Throughout the course of this blog’s vague direction and scattered postings, I have been in trauma therapy and a 12-step recovery program. There are hard days, there are impossible days, and there are days that make me feel like I really can do it. Unfortunately, it’s not linear. Here are just some of the things I’m learning.
- When you don’t know what to do, stop and do nothing. It’s probably the most difficult simple thing I’ve learned how to do. When you’re overwhelmed, just stop. Close all your browser tabs, put everything down, sit without reading or doing or saying anything. Resist the desire to engage and distract. Breathe in, then out. Stare at nothing. Just be in the moment for a few minutes. It will feel like a few hours, but a couple minutes of steady breathing will help you re-focus.
- Pick something that makes you happy and do it for 15 minutes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or on the brink of anxiety, put everything on hold. First, take care of you. Do something that makes you happy. Let yourself fully enjoy it, no guilt. I love music. When I am too stressed, I turn on something that will make me happier. This varies with the day and hour. It could be 80s music, cheesy 00s pop music, or some generic top 40 music of today–whatever makes me feel better though. I crank it up and let go of my problems. At least for a little bit.
- You can’t do it all, so stop trying. Cleaning the kitchen, organizing your dresser, getting rid of old clothes, vacuuming, going to the store, going to a different store across town, sorting through that pile of mail and other miscellaneous items collecting on the table–you realistically can’t do all of this in one day. At least not with the mental state many of us often have. You have a new to-do list each day; you don’t want to kill yourself just trying to complete it so you can say when you go to bed “I did every single thing on my list”, and then do it all over again the tomorrow. When you don’t feel superhuman, settle for being human: pick just one thing to do on your list and give yourself permission to forget about the rest.
- Do something ridiculously and insultingly easy. Start tidying up. Put all your dirty clothes in the hamper. Or unload the dishwasher. Don’t clean your whole room or the whole kitchen. Do one tiny part of a task. The appearance of things being a little cleaner or less cluttered can make your soul feel lighter. If you can’t do anything else, a super simple task like clearing the dishes off the coffee table will make you feel a little bit better.
- Personal care is key. We tend to push this off, things like hygiene. But brushing your teeth, even when you have nowhere to go, or taking a long shower, often makes you feel better.
- Drink tea. It makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself. Water is great, and I encourage that, too. But when I really want to feel like I am treating myself like the goddess I am, I drink tea. I just buy the kind that’s already in pre-packaged bags and make it at home that way. Low maintenance and great for you.
- Take your vitamins. Taking pills/vitamins really sucks. I don’t know why, but that small act just feels like a drag. When I take my vitamins though, I feel like I’m taking care of my physical health in a really important way. Seems small, but as much as I struggle with some small things, it’s a step in the right direction.