Happy Mindful Monday! So excited to be starting this new little piece with you guys. In our crazy little universe, it is getting harder and harder to be more mindful. There are so many distractions from all of our tech to a packed schedule, sometimes it’s easy to forget about giving ourselves a little love!
This year I have really had to learn to step back and focus on me. I love to go go go, but this past year my body began to tell me I needed to take a break. When you don’t give your body enough rest, it’s going to wear down, and WILL start working against you. A few indicators of this are a lowered immune system (just in the past 6 months I’ve had strep, the flu, and mono), fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, and depression.
Life is one big balancing act, as I have been in Grad School and working part time for the past 2 years, I have found this to be more and more true. Thats why it is so improtant to find a rythm that works for you. If you are continuing to stretch yourself too thin, you will break. I know, you’re thinking “Lizzy, you’re crazy, I’m fine going 90 to nothin all day everyday”, I thought that too, until I broke.
Last fall I began my final year of Grad school. Since I had been studying and working the previous school year I went in with no worries. What I didn’t consider, was that since it was my last year, the classes were going to be more challenging, and require a lot more work. I am a perfectionist, but especially a people pleaser when it comes to school and work. My worry of what everyone is going to think of my presentations, papers, grades, and achievements drives my motivation to perform. I never saw this as that big of an issue, until it overtook me. As the semester progressed I spent a lot more time awake than I did asleep, driving myself into the ground striving for a 4.0 GPA & scolding myself when my grades weren’t turning out as I wanted. I began to withdraw from my family and friends, I quit working out, and I was spending all of my hours away from school and work on the couch in my pajamas. Throw in a few trips in there and bam you have a broken Liz.
I didn’t really think anything was wrong until some friends brought it to my attention over Thanksgiving. I “wasn’t myself”. After a lot of mind games with myself, I reached out for help. Let me just say, that in itself was a HUGE battle for me. First I had to accept that something wasn’t right, that I was not okay, and then I had to admit it. Definitely not in my wheelhouse. Let me just say as one who likes to do things on my own, IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP. I can honestly say, I am a totally different person because I knew I needed to make a change and asked someone to help me.
Everyone is different. What works for me may not work for you, but you’ll never know unless you try. Some of these changes can be small, but they can have a huge impact on your overall well being. Take time to evaluate yourself. Have your friends mentioned anything about your health to you? Do you feel anxious 24/7? Have you lost joy in the things that use to make you happy? After I came to terms with my answers to these questions, I began to work towards not just getting back to my old self, but creating my best self.
Remember, It’s not a one size fits all.
My habits for mindfulness:
- Meditation: This can come in many different forms. Carving out time for myself with no distractions is meditation. This is my walk to work. I Turn on some music, plug my headphones in and enjoy my walk. I take in all the sites and sounds. For that 10 minute stroll I forget about everything else, and just embrace the moment to clear my mind.
- Self Awareness:This is a big one. Learning to “take your temp” as I like to call it. Are you really exhausted, or are you just being lazy? I push myself to the limits and my immune system has gotten the brunt of that the past few months. My body started telling me to chill out when i had strep in November, I didn’t listen, got the flu in January, and then got Mono in February. The last one set the bell off in my brain that I needed to slow down. When my Mono test came back positive, I realized I really had to dial my activeness back. At first I didn’t change any of my habits, I figured it would just go away with time, but I was wrong. After relapsing, I came to the quick realization my body was telling me I needed to make a change. I had to shift my workouts to be less strenuous since I was fighting waves of fatigue and then I was prescribed to rest, rest, rest, repeat. Even on vacation, I had to stop myself a few times because I wasn’t letting myself relax and heal, but as I have been more aware of myself and how my body is feeling, I have begun to get back to normal.
- Exercise: I have always been an active person, but over the past year I have really learned how important it is to my overall well being. I went from working out 5-6 times a week to working out maybe once a week this fall. I felt sluggish, weak, and faced an internal battle with myself. Exercise was the first thing my doctor prescribed and to be honest it is my #1. I’m not exercising near as much as I would like due to my schedule, but every little bit counts. I have challenged myself to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Doesn’t matter what it is, just something to get the blood flowing and my body moving.
- Prioritize: Whats important to you? Growing up I always wanted to live in NY, I was not a fan of my small town. I was always looking for a way to get out and never missed it when I was away, Homesick, was not in my vocabulary. I wouldn’t trade NY for anything and I LOVE living here, but this year I have really realized how important my friends and family are to me. I do not miss my small town one bit, but I do miss my people. I have been more intentional with speaking to them regularly and spending time with them as much as possible. We were created for relationships, we should be cherishing each of them.
- Be Present: This is a mega struggle for me with so many distractions. Hi, my name is Liz and I’m a social media addict. It doesn’t help that my work and degree focus on social media as well. Like most people I can mindlessly scroll for hours on end. When I’m chillin in my pj harlows on the couch at home, that’s fine, but there is a time and place for everything. I challenge you to leave the phone in your purse at dinner. We are a generation of wanting to be in the know at all times, but take a moment to step back and appreciate what your doing and who you are with.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: My anxiety has always given me an issue in this area. I am a planner and I do not like when things don’t go as planned. My best friend is the total opposite. She is the definition of fly by the seat of your pants. In the past, I would get so upset when we left 3 hours late, or our plans changed at the last minute, or we went out on the town without any idea of where we were going or what we were going to do. A lot of times I let it ruin my day and that affected everyone around me. Now, when this happens, i think to myself, does it really matter? Why do you HAVE to have a plan? Let go of all of the what if’s and embrace the unknown, sometimes it can lead to your best memories.
This week, practice mindfulness. Try some different things out and find what works best for you. Be ready to find a new version of yourself and enjoy this life we have been given.