Relinquishing Control

I’ll just start off by saying yesterday’s mini goal (hitting snooze no more than once) definitely didn’t happen. Lol. I could not sleep at all last night and ended up getting only about 3.5-4 hours total of very fitful sleep. The reason I couldn’t sleep is because for the last couple of days I have just been a big ball of anxiety. I can’t really say what I’ve been anxious about right now, but it’s not even something I can control. I’ve been worrying about all the little what-ifs and going straight to the worst possible outcome, and it’s just been driving me crazy.

I went to bed at 9:30 last night, and it was lights out by 9:45. I then laid awake in bed tossing and turning for about an hour until I decided to get up and do some research to try and put my mind at ease. I did that for about 15-20 minutes and then it was lights out again. About 15 minutes later, I thought of a couple other things I wanted to look up, so I did that quick, and it was lights out again. I still couldn’t sleep, so I got up and made a checklist of all the things I wanted to do to help ease my anxiety toward this situation. That helped quite a bit, and I felt a little of the anxiety slip away because I felt like I had a solid plan. Finally around 2 a.m., I was able to lay down with my mind somewhat calm.

How often do you find yourself in that situation? For me, this was the first time in quite a while that I’ve had a sleepless night like that due to anxiety. What really finally calmed me down was honestly kind of having a heart to heart with myself. I just thought about it and was like why are you freaking out over these things that you can’t control? YOU CAN’T CONTROL THEM! Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen, and all you can control is yourself and your thoughts, feelings, and actions, so figure out a way to get those in check, and you’ll be fine.

That was when I sat down and made the checklist. I thought about exactly what it was that was getting me so upset and figured out what about the situation was in my control. From there I came up with a list of things that I could do to make sure that I really take care of everything I have control over. Then whatever happens, happens, and even if the worst case scenario happens, I’ll have peace because I’ll know I did everything I could do.

This was an exceptional scenario for me as usually I’m pretty well able to keep my anxiety in check. When I start to feel anxious about something, I usually go through a process. Depending on how anxious or stressed out I am, I may only need to do a couple of the steps below. I don’t always do them in order either, but almost always, once I’ve gotten to the exercise step, I can think a lot more clearly and feel much more calm.

  1. Deep breathing-just what it sounds like. When I start to feel anxiety coming on, I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. Often this is plenty to avoid the anxiety.
  2. Putting things into perspective-Similar to what I described above, I tend to think about what exactly it is that I’m getting upset/stressed/anxious about and try to think about why I’m getting upset/stressed/anxious about it. Sometimes just the simple act of thinking about it makes it seem a lot smaller.
  3. Making lists/doing research-I’m a very analytical person, so when I get upset, after I’ve figured out what it is that is causing my anxiety and put it into perspective, I research everything I can about the situation or ways I can alleviate it, fix it, or work through it. I like to make lists-checklists, pro/con lists, detailed plans… you name it. This usually helps me because I feel like I need to be in control a lot, so when I am faced with a situation I can’t control, I get nervous. Figuring out all the ways I can take control of or influence a situation really helps me.
  4. Progressive relaxation/meditation-I learned this in college, and it is probably the biggest thing that has stuck with me since I graduated sadly. I took a relaxation class where we learned about progressive relaxation and meditation as ways to alleviate stress. Meditation is just quiet focusing to help make you more mindful and calm. There are many, many different types, but basically they all tell you to focus on something-often your breathing. This helps get your mind off of the 90 million things you need to deal with for just a moment and calm yourself. Progressive relaxation is a type of meditation where you focus on different parts of your body and slowly relax every muscle until your whole body is soft and relaxed. Then you breathe deeply and focus on your breathing. I do progressive relaxation on nights when I’m having trouble sleeping and it usually works to put me right to sleep.
  5. Yoga or any kind of exercise-This one’s pretty self explanatory.

Anyway, that’s my process. How do you deal with stress?


 

Today’s wins:

  • I felt really focused at work today despite only functioning on a couple hours of sleep.
  • I successfully completed my first week of Whole30!

Tomorrow’s mini goal:

  • Hitting snooze no more than once. (Hopefully tonight I’ll be able to sleep!)

Gratitude:

  • I am thankful I live in an age where information is easily accessible. It comes in so handy. 🙂
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New Year’s Goals

I always say that I hate New Year’s Resolutions, but yet every year I find myself setting goals for the new year. Sometimes I feel like I’m being hypocritical because what’s the difference really? But to me, I think New Year’s resolutions are the lofty goals people set for themselves without a real action plan to back it up. Oftentimes they come as a whole list of things someone wants to change about themselves, but they just aren’t realistic.

When I was younger (probably teen years), I used to make these long lists of everything that I wanted to achieve in the new year, and it often looked something like this:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Be more outgoing
  3. Do more nice things for people
  4. Save money

And while these are all good goals, they’re all very lofty, and they’re not SMART. (SMART goals, if you are unfamiliar, are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely-or have a set time constraint.) When I would try and do all the things on my list, I’d follow the path that most people tend to follow, and I’d only make it a few weeks before I became burned out! I was always trying to do too much, and my heart just really wasn’t in it. Making a real change in habit takes a lot of work and a game plan. That’s where goals come in…

I started to realize that I just couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do all at once and be successful, so at the end of every year, I start to look back on the year that’s coming to a close and think about all the things I did that I was proud of, and what things I could really work on. I come up with a big list, and then I think about what I would have to do to make each one happen. Oftentimes, the work I’d have to do just doesn’t seem worth it for what I’d be gaining-at least not at this moment. In this way, I whittle away all the wishful goals and get down into the things I really want to and am able to make happen.

This year I had several ideas float around like getting back into running, getting back into photography, learning a new language, etc. but I decided to focus on eating better and moving more. Obviously those aren’t very SMART goals, so what does each one look like written as a SMART goal?

Eating Better-I am going to follow the Whole30 eating plan for 60 days followed by a slow reintroduction of the foods eliminated to determine how certain foods affect my body. After the 60 days are up, I am going to follow a mostly Paleo diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods. I will allow myself to indulge in “worth it” foods on occasion as long as they are completely worth it and/or for a special occasion and don’t happen too often (probably more than once a week).

Moving More-I am going to make sure to get at least 10 minutes of activity every day. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it gets me moving for at least 10 minutes a day. My activity focus is going to be on more of the things I already know I enjoy like dancing, Pilates, and yoga instead of trying to make myself do things I know I don’t like such as running and lifting. I am starting by completing the Blogilates beginners’ workout calendar and then moving on to her more challenging workouts.

So far I have been doing pretty well with my goals… sort of… I am on day 5 of my Whole60, and my energy is starting to go up. My cravings are starting to fade away too. Every once in a while I’ll get a huge craving for something very specific (like the Diet Pepsi I was dying to have on my ride home from work tonight!), but I just distract myself or drink some water, and it usually goes away within a couple minutes. I have been pretty sick since December 30, so I had some medicine that wasn’t technically compliant, and I had been sucking on cough drops for the past 3 days. I really tried to hold out as long as I could, but the remedies I’ve seen out there that are compliant didn’t really do much. I was feeling so crappy that I just decided it was worth it to me to have a few cough drops. Technically compliant? No, but I honestly don’t care when I’m that sick.

As far as the workouts are going? Well, that’s another story… Again because I was so sick, I had zero energy. I took a shower on Saturday morning, and I was so exhausted by the end of my 15 minute shower that I had to lay on the floor for a few minutes before I could towel off. Then when I finally managed to get enough energy to get my towel and get out of the bathroom, I had to lay down on my bed for about 20 minutes to fully recover. Needless to say, a workout wasn’t going to happen! I did manage to get one in today, and I’m already feeling it!

The biggest thing that is going to help me achieve my goals is planning ahead. I am most successful with sticking to my goals when I think them through ahead of time. I have been scheduling my workouts and sitting down every week to create a meal plan. For the meal plans, I make sure to incorporate dishes I can make more easily as well as backup dinners in case something comes up and I can’t stick to my plan.

So anyway, those are my goals for the new year, and I plan to make them happen. What are some of yours? How are you making sure you are successful?