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:

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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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Turning Over a New Leaf

Making a change is never easy. But sometimes, you just gotta do it!

I’ve written about Carter’s back problems and how much his back pain has affected his ability to work and enjoy life. Well, about a month ago he finally started going to regular Physiotherapy, and what a difference it has made! He goes twice a week and does his prescribed exercises a few times a day. In addition to that, his Physiotherapist sat him down one day and gave him a frank but well-received conversation about his overall physical condition and how much losing some weight and getting in shape would increase the benefits of Physiotherapy.

Carter took a few days to digest the advice and figure out how he wanted to go about making a major change that would stick for once and for all, and then he announced his plan to me. He invited me to join him in his lifestyle change, and I was happy to jump on that bandwagon with a partner! He has a specific goal weight, but I don’t; although I could stand to lose a few of the pounds that I’ve gained over the last few years!

jeans dont fit

We have attempted this many times before in many different ways, but we are bound and determined that this is it. This is the last time we vow to get healthy, because this time we’ll not only do it, but we’ll live it out permanently. Easier said than done, I know, which is why we are undertaking changes that we feel are reasonable and doable for us in the long run. We are experts on trying and then quitting, so we certainly know what doesn’t work!

So without further ado, here are the daily positive changes we’ve made and maintained thus far:

We are drinking a fruit and veggie smoothie every day. Our combinations vary and we are having fun making different creations every day. We’ve used: bananas, all kinds of berries, watermelon, spinach, carrots, kale, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, pears, apples, plums, pineapple, avocado, grapes, broccoli…you name it, we’ve probably thrown some in the blender in the last month!

With that we usually add ice, and maybe a bit of yogurt and/or milk or coconut milk, depending on how thick it is.

smoothie

They are truly delicious! My favourite veggies to add are spinach, carrot, and cucumber since you can’t really taste them, but I feel exceptionally proud of myself when I drink a smoothie that has kale in it!

As for our other meals, we are focusing on simply making them much healthier than they used to be. We’re eating a lot less carbs, smaller portions, and lots of veggies. We are trying to eat clean or whole foods as much as possible. I’ve never seen so much fresh produce in our fridge in our life!

Our other major goal has been to find a way to incorporate exercise into our daily life. Now, we’ve both done this many times in the past only to eventually quit and become sedentary again. Not this time! Our focus now is not on getting our hot 20 year-old bodies back (vanity is so overrated anyways!), but simply on making our bodies healthy. We got married and had kids young, so we look forward to having fun and freedom together when the kids are grown and we’re still just in our forties. Still relatively young, yes, but we won’t be having very much fun if we’re unhealthy, out of shape, and heck, heaven forbid if one of us suffers a heart attack or worse from preventable causes! So instead of our usual go-big-and-burn-out exercise plan, we are taking one simple step together: walking.

We aim for every day because we figure that inevitably, something will come up during the week that will interfere with our walking plans, so we figure if we aim to do it every day, then we’ll be able to do it 6 days a week. So far, not only are we keeping up with it (we’re doing 30-40 minutes of brisk walking a day), but we are actually enjoying it! I’m used to the experience of pushing through exercise that feels like torture until I can’t take it anymore and eventually quitting, so to simply walk alongside my husband down our country road with our puppy while the sun sets and we chat about our day, our future, and our kids is a pleasure! We’re finding it as good for our relationship as it is for our bodies.

As well, I am using My Fitness Pal, an app on my iphone that helps me track what I’ve eaten for the day. It’s good for me to have a visual reminder of what I’ve eaten, how many calories are in my favourite foods, and if I’ve exercised or not. I don’t see myself doing this in the long-term because it’s too time-consuming, but I’ve found it very helpful in the short-term to get a more accurate idea in my head of how much I *should* be eating in a day to stay healthy. Once it becomes more intuitive, I expect I’ll be able to stop using the app and just *know* if I’m on track or not based on what I’ve learned.  But I’m unlearning too many years of this:

diet

Overall, we’re going for balance, which for us includes allowing ourselves a treat here and there, especially on special occasions! Food is part of celebrating life! During the last month, we had a family reunion and a birthday. Did we have cake? Yes, we did, and it was lovely! Did we go overboard? Nope!

So please wish us luck in keeping up our long-term lifestyle change! We want to be as happy and healthy for each other and our kids in ten years as we are today!

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