Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gathering Rosebuds, Making Hay, Taking Paychecks, Etc.

I was reflecting yesterday that the last week and a half have been really positive for me.  Several clients have reflected with me about the progress they've made and how happy and proud they are of their work.  I cannot take responsibility for their progress, but I know I have been part of it and I am always excited to see my clients start to feel good about themselves and to feel that they have the potential to make the changes they need. My work is rewarding in itself, but it is always amazing when clients are able to see their own strengths and tell me about them.

Furthermore, I am getting some new clients, thus alleviating some of the anxiety in the previous post.  My kids are adjusting to their new school situations, and we may be seeing the end of diapers in our near future.  The kids are healthy for the moment, and we are starting to find a rhythm. The temperature has dropped a little outside, and it begins to seem that we can breathe a little. How nice it is to have such a pleasant patch of time.

Unfortunately, like many people, I struggle just to sit and enjoy the moment. My mind jumps to what will happen if someone gets sick, if my client load drops, if scheduling decreases, if my car needs some kind of repair.... You get the idea.  The fact is that any of those things could happen at any time.  Nothing is guaranteed except change, and change is not always what we expect.  I am all for positive thinking (and hope, clearly), but I also believe that we have to be honest with ourselves. Nothing we can do can prevent bad things from happening sooner or later.  We simply do not have that level of control.

So, what do we do when we don't have control? We take control of what we can manage. We pay attention to eating healthier foods, drinking water, getting rest, getting exercise, spending time with loved ones... As one of my previous clients liked to say, "Start with the basics." We can also choose what we tell ourselves about what is happening and how we respond to those things, but that is a different post. What else can we do?

I encourage people to allow themselves to enjoy the happier times.  Many clients have told me that they were afraid to be happy because the depression would hurt that much more when it came back. I tend to liken this to refusing to take a paycheck because I might have bills next week.  Yes, it hurts when depression comes back, but enjoying the happy times is like putting money in the bank so that you can have a better chance of handling the bills when they come.

All of our energy for living -- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual,  and psychological all comes out of one source -- sort of like a bank account.  When we practice self-care in any of these ways, we make deposits into the energy bank. Frequently, however, we forget to practice that self-care, and we become depleted. Then, when our energy bills come, we feel overdrafted when we have to pay them. When we take the time to take a nap or go for a walk or snuggle with a pet or small child, it helps put energy back in.  You may not be able to take that trip to Maui that you've been hoping for, but you can take 5 or 10 minutes to practice mindfulness, do some deep breathing, or listen to a song that helps to brighten your mood.

It can be difficult to persuade yourself to make time for self-care. Life gets hectic, situations get overwhelming, and expectations can feel unreasonable. Think, however, about the difference between a toddler who has had a nap and one who hasn't.  Right. The one who's had the nap is definitely easier to work with.  Similarly, when you take time for yourself, you are more functional, too.

So, those old adages about "gather ye rosebuds while ye may" and "make hay while the sun shines" have some old wisdom.  Surely we age, and surely the rain will come, but the more we make of the time we have, the better we will be able to manage when the more difficult times come.

I hope you will take some time to give to yourself. Every little bit matters. If you are struggling to do that or are not sure how, I hope you will find me.  True, it takes time to come and see me, but it may be that the benefit makes the outlay worthwhile.  I believe it does. In the meantime, enjoy the sun.