A commitment to change #Mentalhealth #Life

It is May, and with that, my thoughts can slowly turn to doing a few more things that will improve my life. There are a lot of great things in my life now. I have done a good job of sticking to my plan to do something for me every month this year. And the family is getting behind the work that I have done. With all that, there are more things that I could do to improve my life. As a new month has started, I have decided to tackle a couple of the things that I would like to change.

The inspiration for this comes from a series of posts written by Wil Wheaton. The link is here. And I will quote his introduction because it captures the essence of this idea.

I had this epiphany at the beginning of September: This thing that I’m doing? This series of choices I make every day? It isn’t working. I don’t like the way I feel, I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like the things I’m doing. Things need to change.

So I took a long, hard, serious look at myself, and concluded that some things needed to change.

I don’t think that back in December, or even now, that I had to make hard choices. But I did decide to make some changes. And for the most part, I have stuck with the two things I swore to do then. I have successfully logged every meal, no matter how bad or unhealthy, with honesty since then, only skipping a couple of days here or there. That has been good for me. And doing that has had some small effect on my health, I have dropped some weight as a result.

And I decided to do more things for me. With a plan to buy something just for me each month. And what I buy would preferably be an item that took some care to create. It would not just be some random item or file off the internet. I have done alright in that regard. Not as good as I might hope, but pretty good. And it has felt good to get things for me.

Given that success, I decided that with the year nearly halfway done it was time to look at making a couple of more changes to my life. Not hard, dramatic changes. But things that I want to do. And that will make me feel better about my life.

First, as I briefly noted this past weekend, I want to begin writing some longer posts once a week. Going more in depth with a subject. Or covering multiple similar themes into one larger article. This will be my first of these. I have not come up with a big topic to cover this week so I will be using this one as my first attempt. This is more about challenging myself. I want to see if I have the patience to work on the same project over the space of a couple of days, instead of jumping from subject to subject on a daily basis. I will still do the daily thoughts. But then once a week turn out a longer form article.

Second, I think I am finally ready to get back into some form of exercise schedule. I don’t think I will get back into my running form. That does not mean that I cannot do something.

I like my lunch times, I use the full hour to read, listen to music, and unwind away from the computer. The weather is not always conducive to going outside at that time, living in Colorado. I keep saying I will carve out time during my lunches to take a walk. But most of the time I choose not to do so. I am being realistic there. I know I could use that time to exercise, but choose not to. Which is an important thing I do for myself sometimes, just saying no. Even when I am not making the healthiest choice. So long as I understand that I am making that choice, that it is up to me.

Accepting the above I know that I still want to get myself some exercise. Getting no exercise is not a good long term option. With the new month, I decided that I will start off pretty simple. I will get myself up 15 minutes earlier in the mornings. And once the lunches are packed and the kids are eating I can take a 15 minute walk. It is not much for now. And I could do more. But it is a start. 15 minutes does not aggravate my toes too much. And when school ends I can start to do something more than that with that added time in the mornings.

Third, I am a bit of a soda addict. I like to have at least one or 2 diet colas every day. Drinking the diet sodas at least means I am not filling my body up with sugar. But I know that there is a fair amount of research out there that indicates that even the diet sodas are not great for me. Last year I took the summer off from caffeine, with the idea that it might help calm me down. And I did feel good about that. But I do kind of need that caffeine when the kids are in school. So my plan and goal are to end the soda consumption for the summer months, which also means no caffeine. When the weather is nice, and I am not under as many schedule constraints there is no reason for me to need that caffeine. That is my third step as far as improving my life quality.

Why do all this? Why make these commitments when I know that doing something like this can create an internal tension? I know from previous experience that putting too much emphasis on things like regular exercise or diet can create a spiral. I know that cutting things I enjoy out of my life can create tension. And most importantly I know that sleep is very important to my mental and physical health. I need to be very careful doing things that might disrupt the careful balance I have created when it comes to sleep.

I am working very hard to be self-aware when I make these changes. To keep regular posting. And by writing all this out I can create a benchmark to refer back to when I decide to take stock and give myself a grade on success or not. Which is something I am planning on doing. I will even create a reminder to take stock a month from now and see how I did on each of these goals. And see if any of them is causing more problems than helping.

But to the bigger question of why? Why do this? Well, like I said above, my life is good. But I think it could be better. And there are things that I can do to improve it. Actions I can take. There are certainly a lot of things that affect my quality of life, things that are out of my control. I can guide my children for instance, but I do not have have full control over their behavior. But if I am serious about my self-care, if I want to do the sort of things that will make my life better, this is the sort of thing that I can do that falls into that category.

Because my self-care is not just taking care of my mental and emotional state. It is also about taking care of my physical state. I do not think I will ever get back to a peak or excellent physical condition. But I can improve my condition so that I can do the things I like to do. And if I feel better physically that will carry over into my mental condition. Not hurting all the time will improve my outlook. I have been focused in the last year on my mind and spirit, now it is time to bring the body into the overall balanced picture.

It feels good to write this out. To make that commitment. And to really think about what I am committing to and why. After the first couple of days of the morning walks, I can say that they do feel good, and it has not really affected my mental well-being to lose a little bit of sleep. And really taking the time to write this out has been a good exercise. And I am quite proud of the post on my other blog that I will be publishing later today. It is good to get back into the practice of longer form writing. With a little bit each day. And the constant editing and revising will produce what I hope will be a better post. I do not intend to start the great soda reduction until school ends so that is still out there. And in a month, we will see how all of this has affected me.


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