Yesterday I got an email from wordpress that was a “blog year in review,” with stuff like, how many posts I wrote, how many hits I got, what got the most hits, etc. all portrayed in brilliant graphics. It was pretty cool but it made me feel more guilty than anything else because. . .
I only wrote 32 posts last year.
And most of those were the first half of the year. So tops in my resolutions list this year is to pick up the pace. I have a lot going on this year, a lot I want to promote, my book (officially debuting in hard-copy form January 12, more on that in later posts), other peoples’ books, and so on so I’ve got to get better on the blogging front. Also, I like blogging so it’s not like I’m torturing myself or anything by trying to ramp up the schedule.
That was going to be the only resolution I shared publically but I recently decided to share the other one in the hopes that going public with it will 1. help me do a better job with it and 2. might be enlightening to someone reading this. I’m going to do a better job of taking care of myself this year. Now, I actually do an ok job of this already, specifically, I do about four hours of indoor cycling a week that helps me manage stress and all those other important things like cholesterol levels and blood pressure and so on. No complaints there; it’s all good. I eat reasonably healthfully, don’t have any serious vices and take my vitamins with the full knowledge that my chiropractor-grandfather is smiling down from heaven on me each night as I do it (yes, I know there have been recent negative reports about vitamins but old habits die hard and I will need to see more to be convinced). But about a month ago, I developed a painful condition starting at the back of my neck and stretching all the way to my forehead called a “muscle contraction headache,” that has been dogging me ever since and requiring some major pharmaceuticals to get under control.
A little web research revealed that these things are very much stress related. Now, I think I have about the same level of stress in my life as most people I know–in 2012 all of us are trying to keep the stress devil at bay. However, I do think my response to it, which is very internal and which can momentarily drive up all of those critical numbers, especially heart rate and blood pressure–leaves a lot to be desired so I will defininitely be working on that. I’ve started a yoga class for the first time and was suprised to find out that I was actually good at it (according to the teacher, I’m very “bendy.”). So that will be one part of the taking better care–reeducating my body to respond better to momentary stress through things like yoga, breathing exercises, making sure I get my Omega 3’s etc.
The other part will be–and I share it only because it was something of a revelation to me–trying, when I can, to avoid that which causes me severe anxiety and stress. I recently read the Time magazine feature on anxiety with great interest because it’s something that yes, I’ve suffered somewhat silently from on and off for most of my adult life. I related deeply to the whole feature, but for me, the best part was a quote from Dr. Oz that essentially said that after you control for taking care of your response to anxiety (through therapy, mind-body work, etc.) you might want to avoid situations that cause it.
What a concept. Sure, like any person who suffers from occasional high anxiety, I instinctively tried to avoid situations that caused it, but I always felt terribly, terribly guilty about this, that it made me pathetic and weak. It never occured to me that it might actually be okay to plan for avoiding these situations. Powering through has always been the mantra I thought I was supposed to be following, even though this mantra might lead to days when it truly felt like someone with concrete hands had a grip on my heart. Thanks to Dr. Oz, I even came to the conclusion that it might not actually be healthy for someone cruising into middle age to feel like someone with concrete hands was holding her heart, even just for a few days or maybe especially for a few days.
The whole concrete hands metaphor is pretty dramatic but, truth be told, these situations are fortunately few. They just pack a really big punch. However, I know what they are and I occasionally do have some control over them. Like traveling by train or car because it’s better for me personally. While flying somewhere may get me there faster and just as or more safely, for example, it’s a trade off because the days before the flights will do a number on my body, which can’t be good as it ages. It just can’t.
Sure there are lots of stressors I simply can’t control–i.e. tornado season comes around every year and because I do like to travel, there are some places I can only reasonably get to by plane. That’s where the mind-body work, the yoga, keeping up the exercise and the Omega 3’s come in (and in the latter situation, a little pharmaceutical support never hurts). But it’s been a revelation to me (and maybe it will be to you) to realize, as mid-life winks over the horizon, that sometimes there is stuff you simply don’t have to do and taking care of yourself is a good enough reason for not doing it.
So. A more personal post than usual but one that I hope might be as freeing for you as if has been for me.
Bye (for now) y’all,