My Struggles with Time

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I have all kinds of issues with time such as how fleeting life is and how songs or movies that deal with that issue make me cry.

The issue that is most in the forefront of my life is time management and prioritization. I do feel like I have made great progress in this arena, but I still have a long way to go. It's so challenging to make my desires, my expectations, my obligations and my time all align properly. We'd like to try to have a human child soon (I've already started a family, tyvm), and I cannot fathom how I would fit a child into my life.  

I've recently come to the realization that I might being doing a poor job of making time for relaxation and downtime. I have unreasonable expectations of what I can and should accomplish, and I need to prioritize fun. Given that I hold fun as one of my top values, and how I'm dealing with anxiety and depression this is both distressing and makes a great deal of sense. 

By not making time for fun, I'm not living within my value system and I'm not being authentic. I've been letting one of my strongest personality traits (and one that gives me great pride), responsibility, rule my entire schedule. 

However, ignoring this important and valuable characteristic would be foolish. Instead, I need to use my inherent responsible nature to help me get more fun and relaxation into my life. Time to decompress from an exhausting week is a critical component of self-care and actually, rather unproductive. If I'm less stressed and well-rested, I'm guaranteed to have a more productive week, right? So, in fact, it is IRRESPONSIBLE for me to ignore relaxation! 

This is why I've started trying to treat time for relaxation as an important to-do task on my list. It is not a bonus task to be done when I have time. It is a highly necessary task.

To that end, today I have some game time scheduled from 9:30am to 10:30am, and I also have a TV show task this evening. Hopefully, this works!

Thanks for Listening

This post is entirely unplanned and I have no idea where I’m going with this. My anxiety symptoms are acting up and I just want to chat. Unfortunately, it’s 6am on a Saturday and no one I know is probably awake and/or interested in chatting. I’m not even sure what I would say anyway.

I don’t think there are any major things that are bothering me. Actually, maybe it is best that I don’t talk to someone. When I say that I’m feeling anxious, people always ask “what’s wrong?” or expect to get a concrete thing they can jump in and give advice on. The truth is often I don’t know. It’s an irrational feeling. It’s all the little things. It’s this tense feeling of my body. The internal vibrations. The worry about dozens of small things. The inability to turn my mind off. The worrying about all the worry. The worry that I’m reverting to my old habits now that I’ve reduced my medication. The feeling of wanting to cry for no reason.

I tried Googling anxiety chats. They are out there, but I saw lots of anxiety sites recommending against them because they attract abusers. Also, I don’t really want to talk about anxiety per se. I’m not really that bad right now. I just feel off and want to chat with someone who understands that. I tried finding a Slack community- no luck on that either.

Someday, I want to have something like that for this site. A place for nerdy, enthusiastic, introverted people who are focused on self-care and personal growth. I blog to make connections, so I feel this would be the ultimate success. I’d make a Slack channel right now, but my sporadic posting has dragged down my readership, and I doubt I get many interested parties (aside from my two besties who support all of my endeavors, bless their hearts).

Today’s plan involves a lot of mental health-related tasks. I have homework for one of my therapy classes, and my therapist also instructed me to reevaluate my to-do list and how I prioritize. I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in my bullet journal in contemplative reflection mode. Will I stick with the plan or get distracted by household tasks and things that my mind decides are more “important”? They won’t be more important, of course, they’ll just feel more urgent and necessary. Things I should do because it is what I’m supposed to do.

Well. I feel a little bit better now. Maybe enough to glance at my to-do list and see if I can knock off a task now. Or maybe eat breakfast.

Thanks for listening!

One Step Back

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For five days now, things have sucked. Not my life, my life is going pretty well right now. My experience of that life, however, doesn't match. 

A week ago, I was feeling fantastic. I'd been making great progress. I had an emotional breakthrough. I was confident in the changes that I was making, so confident that I asked my doctor if we could reduce my anti-depressant medication, and I started blogging again - about self-care, no less.

I had forgotten how much it sucked when I came off of my anxiety medications. While this shouldn't be quite as bad and should be much shorter, it kind of makes me regret lowering the dose. Of course, in a few weeks from now, when I've recovered, I'll be happy and proud to have reduced my meds again.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself. That was my experience coming off my anxiety drugs. After the awful withdrawal, I bounced back and was even happier than before. I think this will be true this time. There is a nagging doubt though lurking in the back of my mind. 

My discontinuation symptoms (it's not technically withdrawal since it's a non-habit-forming drug) have mostly been related to my energy levels. I'M SO SO EXHAUSTED. Being tired sounds like such an easy-to-deal-with symptom. It's not. It's really challenging to deal with. It's intense. And it affects everything I do. I can't focus on anything. I can't make decisions. Cooking dinner tonight took all the motivation I could summon. I can't get anything accomplished either because I have no energy to, so I'm even more anxious about not being productive. UGH. My heart rate is up too. I took a self-care day yesterday, and it helped a bit. For me, a self-care day does not involve the couch, pyjamas and Netflix. It involved waking up early, getting ready like I normally do, exercising, eating 7 servings of fruits and veggies and drinking plenty of water throughout the day, having a warm lunch (soup), getting some sunshine, two power naps, CLEANING and planning in my journal. Why cleaning? Because a huge aspect of self-care is your environment. I neatened up, cleaned the bathroom and opened a window to let a nice breeze in. Yes, it was a lot of work considering my low energy, and I had to relax after, but it made me feel accomplished and it made my environment nicer, both important aspects of self-care. I also went to bed earlier, getting a bit more sleep than I usually do.

All that led to a decent evening last night, and a somewhat normal morning today. However, my job is fairly physical, so I crashed quickly after lunch.

I've struggled with keeping certain parts of my normal routine. I'm completely unmotivated. I just want to nap. But, this will pass and I will go back to making progress again soon.

I'm sharing this because it is part of my recovery experience. A bad day, or in this case several days, does not mean I have stopped recovering or reverted to my old ways. It's part of the process. All I can do is accept it for what it is. 

I Love Routines

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One of the tools I have found very useful is routines. When you establish a routine, or turn something into a habit, you are making life easier for your brain. You don’t need to decide what to do next or find the motivation to do it, you have already established that whatever the activity is, it is the one that comes next. Our brains find the routine a source of comfort. Having routines can give your brain a feeling of normal, even when there are disrupting stressors in your life.

A simple internet search on the importance of routines will yield a bunch of articles such as: 7 Daily Benefits of a Solid Routine, 18 Reasons Why a Daily Routine is so Important, and The Importance of a Daily Routine. You should check out at least a couple of those articles (I like the ones I linked to), so you have a bit more evidence for this idea.They give you a great list of benefits, many of which I have experienced with routines! However, I’m not going to go over a summary of these benefits that you can find on other sites. I’m going to tell you about my own experience with routines.

Start Small I have found I respond better to baby steps. I have trouble sticking with large, swooping change. For my morning routine, I literally started with the habit of drinking water as soon as I woke up. Just that. It took me less than a minute every morning. We all know the importance of hydration, and I’m sure many of you can sympathize with how gross a mouth feels after waking up. I introduce small easy changes one at time, and do them for several days or until they begin to stick.

Make it Easy I do what I can to help my brain make these changes. I keep a water bottle by my bedside, for example. Everytime I go to introduce a new habit, I think about how I could make it easier to follow through on the habit. This might be setting up things beforehand, or perhaps creating a new permanent home for an item (my hula-hoop now resides in my living room, behind the sofa, so that it is easily accessible for my morning hooping). You might also consider your path (through your house or workplace, not in life), your needs or your energy levels. In my morning routine, I leave my office to go into the living room where I hula-hoop. After I hula-hoop, I grab my breakfast out of the fridge before heading into the office. I don’t eat breakfast immediately after returning to my desk, but it is readily available when it is time for breakfast.

Make it Fun Fun is a one of the key values in my life. Unfortunately, I tend to force myself to ignore fun in favor of being more productive (not a good self-care practice). Routines have allowed me to schedule some fun into my day. This means I look forward to getting up in the morning, and I look forward to going to bed at night. Sure, I wake up at 5am, but I get to plan a Disney trip while eating breakfast! At night, I might not get a snack in evening (I brush my teeth so that I don’t eat before bed), but I get to play the Sims for 30 minutes! On most days, this is my ONLY game time.

My Brain likes a Daily Rhythm I’m getting better quality sleep. I tend to fall asleep quicker and mornings are not so much of a hassle. I have seen an increase in my energy, particularly in the morning hours.

I adore daily routines and I have found them a valuable tool for self-care. In future posts, I will go over my morning and evening routines. I’m really interested in expanding my routines, as well, so I will update you on my journey with that as well.

What do you think of routines? Do you have a routine? Please share! Do you have tips on creating or maintaining a routine?

Blog Refresh

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Howdy!

Over the past couple years I have made some substantial changes in my life, most related to self care, wellness and mental health.

A couple of years ago, I was dealing with anxiety and depression, which had actually manifested itself physically and was impacting my heart (scary!). At the time, I didn't think my issues were as severe as they were, nor did I appreciate the effect they were having on my physical health. At my primary care physician's insistence I began to put my effort towards improving my mental well being. At first, it was hard. I didn't have enough energy and motivation to make all the necessary changes immediately. But the baby steps I started with snowballed into big changes in the way I think and view life.

I feel amazing. I'm still working hard towards improving my well being, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far. I'm more organized, relaxed, confident and happy. Most importantly, I'm able to recover from negative events much quicker. I don't get stuck in a stress response (a funk) like I used to.

A few times now, my wellness coaches and providers (I've assembled a small team, as I took advantage of all the resources available to me. I'm only a lab tech, so my pay is pretty low. There are a wealth of affordable resources out there if you look!), have suggested that I share my enthusiasm and passion for wellness and self care. Not only as a way to help others, but also to help me maintain that motivation. I've been told my strengths lie with how I go about my changes mindfully and with intention. 

Well, I'm super excited because I've decided to take their advice, and share what has worked for me here on my blog. I value personal growth, learning, teaching and mentoring. This is the perfect space to do just that. I would LOVE feedback. Let me know what topics you are interested in. I want to explore new areas of self care and wellness with you, not just talk about that I did. You are encouraged to contact me to share what had worked for you, your story and what you struggle with. You can get a hold of me on Twitter @crazycatnerd.