There is a sign in town that is hysterical … unless you’re someone with issues with addiction or depression.
The sign reads, “I love replacing my feeling with new #outfits!” and then goes on to list various social media.
During much of my life, I have reacted to emotions with mini-shopping sprees, alcohol, extreme workout regimes, binge eating, etc., that left me so drained there was no feeling left.
I would have laughed at the sign and said, “That’s so me!”, blow the sign off and would have proceeded to go about my day.
But now, it brings up regret, guilt and hurt. I hardly look at the store anymore in fear of seeing that sign. There’s also a bit of fear that in a fit of wanting to self-numb, I will just run into the store and buy all the things my bank account balance says I shouldn’t have.
After a recent visit to a nonprofit — a farm that works to heal physically and mental wounded military veterans — I decided it was time to commit to my goals. For real this time, not the half-ass attempts that leave me empty and on one of those binges I mentioned earlier in this post.
The farm’s founder had a dream to do this thing, and had not experience. But he learned and is still learning. And he’s making a go of it. In that same amount of time, I’ve been spinning my wheels falling in love with book after another and not really applying anything I should have learned.
I’m about three weeks into this new morning routine, so I feel confident enough to share what I’m doing and how it’s going.
I adjust the routine for days in which things are busy, but the main difference now is that if I mess up, I don’t give up and scrap things. I just pick up where I left off. As a reformed perfectionist, that’s a big deal.
I wake up an hour before everyone else on the weekdays and I do these things:
- Meditate for at least 10 minutes
- Say a prayer
- Walk the dogs
- Clean up any dog messes from the night
- Read for 10 minutes
- Write a few paragraphs in my bullet journal to plot my day
- Workout somehow after my kids go to school
If I don’t do one of these things in the morning — let’s say I get up late and forget to read — I either do it while the kids are getting ready for school or later in the day. If I forget, it’s all good. Just pick it up the next day.
So here’s some of what I’m doing.
I do a breathing technique called the Wim Hof method. There is an app for it here.
In basic terms, you take 30 or so deep breaths. When you’re ready, take a really deep breath and hold it. Slowly let go of the air. That’s your retention breath and some weird things happen because your body wants you to breath — tingling, hallicinations, etc. When you can’t take it anymore, you take another deep breath in and hold it for 15 seconds. Then you repeat the process.
During a recent Zoom meeting, Hof mentioned that you have to die a little each day in order to live. There have been a lot of scientific studies done on this breathing technique that prove that this is true.
This combined with cold showers and I’m awake and pretty calm. My anxiety is a little more subdued.
Like with all meditation, I have a habit of falling asleep during the deep breathing exercise part, but I just pick it up where I left off. But because I have to count my breaths, falling asleep don’t happen often.
Reading is exercise for the brain. I don’t read the news since I do that during the day. I read mostly non-fiction books. Right now I’m working my way through “Fiber Fueled,” by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. My goal is just 10 minutes of reading a morning. I’ll read more if and when I want. My mind is active and by the time I get up the kids, it’s ready for the day.
I used to think journaling was pouring out your feelings and embarrassing secrets in a book and hiding it until your kids find it when cleaning out your house after you die.
But there are different kids of journaling: bullet, gratitude, to-do list, documenting life, etc.
In the mornings, I write down a few things I’m grateful for and then a short list of main goals I want to accomplish that day. I try to keep it to three big tasks with a few extra which are icing on the cake.
If I write in the evening, I may go longer because I have the time. Also, it’s a good opportunity to unload the day’s good memories from my brain onto the paper — things I want to save for later. I also keep a notepad on me, usually in my purse, in case I feel inspired.
I have written some dark stuff, but I try to keep it positive. To be honest, that heavy stuff is usually just the critic in my head. I don’t need to be reminded of that craziness.
I think the most important thing is committing to the routine. If you mess up, miss a day’s activity, DON’T berate yourself for it or just throw the routine away. Of course, if you miss multiple days, you may need to rethink the routine. But overall, it’s a growing and evolving experience.
Today, I feel pretty awesome. Tomorrow, who knows? But I am a person who needs a bit of stability in my day or I’ll fall off into dangerous habits.
The feelings that come up, they are just a part of who I am. I don’t need clothes, food, alcohol, etc., to replace them. I need to acknowledge they are there, let them do their thing and send them back. I no longer give them the power to stop me from being the best I can be.
Moreover, I must acknowledge that I am still learning this routine. It may not work in the long-run, but it is working now. I need to dwell here — in the present — rather than in what used to work.
It’s like those moments when you realize your kids are teens instead of little babies who crawled around your home. You realize that you must evolve as a parent in how you deal with them. The techniques that kept them from getting hurt don’t work anymore.
As a human, me at 44 is not me at 24 or even 40. I have to raise my expectations to meet who I am now and where I want to go, not what I was or what someone else thinks I am. I am at this point and will get to point B, if I work at it. That’s what I didn’t do — work for it — on a consistent basis. I go overboard and theme flame out.
Not this time. Not this time.
I’ll talk to you again soon. Until then, let me know what you have in your daily routine that you really enjoy.