Even trainers fall off the wagon... I haven't exactly fallen off the "fitness wagon" - I don't think I've gone more than 2 days without a workout in months. But I have fallen off the "happy wagon"... and the "diet wagon"... not to mention the "sobriety wagon"...
There has been a lot of crying, wine and potato chips in my life for the last couple of weeks.
Turning 30 was not too bad. And the knee injury kicked my ass a bit, but I've been dealing with it. But next month my baby, my first baby, Sweaty Kid, is going to school. Motherhood is full of these bittersweet milestones, some more bitter than others. Kindergarten is going to be the death of me. I feel like I've hit some kind of final countdown to the date when neither of my kids needs me anymore. I feel a bit exposed and totally, painfully aware of my personal failings. Sounds like motherhood, doesn’t it?
What am I going to do when they're both in school? Where am I going in life? What the hell is a 5-year plan and why don't I have one?
Confession: I have still not registered Sweaty Kid for school and it is already August 10th. Clearly, denial is not just a river in Egypt.
I'll never pretend to be immune to the emotional ups and downs of life. On the contrary, I'm a seasoned pro. It's no secret I've battled depression in the past, on more than one occasion. I am also coach to a number of women who struggle to stay motivated and productive at times, as we all do, and who look to me for guidance.
Here are my top tips for finding your way back to the land of the living when those everyday blues become EVERYDAY BLUES.
I don't stop exercising. The other day I found myself crying in the car after my morning clients... a sappy song came on the radio and rendered me a blubbering idiot as I navigated rush-hour traffic, wiping tears from my eyes and hiding behind sunglasses. I considered heading home for my third cup of coffee and some work on my laptop (and by work I mean Facebook). Instead, I came home, grabbed my iPod and headed out for a jog in the morning sunshine. I ran long and slow. That jog sent my day onward and upward. Not only does exercise make you feel strong and accomplished, it releases chemicals to improve your mood and is proven to be just as effective as medication for mild depression and those occasional blues.
I try not to treat my body as a garbage disposal. We all turn to comforting food and drink when times are tough. Some of us eat a little more, some of us eat a little less. But there aren't many of us who stir-fry some tofu and broccoli while contemplating our place in the world... usually this type of introspection and pessimism occurs while elbow-deep in a bag of Cheetos or making out with a bottle of Pinot Noir. But nothing makes depression feel worse than sugar crashes and hangovers. And feeling crappy about the way you've been treating your body will not make you feel less crappy about life in general... believe me. We all get caught in the carb cravings and creature comforts that momentarily relieve our anxiety, but the trick is waking up the next day and deciding to be kind to yourself and give your body what it needs.
I force myself to be social. When I start feeling down, I initially "turtle". I withdraw from friends and family and abstain from social obligations and business events. It just all seems too much to handle, and routine chatter and small talk can be daunting when even a smile feels forced. But I know the longer I hide, the worse I feel. So making that phone call, setting up coffee with a friend or getting together for a playgroup are things I can do to draw myself out of my own shell. I have to hit “send” on my phone or email almost like ripping off a bandage – quick and without over thinking it, or else I’ll hesitate and more days of loneliness will pass. But I know those sunny people who are feeling better than you can give you some much needed perspective and remind you that all is okay with the world. They can also remind you that you are a cool, fun, and generally happy person whom others want to be around. And if you feel cool and happy, you might just start acting cool and happy.
And last, but definitely not least:
I slip into my children's world. We can usually suck it up for a trip to the playground or suppress the aforementioned Pinot Noir urges at least until after bedtime. But sometimes that zombie feeling plagues me as I go through the motions, not really paying attention to anything in particular, even when I'm just with my kids and should be enjoying life. If you can push yourself, just for a few moments, to live in their world and immerse yourself in their happiness, you can't help but feel a little happier yourself. Whether it's swinging at the park, watching ants on the sidewalk or enjoying a silly book... drop your insecurities, leave your pessimism behind for a few moments and just live in that moment. There is such real joy in childhood and we are so fortunate as parents to have the chance to revisit this joy. It is fleeting and magical. The moments with my children are like holes in the ice through which I can surface for a few moments of sunshine... until the day I can climb through and join them completely again.
So, thank you, kids. Things are looking up.