Today I caught myself smiling in the car as I drove to Verizon to get my smashed phone replaced. I laughed out loud, wondering how I could be smiling when I'd just spent $4,000 I couldn't really afford to spend on show fees and marketing fees, hadn't really accomplished anything of note yet at 1pm, and of course was dealing with a screen so shattered I was afraid I'd cut myself if I tried to use it. That's just how good my past week has been, I guess!
A week and a half ago I arrived home from a wholesale show in Atlanta. It hadn't gone as well as I had hoped it would, but I was looking forward to seeing my foreign exchange student, Katharina, and her boyfriend who were in town for a short visit. On the ride home from the airport my mom let slip that she and the rest of my family had been worrying about me. A week before that point I'd been working my tail off, trying to get lots of extra soap, body butter, and salve ready for our big trip to Atlanta. I'd arrive at her house at 9am and head straight down to the basement, where I'd pretty much stay until 9 or 10pm. I was keeping it together in the sense that I wasn't embellishing boxes of salve with my tears, but I was SO not keeping it together in the sense that my husband suggested at one point I give up the business if it was going to make me this miserable.
But the thing is, I wasn't working that much harder than I lot of people (especially women) I know. My hours were comparable to theirs. And I didn't even have kids at home I had to take care of! I kept arguing with myself that if they could do it, there was no reason except personal weakness that I couldn't do it.
Ok, so obviously THAT'S wrong!
I had been fueling myself on endless podcasts, beer, wine, cheese, ice cream, Facebook, and knitting. At no point in my day (except perhaps the shower?) was I stepping back and thinking about my wellbeing. And I was not hacking it. It's so toxic to compare yourself to others, especially in such an apples-and-oranges kind of way. Sure, I work for myself doing a job that I love, getting to make my own hours and listen to whatever I want all day. But at the same time, I NEVER get to leave that job behind as I get in my car to drive home. I don't get a paycheck that I can spend on treats for myself as a reward for the hard work I've done. And if my business isn't doing well or I get a customer complaint, I can't help but see it as a reflection on my personal worth (I know, so so toxic. At some point I will either get that under control or see a therapist).
So now that I'm back I'm making an effort to change a lot of things for myself. First off, I started exercising because I know (and don't we all?) that it's only going to make me feel better throughout the day. It seems no matter how many times you hear that, it's never going to sink in until that one day when you've got a little extra time on your hands and just a tad extra motivation. That helped a lot! I've had trouble getting out of bed in the morning since I graduated college (never seemed to be a problem in high school; I literally had my alarm clock across the room and would jump out of bed and go straight to the shower), so I make sure to keep the computer handy and I work out right away. It just feels good having such an important thing to check off my to-do list first thing in the morning.
The next thing I've started doing is eating better. My best friend, Laura-who I think is a robot (she seems to work non-stop and still be an awesome, carefree person)-said to me, "But don't you pretty much always eat well?" and she's right to a certain extent. We definitely eat home cooked whole foods at each meal we eat at home (cooking is a stress reliever for me), but I do have a soft spot for Dunkin Donuts... And ice cream... And Doritos... So I switched back to having green smoothies for breakfast, more vegetables and naturally lower fat cheeses ("low fat" dairy products are usually full of fillers and additives, so I stick with part-skim mozzarella and cottage cheese) for lunch, something homemade for dinner, and portion-controlled whole food snacks like pita chips or (newest guilty pleasure) Pirate's Booty (I'd actually never had this stuff until about a month ago. Now I'm hooked). I still definitely drink a beer a day, because I LOVE BEER, but I cut out my coffee because I know the caffeine wasn't helping my insomnia or temper. I've designated one day a week as the Royal Cheat Day where I get to go crazy and have whatever I want. Last week I had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast (hehe), a normal lunch (didn't want to go too crazy), Sharks ice cream for my Dad's birthday (the BEST homemade ice cream ever), and pizza with Robot Laura and her boyfriend Matt for dinner. Delicious! And I think it was just enough of a cheat to get me through the week, looking forward to my next big cheat day.
The other thing I've started doing is meditating, just a little, more or less once a day. I'm using the app Calm, which does guided and timed meditations. It's still hard for me to sit down and do it, but almost as soon as I sit down I feel that delicious relaxing feeling you get when you finally lie down in bed. It's really better than an afternoon nap, and a lot shorter! I'm hoping it will help me with the negative commentators that have been running my brain lately. Because they really suck.
Well, here's to mental health and exercising for physical AND mental health, not just a "beach body"! Feel free to comment with suggestions of things that helped you combat stress at those hectic stretches in your life!