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We all have those days. The ones that, the moment you step out of bed, you KNOW it’s going to suck. This morning was that for me. I was irritated, groggy, and felt the first pangs of a migraine coming on.
The hubby recently broke out in a mysterious rash all over his torso and back, so it’s been keeping him up at night, which, in turn, has been keeping me up at night. I’ve been trying so hard to be patient and loving and kind – you know, all the spousy things… But this morning, I knew patience, love and kindness were not making an appearance.
Understanding Your System
Having experienced an eating disorder in my early-twenties, I gained insight on my body’s cues, triggers and needs. Although I don’t wish that kind of mental turmoil on anyone, I am personally grateful for the awareness it gave me. Although waking up was a painful experience this morning, I had the strength and tools to soothe the combatting emotions.
First, I paid attention to where the issue was physically. When you dig deeper than the thoughts, everything manifests on a body-level. It came as no surprise that most of my tension and pain was in my chest, neck, and head. But what did that mean? At first, nothing. But then I went through my checklist:
- Did I sleep well the previous night?
- Did I eat well the previous day?
- Have I been drinking enough water?
- Was there anything going on in my personal life that was causing me distress?
The reality? The night before, I ate a late dinner (a salad, cheeseburger, fries and gravy) followed by dessert (the biggest bowl of ice cream you’d ever see). I did drink enough water, but between digestion of that heap of food, and my husband’s constant fidgeting throughout the night, I didn’t catch too many z’s.
Going over my checklist, I promise myself two things:
- No judgment.
If I’m being honest, I know that red meats, sauces and dairy don’t sit well. I also know that my headaches are more prevalent with lack of sleep and proper nutrition. Of course, I could’ve boiled it all down to my husband keeping me up at night, giving no credit to my own body-knowledge that has proved me wrong time and time again. Which leads me to my third checklist promise:
3. No blame.
Yes, I had a great evening indulging in some of my favourite things, which is why I don’t regret it (I never do!). Because of this, I also recognize that I am responsible for my body’s reactions.
You Are In Control
When I was dealing with my eating disorder, I put a lot of blame on others for my illness. I learned very quickly, however, that the more blame you put on others, the more power you give them. When you give others power over you, you lose your sense of control. That was my first mistake, and one I vowed to never make again.
I am in control. I always was. Always will be. How? Because I believe it to be true. Why does this relate to my morning? When I stepped out of bed, I had two paths in front of me. The first was one of wallowing and finger pointing. That woman could’ve stayed miserable all day, let everyone know it was their fault, and nothing could change it. Her feelings were real, and they weren’t going anywhere.
The second path took a little more effort, but it paid off ten-fold. This path was paved with awareness and action. I acknowledged my feelings, and yes, they were real, but I decided I didn’t want my day to be consumed by negative experience. Once I made that commitment, I asked myself a simple question: what brings me joy, without fail?
My Happiness Routine aka Me Time
Everyone was still asleep in the house, which worked in my favor. Sometimes it’s easy to go through the motions of a day when you’re surrounded by others. I love my people, but I knew I had to be intentional with this time if I wanted to be the best version of myself for them (and me) today.
My first action was simple: go outside!
For me, nature is the most grounding element. I took a journal, sat on the back porch and wrote. I let out all my feelings, frustrations, self-doubt and, yes, blame. Then I read it over – specifically the blame part – and asked myself, “do you truly believe that?” The answer was an easy no. This reinforced my own power, and allowed me to move on to my next action: movement
I know, I know. Exercise always sounds so easy and noble, but listen, it wouldn’t be cliché if there was no truth in it! Before you roll your eyes and think, “this is just another fitness post,” hear this: movement doesn’t always equal running or weightlifting. Sometimes I just enjoy stretching. Or putting on music and dancing around the room for twenty minutes! Go for a walk. Play a sport. Anything! Why?
Because movement makes you present. And presence is the key to peace.
So, yes, sometimes I’m one of those people who, when in need of quick release, hit up the stair-climber and follow it with weightlifting. I do this because that’s what helps me! Remember the manifestation of emotions and pain in the body? My physical cure-all is this type of movement. Pair that with this last critical step, and you’re golden: gratitude.
Yes, the g-word! No roadmap to peace is complete without it. I’m not going to tell you the right or wrong way to practice gratitude, that depends on your form of expression. Funny thing is, even as a writer, simply writing a gratitude list or journal doesn’t do it for me. Here’s how my g’s go down.
This deserves its own little section of the post because it’s that big of a deal! It’s been studied and proven that practicing gratitude can tack years onto your life. Gratitude is the antithesis to depression, anxiety, regret, self-doubt, shame, and insecurity; it can even improve health and relationships. Don’t believe me? Here’s a direct quote from Harvard Health:
“With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives… Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways… Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.Harvard Health publishing
Gratitude can be practiced in several ways, be it through journaling, meditation or prayer, writing thank-you letters (whether you send them or not) or mentally thanking someone.
My preferred method? As I was on the stair-climber this morning, I gave thanks aloud. I find speaking out loud versus silently keeps my mind from wandering. Here’s an example of what I say to myself:
“Fabian. You are funny, silly, and loving. I admire your fairness and independence. Every day with you is a gift, an adventure. Thank you for always being there for me. I wish nothing but love and peace for you today and every day.”
Find the Good
There is room for all emotions. Without experiencing pain, fear, irritability, or frustration, we would never know the opposite. When we hurt, it never serves to repress or combat that hurt. Fighting fire with fire will only burn the place down. At the end of the day, what matters is that you did your best and gave yourself the space to be…
Even in my darkest moments, what helps me is always finding the good. It doesn’t mean it will wipe the demons away or clear my conscience, but it always offers me light. This morning I was a mess, but I love that mess because it gave me an opportunity to evolve. Each time I choose me through love, patience, and acceptance, my self-worth strengthens, and my human experience grows brighter.
I chose me today because it’s impossible to make space for others when we don’t make space for ourselves first.
Find the good. Be brave. Love yourself and all the people. We’re in this together, even if we’re apart. The human experience is crazy beautiful. Smell the flowers when you can…
With love and peace,
Brandi & Fabian
Here are just a few books that changed my life and helped with some major breakthroughs along the way:
Ps. Interested in breaking down your barriers and becoming the best version of you? Contact Brandi here for a free coaching consultation.