Mental Fitness

I recognize this tight, dry, squeezing feeling in my chest. I recognize this smell of sweat and tightened brow. I recognize this headache. It’s you, Stress. You are not welcome back. You come for the oddest reasons and you out-stay your welcome. There are many reasons for you, most of them my own fault.

You see, I get stressed for no reason during February when it is gray and I get a touch of seasonal depression that no amount of busy work can squash. I also get stressed when I take on too much. Which I do- always. I even get stressed when I take on too many “fun” activities, which stop being fun when I try to push too many in to my schedule. (I have this damn creative brain without an off switch. I feel I have to do ALL THE CRAFTS at once. Which leads to a lot of started crafts and not much success). I get stressed before new-ness and before activities. I need to reign in this stress. I get “guilt-stress” when I realize I feel I am not doing enough for my well-being – meditation and yoga are always an “I’ll just fit that in tomorrow” activity.

I think we have to admit to ourselves that we will keep the weight on, keep the back pain, and keep the headaches if we don’t practice the mental fitness as much as the physical well-being. We need to cut ourselves some slack and let some things be delegated or, even, gasp!, forgotten. Scarlett O’Hara had something going on when she declared, “I’ll think about that tomorrow! After all, tomorrow is another day!”

 

That may not be a direct quote, but it’s close.

Scarlett O'Hara. A survivor at all costs.

Scarlett O’Hara. A survivor at all costs.

That being said, I am terrible at taking time for myself. I workout, but I consider that something that I need to do (like brushing my teeth), not exactly me time. I crochet, but that is while I am watching a movie with the family or in between tasks. When it is time to remove myself and do something solo, I am awful at it. I don’t know why! I always come back refreshed and rejuvenated, no matter what I did. It could be as simple as coffee with a friend, a few minutes of reading a book,  writing a friend a letter, or ten minutes of meditation.  Even plucking my eyebrows (yes, you read that right) can make me feel centered and calm. Pair the concentration and precision needed with the improvement in my looks and pride in myself, and I understand why it works for me.

So why don’t I do it more?! It feels unnecessary on the surface of things when there is always so much to do and catch up on. Also, I think I feel guilty not being busy or doing something I consider “productive”. I shouldn’t! I work hard and multi-task all day, I know I deserve a break…but taking one? Nah. My husband can tell when I need some time for myself and often sends me for some- essentially, I get put in adult time out! (haha.)

 

The other night I finally slipped away on my own to do some creative writing and it was incredibly relaxing. I realized that the calmer I felt, the better I felt. My energy level went up and I stopped craving the candy I knew was hidden in the kitchen cupboard. The mental imaging I was doing while writing may have helped, according to this study (see number 4).

So whatever you do to relax, do it. Even if you have to get someone else to force you to- the buddy system isn’t just for physical fitness, you guys.

 

Have a great weekend and see you next week.

 

 

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