JUST SAYIN': Find your balance
By Barbara High
Tribune Staff Writer
Being stuck in the middle of this pandemic for the last year I, like many others, find myself staying at home.
I am glad I have the opportunity to do so, because my lungs are not good enough to handle getting the virus. It scares me, to be honest, and in the beginning of this pandemic I suffered a lot of anxiety from it. I was watching too much news and seeing too much doom and gloom. I needed less of both.
The summer at least offered somewhat of a reprieve from it, because I at least got to go outside and spend a little time on the river. Winter, of course, does not afford me that luxury. Now I have found myself at home without my outdoor escape.
Working from home during the pandemic has created its own challenges. For one thing, little is going on and that gives me little to write about. It is easier to write something after an interview, but my column is where I have been struggling.
So today I sat down in front of my laptop and just thought about what is really on my mind. Then quite a few things have hit me all at once, and I figured I would let it pour out.
So here is what I learned… Life is hard. Even at its best, it can be trying. The last almost year and a half of my life has been a challenge on so many levels. Things I was once so sure of, now I am not. I had multiple surgeries, and some life changing experiences. I laughed, I cried, and I fell down, and I picked myself back up. My challenges started even before the pandemic, and the pandemic just made everything crazier.
At first working from home made me realize how hard running a household and a family really is. All of the sudden I was to do my job while having the distractions at home. Plus a second grader to home school on top of that!! I was noticing more and more needing to be done at home, too. Repairs that were desperately needed were screaming my name, and the kids were screaming my name too. I felt kind of like I was going to go insane.
What I realized is how I had been short changing so many things in my life by not giving them the attention they deserved. My family, my house, and even myself. Seriously, I was all over the place and thought I was going to have a mental break down. Then something started happening. I began to manage, and not just manage but to sort of thrive if you will.
I started getting routines, and began to arrange my sleep schedule better. I started to get up earlier so I would have more workable hours in a day. I would get up and start first by having my coffee, and plan out my day a little better. I kept things organized in a calendar. I would situate Jasper and then move on. I would then begin by focusing some time on my work; looking at stories that need written, checking emails, and making calls. Then I would take a break and work a bit on picking up my house.
I for one found it much easier to keep up with things when I had a routine. A little bit everyday went a long way. Next thing I know it’s lunch and back to work again for a bit of time. I continued on the path for a while and then realize that I was short changing myself.
See, I have written a lot lately on mental health, coping skills, and taking time for you. Yet it is not something I really did for myself. I am a mother first and foremost, which means I put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own. All of the mothers out there know exactly what I mean by that. I think that is why I would always find myself burned out so quickly.
I began to take some time each day for myself. I would sneak a little bit of time in here and there. To take a bath instead of a shower. To meditate and regroup. To do little things for me was the start, and it grew from there. I began to once again make myself a priority and do more and more for me.
Now, I know as a parent this is never easy, yet my kids are grown. I do have Jasper, who is 7, to keep me on my toes. Also, let’s face it, are our kids ever really grown? I mean the way I heard them yelling “Mom!” constantly says no lol. Yet I still made that time for myself.
I began to worry more about my health. I started to work on smoking less and less cigarettes, and added no soda. Then I started to eat healthier. Then came some exercise. I started on the treadmill, and then started to do other exercise routines as well. I noticed myself breathing a bit better, and that is no small feat for someone with emphysema and COPD. I made the leap to schedule a pulmonologist appointment.
Before you know it, I was losing pounds and inches, but more importantly I was feeling better and had more energy. When I get stressed I use my coping skills and regroup. I don’t feel so burned out anymore, and I feel less overwhelmed.
Does that mean I don’t have as much on my plate? No! Does that mean I get everything done? Again, no. Does that mean I have less to handle and worry about? Again a big no!! I just don’t stress the small stuff as much, and I do what I can and let some things go for another day.
I stopped thinking I was super human, that I had to have all the answers, and that everything had to be perfect. Life is messy, and I am just grateful I get to live it.
I try now to make sure that I give what I can to all the things in my life. I work and deal with that, but I take breaks when I feel frazzled. I work in my house here and there throughout the day. When Jasper says I need you or can you pay attention to me for a second, I take that second. I also get on the treadmill as often as I can, and do these little 8- to 12-minute workouts throughout the day.
Believe it or not I had time to meal prep for a few days in advance. When have I ever done that?? Never!
Life is one big juggling act and often times we juggle poorly. We tend to give more to work than we give to family, and more to everything than we give to ourselves. We have to find a balance, and we have to realize that work will always be there, people are guaranteed. Also if we don’t take care of ourselves, we really aren’t any good for those we want to take care of. What is the point of spending time with family if we are going to be cranky or stressed while doing it?
If we spend the family time thinking about what needs done at work, then it is not really family time now is it?
If we have family time and everything in check with our family, it allows us to then actually focus on work. So find your balance and make it work.
Does that mean everything is going to work out wonderful and you will be stress free? Not even close! Yet you will feel less torn, and that allows for some stress to be removed. Also some days you’re going to have bad times, or rough times. The point’s not to allow those times to ruin your whole day or week. Sigh and move on; feel it and let it go.
I often say to myself daily, “well that just happened.” Then I move on, and I don’t give it too much of my energy. I focus my energy on the positive and I am far better for doing it. Remember life is mess, just try to enjoy it.
For a person who used to have to control everything, who had to worry about everything and had to have everything figured out… I am now really big on “Huh, that jus happened, oh well.” The last year or so has taught me that.
So now when people tell me everything is going to be alright, I smile cause I know they are right. For the first time in a long time, I know that things are going to work out the way they are supposed to, and in the end it will all be alright. Do what you can and let the rest go.
Growing old is a luxury not all get to enjoy, so don’t waste all your time and energy on things that won’t matter in the end. Smile, relax, breathe, and take care of yourself…. Then you can tackle the rest.
Barbara High is an award-winning staff writer for the News Tribune and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.