I have a confession.
I write and think a lot about the need to have and maintain a healthy balance in life (time for exercise, time for eating well, time for exploration, time for quality sleep, time for connecting with friends and loved ones, and time to be alone with your thoughts, etc. etc.), but the truth is... it is really really really hard for me to maintain.
I guess maybe that's why I write about it, and read about it, and think about it, so much. This blog is my own personal accountability coach for keeping myself pointing in a positive direction. Over the past two months I have been extremely swamped with work. This has been my first year of employment at this location, and I completely underestimated how busy I would be. I had several 10-15+ page reports to churn out each week which required numerous meetings and observations and a thousand other tasks as well. I got stuck in this awful but oh so familiar pattern where I stayed at work really late, and then came home with just enough time to walk the dog (quickly) and then would skip the gym (because it was closed by that point, or I was too tired), eat something quick, and then begin working again late into the night. Once I would finally finish a report, I would zone out for hours on end. At times this would involve some heavy mindless Kardashian marathon time, and I would end up procrastinating for so long, that the cycle would soon start again.
When I'm stressed, the first things to go for me are always exercise, sleep, spending any time with friends, blogging (or really anything I enjoy), and at times eating healthy disappears as well. Which is insane. Those are the most important things that help maintain a positive and healthy mindset.
I guess, as a whole, I would always justify this pattern by examining my habits on a more big-picture-scale... like if you were to examine it quantitatively by finding the mean of my "healthy days" it would probably average out to look pretty decent. But obviously taking the average of any data that is majorly discrepant is an erroneous way to analyze it. Plus, consistently living life on opposite extremes of a continuum... kind of sucks.
Clearly I need better stress-management strategies. Last summer I read The Happiness Project, and loved all of the practical tips. I did quite well with the suggestions for awhile, but then when the intensity at work ramped up, one side of my balanced teeter totter hit the ground, hard.
Stress can impact your health and wellness in really extreme ways. While reading various articles on the topic, I came across this article on helpguide.org, and I thought it was really fantastic. It speaks to getting to the root of the issue right off the bat:
Thanks Melinda and Robert for being so necessarily blunt. You hit the nail right on the head. I used to be the queen of putting off 'til tomorrow what I didn't want to do today, and I'm working very hard to change that. One of their first suggestions that they give, is a fantastic one, which is to keep a "stress journal."
The Five-Minute Journal
A few weekends ago, I ventured home to the mighty midwest, and was able to meet up with two of my favorite school psychologists (pictured strutting the streets of KC with me, above), and one recently retired school psychologist (more on the amazing Allison Poss, on a later date). As we sat together to enjoy a meal, the newly retired Allison Poss posed the question to us all, "In a perfect world, what would the first 80-minutes of you day look like?" We all reflected and responded, and ironically had all included (in some capacity) a moment of reflection. It was then that the ever-stylish and creative Staci (her blog is coming to your feed soon) shared this little gem:
The Five-Minute Journal is rooted in positive psychology. Evidence supports that by beginning each day by writing down three things that you are grateful for (and three things that would make the day great) can have a positive impact on your life. Remember Oprah's gratitude journal craze? It's kind of like that, but also includes mini-goals to set for yourself, with a space in the evening to reflect on your positives and progress. When I previously attempted to make some positive changes to my daily habits, my method of monitoring and checking-in with myself was ineffective, but I love the idea of this succinct journal!
There's an app for that
If technology-based journaling is more your vibe, then you could also check out THE APP version. You'll get reminders every morning and evening to reflect on your goals and gratitudes, and will be able to capture daily images of things that make you feel grateful as well. While, the app is probably more my speed, I'm going to get the book and force myself to actually sit and hand write a few thoughts each day and break away a bit from my world of screens.
I teased at a birthday giveaway a few weeks ago, and as this post has eluded to, my birthday came and went in the midst of much report writing. Per the tradition, I'd like to share with you something that will hopefully make my summer (and year) a better one. Check back tomorrow Friday June 19th to enter to win your very own Five-Minute Journal! Let's begin this healthier, happier, year together!
This post is linked to Helene In Between's LinkUp: "You Probably Don't Know"...