I keep thinking, "My life is pretty weird right now". It's true, there's a lot of things going on that are strange, exciting, uncomfortable, weird, wonderful, and terrifying. Some of those things are the same events and depend on how I feel about them in that moment. I've had weeks, months, and years or dealing with new opportunities, anxiety, depression, times when I am unstoppable and on top of the world, really good times and hard times, times when I feel great about where I'm at and other times when I am certain I have made some huge mistakes. I often alternate between regret, stress, anxiety, contentment, joy, and despair without warning and in a completely reactive manner.
When I try to think back, I can't remember a time when things weren't weird and chaotic. I keep waiting for everything to settle. I'm starting to realize that it isn't going to; life keeps moving on and things change. And that is okay! Life will throw new things my way every single day. That won't change and those things don't matter. What does matter is how I perceive these challenges, my life, and most importantly, myself. My perspective has been off for quite some time and I intend to do something about that, so I have made myself a challenge.
I know exactly where I want to be. I know how I want to feel, look, and be seen by others. I know how I want other people to feel about me. I know how I want to feel about myself. But how does one get there through the chaos? How can I make a plan for my life when there's too much to focus on? How can I possibly decide what takes priority? How can I control my reactions when things outside my control keep shifting, when my own convictions shake off their foundations? To quote many a soul, but most memorably Douglas Adams, Don't panic.
I have a plan, a simple one. I don't want to try and do anything overwhelming and unachievable here. I can't just drop all my responsibilities, I have realistic time constraints and things I have to do to be functional - so the challenge has to be simple and elegant. Don't mistake me: It's not about being easy. It will be difficult at times, and that is okay.
It's about taking one hour.
Now divide that up into three manageable 20-min intervals.
Rules: The intervals can be done in any order; they may be broken up throughout the day or done in one continuous time slot. There are no rules about what happens if you miss a day (or three, or ten), or go over the allotted 20 minutes. There are no rewards for doing any of these things, and no punishments for not doing them.
20 minutes: EXERCISE. Bike, run, walk, pilates, dancing, pushups (well, maybe...we'll see about pushups). Doesn't matter what it is. Just fill 20 minutes with a good solid workout that gets everything in motion, and feel good about it, even if you run as slow as molasses or think you look like a lame donkey shoved into a track suit. Even if you get winded and want to slow down. Even if you get passed by an eighty year old lady and her walker. Even if you think it's not helping you lose weight/get fit, or accomplishing anything. Just be happy that you're out there and moving. Breathe in relaxation, breathe out the tension.
20 minutes: MEDITATION (or hypnotherapy, or guided NLP). I made myself a short affirmation of what I want - who and how I want to be, and sometimes spend this time imagining what my life will be like when I am, or being mindful of the good things I did today. Reminding myself that I am grateful. Giving myself perspective of my place in the world. Reinforcing the positive things in my life and trying to build on that. Or just simply emptying my mind and letting all my thoughts float away. Try to get in the habit of doing this anywhere - on the bus, in a park, in the staff room on lunch break. Don't try to make it a ritual.
20 minutes: PURE ENJOYMENT. Take 20 minutes to do something entirely for one's self. I realized the other day that I don't actually remember the things I do that make me feel good just for doing them - I am always trying to maximize my efficiency, be productive, accomplish something tangible and purposeful. I multitask my recreational time (exercise while watching TV, check my emails while eating...). So instead of enjoying my coffee in the garden just soaking in the sun, I pick up my coffee and load the dishwasher or make a to-do list. It's not the same thing. So for at least 20 minutes a day, I allow myself to do exactly what I want to be doing, guilt-free and without trying to squeeze anything more out of it than enjoyment.
I'll let you know how it goes.