The things we know are good for us and make us feel our best are often the things we move away from in times of stress and anxiety. I know I’m at my best emotionally, mentally, and physically when I practice moderation with food and drink, when I’m working out, when I spend time outside in nature, when I’m going to bed early, and when I’m mindfully present with my kids and husband. All obvious, but all of which have been a challenge to maintain over this past year. I’ve struggled to find balance in the day to day and have been swinging back and forth between overindulgence and restriction, searching for some release, comfort, distraction, and escape. As life got heavier and more chaotic, it became easier and easier to come up with excuses for why I wasn’t giving me the things I knew I needed to feel better. I couldn’t go for a walk around the reservoir because of Covid; I couldn’t work out at home because the kids made it impossible; I couldn’t sit and play with the boys because I needed to find a way to make money; I deserved wine and ice cream because the world around me was a total shit show. I’ve felt more anxiety, depression, irritability, and exhaustion than ever before in my life during the past six months. Having no control of what was to come has been an extremely challenging and uncomfortable place for me to exist.
So, to cope, I became obsessive with many things throughout the year. From cooking and cleaning, to drinking way too much and needing that sweet fix every night, I was continually searching for ways to take my mind off everything happening. But, there was no escape. It has all happened and is still happening. I was in a state of prioritizing distraction and escape over presence. And, that’s ok. I acknowledge that is how I’ve been existing, but I also know that we can always grow and change. Every day is a new opportunity to change habits or behaviors that do not serve us and begin building new ones that do. It’s something we will continue to work at forever as we navigate the ebbs and flows of life. Spending the past few days at home, I let myself enjoy all the simple things I work so hard for…movie night with my family, a soak in a warm bath, a delicious bowl of pasta, hot tea before bed, the boys storytime, and cuddling with my husband. It left me feeling more hopeful than I have in a very long time.
Today, as I walked around the reservoir, I thought about how I want to take care of myself this year to be at my best. While I’ve never been a big fan of diets, I believe in moderation and the art of practicing this in our daily lives. And, it is a practice. It’s about being thoughtful with our choices and embracing being present, not defaulting to escape. In being more mindful about nourishing my body and taking care of my health, I will, in turn, have more mental clarity, more patience, more presence, more happiness, and more gratitude. A helpful way to jump-start your practice is to have a reset of the body. A month or more of no alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, processed foods, limited dairy and gluten, and more real foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and thoughtfully sourced proteins will help you form and sustain new habits.
And, once you get in the flow of that moderation, it’s a beautiful place to be. Like anything, it’s just a new habit you create. So, here is to new beginnings and brighter days for all feeling less than after this past year. Each day is an opportunity to start taking better care of ourselves, and after a while, we won’t even have to think about it. It will just be what we do. x