This weekend I made a casserole. I also got back to the gym for the first time since COVID hit. Now I know this doesn’t sound like much, but for me these were two small victories that equaled two big steps in getting myself back on track. Allow me to explain.
The summer has not been an easy one for reasons that aren’t mine to get in to. But I found myself extremely emotional, exhausted, and out of my routine as a result. When people I love hurt, I hurt. That will never change but I also know that I must be very mindful and self-aware when bad things happen so I can ensure I am remaining mentally healthy. For a month or so I have known that I wasn’t myself. The few tools I tried didn’t work that great and so I turned to things that weren’t so healthy. For example, I love reading, but doing it for ten hours a day is not a mindful escape, it’s a bad coping mechanism and an avoidance technique. This was how I spent most of my vacation time and although I was thoroughly disappointed, I also recognized that it was important to be kind to myself too.
Routine is a huge tool for me in my recovery. Even when I’m off dealing with emergencies, I keep a semblance of routine within my day. Things like mindfulness, using my meditation music to go to sleep at night, eating healthy meals and doing a lot of precooked ones all contribute to my stability (and the OCD part of me loves it too!). When my daily routine is off, I don’t sweat it too much. Having off days is part of life and we are all entitled to have some unproductive or lazy days. The trick is knowing what the cause of it is and tracking any difficulties picking back up that routine within a day or so. When I am “off” for a period of time, that is when I need to re-evaluate, be self-aware, and find my way back. I have learnt enough about myself over the years to know that I cannot try to push too hard and fast as I set myself up for failure. So small victories are where it is at!
So what does that look like? The last week or two I have begun using my essential oils every day (a peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender combo is my fave), either in my diffuser or by putting a dab on my neck. I have made a point of doing short meditations with the app I have called Breethe. I have been reading but keeping it to a minimum. And I have engaged friends to go for walks. All these may seem so small and insignificant, but they allow my brain to feel good and in doing so get my body moving and my motivation up. Knowing what makes you feel good and putting those little things in place adds up.
The fact that today I was able to finally get back to the gym as well as make a casserole so I have healthy meals all week, are big steps based on small victories. Sure, my bathroom and kitchen are still a mess, but I will get there in time. It’s easy to look around at all you need to do or want to do to be mentally healthy and then get overwhelmed to the point of doing nothing. I know it because I spent decades doing it. Don’t focus on your failures, focus on those small victories. I promise you they will lead to big steps!