Tips to improve your sanity when you are at the end of your rope!
We walk through the fire at times. Challenges can be zero fun: lack of motivation, relationship issues, health challenges, exhaustion, fitness struggles, parenting concerns, unexpected financial difficulty, security issues…. (If we all pitched in, I think this list could go on forever!) While we are in the middle of the struggle it can be hard to find our way out of the storm and maintain our sanity. Here are a few tips to help you keep your head above water and care for yourself while you face difficult situations.
Get rooted. Stay planted.
When we are going through the fire, it is easy to pull back from our relationships. When we withdrawal, hide, and isolate ourselves, we can easily create additional tension in our life. The strength and support we find in our relationships are experienced because we invest in them. Investment can look different based on the relationships- our time, our energy, and our resources.
If you are constantly picking up and moving on, you don’t get to experience the strength that is found in the foundation from being firmly planted. Stand firm on purpose. Refuse to withdraw from love and support. Face the tough conversation. Make eye contact. Let go of bitterness and listen. Stay engaged.
Communicate out loud with people who support you.
We all have people who love and care about us, I’m talking about the friends who truly have the best intentions and want the best for us. Deliberately connect with your people.
People are not mind readers (I sure wish they were at times…. not ALL the time…. you know what I mean!) While our body language and nonverbal messages can speak volumes, speaking things out loud that you are going through can help you work through your struggle with additional support.
Our thoughts can run away with us if we aren’t careful. Forcing ourselves to use words can bring the situation into perspective and remove the “my world is falling apart” feeling when we make mountains out of sandcastles.
Communicate how you feel and what you need. For example: “I’m feeling overwhelmed. I need a few moments totally alone. Can you help make that happen for me?”
People who love and support you will rally. If they don’t know how to help, they probably won’t read your mind and provide the things that will make it easier for you in the process.
Be Thoughtful About Your Commitments
Right now isn’t the time to tackle 5 more tasks. The unnecessary items can wait. It’s perfectly okay to give yourself grace and temporarily bow out of things that push you beyond your limit. Margin in the difference between your load and your limit. Give yourself extra margin. Support yourself by saying no when you need to. A gentle example: “It’s important to me to step in and help, but right now I am pushed beyond my limit to be successful. Can we revisit this request in a few months?”
Show up for yourself everyday. The more that you care for yourself, the more clearly you can work through the difficult things. Sometimes showing up for yourself looks like a nap. Sometimes it looks like a long shower. Sometimes it looks like a book to pull out your creativity and to speak to your intelligence. Sometimes it looks like a nutritious meal. Sometimes it looks like a walk. You get to decide what you need!
Smile and Laugh on Purpose
When we are in the middle of difficult situations, it is easy to wallow in feelings of discouragement and depression. This isn’t the same as just being disappointed (which is a valid feeling) but I’m talking about the deeper feelings that can make you question your abilities, your intellectual abilities, your strength, and your fortitude. Have you ever been there? In those times we can forget to celebrate the fun, beauty, and joy that lives inside.
Smile on purpose even if it feels silly! Turn on your favorite goofy song and dance around. Skip. Watch a hilarious movie. Listen to a stand-up comedian who makes you laugh OUT LOUD. Typing LOL isn’t the same as actually laughing out loud. Play with your kids and make silly faces and noises. Snuggle with your dog. Have an extra cup of coffee (or tea.) Change your routine and remind yourself who you are. You are capable. You are loved. You are cared for.
Move Without Expectations
Our fitness goals are important to us. Being healthy is a crucial and pivotal part of who we are. When you are in a difficult season, give yourself grace to change up your exercise habits if you need to.
Moving increases blood flow, helps our mental clarity, and helps to increase our immune system and keeps us healthy. If you don’t feel like doing HIIT today (even if it is planned) that is okay! You are working through a rough patch. Do something else instead that feels more tolerable. Does a walk sound okay? Do that!
Are you feeling frustrated and need to let it out? Scream out loud! Take a kickboxing class and beat the living tar out of the bag. Today may be the perfect day for sprints. Running it out can be an amazing release. Do what you need to feel alive again.
If you need rest because you’ve been pushed beyond your margins…. Stop. Rest. Take a break without feeling shame or guilt.
You are doing your best. It will get better. You are deeply loved.
With my love,
Dr. Monique Middlekauff
About the Author
Dr. Monique Middlekauff is a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). She has been a certified personal trainer with the NSCA, ACSM, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) for over 10 years. Monique is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and is an Exercise is Medicine Level 3 credentialed provider. Monique works for a major health system in Idaho. Her goal is to pursue health and overall well being through evidence-based practice. Physical wellness comes in many forms, and she seeks to celebrate where you are, and challenge you to be better! Find more information about Monique at www.MoniqueMiddlekauff.com