My 5 necessities for everyday joy
I've not been shy in sharing that sometimes I battle anxiety and depression. I'm a sensitive soul that feels everything so very deeply. Group that with being an empathetic recovering people-pleaser as well as an "I can do it myself" rest-shamer (thanks ladies for coining that term!) and what you get is a very tired, resentful, sad chick on the verge of a panic attack. Gosh, that would be an excellent Tinder profile. Clearly everyone would want a stab at that drama. #mymilkshakebringsalltheboystotheyard #blessmyhusband.
While I may make myself sound like a total weirdo, I promise you, I'm a functioning "normal" mom on any given day. The struggles I tend to face though do cause some seasons of high and some seasons of low. Most days involve a roller coaster of emotions that require lots of coffee, Jesus, and tears. I was recently talking with my daughter about our family and how she would describe each of us through her eyes. The first word she chose to describe "Mommy" was sad. That one stung a bit. She's old enough to know when I'm hiding tears though so it was an honest view of what she notices.
With a 9, 6, and 1 year old under my mama wing, this season has been daunting. There is so much fighting and temper tantrums and time outs. Enough to drive a person insane. All of them are in big lesson ages. I am parenting from the spectrum of explaining hate in the world, to using manners, to keeping your finger out of the electrical socket. And that's all before breakfast. One answers back with wit, one answers back with "why?", and one can't use words to communicate yet. Having such a range can leave me physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. That has been the case lately with summer upon us and I've reached the end of myself often. There are blessings in being a stay at home parent, but between the kids, the chores, the schedules, and the constant responsibilities I was losing the battle for my joy.
I'm a firm believer in constant growth. Many things in our lives, such as our marriages, or families, or faith are like the wide open ocean... either teetering up or down. Never completely still. The same is true within our personal growth. We are either unfolding into a better us or retreating deeper into our old ways. In order to stay on a path of reaching who God intended me to be, I like to always be aware of where I'm riding along the waves. After some self evaluation...(i.e. realizing my butt wasn't getting off my couch and I was short fused too often that I'd like to admit) I decided to do something about the rut I've been in. There's no instant quick fix, but I knew that I needed to intentionally take steps each day to make me feel alive and happy. Everyone will require different things, but I have pinpointed what works for me to ignite my joy as the 5 necessities for everyday.
Get outside- I hate to sweat not on purpose. Does that make sense? Living in Florida it's basically one big armpit outside. The problem is, I only like to sweat if I have intended to do so. (i.e. working out, playing outside, doing yard work, etc.) In Florida however, you sweat just walking to your car in the parking lot. That can sometimes make me just want to hibernate in the A/C all day. I have found it very helpful for my mood to get outside for even just a few moments intentionally to feel the sunshine on my skin and breathe the fresh air. Game changer for a bad mood. Trust me.
Move my body- Several months ago, I could be quoted saying, "If I'm ever running. You run too because that means someone is chasing me." In other words, I hated running. I didn't do much working out either. All of that changed though when I jumped into a 5 week bootcamp. Now months later, not only has my body changed but my mind is the best transformation. Everyday I try to move my body in some way. Most days I make it to the gym, but that's sometimes more of a hassle to wrangle up all the kiddos and fit it into the schedule. So on those days I can stretch, do yoga, run, or play soccer with my kids. The bottom line is, moving my body changes my mind.
Connect- I'm in extrovert when things are going good. I'm a hibernating bear when things aren't so great. Then the hole digs deeper because I isolate myself and the feelings of loneliness only dampens the mood. I have found that if I connect to God and to someone daily, it battles the blues. Connecting to God can be through prayer, the radio, reading His word via the good ole' book or just a quote on Pinterest. Intentionally seeking God is THE most important step in my day. Connecting to a person can be trickier. Well, duh since I can talk to God in my head and otherwise talking to myself out loud gets me stared at. But this can be as simple as texting a friend, or asking the cashier how their day is going. Human interaction is a tangible way for me to realize I am not alone and I am seen.
Care for myself- This one seems like such a "duh" thing on the list, but as a mom it is the easiest thing for me to eliminate. Ever get to dinner and realize you never ate breakfast or lunch? How about finally brushing your hair only to find the brush won't go through it because a nest has developed where your topknot has sat for the last 3 days. I am supposed to be my own biggest advocate and yet I will quiet my own simple desires daily for the sake of productivity. This slippery slope is the fastest way for me to end up fighting for my own joy to return. Every day I intentionally care for myself because I am worth it. This can be cooking my favorite kind of eggs for breakfast. Drinking my coffee while it's hot (the first time. not the 7th time I microwave it.) Taking the time to do my makeup or wear a necklace. These simple ways of caring for me signal to my brain that today is worth a smile.
Create- God made each of us a certain way. I can't help my 3rd grader with her math homework, but I can look at a picture of your living room and tell you within 5 minutes exactly what you need to furnish and decorate it with. I'm a creative soul. Words, decor, party details, outfits... I want all the pretty things. When I work in my genius of creating, my blood seems to pulse through my veins quicker and more vigorously. If I allow myself to create something, anything (no hunny, a meal doesn't count) on an average Tuesday morning, suddenly it feels like an invigorating Saturday night. That's when I am intentionally stirring my own joy in the mundane.