Sometimes it can be difficult to maintain balance when things get crazy. I’ve been struggling with this through the month of September.
Everyone who works a full time job knows how difficult it can be to not want to pull your hair out when things get busy and stressful. In the month of September WSU has five home games scheduled for football, and working in a WSU department that has a role in football, I’ve worked each of the past four Saturdays, and will be putting in overtime again for this Friday’s football game against #5 USC (GO COUGS!).
During this time, for the first time in a long time, I’ve been successful in maintaining a steady gym routine. I’ve been hitting the Chinook fitness center in the morning (most mornings with Amber) before work a minimum of three times per week, often getting there four times per week. Amber and I usually go for a long bike ride together on Sunday’s as well, and we want to get in another hike or two this fall.
Sidenote: Even on days when I haven’t hit the gym or the bike or hiking trail, I try my best to stay at least somewhat active, making sure to get out for walks during the day, even if they’re short. It can be difficult to stay active and mobile throughout the work day, particularly if you work in an office setting like I do. In an effort to not become too stiff and chair-locked at work, I set reminders in my phone throughout the day to get active, do a set of pushups, or wall slides, or air squats, or some other type of light strength or mobility training, or dynamic stretching. I typically stay away from static stretching after long periods of inactivity since this often results in muscle spasms and angry joints for me. Also, I’m quite fortunate that I have a desk at work that will raise and lower with the touch of a button, so alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day is another great way to stay active.
Not only have I been able to stay more active, but we’ve been eating healthier too. We make sure to do our meal prep on Sundays, sticking to healthy carbs and good amounts of protein and fat in our meals, while avoiding (most of) the bad stuff and eating out less over the week.
I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to stick to a regimen, since over the summer we often slacked on our physical health and getting exercise when things got busy, not to mention eating out far too often and making unhealthy menu options.
Getting up before 5:00am to get to the gym by 5:45 so that you can be to work by 7:30 is not exactly an easy task. It takes some determination, focus, and consistency to repeatedly get up early, get to bed at a decent time, and eat right to sustain energy throughout the day.
In this process I’ve directed a lot of my mental focus to staying consistent on my health and fitness goals. This isn’t to mention the time I’ve been trying to set aside to work on my writing after work in the evenings. I haven’t gotten to that every night, its been a struggle at times. But I’ve still been locking myself in my office at home and working on my writing at least a few times per week (I’m still working on the 7 days-a-week writing habit, but I’m getting there).
As I’ve shifted so much focus to these two things (not to mention working 50+ hours per week), I’ve often not given myself time to catch my breath (literally, I haven’t been consistently doing my breathing exercises, which are incredibly important and beneficial), decompress, and focus on mental clarity, and this has led to more moments of feeling down and discontent, and my thoughts have felt scattered, like searching for a specific memo on a messy desk and not being able to find it. Also, as a result, I’ve not spent enough time working on my relationship with Amber, which isn’t fair to her.
In the midst of all this I’ve seemed to ramp up the time I spend on social media when I do get breaks, which only exacerbates my lack of mental clarity, and ultimately mental health.
Recently, for the first time in a few weeks, I’ve jumped back into the book Nate Green bought me when we met him in Missoula a while back, called Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a book about the benefits of practicing mindfulness.
A section I read the other night was about appreciating the present. I am quite often looking at the future, trying to see where I’ll be in six months, or a year, or five years from now. I often feel unsatisfied with my current pay (who isn’t?!), or the house we live in, or a multitude of other trivial things, and I forget to appreciate what’s in front of me, how fortunate I actually am, and appreciating life happening every day.
I’ll leave off with saying that no matter how busy things get, try to carve out some time for your own decompression and your own mental health. Not only for yourself, but for those around you. As far as we know, we only have one life to live, so we might as well not only make the most of it, but try to enjoy it as much as we can, appreciate the individual moments that life presents, and not get too caught up with that ever-evolving ideal future self we’re working towards.
As always, remember to breathe…