What to do When Life Gets Hectic

Travel is both exciting and rough on our bodies, hearts, and minds. I have been traveling most of this month and I am feeling a bit worn down. On the flip side, I am feeling hopeful and inspired by my new job and the opportunities I have been fortunate enough to experience. My travel has been primarily for work with the exception of a trip with Sam to Chicago to see his doctor. Of course, we always find a few moments for fun in what has become our “adopted city” in Sam’s mental health treatment journey.

This week I was back in Chicago for a work conference. Here is what I didn’t expect. This city feels really weird without my travel buddy, Sam. I had a free evening last night and was a little perplexed to think of what to do. You mean I don’t have to go to the Navy Pier, Dave & Busters or the Chicago Children’s Museum? And then it hit me. I should go, by myself, to see Hamilton! I tried to take Sam last summer and it was a bit of a disaster. He had just started recovering from tardive dyskinesia and sitting still during a show was impossible. We left at intermission.

Tonight was my night! I got online and found a seat. As I pushed the button to purchase my, admittedly a bit too expensive, ticket online I got giddy. What you might not know about me is that I LOVE musical theater and have since my Dad took me to my first live performance at the age of 5. On a funny note, that show was A Chorus Line!

I must have looked like a bumbling fool perched in my balcony seat of the CIBC Theatre. I laughed, I cried and even sang along a little. After the show, I walked around the city with tears of joy streaming down my face. I missed my Chicago companion, Sam, but I was alone and I was happy. I did not want the evening to end and it occurred to me, it doesn’t have to. I can continue to find times to celebrate MY LIFE and what makes me happy.

Life is going to continue to be hectic, but I am going to continue to find some grace and take time for myself. It is well worth the investment!



Mental Health Month: #4Mind4Body

Mental Health America has declared May as Mental Health Month and this year’s theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body.  The organization is challenging us to think about what we as individuals can do to be fit for our own futures – no matter where we happen to be on our own personal journeys to health and wellness.  You can even follow and sign up to be part of the #4Mind4BodyChallenge.

While I am not joining the full challenge (not one of my strengths i.e. any diet challenge I have done), I WILL be looking at what I can do to make small but significant changes to my overall health and well being.

Here are a couple of my ideas:

Effectively Manage Microfrustrations – In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff!  It is easy to make mountains out of molehills in our daily lives, but what tends to happen is all of those little things build up into one BIG frustration that can surface when you least expect it.  I am going to work on managing my frustrations one moment at a time and not letting things fester.

Take Time To Breathe – I hold my breath.  All. The. Time.  The result is long dramatic sighs which cause everyone to look at me and say, “What is wrong with you?”  To which I look confused and say, “Nothing. Why?”  I am going to try to avoid these awkward exchanges between my family, co-workers and even strangers by remembering to breathe!

Stretch Every 30 Minutes – If one more doctor, physical or massage therapist or wellness person asks me what I do all day only to give me an “I told you so” look when I say I sit, I might scream!  I really do know a lot of my physical pain is caused by prolonged sitting and I do try to do some sort of movement each day.  This month, I will commit to stretching every half hour and hope I get some relief!

So, what are you going to do for Mental Health Month?  From advocacy to supporting others, let’s help break the stigma and work towards a healthy community for all.  Both body and mind!

Mental Health Monday: 3 Reasons to Use a Time Management System

If you have read any of my posts, you know that my life is crazy.  I have a full-time job, I am active in my community and I also have a part-time gig as a taxi driver for two young boys! Throw in the unpredictability of my bipolar son’s day, work days full of meetings, 75+ emails and it can feel like going back to bed would be a better choice. Here’s the kicker. I have learned to thrive in this environment. My own ADD kicks in and I am pretty productive despite all of this chaos. But, is it worth it?

When I started my new job in February, I made a commitment to myself to create a time management system. I knew, despite my ability to function in a world of ups and downs, it is not good for my overall mental health.  Here are a couple of things I have discovered through making a real effort to manage my time:

Time Blocking Helps You Say No – If you are like me, saying no can be extremely difficult. I recently started time blocking everything. Time to read, take meetings, calls, exercise, spend time with my boys, even eat. The result is I can actually SEE the open time or lack of time I have for extra commitments.

Here is another secret, all of my time blocks are linked back to my professional or personal goals. If something isn’t going to move me towards reaching a set goal, it does not get a time block. In other words, I say no.

Healthy Habits are Created – People say it all the time, put something you want to do on your calendar and you are more likely to do it. I would do this with exercise. But unlike other things I had blocked, I would look for excuses to remove that yoga class from my calendar. I had to reframe the conversation in my head. Exercising a few times a week became a personal goal just like any other goal I set for myself.  Time block set, time block honored.

Organization Can Be Your Friend – These are words I never thought I would write, and in full disclosure, I am not very organized. I am, however, extremely goal centered which naturally takes some organization. I write down my goals and track them daily and weekly. If I am lagging behind on one, I make adjustments to my time or schedule. It is almost like I have TRICKED myself into being a little bit more organized. It’s cool, organization and I are slowly becoming friends.

Do you know what the real beauty of time management is? It is not set in stone! If after a month a system is not working for you. Stop, reassess and make a change. Take the time to learn about your work and learning style. How does this factor into creating a productive time management system?  What works for you might not work for someone else and vice versa.

I have to leave some time blocks open for chaos, flexibility or change. Seems crazy, right? Perhaps. However, I know myself, I know what works for me and I continue to do what I can to improve.  Give it a try, my fellow unorganized friends, you might be surprised!