Last week I talked about the health issues that have been ailing me and how taking the time to see a doctor whom I trusted was an important first step in helping me get my health back on track. I started to gain some clarity after that appointment though and realized that I needed to change a few other things in my life as well. While I’m sure the chronic infections I’ve dealt with in the past year have played a huge part as to why things sort of fell apart a bit, I knew that there were a few other areas of my life I could tweak to get things back on track.
Some are big, some are small, but in combination, these tweaks have all added up to equal big changes in my mood and productivity, and have allowed me to feel a lot more sane and a lot less stressed. And since removing stress is a big way to restore health, it’s been a win-win all around. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to make these changes and feel extremely grateful that my health woes are generally minor, as I know they could be a lot worse. Perhaps you’ve been putting off some changes because the tasks seem insurmountable or you don’t think little switches can make a big difference. Well I’m here to assure you that my life feels and looks a lot different than it did just a couple of weeks ago. Here’s how I changed my life in 14 days …
I invested in my sleep
We’ve known we needed a new mattress for several months now, as ours is nearing 11 years old, and we set aside our tax refund check in order to invest in one. But the thought of finding a sitter for the three kids and setting out for a whole day of mattress shopping didn’t sound the least bit appealing. Silly, I know, but when you’re tired and feeling down, even the smallest tasks seem overwhelming. So I continued to deal with the horrible backaches and restless nights until I got the kick-start I needed after my doctor’s appointment. We made arrangements that weekend to buy a new mattress. I’ve been sleeping on a cloud for a week now, and while my backaches aren’t completely gone, I feel a ton times better than I did before. I’ve slept through the night almost every day, leaving me feeling rested when I wake up, which I hadn’t experienced in a long time. Research has confirmed that your mattress can affect not only your sleep, but your overall health.
I reclaimed my bedroom
When we were expecting our third child over two years ago, I was kicked out of my office to give the baby a place to sleep and my bedroom became my office. My desk, computer, printer, and a whole filing cabinet was wedged and crammed into every corner of available space, leaving my desk inches away from my bed. If I wasn’t careful when I stepped out of bed each morning, I would stub my toe on my office chair. My bedroom was far from a “sanctuary” since I paid bills on my bed, printed up contracts on my nightstand, and filed the kid’s school-work in my closet. But I sucked it up … until this past weekend. In an attempt to recapture my bedroom, we moved the two boys in together since our youngest is now 2 years old and consistently sleeping through the night, and I got my office back! We kept my son’s old twin bed in there so it’s a shared office/guest room, but I feel an immense sense of freedom and gratitude that my printer is no longer wedged in a corner inciting curse sessions with every paper jam.
I bought a paper planner
For the past three years, I’ve relied on my iPhone and scraps of paper to jot down my to-do list. It’s not the best system, as sometimes calendars don’t sync, and on several occasions I double-booked or forgot to make an important appointment or class. And the huge to-do list for the week I was writing myself each Monday morning made it all seem overwhelming. So I went back to a paper planner last weekend, buying a 16-month agenda that started in August, and things seem a lot more organized already! My weeks are broken down by day, allowing me to set realistic expectations of what can be done each day instead of a long rolling list. And the month-at-a-glance page allows me to write down important events, which is proven to help us remember things better than simply typing them on our iPhone.
I took Facebook and Twitter off my phone
I already wrote in length about my experience with deleting Facebook and Twitter off my phone, but just to confirm, a couple of weeks later and I’m still more than happy with my decision. I don’t think I’ll ever bring them back on my phone again.
I ditched coffee and caffeine
Now stay with me here. I know this is a biggie. For the past eight days I’ve been on a cleanse that eliminates many things, but the most heart-breaking for me was caffeine. I love my morning cup of coffee and look forward to it the night before as I’m settling down to sleep. I don’t usually drink more than 1 to 2 cups a day, but those cups are sacred to me. It was a painful three days going through the caffeine withdrawal period which involved horrible headaches and intense fogginess to the point of making me totally useless. But then day four rolled around, and a wonderful thing happened; not only did I feel better, but I didn’t experience that normal afternoon slump. Sure, the afternoon slump is a natural part of every human’s body clock. But whereas before I could barely function I felt so sleepy, making me reach for a HUGE glass of iced tea, this afternoon slump was nothing more than a slight blip on the radar, easily cured with a little chasing around of a rowdy 2-year-old. Drinking caffeine first thing in the morning and in the afternoon, as I was, can not only mess up our natural body clock but also intensify the afternoon slump. After my cleanse is over, I’ll most likely go back to having a cup of coffee here and there, because after all it does have its health benefits and I love it so, but I’ll be more mindful of when I drink it and how much.
In reality, my life hasn’t changed dramatically on the outside — no new job or big house. But on the inside, I feel a tremendous amount of relief. My days are more productive, I feel less overwhelmed, and I feel better rested — all things that make a person fantastically happy, especially if they’ve recently been through a bit of a dark patch. Of course not every worry or problem can be solved by simply buying a paper planner and skipping the morning coffee run, but when they help you feel more at peace and less tired, you’re a lot more likely to be able to deal with life’s biggest worries and setbacks in a more rational way.