Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's just what I need.

We all have days (weeks, months...) when we just don't feel right.

The older I get, I'm trying harder to realize exactly what it is that keeps me ticking and keeps me healthy. When my life starts to feel off kilter, I've gotta take a step back, look at things, and try to figure out where I went wrong, because when one area is off, it seems to have a domino effect on all the other areas of my life.

A couple months ago, things started going downhill again. I was feeling depressed. I had quit exercising - period. I was eating whatever and however much I wanted, and I wasn't getting outside much. I wasn't blogging like I wanted to. I quit reading for a while.

And all the while, I was so blind to it. It was like my eyes were just fuzzy over the whole thing, and I think I blamed it on being busy or something trivial like that.

So, I've made some changes in the past weeks, and things are starting to feel normal again. I spoke with the doctor who treated me for postpartum depression about how I was feeling(jury's still out on whether some of my recent symptoms were depression or a side effect from birth control - hopefully I'll have an answer on that soon), and tweaked a few other parts of my lifestyle.

So, in no particular order, these are the things I've realized are oh-so-helpful in making my life feel well-rounded and somewhat normal. Well, normal for me anyway.

1. Time alone. And, I'm not just talking about time alone on the toilet without being bothered (although that would be lovely). I'm talking about time just for me - whether it's walking around Target (window shopping or "window" shopping - *wink, wink*), having the whole house to myself for a couple hours, or going to a restaurant by myself for lunch. I've always needed my alone time, and now that I'm a mom, I need it more than ever. When I don't get it, I am not a happy camper.

2. Exercise. I've always loved being active, from taking gymnastics and ballet as a little munchkin, to playing volleyball in middle school, to developing a love for step aerobics in high school and kickboxing in college, I've always loved being active. Let's not forget to throw in outdoor stuff like hiking, either. I've been consistently exercising for a little over a month now, and I'm working out 6-7 days a week, for about an hour at a time. It's a guaranteed hour every day where I don't have to think about anything else, and I get to blow off steam, and make my body healthier (and buffer, and leaner, and meaner). It's something I've always loved, but now it's an absolutely necessary part of who I am and what I need to do to feel healthy.

3. Healthy foods, appropriate portions, and a few treats here and there. I've gotten great results with Weight Watchers in the past (once before Kaylee - stopped that time as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and once after Kaylee), but after the last time, I decided to discontinue the online program, thinking I could save money and that I was disciplined enough to choose healthy foods and portions on my own. Not so much...I got off track a few times, and I found myself signing up for the program yet again. Right now, I've got a goal to lose a few more pounds. I was sick of my cute pants not fitting, and I was sick of wearing baggy tops to hide the muffin top. This time, my main goal is to get back on track with healthy portions, and I'm planning to stay on the program for quite a while, just to give me the guidance I need to keep making the right food choices.

4. Time alone with Kaylee, and time alone with Dennis. It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in being "busy," but living like that detracts from the most important things. Then, a week goes by and realize I was more concerned about a messy house than just simply having fun. If I get regular alone time with Kaylee and with Dennis, I'm so much happier. They help me slow down and remember what's important, and what's really not so important in the grand scheme of things.

5. Being outside. I remember days when I was home alone with Kaylee when she was a newborn. I'd start to feel all cooped up and anxious and cranky, and then I'd realize I hadn't set foot outside in a couple (or a few) days - not even past the front porch. Not okay, people, NOT okay! I need to be outside every day. Preferably for a longer period of time than it takes me to walk to my mailbox, but even that will do if I'm desperate.

6. My friends and family. They let me vent. They don't judge me. They let me be myself, and they listen when I feel like I'm falling apart. No matter what, they don't go anywhere.

7. A job. I may whine about it from time to time (hey, who doesn't?), but I love my job, and I love that it gives me scheduled time to be around other adults in a professional setting. It lets me use another part of my brain, and it makes me appreciate my time at home with my daughter even more. Plus, it gives her a break from me, which I think is also really important.

8. Prayer. To be honest with you, I know if this was a more regular part of day-to-day life, things would go a lot smoother. Things seem to go better, or - at least - I seem to handle them better when I start my day off with a prayer, and throw a few up throughout the day, too. It's something I'm always working on.

9. Reading for fun. For my whole life, this has been one of my very, very favorite hobbies, and as an adult, it's one way I deal with stress, by escaping into the pages of a book. When I don't have a book that I'm reading, chances are, there's probably another area of my life starting to crumble.

10. The blog. Writing has always been another one of my passions, and I really wish I'd discovered blogging a long time ago. I hate it when I have those spurts where I go a few days without blogging. Writing on a regular basis really helps me deal with stuff. It just feels good to get my thoughts out of my head, and on to my blog. It's therapeutic, and fun, and it's another hobby that brings me enjoyment.

So...what about YOU? What makes you tick? What is it that you just have to have in your life in order to feel like you have balance? Leave me a comment about it!


Marcie said...

I'm glad you are feeling better and on the right track to a healthy you!!

I too find that I'm a much happier person if I get a little me time. Lately I've had to multitask and so during my walks, instead of listening to music, I talk to God. It's been wonderful!!

Keep up the good work. We need you happy and healthy and blogging!!

Kelly said...

WOW!! You have really spent some time analyzing what it is that will make you feel "normal" again. This is something that I need to evaluate and implement in my own life! Thanks.

Molly said...

This is a great list. Sometimes I feel needy with all of those same things, but it really is essential to my sanity! Once the hubs gets home at night, I will sometimes head out to Starbucks with my computer. Amazing what that little bit of time will do!
Glad you are on a good track of taking care of you!

Dani said...

I've been feeling off kilter lately too and haven't been able to put my finger on what is wrong. I've been wondering if it could be something like the baby blues or postpartum depression... but my baby is almost 8 months old and I'm not sure if it can come on that late. Anyway- I feel like I need to sit and think about all the pieces just how you have here in this post and try to pin point what's bothering me. I don't know what it is- I just don't feel as fulfilled with life. I feel like I'm wasting time all the time- but I don't feel like I've changed what I've been doing since I felt fulfilled. I don't know what changed and it gets me down even more not knowing. Thanks for this post.

Fiauna said...

I'm a lot like you: alone time, exercise, prayer, and writing all keep this busy mommy sane.

Best of luck. I hope you kick the depression soon.

Deb said...

i have gotten so off track with every single thing you've listed! and my mood has definitely suffered because of it. ugh.

blueviolet said...

Like you, I have to have alone time. I survive by having alone time.

I hate exercising during the exercising but I love the feeling I have afterward. I feel more on top of my game, my life, and my health.

You sound like you're pulling it all together just fine!

Jenners said...

Your list and my list is the EXACT SAME!! I'm going to post this on my fridge to remind me of what is important and I need to focus on. well done, separated-at-birth-by-almost-20-years-sister!