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Posts tagged ‘self-care’

A Teenager Can Motivate You Towards Self-Care…

Well, well, well…  Look at these thoughts I scribbled down a few weeks ago for a draft of an article.  How ironic that today they are a perfect reminder of what I need to do to get back to a steadier place of self-care, so that I am giving myself a decent chance to be other than a crazed parent of a teenager!  Here’s what I wrote.

“The wonderful thing about self-care is that it builds on itself.  Progress in eating healthier food helps you feel better.  Getting enough sleep allows you to feel more rested and be more focused.  De-cluttering and getting organized can not only give you a sense of relief but also more energy and clarity.  And engaging in stress-management or relaxation practices has positive physical, mental and emotional benefits!”

By giving you an intimate look at my current state of self-care, you may be inspired to look at your own self-care and maybe even consider making a small, doable change that can have that positive domino effect!

This week I’m focusing on the nutritional part of my current self-care checklist.

Am I eating mostly nutritious foods?

Well, I am on both sides of the fence on this one.

  • Fruit?  I do love and eat fruit on a reasonably consistent basis.  Check.
  • Veggies?  Well, I love and eat spinach and tomatoes frequently and throw in other veggies here and there, but I am sure that I am not eating the recommended three servings of a variety of veggies most days.  Maybe half a check.
  • Whole grains?  I love the Nine Grain bread that one of our local restaurants makes.  I also buy whole wheat bread.  But I also love English muffins, the plain old white kind.  Maybe three-quarters of a check.
  • Dairy?  Probably only drinking a cup of milk a day.  I do love cheese, however.  Good for dairy requirements but not so good for low-fat fare.   I take Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to round out this category.  Close enough to a check.
  • Protein?  I love deli turkey, tuna and smoked salmon.  So far so good.  Also love sausage and bacon.  Good for protein.  Not so good for the high fat content.  Love beans also.  They help to add some substance to this category, plus beans are great for getting in some fiber!  Some days I skimp on the protein, but overall I do OK.  Giving myself a check here.
  • Fat?  Oops!  Probably more than I need.  Love half-and-half in my coffee.  Also love margarine on my toast and lots of mayo on my sandwiches and in my tuna salad.  Also love peanut butter and nuts, which are called good fats because of their high nutritional content.  This is a category for careful attention and for flexibility.  If I’ve had a ton of margarine at breakfast, then, instead of tuna salad with lots of mayo at lunch, it’s better to go for a spinach salad with mandarin oranges and a few walnuts for lunch, which I also love!
  • Fat and Sugar?  It’s not actually a category per se, but it seems important to mention if I’m taking an honest inventory, right?  I love chocolate.  And I love an occasional cookie.  For some reason, I have developed a particular love for chocolate-covered cherries lately.  Depending on the day, I may eat none of these, or I may indulge in a few cookies or chocolate-covered cherries.  It’s not really a category to check or not, but to be aware of and notice what’s going on if I’m indulging too much or too frequently.

Overall, I’m doing reasonably well in the nutrition area.  I do need to be watchful of the fat and sugar combos and also be careful to eat small healthy snacks in between meals so I don’t get too hungry or tired or spacey from not having the energy I need to function at my best!  I love dried fruit and nuts or a single serving of yogurt for those snack times.  Delicious, and I feel better!

What Works For Me

For this part of “beefing up” my self-care, I’m doing OK.  It could be argued that I’m doing really well, or it could be argued that I’m doing terribly.  That’s OK.  It’s all a matter of perspective.   At this point in my life, I know what kind of eating makes a difference in my energy and mood.  For me, I always do better if I add food, rather than attempting to tell myself that I can’t have this or that.  Denying myself particular foods only results in me craving them more.  If I am really determined to banish a particular food from my diet, that’s a whole different ball of wax.  For now, I am interested in balance and making small changes that can add up to a big difference, like making sure that I have nuts and dried fruit on hand to eat between meals so that my energy stays more steady.

Then I have a chance to use that steadiness to be a calmer, loving parent.

Next week we’ll peek into a different area of my self-care to see how I’m doing and decide whether another small change might be helpful.  Then you can use those questions to determine how you’re doing with your self-care!

The Order of Things

“Go do a little yoga,” the still, small voice in my head gently whispered.

“But I’m tired, and if I get online, it’ll help me wake up!” the competing voice argued with authority.

Guess which voice won out?  The louder, argumentative voice scored a victory this time.  However, not really a victory for me.  Oh sure, it’s a reasonable thing to check email and online networks and website.  But the timing was important here.  Instead of getting centered and grounded for my day, I began by dispersing my energy.

The order really matters.

It is important for me to connect with other people in person or online, but when I do that from a place of not being grounded and present and clear about my own priorities, I tend to jump willy-nilly from one thing to the next.  Perhaps it is a priority for the day, or perhaps it isn’t.  Perhaps it is something that needs to be done, or perhaps it really could have waited so I could have done something that really mattered for me that day.  Stopping to do even 15 or 20 minutes of yoga or  some other self-care practice is so small time-wise relative to the return I get for that time investment.  (And the form of yoga that I do requires more willingness than energy…)

Do you find yourself doing the same kind of thing?  You may have a vague sense or even a clear idea of how important it is to do something you know is right (often involving some kind of self-care…), but instead you end up choosing to do something else.  It may even be something that does need to be done or taken care of, but it is often something that could easily wait until you’ve given yourself the time that you need.  It’s the same idea that financial advisers use when they suggest paying yourself first, before paying for all of the other things that your money needs to take care of.  Give to yourself before you give to all of the other people and things that need to be taken care of!  The benefit of this is that you come from a place of solidity and increased focus versus feeling more scattered or unclear.

Getting Lost vs. Knowing the Way

What happened when I decided to get online instead of stopping to do some yoga first?  Well, I did check my email and wrote a couple of replies and checked Facebook and LinkedIn…but I know from experience that I need to be so careful when I venture into those tasks that I don’t get lost in doing them!  When I first do some yoga and/or journaling and give some centered thought to what I most want to accomplish that day, then it is easier not to get “lost” online!  (Or, if I do get “lost”, I find my way out more quickly than I would if I had not taken the time for myself.)

What is a self-care practice that you could engage in at the beginning of your day before you “jump into your day”??  Have you tried journaling?  What about taking a short walk or going to the gym?  Perhaps it is something as simple as having a few moments of quiet to sit and think about how you’d LIKE your day to unfold, rather than, “Oh my gosh, I need to do _________ and __________ and __________!  I better get going before I get behind!”

Can you feel the difference in the energy between the idea of the quiet moments to reflect on your day in a centered, positive frame of mind versus the anxious energy of the “behind before you begin” kind of thinking?  There really is something to this.  I have done my own personal experiments with it, and each way of thinking at the beginning of the day tends to set the tone for the rest of the day.  However, even if you start out feeling frantic or anxious about your day, there’s a saying that “You can start your day over any time you want!”  It’s not set in stone.  But you do need to stop to take the time to create some calm, peaceful energy to create a day that unfolds more smoothly.

Drained, Dry and Devoid of Ideas

Oooo!  How inspiring!  “Drained, dry and devoid of ideas”!

As I went about the process of writing my article, I stumbled a bit.  Well, I stumbled a LOT!  I didn’t feel well on the day that I had picked to write it, nor the next day.  I had some ideas that I could have certainly developed, but I didn’t even feel like I had any thoughts about those ideas.  Uh-oh.  Kind of makes the process of writing a bit tricky, to say the least.

Instead of completely panicking, which used to be my response, I had learned enough to step back and practice at least a little bit of TLC, good ole’ tender loving care.  Instead of criticizing myself or attempting to push the issue, I backed off.  Instead I went for a short walk and attempted to be kind to myself.  The walk definitely helped, but I found myself in limbo, not quite able to really relax and take it easy, but not able to think clearly enough to write.  Yuck.

The Power of Wondering  

I had enough awareness to wonder, “What was going on, and what had happened?”  How did I get to this place of feeling drained, dry and devoid of ideas?  Ohhhhhhh.  Intuitive flash.  (The intuitive flash could come through because I finally slowed down and stepped back a little.)  I realized that I had not been stopping to do fun things or take a break.  I had been going from taking care of my aging diabetic body (checking blood sugars, taking the prescribed three-times-per-week walks, doing a reasonable job of eating nutritious foods) to coordinating my 13-year-old’s schedule to caring for my home to running my business to occasionally checking in with my husband to see how he was doing.  And, I had not connected with any friends for more than a “Hi, how are you?”-in-passing, kind of connection.

Taking Breaks and Having Fun

When I look at it, it’s easy to understand why I hadn’t taken the time for breaks or fun.  And I bet the same is true of your life, if you really stop to see what all you do in a day or a week!  Nevertheless, when we push and push and push, and we don’t take breaks or let ourselves have any fun, how can we expect to be full of life and ideas????  It’s almost like factory work, in that you need to do the same kinds of things over and over, then you fall into bed exhausted!

I don’t think that I’m particularly unusual.  We all have schedules or lives that tend to be very full and seem to lead us, rather than us leading them!  It is so important that we periodically assess HOW our days and weeks are going.  Yes, of course there are plenty of things that need to be taken care of.  However, when we slow down enough to stop and take a few moments to reflect, here’s a powerful question to ask.

Can any of it be:

1) Let go?

2) Delegated?

3) Done differently?

I’m the first to offer a quick “No!”  Obviously, no one else will be checking my blood sugars or figuring out how many carbs I’m about to eat so I can match my insulin to that.  Nevertheless, there must be some ways that I could go about my days a bit differently.  Delegating?  Perhaps I could find a playful way to gather my family and do some brainstorming or mind-mapping of all that needs to be done in our home.  Perhaps there are some routines that can be shared.  Perhaps there are some jobs that one of us finds really distasteful but that another doesn’t mind at all.

What about done differently?  Probably room for that as well.  For most of us with ADD, there is usually room for backing things us and doing them earlier so we’re not so rushed and frantic.  Or perhaps there’s room for doing a bit more planning.  It might be planning out which days you’ll exercise, or it might be planning out what meals you’ll have for dinner and then getting the ingredients all at once, instead of making several trips to the grocery store.

One Small Change

With even some small changes, I then have the opportunity to slow down and take some breaks and even find time for some fun activities.  Making these changes is NOT meant to create the way to get more stuff done, but to create some balance in my life to slow down and enjoy it more.

How about you?  What is ONE SMALL CHANGE you can make to 

  • slow down?
  • take some breaks?
  • put more fun into your weeks (and even days!)?

Is there something that you can let go of?  It might be an unneeded or unused item, or it might be an activity that is taking up time without really being necessary or nurturing.  Is there a task that someone else could do or someone else could share doing?  Or what about a way that you could do something differently?  Taking the time to reflect on your schedule or perhaps planning meals for the week?

What might it be for you?  I bet there is something.  And if there is something, then you have a chance to create some balance in your life by slowing things down a bit and putting in something joyful.  We all cope better with rest and with joy to break up the routine of our days.  When we’re also managing ADD, the balance of enough structure (but not too much) is even more important.  Making sure there is joy in our lives can give us the energy we need to manage the rest of our lives!


“I DON’T WANT TO!”

Is Your Inner Child in Your Face?

Mine has been lately…

"I DON'T WANT TO!"

Very adult-like (I thought), I set out to make some changes…

“AAAAAAAAUGH!” screamed that little person inside my head, followed by “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

This response didn’t happen right away, and honestly, the words in my head weren’t exactly those, but they do quite succinctly summarize the feelings behind my adult response to the challenge of change.  In my head it sounded more like, “I don’t really need that much sleep…” or “I will just be on the computer a few more minutes…”  (Yeah, right…)

I have been attempting to get more sleep by cutting myself off from the computer past a certain time.  I have tried to use 9:00 p.m. as my cut-off time.  Sounds very reasonable, doesn’t it?  (Well, not for some of you who I know are awake at 10 or 11 p.m. and are on Facebook or writing emails!)  All that I have read about getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep (including those deep sleep stages when your body is doing important repair work for you) — says that it is important to disconnect from electronics for a period of time before you go to sleep so that your brain can slow down and sleep well.

Knowing vs. Doing

Well, I know what they say to do, but can I DO what they say?!  “Simple but not easy” the saying goes.  Very simple to understand what needs to happen, but another story to follow through with what I know.  When I pay attention to what I am doing, (like heading back to the computer or just staying on the computer past my 9 p.m. time), I hear myself trying to justify what I am doing, in an attempt to make it OK to continue with my old habit.  If I were only two or three years old, it would probably sound more like “I DON’T WANT TO!”  Really so much more honest and straightforward, but the more I learned that it might not be OK to say, “I DON’T WANT TO!” when an adult asked me to do something (and the better my verbal skills became), the more I learned to justify and rationalize my behavior.

I don’t want to totally knock justifying and rationalizing.  Sometimes we do really want someone else to understand the bigger picture of what’s going on with us.  Or we want to understand it.  But in cases like this, I’m just throwing in extra obstacles for myself to deal with.  It can be helpful to ask, “What is going on here?”  It is more productive to ask when I’m not trying to justify why I’m currently heading to the computer, by asking at a time that is more neutral, when I am actually receptive to my own answers.  And, it is SO important to ask in a way that is compassionate, like I am asking a dear friend.  Otherwise, I’m just setting myself up for unproductive, defensive answers.

Food for Thought

1) What is going on here?                                                                                   

2) Why am I wanting so much to be on the computer?

3) What is it that I like about being on the computer?

4) Is there something I am avoiding?

5) Is there something I am afraid of?

Kind Questions, Not Mean Ones!

1) Are there other ways to be on the computer that work better in the long run?

Perhaps I could be proactive and conscious about computer time and actually give myself the computer time I want by consciously putting it in my day somewhere?  I think that part of what is at play here is a “I’ll do what I WANT!” mentality.  By proactively giving myself what I want, I “take the wind out the sails” of that toddler mentality because I’m going about it in a way that is more reflective and aware, instead of in a mind-less way that is so easily a part of computer use!)

2) If there is something that I am avoiding, what is that?  Is there a way of handling that thing I’m avoiding differently?  Do I need support?  Do I need to look at it from a more detached perspective and see if there is something missing for me?  Would it help to talk to a compassionate friend?  Do I need some “down” time?  (Probably.)

3) If there is something that I am afraid of doing, who or what might be helpful?  Could I offer myself some compassion?  Is there perchance some kind of resource I need to shrink my fear so that it is more manageable?  Maybe I just need more information.  Or maybe I just need to know that other people have similar fears.  (You can be assured this is so, no matter the fear!)

What is important is to    being mindless and to   being judgmental!  Then I have a chance to practice being objective, to practice viewing myself and my habits from a more detached, compassionate perspective, as if I were a wise master studying her student and wondering how best to help.

Just this shift will go a very long way.  Compassionate viewing of something creates a shift and just enough of a change to create space for a little more change…

As for my own computer time and trying to get more sleep, a wise friend suggested that I ask my 13-year-old what I might do differently.  What a great idea!  The willingness to consider other perspectives is what allows us to keep growing and changing.

“Do I Have ADD?”

Do I or Don’t I?

“Do I have ADD?”  Does this question ever pop up for you?  Or, has someone else suggested that you have ADD (often not very kindly…)?

If not knowing is bothering you, or if you find yourself struggling to cope, then by all means, please go meet with a psychologist or psychiatrist who is skilled in the area of ADD diagnosis, and find out!  For many of us, there is HUGE relief in doing so because

1) You finally have a name for what has been ruling your life.

2) You finally have a way of understanding why life has felt so hard.

3) You can then respond more positively to having ADD (and quit giving yourself so much grief).

4) You can learn about ADD, be treated for ADD and have a much better chance of functioning more effectively in your life!

The Upside to a Diagnosis

So, if you are really struggling, it is worth finding out, as much as a diagnosis of ADD is not something that most of us are eager to embrace.  ADD tends to come with a lot of judgment and misunderstanding, particularly for adults with ADD.  That’s so odd because, no, you don’t outgrow it, as people used to think.  The symptoms do tend to subside during adulthood, especially for those with ADHD, (when you have that extra energy that can make it hard to sit still), but ADD and ADHD do not go away.  We often get better at hiding it, or we develop some coping skills that can help, but it doesn’t go away.

That’s why it’s so important to learn about it and get connected to other people who seem to be managing it OK or who have a positive attitude despite it!  We need to know that we’re not alone in our challenges with ADD, no matter how old we are.

The Downside to Not Knowing

The problem with not knowing that you may have ADD is that you expect yourself to be able to cope with life like someone who doesn’t have ADD.    That’s like expecting someone with Type 1 diabetes to have good blood sugar without insulin.  It ain’t gonna happen!  Someone with diabetes who doesn’t know they have diabetes is not going to feel very well because they don’t have the insulin their body needs to function well.  Someone with ADD who doesn’t know they have ADD is not going to cope very well because they don’t have the resources or possibly medication they need to cope well.  But you don’t know WHY in either case because you don’t know what’s going on!

What Do You Mean, Forgive Myself — For Screwing Up?

Once you know what’s going on, you can learn about yourself, ADD and why you respond to life’s challenges in the way that you do.  You can then cope more effectively by taking advantage of the resources and treatment that are available and can help!  You have probably been expecting yourself to handle certain parts of your life without the skills or resources that you need.  That’s not very fair, is it?  But that’s what we tend to do to ourselves (or other people do to us) because we (or they) don’t understand!  You may choose to take medication, work with a therapist or work with a coach.  (If you’d like to learn more about working with me as your coach, click here.)  You might even decide to take advantage of a professional organizer who understands ADD and can help you create an environment that works better for you.

The next step is forgiving yourself for all that you have not handled as well as you would have liked because of your ADD!  It is so important to go back and look at how ADD has affected you and to forgive yourself.  You have always been doing as well as you have been able to do with the skills and resources that you have had!  It is so important to give yourself the understanding and compassion that has been missing all along!

With Acceptance Comes Change     

With a bit of light shed on the subject of ADD in your life, you are in a better position to move forward, to stop fighting the way you are and instead ACCEPT the way you are.  As you accept those things about you, you can much more effectively begin to learn about strategies for living life a bit differently.  It’s not about saying, “Gee!  I’m so happy I have ADD!”  But it is about saying, “Well, I have ADD.  Now what?”  It puts you in a much better position to respond more effectively to the challenges in your life.

Is There Enough?

Those icky, old familiar feelings.  Panicky.  Barely breathing because your lungs feel so tight.

“Not enough money.”

“Not enough time.”

“Not doing enough.”

“Maybe I’m just not enough…”

Yuck.  From there it can be a slippery slope to feeling discouraged, then overwhelmed, then hopeless.  Have you been there?  I certainly have.  Anxiously taking some kind of action in the hope of making things better, then feeling depressed that those actions aren’t having the intended effect.  Yuck again.

However, there is a “fix” for getting out of this yucky space.  It’s very simple, but it does require shifting gears.

Two simple steps.  (One is really all you need though.)

Step 1.  It can be very helpful to do something to shift physically, like taking a walk or even just stopping and taking a few focused, deep breaths.  Then you’re in a more receptive place for Step 2.  But even without Step 1, Step 2 can still work.  Just proceed.

Step 2.  Take a quick inventory of what is humming along, of what is in place, of what you do have, even if you don’t think there is anything right now.  It can be very helpful to write this inventory down.  It does not need to be all formal and pretty.  Just grab a piece of paper or type it out on your computer.  Do a quick brainstorm of what you do have and what is going well.  I find it very helpful to begin with very basic things, which usually helps me identify other things that are humming along or for which I am grateful.  Here’s the kind of list I’m talking about.

  • this computer
  • my bed (especially good to notice at night when I’m in this space)
  • my pillow
  • plenty of food in my frig and pantry
  • my health (I have to be careful here not to digress to what needs attention or is irritating about my body.  Stay focused on the list!)
  • my family’s health
  • the opportunities and blessings of my business
  • my writing
  • my office
  • the trails in Columbia so close to my home
  • the strength of my connection with my husband
  • resources to help us parent our teenage daughter
  • my ballet classes
  • yoga
  • spring and all that is blooming
  • my daughter’s talents
  • a car that I like that still runs well
  • a mechanic I trust

This is a powerful practice.  The more you practice it, the better you get at it and the easier it comes.  The more you can make the shift from “It is not enough” to “It is enough,” or even “There is plenty!” the more you will experience the power of gratitude.  It also helps to identify what is going well because when we get in that yucky space, we begin to notice almost everything that is not going well.  It’s like it’s all breaking down in front of our very eyes!

By creating a “what’s going well” or a gratitude list, you put your brain on an entirely different track.  You open the way for new possibilities and for new ideas.  You become more receptive to your intuition and creativity, which is often the very thing that you need to get you out of that yucky space and to set the stage for creating a plan that does work better.

“Are you noticing and using the resources you already have?”

We tend to notice what is missing, what is not enough, what is out of place.  Whether it’s human nature or whatever, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you turn your head and notice something else, something that is enough, something that is working or is beautiful or even funny!

Get your paper out.  Write your list.  Or open up Word and type out a quick list.  It doesn’t need to take more than 5 minutes, unless you really get into it.  Just write or type as quickly as you can without over thinking it.  You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.

Post about what you discover, or email me.  The more energy you give this, the more it will give back to you.  And you’ll discover that

there is enough (and) you are enough!

Self-Care

As I have crossed the threshold of a decade birthday, I have been giving self-care a lot of thought.  It seems so ho-hum a topic, as in “Yeah, yeah, I know, eat “right,” exercise, get enough sleep…blah, blah, blah.”  Well, yes and no.  That is what makes self-care so tricky.  It’s sounds so easy, and you’ve heard what you should do, but many of us only give ourselves the attention we need in an inconsistent way or not at all until we’re presented with some medical crisis or diagnosis.  Or perhaps reality snuck up on us, and all of a sudden we notice (not very compassionately) that we’ve gained more pounds than we realized or we’re out of breath so easily.  The consequences of ignoring self-care are quite noticeable, particularly as we get older…

Self-care is important for everyone (who wants to enjoy life or have a body that works well and lasts a long time.)  However, for someone with AD/HD, self-care is absolutely essential … because, guess what?  Without it, your symptoms are going to be in-your-face.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not so fond of my symptoms being that glaring, to me and to those around me.  The symptoms of AD/HD are exaggerated without self-care.  That means that, minimally, life is more difficult.  At the other end, it can mean that life feels like it’s spinning out of control and that there’s no hope.  It is very hard to “do” daily life like that, much less enjoy it.

The good news is that, just as much as a lack of self-care can have such a negative impact on AD/HD, even a tiny change or two can have a very positive impact, which is often all we need to continue down the path where life feels better.  What might that tiny change be for you?  As a friend once pointed out, instead of trying to get in all five servings of fruits and veggies every day (when you’re only getting maybe one or two), what about just committing to eating an apple every day?  (Or whatever fruit most appeals to you.  I like bananas because they require nothing but pulling back the peel.  Easy!  And if I add some peanut butter, then I’m getting in a bit of protein to help keep my blood sugar steady and energy at a more even keel.)

With the weather finally getting warmer again and the days getting longer, what about just going for a walk around the block?  Or what about committing to shutting off your computer, iPod, cell phone, etc. by a certain time at night to give your brain a chance to wind down and get enough sleep?  (That’s my current challenge.)  You know your challenges.  We all have some area that could receive some needed attention.  What is yours?  No, not “I will start eating all five servings of fruits and veggies and exercising for an hour every day and going to bed at 9:00 every night and …”  No, not all of those.  Not even one of those!

Your goal is to start small.  Very tiny baby steps.  Think about the way that a baby walks.  That toddler take little steps because, if they step too big, they fall!  Let’s learn from the babes and take tiny steps so that we can keep our balance and improve our self-care!

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