they do fit) can feel like too much effort. Do it anyway. Brush your teeth. Ditch the take out for healthy meals and low sugar snacks. Drink plenty of water (and limit the alcohol). Take your vitamins (especially Vitamin D)! I know for me, Vitamin D has a noticeable affect on my mental and physical state. The lower my vitamin D levels, the more likely I am to be sick and/or experience mood swings and fatigue. Exercise.If you don't have an exercise routine, go for a long walk, complete an online workout video, or find an at home routine to try at least 3 times a week. It's important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I personally also use essential oils to support me in these routines (peppermint for appetite, lavender for sleep, frankincense for mood swings). Use whatever tools work for you to get and stay motivated. The bottom line is, taking care of yourself physically is essential for your mental health.
Find a Win. Make an actual list of things that need to be done. Pick a project or task to complete and do it. Oftentimes, checking something off of your to-do list can help spur the motivation do the next thing. For me, sometimes just starting a load of laundry can do the trick. And, hey, the entire time the washer is running, I'm being productive... even if it only took me 2 minutes to start it. ;-) Consider doing something highly visible that might not be as high priority but gives you the satisfaction of accomplishment because it is clearly noticeable. (I spent over an hour dusting and organizing our living room hutch this week and no one else really cared or even noticed. That's fine. It still makes me smile every time I walk by.)
Get Off Your Device. It is recommended that you spend no more than 2 hours per day on your phone, yet the average American spends more than 5 hours on theirs each day. Have your phone nearby if you need to answer calls or texts but don't spend any more time than you need to on any electronic devices. Close your social media apps (and turn off their notifications). Scrolling through everyone else's "picture perfect" life or arguing with a distant cousin about politics isn't doing anyone any good. If you are addicted to playing games on your phone (hand raised), allow yourself to play a quick daily puzzle. Otherwise, pick up a book or magazine instead. You should also avoid electronics altogether from 11 pm to 6 am (studies show this can directly contribute to depression)!
Find Support When You Need It. Give your bestie a call or have a heart to heart with your spouse. Oftentimes, just venting about your stress can relieve some of the pressures. Stop putting off scheduling that appointment for the chiropractor or message therapist. Pay up for the housekeeper, grocery delivery, or even premade meal delivery if it will help you survive. Lastly, don't be ashamed to make an appointment with a professional counselor or therapist. Sometimes we just need a little extra help!