Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A 4-Step Plan To A Happier You

VeegMama's Self Care Plan

I have a friend.  Maybe you know her too.  She's a mom with a great life, happy, healthy kids, and a loving husband who supports the family.  She loves to be involved at school and do it all.  She's a great gal and knows how to have fun, but lately she's lost her luster.  She's more frazzled than normal when you bump into each other at school drop off, and she's just a little too stressed out for only the first month of school.  She is trying so hard to keep it together, to keep all the balls in the air, and she's doing between bouts of tears and screams. 

My heart hurts when I see this friend because she is so deep into her self-created chaos that she cannot see her way out.  I know this because I was once like her.  After my "aha summer" this past June through August, where I got in touch with my true self and discovered what I really wanted and needed, I started down a new path of self care and nurturing that has been enriching and expanding for my personal growth and health.  Granted, I am only 1 1/2 months into this "new" me, but I have learned a few things so far.  

I have tried to subtly and directly make some suggestions to this dear friend.  Self care, I keep telling her.  She nods in agreement, but without resolve.  I realize I am over simplifying things.  From one die hard, multi-tasker, do-it-all, over-achiever to another, I get that it is not so simple.  But really, yes, it is.  

Here's a love letter, to you, my friend, you know who you are -  VeegMama's 4-Step Plan To Self Care.

Step 1: Commit to a change.  You can't complain that you are too busy, too stressed, too whatever  and then scoff at the suggestion to do something about it.  If you are serious about making a change, and putting yourself first, make a commitment, and then do it.  Just like they say in the safety check on the airplanes, "Put the air mask on yourself first, then your children."  We have to take care of ourselves first.  We have to be our best to give our best.

Step 2: Make a plan.  It really is that simple.  The hard part is sticking to it.  Here is my plan - and it is working wonders for me so far (a month and a half into my recovery!)

1. Ask for help - From running an errand, sharing carpools, planning meetings, and making dinner, I am starting to embrace help.  I finally get that it doesn't make me weaker.  In fact, it makes me stronger because I have more time to recharge and breathe in between tasks because someone else is helping me out with something else I would have been doing in that time.  This was one of the hardest things for me to do (I have been working up to it for a year.)  What will you ask for help with today?

2. Simplify - From family dinners and school lunches, to my kids after school activities and chores, I am making big and small changes to make things in my life simpler.  You would be surprised by how much small changes can make in your sanity.  What will you simplify today?

3. Say no - Instead of saying "yes" to everything, I say "no," leaving me time and energy to say "yes" to the things I really love doing like leading two Girl Scout troops, or chairing a family committee at Temple, or taking that yoga class I never have time to attend.  Choose one thing to say "no" to today.

4. Do less - I have learned that I cannot do it all - at least not all at once.  So, I am picking and choosing the things to do a little at a time.  Instead of writing a novel, I am going to commit to writing an hour a week on a book idea (maybe those hours will turn into a novel...).  Instead of returning every email in my inbox before I roll into bed, I am going to give myself a half hour to get through what can't wait so I have time for me before I go to bed.  The rest will be there tomorrow to go through.  Identify one thing you can do less of today.

5. Schedule time for myself every day - This is my favorite part of the plan, and because I am asking for help, simplifying, saying no, and doing less, I find I am having plenty of time to do my family chores and responsibilities, and my work - and still have time to exercise, write in my journal, and meditate each day.  True, it often means I start my day at 5AM, but it is worth it.  I find that when I journal, meditate and exercise every day, I am a saner, happier person.  Find what it is that you need to keep you grounded and do that every day.

Step 3: Stop expecting others to change.  Accept what is and adapt accordingly.  The sooner I stopped expecting others in my family to change, the happier I became.  My husband is not a planner.  It is not in his DNA, but if I ask him to do something, he happily does it.  I used to get so hung up on, "Why doesn't he know what needs to be done?!!!"  Who cares that he doesn't know what to do.  I just tell him and he'll do it.  I was spending so much energy being frustrated, instead of appreciating and taking the help he was willing to give if I just asked.  I have many more examples of this step in my life...LOL!

Step 4: Celebrate the new, more relaxed and joyful you!