Monday, February 27, 2012

check yourself I.

Okay - this was Week One of holding myself accountable to new standards of physical and mental health. I detailed last week my proposed methods of promoting my own mental health, and the goal was to do at least 10 minutes a day of any one of those activities - meditation, yoga, deep breathing, journaling, stretching, progressive muscle relaxation.

Wellll...there were only two days where I can say I truly devoted myself, for a full 10 minutes, to a mental health exercise. Both times, it was deep breathing. So, okay, it's a start. And I can say that a some good things came from Week One:

  • The two times I did the deep breathing were freaking awesome. Very calming, very effective.
  • I think there were about five other times throughout the week that I stopped what I was doing to "find my breath." Finding my breath was (1) easier to do after devoting myself to concentrated deep breathing sessions, even just two of them, and (2) still calming even when I didn't spend a full 10 minutes doing it. Word.
  • I found another activity to add to my arsenal (because "arsenal" sounds way more badass than the cliched social work "toolbox" <shudder>) - Doing Nothing. It's one of the first principles in Martha Beck's book The Joy Diet, which is sort of a partner book to her Finding Your Own North Star, which taught me about essential self vs. social self. (Enough linkage for ya there? Sorry.) Martha Beck has been a favorite author of mine for about a decade, but I only recently started reading her self-help books. They are, like Martha herself, witty, hilarious, and decidedly un-cheesy. What can I say, I'm a fan obsessed. But anyway - I'm learning about Doing Nothing, which is part of her Joy Diet, which I predict will offer even more activities for me to add to my toolbox arsenal.

And although I struggled with my goals for mental health activities, my physical activity goals for for my work's exercise program are going well. I'm supposed to do 30 minutes of activity, three times a week, plus at least 10 minutes the other four days of the week. Might not sound like a lot to you, but I am in full winter-blues couch-potato mode right now. It's been baby steps to get me to meet my admittedly meager goals. The mild(ish) temperatures are helping - I've been going for a lot of walks - and last week, I brought my little five-pound weights up by the television. Yeah, that's how bad it's gotten. I went from doing full-on Insanity in the fall for six weeks to begrudgingly doing squats and bicep curls while watching Hoarders.

Which brings me to my Week Two goals:
  1. Do a new physical activity this week - anything. One step aerobics class, one drop-in class at the rec center, one Insanity DVD. ANYTHING.
  2. Do a new mental activity this week. You know...going to a yoga class would meet both of these goals...but do at least one new activity from the list, and aim again for the 10 minutes per day goal.
  3. Order the paperback version of The Joy Diet. The Kindle version isn't cutting it. I love my Kindle for most books, but sometimes, I need to be able to dog-ear the corners and scribble notes in the margins. Yes, I know that, technically (no pun intended), you can perform similar functions on the Kindle...but it's not the same. I want to be able to easily access the lines that inspired me and the exercises I want to remember.
I think that's enough for Week Two. (Side note, yes, I'm actually on Week Three of of the exercise program, but it's only Week Two of my individualized plan, so whatevs.) Really, the best side effect of incorporating mental health maintenance is that it's already so much easier for me to locate the calm center of myself, even though I only did two "real" breathing sessions. And a fun side effect of the increased physical activity? During one of my walks, J.J. and I happened across a house in the neighborhood that's undergoing construction - an addition over the garage, which is totally my "should-we-ever-happen-to-magically-fall-into-a-medium-to-large-amount-of-money" dream. Slash, maybe we'll take out another loan to make it happen, because we love, love, love this neighborhood, and specifically the location of our house within the neighborhood...but we'll outgrow it if we have more than two kids. I seriously want this to happen someday. Like, I already have floor plans (with measurements) in the back of my journal detailing our new master suite / first-floor mudroom & laundry room. Yeah. And a Pinterest board devoted to it. Yeah.

What the hell was I talking about? Oh, right - so we found a house in the neighborhood that's under construction. In a move totally out of my character, I left a note in their mailbox a few days later saying I'd love it if they could contact me to chat about the addition. And a woman called a few days later saying she'd be happy to talk with me! I missed her call intentionally didn't pick it up because I don't answer my cell if I don't recognize the number, but she left a message saying they were going on vacation until this past weekend, but I could call then. I procrastinated calling back by moving furniture and measuring kitchen stuff (anxiety avoidance techniques, what what!), and finally, I had to bribe myself to call her back: I couldn't go to Lowe's to get my lumber for kitchen projects until I called her back. Weird-ass bribe, but it worked. The woman was so, so nice, and she shared a bunch of details - square footage, timeline, cost, architect and contractor names, etc. She also said we were welcome to check it out once it was finished in a few months. Yes! Awesome!

...So now I just need to realllly work on my mental health exercises before I go see it, because even talking on the phone with her left my cheeks flaming red and my nose a sweaty mess. Score one for anxiety, and phone anxiety, specifically. UGH PHONES. Doesn't matter if I'm talking to my best friend, my husband, a stranger, or the lady down the street...phones suuuuck. Again: Need to incorporate the mental health exercises. STAT. 

Here's to Week Two.

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