Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just Not Feeling It? Read this!

Today, are you just not feeling it?  You do not have a burning desire to do your housework or any work that needs doing.  However, you do not want to slip in the good habits you have developed, and this is not a day you planned to take off.  So, what do you do?

Consider your options.  Maybe, you do need a day off.  Only you know that, and it is acceptable to make that decision if you are able to work it into your schedule.  However, you may be experiencing a mood change, which means you might need to practice the following steps:

  1. Feel the feeling. Acknowledge it, and don't spend an hour questioning why you feel this way.
  2. Accept it.  
  3. Float right on through this feeling and start doing.

If you are not yet dressed, get your clothes on and comb your hair.  Moisturize and put on makeup (makeup is optional).  Don't forget your shoes. You need to wear comfortable, supportive shoes.

Do the first job.  I like to start in the kitchen.  For you it may be something different, and I realize that having children at home may change the first thing you need to do.  Once you get this far, and time passes, you may not feel like you did when doing housework or other work seemed to be a hard thing to do.  Sometimes, getting started is all you need to do to feel good about your day and to know you can make progress.   Moreover, knowing that you have accomplished some of your goals if not all of them will make you feel so much better at the end of your day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Change Is Possible

Image Courtesy of usamedeniz / freedigitalphotos.net
O my goodness! It has been ages since I have written here, but I do check in every once in a while. I just do not have as much time to write, because being more active and getting out more means less time on the computer. Also, my sleep has improved, so I am not up in the middle of the night, writing blog posts as much as I used to do. In fact, I really need to go do some house cleaning right now, so I am going to get off the computer soon. My lesson here is that I could feel guilty that I am not posting here daily anymore, but my family is important to me, and I need to care for my family and home--so I Do Not feel guilty. Also, one of the things I have been working toward in my particular journey is getting out around people more, and that takes time too.
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net
Actually getting out is far different than being in the house all the time, which was my plight for quite a few years. One of the projects I hope to get to this summer is to write about what I think has helped me to be able to do that. I am still working on getting out regularly. I don't know if it will never get to the point that I do not have to actually think about the process of how to get out around other people or not. I am just thankful to God that I am able to do it now; and right now, I still have to use the steps that help me do that -- baby steps.

Baby Steps can lead you into real change, but you have to be willing to do the work, which includes actually moving your body more (I am talking about getting off the couch and doing some housework or running some errands.) I am not suggesting you get into a workout program, especially without the proper physical therapy support. How you move more or where is up to you and your medical team. I found the most practical thing for me was adding a little bit of movement every day or every week, as appropriate to my physical condition. I do mine through everyday actions: cleaning, adding a few extra steps, etc. Maybe eventually, I will add in more formal physical exercises; however, I am experiencing real change, because I have been willing to move more. I have to add that the natural products I take helped me with that. To leave that out would be leaving out something that I feel was a huge breakthrough for me. The supplements I use have been fairly easy for me to get the right mix, something that would have been so hard to figure out on my own and hard to buy quality I felt I could trust in the stores. (If you want to know more about the products I use, please message me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChronicFatigueandCreativeDecluttering1 )
For those of you who deal with illnesses, you may say to me that I do not understand; however, I do. It has taken years, finding the right supplements and meds, as well as working on the mental aspects of my life that had changed through illness and other things in my life. It has taken spiritual assessment and re-surrendering to Jesus/God. I am still a work in process: I will be until the day I see Jesus face to face.
Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net
Finally, I would say, "Do not give up." Even a small amount of progress is progress. The steps backward will happen, and you will be tempted to say that this is an impossible journey; however, nothing is too hard for God. I have had plenty of steps backwards, but that just opened up an opportunity to take another step forward. It is easier than it was when I started, but every step forward leads to added achievements (small achievements add up). Sometimes, I fall into a funk and feel like a failure, but I know things are better here than they were. I keep chipping away. It is worth it. Again, I say, "It is worth it!"

Image Courtesy of WorldWideStock / freedigitalphotos.net

It is not just one thing that has helped me. It is a combination of things: spiritual, psychological, supplements (natural products), medication (I am actually taking less medication now), and action. I put spiritual first, because God is first in my life and I believe God has led me through this maze of life. I am on the path. Jesus is my Savior, and He did not say we would never see trouble, irregardless of what some prosperity gospel advocates and gurus seem to spout.
One of the hardest barriers to break has been panic attacks involved with going to certain places and agoraphobia. There are real psychological barriers that become entrenched in our brains. I am not going to even attempt to explain that here, but I have read about the loops that we can get stuck in; and, my understanding is there is a neurological, physical thing here involving neurons and synapses in the brain that can be broken through behavioral conditioning. I feel like I have had a small battering ram to get past some of the cyclical loops, then they tried to close in behind me to get me stuck again. I found a book that has been helpful. Also, I have a couple of other tools listed below that have been very helpful in breaking the cyclical loops caused by chemicals in the brain that affect fight and flight syndrome (anxiety and panic attacks). The reason I mention this is I know the things that hold us back can be complicated because of the mental and the physical things we have gone through (are going through). Even writing about this is starting to give me a bit of a headache: going over the past over and over again does not change a thing for me, but looking forward and taking baby steps has helped tremendously. Fearing what might come next is a fruitless exercise; but, living today as it is and taking small steps forward is life-changing.

Scriptures, Articles, and Books You May Find Helpful

This is not an exhaustive list. I hope you find something here you can use. There are other coping techniques that have been helpful for me in the past, but I have listed the two that I use the most now along with scripture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Procrastination, Fatigue, Overwhelmed?

Let me begin this short thought piece with this clarification, which is you know your body better than anyone else.  Well, hopefully you do.  Maybe, there are some people that are not in touch with their bodies, so they are not sure when to rest and when to be active;  but, I fully believe one can learn to know.  Also, when in doubt, take baby steps and see how you feel.

Today, I have a job to do that I put off for
  • when I wasn't tired.
  • when I didn't have something more important to do.
  • when I felt like it, which has nothing to do with how my body feels.
What I have found is putting off what needs to be done, just makes things worse.  Whether it is picking up in your house, cleaning, writing a letter, making a phone call, getting that new router up and running, filling your weekly pill container, or any other chore you can thing of, it helps to pick one job and start it with a small step.  One little step is the beginning to moving forward.

If I have hit a rocky road on my path to moving forward, I am still ahead of where I used to be, because I am building on the habits I had begun to establish.  Even if I have steps backwards, I can use the same method of baby steps to return to keeping my house clean, getting rid of clutter, or any other job that needs to be done.  Wallowing in guilt or failure is really not an option.  It just keeps me frozen.  I cannot wait until I feel "mentally" ready to get the job done.  The step seems to be the thing that has to come first for me;  then, the mental readiness gets easier.

This is written from my personal experience.  It is my opinion, and it is not meant to be a diagnosis for changing anything in anyone else's life.  I am simply sharing that by actually taking a small step to get something done, I am able to feel less overwhelmed.  Taking baby steps helps me to break the cycle of procrastination.  It encourages me to get moving and to move forward in my life.

I hope small steps will help you move forward too.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Relaxing into Change, Not Fighting A Battle

This morning, not soon after I woke up, I started thinking about the title of yesterday's blog post, Fighting the Battle.  Sometimes, the word fighting may evoke angst and anxiety in individuals.  Personally, I think a constant battle would be exhausting, both emotionally and physically;  therefore, I think it is wise to have way to reframe thoughts on the words I am telling myself.

When I used the term fighting the battle, I was thinking of the grit it often takes to get on with life.  However, that grit does not have to require raising one's cortisol level, nor demand pushing through despite any pain and anxiety you may feel.  You may actually prepare your brain better for what you want to achieve by relaxing first.  Here are some ideas I have used.

  • Get comfortable in a relaxed sitting position.  You can gently recline if that is best for you.
  • Take easy, deep breaths.  Breathe in through your nose, and Count 1, 2, 3, 4.  Hold 1, 2, 3, 4.  Let breath out through your mouth 1,2, 3, 4.  Repeat several times.
  • Picture one thing you want to achieve and the steps to do it.
  • Now, envision doing the first step and do just that one step.  You can continue on in this manner through each step, and you may find that what seemed so hard to do is easier than you felt before you changed your mindset about it.
Another method I have used that gives me some visual cues to encourage me when I don't feel like cleaning house is focusing on one or two things that I want to do.  Say I want to clear the dining room table of the stack that has grown there -- I can pick up an item, then put it away or throw it away, as I walk through that room.  After I have done this several times, I have often been able to see the difference and I have not felt overwhelmed.  In fact, I usually want to do more.  

Note that it may take more than one picking up trip by the table to see the difference;  however, congratulate yourself when trying this for taking each step:  it's a good feeling and rewarding to see the pile get smaller.  If you have a physical disability that requires pacing yourself, then make sure you limit the time spent working to your present ability.  After a while, you may find you have built some physical endurance from the activity, as well as having eliminated the overwhelmed feeling you used to get from believing you have to clean the whole table or clean the whole room at once.

These two methods, that include preparing yourself to get a job done or simply picking one focused thing to do, are techniques that can help you break out of feeling frozen in a do nothing or a do little state without overwhelming pressure.  This is relaxing into changing habits by a slow immersion, rather than pushing yourself into an anxiety attack.  These are easily applicable Baby Steps that can be expanded into longer steps as you feel more comfortable with the habits you are working on.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fighting the Battle

It often seems like the battle is never ending when you have a chronic illness.  Even when you have been seeing improvement, there are times you feel like you cannot throw off all the cords that have bound you.  It seems they tighten and pull you down again.

The only thing I can say for getting through this is "keep on fighting."  Rest between bouts; then, start moving forward again, one step at a time.

You may think that is easy for me to say.  No!  It is not!  I know this, because I live it.  I am living it right now.  I am having to modify my behavior to fit my situation, and it is not easy.  I start retreating into my little turtle shell, only wanting to be in situations where I feel comfortable, which is mostly at home;  and, my step backwards throws me back into a loop that means I am having to regain ground on the habits I thought I had fixed.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever had a relapse and ended up sitting around in your pajamas too much?  Have you seen your house get a little messier (maybe a lot messier), and you have not cleaned your bathrooms and other areas as often as you normally do?

Have you ever had another member of your family become ill or had some other prolonged situation arise that sapped your strength and emotions?  I bet I could name many things that may affect how you are able to handle your illness and responsibilities.  However, the point I am making is not about what affects you, but what you do when you realize how far you have fallen from where you were.

I can write about the backward steps from experience, because I have lost count of how many times this has happened to me.  Moreover, I am experiencing this now.  I am having to climb my way up again, and it is worth it.  My brain tries to get stuck in the old ruts and loop back into what used to be the chronic illness norm for me, which is quite depressing.  Some of that dread I used to to feel in the morning upon awaking has tried to creep back into my life, and I am having to make behavior changes that include telling myself that the feelings will pass and it will be a good day.  Praying and thinking of scripture before I even get out of the bed has helped too.

The point is not to give up, because there is still a race to run.  It may be a very slow walk with one heavy foot in front of the other, but it is doable.  It can be done, even when you do not immediately see large scale results. In fact, you may never see large scale results, but you can feel good whenever you take a baby step forward.

Here are my daily basic steps forward this week, and I am not limited to just these steps.  In fact, I have already been able to achieve more.  I am not listing obvious steps like self-grooming, eating, or taking medication and supplements;  however, one certainly can do this when planning one's goals for the week.

  • Get dressed in something other than pajamas.
  • Do stress relieving exercises, such as slow counted breathing patterns.
  • Focus on one household chore at a time, and do not think about how much more needs to be done.
  • Enjoy reading my book without guilt.
  • Take a short stroll outside, because it is better than sitting in the house all day.  
  • Do not talk negatively to yourself about all the things you have not done.

These are my goals.  What are yours?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Avoiding Work or Any Other Thing in Your Life That Could Be Good For You

Do you ever have a day that you feel fine, but you really do not want to do any of the things you could do?  I think I hit that day today.  I really don't feel like I have done much that is significant:  it has been my lull during the middle of the week.  I feel great, but I realize I have used all kinds of avoidance techniques when there are obvious things I could do around here.

Do you know how to read the signs of avoidance?  Do you blame it on fatigue or the blues?  Do you know how to make yourself do some of the things you are not getting done?  Do you really want the day to just slip away?

Here are some of my obvious signs of avoidance.  Please keep in mind that I feel fine.

  1. Staying in my p.j.'s.  Yes, I know pajama days are a valid way of resting, but sometimes you just have to get regular clothes on to get moving.
  2. Staying on the computer too long.
  3. Walking by that bedroom chair that is piled with clothes.
  4. Walking by that full clean laundry basket.
  5. Starting to do a small cleaning project and getting conveniently distracted.
  6. Thinking of all kinds of things you Could do, but staying on the computer too long.
  7. Feeling bored when You have lots of things that you could do.
  8. Feeling guilty that you feel good, and you know you could get ahead on your work;  but, you get a cup of coffee or some sort of snack to munch on.  (That is one I try to avoid.)

I think I could probably come up with a much longer list, but I am tired of avoiding stuff.  I think I am going to set my timer and do #8.  After that, I will reboot my laundry or maybe I will do that first.  Then, I am going to shower and wash my hair.  I have really been avoiding that one, because it is cold here.  Also, I am going to take the time to pat myself on the shoulder for the things I have gotten done, rather than feeling a vague sense of guilt and wondering if someone was judging me for sitting around a good part of the day.  In fact, I am going to go ahead and congratulate myself for getting up today at an earlier hour,  which is something I have been working on.

Here goes.  I hope this will encourage you on one of your days of avoidance!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Where Did That Dust Come From?

I thought I had dusted everything last week, but my eyes saw a thick layer in the afternoon light.  Where did that come from?  How did I miss that cabinet in the breakfast area?  It looked awful, and I had visions of dust spreading through my house.

Problem solved!  I grabbed a microfiber dusting mitt and got busy.  I wish I had timed myself, because surely this job took no longer than 2 or 3 minutes.  Then, I threw the mitt in the towel laundry bin.  Simple job.  It was simple, because the clutter is gone from that area.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dirty Walls in the Bathroom?

Today, I was shocked as I swiped at the wall in my bathroom with my cleaning rag, and the rag had dirt on it.  The walls did not look dirty or moldy.  However, the dirt was on the rag, and I could not deny it.  So after I cleaned a small portion of wall, which is all I will do at a time, I wondered how it got dirty.

Image Courtesy of Mr GC / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our bathrooms are places that get filled with steam;  sometimes, we spray hairspray in our bathrooms, and the air in the house that circulates has dust in it, whether you dust regularly or not.  The dust in turn sticks to the wall.   Perhaps, it is not as obvious as the dust that collects on horizontal surfaces, but it is there just the same.

How should you clean your bathroom walls?  If they are not moldy, a little spray detergent that does not have to be rinsed will do.  Today, I actually used my rag that I used on my bathroom counter.  My walls are made out of a material that does not have to be coddled like painted walls.  Also, I did not go for the whole wall.  I did a portion, and I will do another portion later -- I plan to use a sponge type mop or an extendable cleaning wand.

My bathrooms are clean, and it was easy.  I even took the time to dust off three shelves in my main bathroom.  Also, my toilets and sinks look great!  I left a couple of jobs for later -- actually probably tomorrow.  This is how to clean as you go along, so things do not pile up.

Here is a helpful link to How to Keep Your Bathroom Clean Without Cleaning

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Baby Steps To A New Normal

Yes. I know we are no longer preparing for the holidays, and you may still be tired from the extra activity. However, do you want all that hard work in 2015 to go to waste? Do you want to keep things up, or to have to work much harder than you should have to do the next time you expect company? Would you like to have a cleaner house in 2016? The zone for this week is the Kitchen. What a great way to start the year. The habit for this month is to shine your sink. It's not too late to start. http://www.flylady.net/d/zones/zone-2/
I am putting in another plug in for FlyLady, because quite frankly, I would rather use my energy for living, than figuring out new ways to do jobs that can be done using her methods and encouragement. The important thing is to remember that this is a guideline. It is up to you to manage your time and body. Let's aim for better, not perfect.  I know I won't do it just like she does it, and you do not have to either.  However, each day you are able you have something you can aim for.   Baby Steps will get you there
Make an uncluttered house your new normal for 2016.