Something’s Gotta Give!

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This is something that I am learning in my life currently. I am 34 weeks pregnant, and I am really starting to feel it! The bigger baby and I grow, the more my body tells me to slow down and take more breaks. If you know me at all, then you know this is hard for me! I am usually an energetic, type-A, let’s-get-this-done type of person. Because my mind and my body are in conflict, I often find myself frustrated and unfairly judging myself. I tell myself things like, “you should be doing more”, “too much time was wasted today just sitting around”, and “there must be tons of pregnant women doing much more than you right now”. These are not things I would think or say to anyone else, so why do I judge myself so harshly?

I think often of the DBT skills – especially of radical acceptance, non-judgmental stance, and wise mind. Remember that these skills require on-going practice. They are simply not understood and checked off a list or mastered (though I wish it were that easy!) I must remember to radically accept what I can not control and to let go. My body has changed greatly and I have to make adjustments accordingly. I can’t be on my feet as long, lift as much, or run as many errands. I have to let go when my to-do list isn’t all checked off and we don’t have anything cooked for dinner, or the bathroom is a mess. I have to remind myself to shift into neutral thinking when I start judging. I must say to myself, this is what I accomplished and this is what I didn’t. I will get to (fill in the blank) when I am able to. I have to challenge these beliefs that things must be a certain way. When I feel anxious or frustrated, I must balance those emotions with logic. What are the facts? Oh right – I’m eight months pregnant! Even if I wasn’t, I am human and I deserve a break. I am flawed and there is no such thing as perfection.

What has to give in your life right now? Often we try to take on too much, balance too many obligations. Work might be suffering if you have too much stress in your personal life, or you may be having issues in your intimate relationships if you have too many work or other social obligations. What I see most often unfortunately is that YOU are the one suffering. Everything else might be in balance, but self-care is non-existent.

What do you have to let go of so that you can take a little bit better care of yourself? What would that look like? If you could create more time for yourself, how would you fill it? Try to really challenge yourself to give up something – today and/or in your life currently!

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Spotlight on Mindfulness

Those of you who know me know that I use mindfulness in my personal and professional life.Β  It is something that I very much believe in, and practice as much as possible. I think it is a valuable tool that keeps me going. It really has changed my life.

I used to be a person that either lived so much in the past or became easily consumed with the future at any given moment. I would get stuck in bad memories, focusing on what could have been or what I could have done differently about it. What my life would have, could have, should have been if… (fill in the blank). Those pesky ‘what ifs’ get us trapped in worry about the future as well. It can paralyze us and prevent us from following through on a decision. Keeping yourself so consumed with the future is not productive either.

We can learn from the past, and we can prepare for our future, but what we have is right now. This present moment. We have right now to live for.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean that you can’t look back on fond memories, or look forward to something in your future. We can learn from our past, and we can prepare for something upcoming that might be difficult. Be careful however that you don’t become so consumed by it that you are missing out on today.

I’d also like to add a word on being non-judgmental and on gratitude. Part of mindfulness, about being in the present moment, is to be as non-judgmental as possible. Try to be an observer to your current experience – inside and outside of yourself. Try to limit placing value or meaning to it. Especially when this can lead to negativity. Its easy to be hard on ourselves – many of you can relate to this! Instead of calling ourselves “stupid”, “worthless”, or so many other things we put onto ourselves, try staying neutral. Things do not have to be good or bad. It doesn’t have to be black and white – there are many shades of gray.

Remind yourself of what you are grateful for. What do you appreciate at this moment? Currently in your life? Sometimes that can being us back into the present. Maybe you are grateful for your friendships, your health, your home, or your pets. With so much anxiety and stress we can lose sight of the things in our lives that enrich them. Try not to lose sight or take anything or anyone for granted.

Journal prompt: What do you have to be grateful for today? In this present moment? What is going on in your present awareness that you can learn from?

See ‘Coping 101’ for links for more info and tips on mindfulness!