Beauty In The Busy

Finding beauty, laughter, and thoughtfulness in my busy day-to-day life.


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Chill Pills

When someone I’m with is freaking out about something, I can usually be counted on to tell them to “Take a chill pill!” This is perhaps not politically correct from a mental health perspective, but since I myself take daily anxiety meds, I’m allowed, right? OK, not really. But anyways, I do think it’s important that everyone know what their most effective “chill pills” are, and I’m not talking about Xanax or Ativan. I’m talking about the things that we can do for ourselves to help ourselves relax, take a load off, and go to our happy place.

Here’s a list of my favourite chill pills, likely missing some things, and in no particular order, because that’s how I roll:

1. Knowing what you love to do and carving out the time to do it.

Have a hobby! It can be as common (knitting! baking! gardening!) or as completely random (making pet rocks! playing the ukelele!) as you want. Who cares? It’s just something you enjoy doing whenever you do it. In a previous post, I said that I believe that the key to success is finding a healthy balance between hard work and relaxation/fun time. Working hard is a necessity to get by in this world, and it builds character, grows hair on your chest, yadayadayada. However, making sure to carve out time every day for rest/relaxation and FUN is equally important, in my opinion. It keeps you young, keeps you smiling, and why not enjoy life as much as possible? It’s short. Squeeze the enjoyment out of it!

baking-meme

2. Take care of yourself physically: Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.

Well, I don’t have issues getting enough sleep. I LOOOOVVVES me my sleep. I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, sometimes fall asleep while watching TV, movies, or reading, and there are few things in life I enjoy as much as a spontaneous afternoon nap. Okay, so, seriously, I might have sleep apnea and I’m going to get that looked into! But I digress.

Exercising regularly and eating healthy don’t come AS easily to me, but I’m doing so much better than a few months ago! As a result, I feel better, not just physically, but emotionally. Every little change you make counts!

smoothie

3. Take care of yourself emotionally: see the doctor and get counseling if you need to!

Seriously, if you’re feeling down in the dumps for more than a few weeks, thinking thoughts that are scary or just “not you”, worrying, obsessing, etc….take care of it! There is so much more understanding and support when it comes to  mental health now than there used to be. There are so many ways you can get help and I speak from experience when I say that getting help can CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Stop dilly-dallying and trying to tough it out on your own, and go talk to someone already!

therapy

4. Take care of yourself spiritually.

Who or what feeds your soul? Seek it out! I’m not doing great in the churchgoing department at this juncture in my life for a variety of reasons, but I’m working on getting back in that groove. For now, praying remains my happy place. I find peace while talking to God. I also find serenity when surrounding myself in God’s creation. For others, it might be reading Scriptures or meditation. Whatever it is, don’t forget:

soul

5. Foster relationships with family and friends.

Few things are more satisfying than a meal, old stories, and lots of new laughs shared with family and/or close friends. And just as important as having someone to share good times with is having a couple of trusted shoulders to cry on when need be. Don’t let your world shrink too much; always leave room and time to share yourself, and be there for those you love. Loneliness sucks. Gaining and maintaining relationships may take some effort, but it’s always worth it.

My long-time friend and fellow blogger!

My long-time friend and fellow blogger!

6. Teach your kids independence.

Life is tough and sometimes we grown-ups need a break! And sometimes we parents forget that our little ones are growing bigger and more capable by the day. I teach my children how to help out around the house not only because it benefits them in teaching them life skills and responsibility, shapes their character, and keeps them busy and out of trouble, but also because FRIG, why should Carter and I be doing all of this work by ourselves?! We certainly didn’t MAKE all this mess ourselves! LOL. But seriously, more hands make for lighter work. In our family, I often emphasize to the kids that we are a team and must work together! Not only are they expected to tidy up after themselves, but my kids also help out by setting and clearing the table, folding and putting away their laundry, keeping their rooms clean, putting clean dishes away, helping take care of the dog, etc. Some days I ask very little of them and they spend most of their time playing, or they have homework they need to do first and foremost, but every now and then, if we’re exhausted and having a rough time, I’ll just tell be honest with them about it, and ask that they step up more than usual and really help Momma and Daddy out. And they do! Not necessarily without some whining and struggle, but we always get past that eventually. And it’s great for all of us: a weight off our shoulders while we recuperate, and a chance for them to grow in responsibility and learning to care for others, and be proud of their accomplishments at the end of the day.

kids-doing-chores

7. Try to keep on top of daily chores.

We all need a lazy day here and there where we don’t do much, if anything, at all. But rare is the day that I don’t do at least SOMETHING in the way of keeping that omnipresent laundry moving through the system, and rare is the day that I don’t do a basic main-floor-tidy-up, or at least most of the dishes (sometimes I just can’t bring myself to do those last few disgusting pots and pans! Nothing wrong with a good overnight soaking!). Because when even the basics start to pile up, I will start to feel very overwhelmed very quickly. So for me, doing the bare minimum on a tough day is easier on me in the long run than doing nothing at all. Dishes+laundry+tidy=still sane!

laundry2

8. Give yourself a break!

No one’s house is clean all the time. A night of vegging out in front of the TV isn’t going to damage your kids for life. Screw the pot roast: we’re ordering pizza or having cereal for dinner! Sometimes you just have to pick your battles and let the non-life-threatening things slide while you catch your breath and enjoy some downtime.

keep calm

9. Escape!

One of my favourite happy places is anywhere but here. It’s not as terrible as it sounds, though.  Sometimes when I need to chill, the best thing I can do is get out of my own head and my own life’s problems altogether for a while: I’ll lose myself in a good book, watch some smut (because other people’s problems are so much more entertaining than our own!) or a good movie, or daydream/plan. And when I say plan, I don’t mean problem-solve, I mean, mentally plan that fantasy trip to Europe we’re gonna take someday…or that tour-the-country-in-a-mobile-home retirement plan that Carter and I chat about sometimes. Also, stepping out of the here and now can give you a little perspective! Like, while planning your dream retirement, you might think, “When I’m 75, I’m not going to remember hardly anything about what happened the year that I was 32!” Or when watching the Walking Dead, you might think, “See? Things aren’t so bad for me after all!”

reading

10. Get some fresh air.

I rarely feel better than I do when I’ve been outside, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. I find it very grounding and humbling to get away from our petty people-problems and be reminded of  where (Who) it all comes from by surrounding myself with the greatness, the intricacy, and the beauty of nature.

beach

canoeing

nature

11. Something funny. Anything funny!

Humour is definitely the fuel that keeps me going sometimes. Don’t be afraid to be silly, and laugh at yourself! Sometimes when I need a quick emotional pick-me-up I’ll watch a funny sitcom, or browse the humour boards on Pinterest until I get the giggles. Never do I feel better than when I’m laughing, and it’s rare that I can’t find SOMETHING to laugh about.

jesus

So how about you? What are your favourite chill pills?

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

And then there’s raising a boy….

Now this is a movement I can get behind so much more enthusiastically than Miley’s “movement”, lol!

In all seriousness, though….

Time to get personal.

JP has struggled with mental illness (depression and PTSD) for many years now, and I’ve been with him through diagnosis, treatment, and hospitalization. Of all the people who knew what he was going through and the effect it was having on all four of us (because mental illness never occurs in a bubble), the only individuals who were unable or unwilling to be supportive throughout the journey were a few of his male friends. At the time it was frustrating and hurtful, just another disappointment to deal with, but I’ve always understood that that lack of support and understanding didn’t come from a place of maliciousness, it came from a place of ignorance, and I don’t mean THAT in a malicious way.

Thankfully, in our society in the last 10 years or so, awareness and understanding of mental illness has grown by leaps and bounds, making it easier for people to seek out the help they need instead of remaining in hiding. This is fantastic, because it is a truth that you are only as sick as your secrets. Thinking you can handle it all privately (aka ALONE), largely because of the fear of the stigma that comes with acknowledging a struggle with mental illness is a mistake that many don’t even survive. Bringing your issues out in the open enough to get help and gain the support and understanding of family and friends is necessary for healing, but counterintuitive when a large segment of society continues to harshly judge those who are struggling.

A lot of people believe that being a “man” means being strong and courageous and doing whatever it takes to take care of your family. For this reason, we lost some friends during some of JP’s darkest times….friends who obviously were uneducated about depression and disappointingly, unwilling to learn. Friends who decided that JP wasn’t sick enough to be off work and in the hospital, but should just suck it up already, get back to work to provide for his family, and quit being so negative. Like it was all nothing more than a simple choice! It was actually said that he was just looking for a vacation from life’s responsibilities. Yes, because when I picture my dream vacation, the mental ward of the hospital is what I imagine! LOL

Anyways, not all of the men in our life have treated JP like this. Most are educated enough about mental illness to understand that his darker times are not simply the result of choices, and that his condition is a legitimate illness that, if not taken seriously, could be fatal. Thankfully, due to finally getting the correct help and treatment and living life in the open instead of in the shadows of secrecy, JP has been in a much better place for the last 3 1/2 years than ever before, and we are able to enjoy our life together more than ever before as a result. The threat of that looming darkness is always lurking in the shadows, but the longer JP is able to keep it at bay, the smaller it gets.

It is my belief and experience that God always makes good on His promise to make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:1-3). From the ruins can rise new and beautiful things. From some of the ruins of JP’s struggles with mental illness have come some beautiful new and deep connections with people who were there for us unconditionally, even when we had nothing to give back. We have also been able to reach out to others who were struggling in secret too, and offer the support that meant so much to us.

If there’s one thing I want to convey in this post, it’s that “real men” aren’t always strong, courageous, and able to provide and take care of their family. Every man, strong or weak, courageous or afraid, healthy or sick, is a “real man,” finding his way through this complicated and often difficult life. We need to remember that EVERYONE out there is dealing with inner demons of some sort. Some came into this world and were given heavier burdens than others. Some of those burdens are known to others and some are not, so it would do us all a lot of good to look at each other with a lot more grace and empathy in our eyes. The more we seek to truly understand each other by listening and opening our hearts to their stories, the better a place this world becomes, for men and boys, and for the women and girls who love them. I hope and pray that awareness and understanding continue to grow so that little boys like my sweet Frog, who has ADHD and anxiety and is so much like his daddy, can grow up and face down their struggles, whatever they may be, without being shamed for it.

To learn more and/or support the movement described in the video, please visit:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jensiebelnewsom/the-mask-you-live-in

Isaiah 61:1-3

Living Bible (TLB)

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

jpwalking

Love you JP!