Recently, I read an article in Mindful magazine with this same title: I’m Not Okay and It’s Okay. What a relief, I thought. Not just for me, but also for each and every person I encounter who struggles. It feels so good to let go of the shame.
Many of us wake up knowing there’s something not quite right, whether it’s social anxiety, specific fears, panic, generalized anxiety, exhaustion, overwhelm, or dread. We wake up with an internal state that calls for the use of every tool we have just to get through the day.
Years ago, trauma healing therapy helped me release the symptoms of, and complications from, posttraumatic stress. I can now relate to a new term authors have coined “posttraumatic growth.” I truly feel the reward of having walked through the fire. However, I still have to ask myself, and I do ask myself with a chuckle, How can I have come such a long way and still have so far to go?
Daily life throws challenges and stresses my way, and they require me to practice what I preach. I am in brain overload right now, for example, a form of burnout that leaves me way more tired than anyone would ever want to be. Here‘s what I’m doing to LIVE and be useful in spite of that feeling I get sometimes, like I just want to give up:
- I catch myself having “beat-me-up” thoughts and OUT LOUD I replace them with the opposite, such as, “I’m only human. I’m doing the best I can. I’m not perfect. I’m just going to keep on trying.”
- I set boundaries without guilt (okay, so a little guilt never hurt anyone). We don’t have to say, “No,” if that feels too difficult to do; but, we can PRACTICE saying, “I can’t right now, but I might be able to another time;” or, “Let me think about that and get back to you;” or “I’m going to check my calendar and call you back. Thank you for thinking of me.” The minor amount of guilt I ever feel now is easily assuaged by me remembering that a tired mommy yells at her kids. I don’t want to be that kind of mommy (even though I am sometimes and that’s okay too).
- I rest every small interval I can find, and sleep as much as I possibly can. You’ve read my work on sleep. The subject is on the cover of most scientific magazines these days. It’s no joke. Sleep accounts for so much of the health we ever have, the lack of which accounts for so much of what we think of as a disorder. This is true for young and old, clear across the lifespan.
- I drink a lot of water. In fact, you would be shocked at how much is solved by drinking water. Scientists know that drinking a glass of water reduces anxiety and stress. Drinking water in between caffeine- and sugar-laden drinks helps to flush out the negative effects of such substances. They rev the nervous system and lead to feelings of impatience, intolerance, and exhaustion. Drinking water stabilizes mood and curbs our appetite. When we drink more water, we eat healthier amounts of food instead of the too much we tend to eat when stressed or tired. When in doubt about what to do in an anxious or uncomfortable state, first trying drinking a glass of water.
Just these 4 tips right now, are something I am staying true to. I can’t get to the gym right now. I’m not able to get to my meditation class. I’m not making the healthiest food choices at the moment. But these 4 things I have the opportunity to do on a daily basis with relatively little effort: Replace self-defeating thoughts with more compassionate ones (that are also more true, believe me), set healthy boundaries, rest in a chair, breathe in through the nose, find solid ground, and drink a glass of water. That’s doable, right