Mental Health Mondays: Letting Go of Social Norms

 

Mental Health

What does it truly mean to “let go”??? So much of what we do in our world is because of an expectation. Getting up in the morning, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to work or school. These are all examples of activities we do everyday, often of autopilot. If I asked you why you wake up in the morning, what would your response be??? Would you answer, “because that’s what we are supposed to do”, or “I’ve always done this this way”??? What if you slept in until 1:00 pm??? Would you be happy and say “I got the sleep I needed, I feel good, now let’s start the day”??? Or would you feel embarrassed, or maybe ashamed and say you shouldn’t have overslept???

This is just one very normal activity. So much of what we do everyday in our lives has been programmed into us from children on up.  We live our lives by rules and social norms. We often decide what we should and should not do based on wether or not it is socially acceptable. Let’s look at another example.

What about people who work 2nd or 3rd shift. In either case, we see these people having to work hard to make their schedules work. They get fewer hours of sleep in order to make a Dr appointment, or go to the bank. What about all the people in society who claim they are NOT morning people. What if you  got the right amount of sleep because there were more options for people who don’t do the “9-5” lifestyle. If more people would be honest about who they are, imagine what could happen. We could  help the people who already work shift work, and create jobs for those not “morning people” as well.

Now, some of you may feel like I’m way off in left field here, and maybe I am. However, I feel like the stress of preforming for someone else, based on the “norm” can be too much. This is not good for these people’s mental health. We all are forced into boxes and to do activities we don’t want to do just because they are the socially acceptable norm. And while I get laws and social norms like not killing people, and following the rules of the road, I question what harm it would be to extend banking hours, Drs. offices, and other “9-5” businesses and accept that not everyone can do the “9-5” thing.

Again, this is just one example of how becoming more open minded and letting go of social norms that don’t make that big a difference in life can reduce the stress and help mental health. It will probably be a long time, if ever that our society sees the benefit of happier workers and greater mental health by doing something this “drastic”, however, in our own selves, we can make this a reality. It may take some doing, some logistic work and whatnot, but if we can open our minds to what truly makes us happy, fulfilled, and less stressed, we can work toward achieving this. If we can get over the fear of going against the grain and become who we truly are, the boost in mental health would be crazy, and it would be so worth it in the end.

Do you ease stress by letting go of social norms???

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Mental Health Mondays: When I Knew I’d Found My Village

Mental Health

For some, having a “tribe” or “village” comes easy. Some have been friends since they were in elementary school. Other’s slide right into a group and easily connect with them. I’m not one of those people. Feeling alone can be quite hard on your Mental Health. I know, I’ve been there.

Prior to having kids, I always said I didn’t need a big group of friends, and as long as I had a couple good friends, I was good. Then, when I had the oldest, things changed. I needed to be a part of a mom group, to go to play dates, and drink coffee while our kids played nearby.

I tried to befriend a few, each time I felt I was either chasing them away, or being judged by members within. It was a sad time. I was in the midst of Postpartum Depression, and pretending to be “okay” for those around me when inside I was dying.

There have been a couple of moms within a particular group who didn’t boot me off their Facebook pages right away, and occasionally I’d chat with them, or comment on something, but I was scared.

I remember exactly how it started this last time. Over a post I shared on Facebook that became quite the battle on my profile. It was through that post I reconnected with one of them.  We set up a play date for our kids. Then we began getting together more and more with them. Add in a few other moms on down the road, and there you have it, my “village”

Within the last 10 months or so, these ladies and another couple who hang out occasionally with us have become my “village”. I have watched them look out for my kids. We have had conversations about all sorts of topics. We have laughed and had a great time & also panicked together when searching for a missing kid.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for a couple of the kids, and that is when it hit me. Being in a place by myself with 2 very different children is hard. I can’t always keep my eye on both. Watching these other moms and dads, I began to truly feel at ease as they kept an eye on and even HELPED my children.

I didn’t feel judged as though I was a bad mom. I wasn’t stressed as if I had to keep my eye on them both every single second. They managed to have an amazing time, and I did as well.

That night as I replayed the events of the day in my head, it really sunk in… I FOUND my village. I found the people who care about my family. The ones who don’t judge and instead hold their hand out to help. It felt surreal and at the same time it felt very real, and I’m very thankful I didn’t continue in hiding and give up on ever finding them.

So, here it is, don’t give up and just keep trying, just keep going. There is a “tribe” or “village” for everyone, you just have to find it 🙂

Do you have a “village”???

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Mental Health Mondays: Transitioning Gracefully

Mental Health

As a mom of 2 little kids, I am always feeling pressured by: friends, family, society, other blogs… you name it.  Seasons change, and our ability to be flexible and transition gracefully becomes evident. I was not always able to handle transition well. Somedays, I still don’t. However transition is a must in our lives at different points in time. To transition gracefully has been a major milestone in my own mental health journey.

The word transition means changing from one state or condition to another. Change is hard for so many people. We get used to things being a certain way. We like that things stay the same and are predictable. Change is hard, however there are some things you can do to help.

  1. Evaluate Where You Are Now. This is one of those things I sometimes forget. I am so busy with trying to get to where I want to go, I forget to figure out where I am currently. I’m going to use going back to school as an example for this. During the summer, where we are now, there are less rules and more fun. The atmosphere is light, and while we still have rules, they are fewer than during school. We are also having a lot of fun. We sleep in more, there is less structure, and because we all kind of do what we want, there is more cooperation.
  2. Define Where You Want (Or Need) To Be. This means making a conscious effort to decide what things you want to achieve. It means making a list and then prioritizing the list. For me, I want my kids to learn to love learning. I want them to be excited to go to preschool. I also want to increase my bond with them through teaching them and doing fun activities. These are major points on my list. Some minor points might be some things I’d like them to learn (Colors, shapes, letters, etc) however the main point are the ones I am going to work toward. For me, this means home school preschool has to be: exciting, fun, and we need to work together on projects. I can then fit in the things I want them to learn, in ways they will enjoy.
  3. Work Out A Plan. This is the one everyone usually starts on. Planning and deciding what is important for the school year (or whatever you are transitioning to). However, if we evaluate first, and then define where we want to be, we might see things a bit differently. For instance, I notice that when there are fewer actual demands, there is more cooperation. Now, I know that life has demands, and we can’t get away from that, so we have to keep some demands in the picture. But, what if just for a while, instead of dumping all the demands back on your kids, you slowly added an extra one or 2, here or there. What if instead of trying to transition in a week or 2 before school started, you only added 1 new demand a week for 4-6 weeks, and then expect that with increased demand, cooperation will be lower until everyone is used to it. I also know what my main objectives are, so sitting and doing book work for an hour for a 4 year old does NOT meet those qualifications. If I was choosing that route, I know I need to find a route that will meet the qualifications and goals I set in step 2.  Planning is fun, but if you haven’t done the 1st or 2nd step, you are planning blindly and likely to fail as a result.
  4. Plan A Test Run. This is so important. So often we just set out to work our plans, and then if they aren’t right, we get discouraged and give up. This is why test runs are so important. By remembering to call this a “test run” you are giving yourself permission to fail. You are acknowledging that this might not be “perfect” and that you are allowed to tweak it so that you can get it right. It also means you are still actively working on it. For us, preschool itself is a test run. I have allowed myself the grace to continuously tweak our format, schedule, and topics to get us to a place where we are meeting our main goals. The important part of a test run is to give it a time frame. So, we are going to test run throughout preschool to learn what works best with each of the kiddos in how they learn and work. Other plans may only need a week or 2 as a Test Run (I’d consider 2 weeks which makes it a habit and help you hold on to the plan longer).
  5. Allow Yourself Grace And Don’t Give Up. There are a lot of times when “life happens” and your perfect plan may fall to the wayside. It is okay to fall off the plan as long as you don’t STAY off of it. Get back up, keep going, keep trying. Give yourself grace and say it’s okay if I fall off AND I can get right back on. Don’t wait for a “better” time, or the beginning of a day, week, month, or even year. Get right back on by reminding yourself that getting back on right away helps to keep the momentum going. If I have a day in the middle of the week that I am tired and the girls are cranky and I don’t school that day, it’s okay. It is also okay to either have school in the evening, or jump right back to it the next morning.

These steps can be applied to any changes you are wanting to make. A healthier lifestyle, changing jobs, or even moving.

What helps you transition???

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Mental Health Mondays: The Spoon Theory.

 

Mental HealthIt’s Monday!!!   Mondays are typically one of the hardest days of the week. You should be relaxed from a weekend of fun, but often, weekends are too short and Mondays have bigger demands. This is my reminder to you to take care of your mental health.

 

The Spoon Theory, is a way of describing how much energy you have to live your life. Those with chronic illnesses and mental illnesses often have less energy. You start out with a certain amount of spoons, say 12. Each time you do something (Wake up, cook, eat, get dressed, do your hair, etc) you lose a spoon. In a typical morning, a person might Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, cook, eat, and do their hair before even leaving for work. To a lot of people, this is just normal life. To someone with a chronic illness or mental disorder, this could be half your energy gone in a flash.

In my typical day, I’m noticing a few things:

1. Breaking up a task is easier than getting it all done at once.

When I do 5 loads of dishes in a day, I get more accomplished than when I do 2 loads that are twice as large. I know some people are built to “do it and get it done”. I am not. When I pretend to be someone I’m not, it hurts me in the long run.

2. You can’t schedule everything.

This one is way more complicated than it sounds. First off, life happens. Somedays, you don’t get everything done. Somedays you have to start off with the last half of yesterdays to do list because the first half took longer than expected. Sometimes, you get halfway through the to do list, and you collapse on the couch, feeling like you can’t go any further. When tomorrow’s “To Do List” is as large as today’s and you end up adding half of today’s list to tomorrow, well, you see where this is going, right??? Sometimes you just have to decide what the most important things are, and let the rest go.

3. If you prioritize your “To Do List” you’ll feel better about what you accomplish.

If we look at the example above, getting ready for a day out can zap half your energy. This means we must be careful how we spend the rest of the day. One way to do this, is to plan your day the night before. If you are going somewhere and need to expend all that energy, then what can you do to conserve energy for the rest of the day. If you don’t need to go anywhere, or you find you can skip a step or 2 in the normal process, do it. There is absolutely no shame in cleaning house in your PJ’s or eating a microwave breakfast that only takes a minute to heat and eat. Once we have the basics of the day figured out, prioritize that list. If you could only get 5 things done that day, what is MOST important. If you knock these out of the way, you can at least feel good about yourself for getting that much done.

4. Remember, tomorrow is another day.

One of the things you should never forget is that tomorrow is another day. While it is never ideal to continuously move your To Do’s to the next day, it is fully acceptable. Just make sure each night you plan and prioritize so you get the most important things accomplished. Be gentle with yourself about what you can handle.  Give yourself permission to move the items to tomorrow, so you spend less energy worrying and can rest better giving you more energy for the next day.

Living with a chronic illness is not fun. These are some steps you can take to be the most productive version of yourself.

How do you handle lack of energy???

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Mental Health Mondays: 5 Reasons I’m Happy Today!!!

Mental Health

Happy Mental Health Monday!!! It’s been a great weekend for us, hope it was for you too. Now, let’s get on with today’s post.

So, this morning started out as any other morning. I woke up to my alarm at 6:00, fumbled with the code to turn it off, and got up. Realizing “But Dad” was still awake, I begrudgingly made coffee. It’s going to be a long day, I thought.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and it seems we are behind on everything. My To Do list is a mile long, and I am working over-time trying to get everything done. I started writing the blog post I was behind on from Friday, as “But Dad” went to “nap”. Realizing I finally had my quiet living room to myself, I kept writing.

About 5 minutes later, I hear the cries from my children. The girls have picked up a cold somewhere along the way in all the craziness of Go Go Go, and sleep hasn’t been that great. I started to get frustrated as the thought of NOT having my quiet morning meant getting further behind (s0me thing I can’t afford to be right now). As The Oldest sat on the bed crying because mommy was upset, it hit me, things could be a lot worse.

As a family, we are working on seeing the glass Half-full instead of Half-empty, and being thankful for what we have. So, here are 5 Reasons I am Happy Today:

  1. I Woke Up On Time. This is a big one. Sleeping in is nice, but too much causes back up in schedules, and while I’m not a schedule person, somethings require a schedule.
  2. I Have A List Ready To Work From. I am not trying to remember all the things that need to be done. The list was written out, and ready for me to mark off. Marking off items on a To Do List is the best.
  3. I Have Been Marking Things Off My List All Morning. Being productive is such a great feeling
  4. We Have It Pretty Good. There is always someone out there that is worse off. Time to count my blessings, not complain about the little stuff.
  5. Coffee. Need I say more???

When you are thankful for what you have, life is just better 🙂

What made you smile today???

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Parenting is a Roller Coaster & Happy Birthday to The Oldest

The emotional rollercoaster of parenting.

 

I’ve heard it’s said that with kids the days go by slowly, but the years go quickly. I’ve never heard a truer statement. Today, The Oldest, turns 4. I can hardly believe it. I’m still trying to figure it all out. How did this happen so fast??? Where did the time go???  Parenting is an emotional roller coaster, and I’m certainly feeling it today.

I look back at the years and it just doesn’t seem possible. Yet in the middle of those hardest toddler years I felt like I was going to pull my hair out. Proud of how far we have come, I’m happy to bring you my top 3 tips for keeping your sanity during the emotional roller coaster of parenting.

Take Time For Yourself.

This is Super important. It could be just taking a bubble bath a couple times a week, or making time for a favorite hobby, or even just watching a favorite TV show (binge-watching is better). Taking time for yourself to recharge is the first step to keeping your sanity during the emotional roller coaster of parenting.

Make Memories.

Some days I am sad when I look back and think about all the trials and problems we have had with our oldest. Then, I click through my “On This Day” app on Facebook, and I see the funny and silly and adorable and awesome stuff I remembered to take a minute to type in. By going back and visiting those memories, I’m reminding myself that we really have had some good times. Recording memories can be as easy as using Facebook, emailing yourself a little note about what happened, or as complex as a scrapbook. Just make sure you take time to record some good stuff each week. If you have to, make it a point on Saturday night or Sunday morning to try to recall the good stuff and jot it down.

Give Yourself Permission (and a Time) To FEEL these Emotions.

Let me say this, I am going to cry today, I know I will. Figuring out a good time, and then working through sadness, or frustration, fear, and anger helps us stay on top of our game. Try making time twice a week to sit quietly and think about the ups and downs of the week. Work through emotions, allowing yourself to fully deal with them before you move on. This way you are not bottling them up and making it harder to control emotions later.

 

Today will be bitter-sweet, as we check off yet another year. We will ride the high’s of partying & mourn the passing of another year to hold on to her. Parenting is a roller coaster, and it’s my favorite thrill ride ever.

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