Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Something the Matter?

When I am upset about something, dealing with some distressing problem, I've learned that there are a few very important things I need to do before I even begin to address the problem, a checklist I go over and make sure I've completed first:

1. Am I well rested, and have I had a good eight hours of sleep for at least the last 2-3 nights?

2. For the last 2-3 days, have I been eating a healthy, balanced diet and drinking plenty of water?

3. Have I gotten some decent physical exercise in the last 48 hours, walking or calisthenics or bike riding?

4. Have I taken some moment in at least the last 24 hours to tell the various people who are important in my life how thankful I am for them and how much I love them? Have I reminded myself (and God) what I am thankful for?

5. Did I get on my knees this morning and pray to God for guidance? Have I been taking some time each day to pray and read some sacred text and taken some time to meditate on what it means to me, and its relevance to my goals and purpose in life?

If at any point in the checklist I realize I'm missing out in any of these areas -- unless the problem is demanding to be addressed immediately -- I will put off working on it or thinking about it or worrying about it until I have attended to these five other much more pressing matters. Sometimes I make an appointment with myself. Memo to Self: Three days from now, after I've spent a few nights resting well, a few days eating well, getting some exercise, doing something relaxing or fun with my husband -- after those things are taken care of, then come back to it.

Sometimes in my life I have discovered that I can't take care of these basics because I am too busy or too stressed out with work or other commitments. I have gradually over the years come to realize that A) no work and no commitments are worth it if they do not leave me the time to take care of these basic maintenance tasks, OR B) if I attend to the basics first I generally am much better at taking care of work and other commitments in a stress-free, time-efficient manner. First things first.

Once I've prioritized things in my life so that first things come first, things generally run more smoothly. Occasionally things run out of balance again (sometimes for reasons beyond my control!), and then I just need to go down the checklist again. But it's amazing how easily dark and depressing thoughts sneak up on me when I'm hungry or tired or stressed. Amazing how a problem that, on a well-fed, well-rested day seems like a snap will just make me cry when the other stuff is out of sync.

It's not that the problems I face, in themselves, aren't sometimes overwhelming. We've all stood at the foot of an insurmountable summit and felt like we needed to just give up -- and no amount of positive thinking will get us over it.

But isn't that all the more reason I need to be in my right mind, with all the strength at my disposal to face what I need to face?

Let's take care of ourselves, and each other.


MoHoHawaii said...

You are an incredibly wise man.

J G-W said...

As this is speaking from experience, I can also say I have been an incredibly unwise man.

But I'll take that and run with it! :)

El Genio said...

This sounds like good advice. I'm not always able to maintain regular schedules, but I am definitely tucking this away for future reference.

Anonymous said...

Coming from a long line of martyrs, it has been difficult to allow myself to take care of me. A very tough habit to break when one feels that the "higher way" is through "self sacrifice." There is no sacrifice if there is no self.
I like how you spelled it out so nicely. I will be printing it off to hang on my bathroom mirror. :)

Knight of Nothing said...

This is good advice John; thank you for sharing. Everyone needs a reminder sometimes.