It Really Does Matter!
A response to last week’s blog post led to a discussion about how what we eat affects our moods. This other mom and I agreed that if we have a bad week, we often look back on that time and realize that we were also eating all the wrong things, or, in my case, sometimes not eating enough. While writing my book I had to force myself to eat breakfast (coffee didn’t count), stop for lunch, and listen to my body’s needs, because if I felt like garbage I would write garbage. As I try to be patient in this between-books dry spell, I decided to pay closer attention to what affects my ability to focus, my emotions, my overall ability to enjoy whatever God has for me each day, and even my creativity. Here are a few things that I’ve discovered that might also help you:
We really do need sleep. I know; what a weird thing to need in this modern age. I used to try to compete with my over-achieving friends who got up at 4:30 am, flew from one activity to another, and crashed at 11:00 pm. They got so much done! It sounded impressive when they said, “I’m so busy!” Once, a counselor fell asleep during my session because he’d gotten a half-hour of sleep the night before. A half hour! Why bother? But he was a counselor, so very little sleep must be the standard, right? Then I became a single mom and learned that if I didn’t get enough sleep I could not handle the mountain of responsibilities that had been left in my lap. On top of that I got grumpy and depressed. I couldn’t afford to get depressed, and my sons didn’t need me grumpy, so I started forcing myself to go to bed when Nathan did (at least most of the time) even if I laid there and read for an hour. Now, if my mood takes a dive off the proverbial cliff, I know it’s time to end my day earlier.I decided to pay closer attention to what affects my ability to focus, my emotions, my overall… Click To Tweet
I need protein. And tofu doesn’t count. I know this because I tried to become a vegetarian in college (doesn’t everyone try to become a vegetarian in college, at least in the Bay Area?) and a couple more times later in life. I came to the conclusion that I love lentil stew, an occasional vegetarian meal satisfies me very well, and I’m fine with a plain salad or meatless pasta if adding chicken will only jack up the price, but eventually I start craving a burger. Recently, eating an omelet that included bacon completely turned my day around. For my vegetarian friends protein in the form of meat might not be important, but for me it is.
I need food. Yes, I know, “Um, not to use a worn-out expression but, duh!” As a woman who once used novels about anorexics as how-to books, I need an occasional reminder that food really is fuel.
Listen to your body. See the previous three paragraphs.
Coffee is not a substitute for water. Coffee makes me happy. It also makes me shaky if I drink too much of it and starts messing with my sleep after a while. Water makes my body and mind happy. It’s just boring. I probably need to buy a cuter water bottle (or knit a new outfit for the one I have now) and keep it at my desk. Why is drinking more water so difficult?
Get outside more. A few months ago I had to put my gym membership on hold. That’s when I discovered that, though exercising at the gym served its purpose for a while, and I enjoyed it when I went with a friend, I much prefer taking at least one long walk per day. One in the morning and one in the evening is even better. My eyes hate the sunlight, but my spirit needs it. It also needs the fresh air.
I am who I spend time with. Not too long ago I communicated with two very different women on the same day. One dragged me down with her negativity and judgmental comments and the other lifted me up with her joy. The experience served as a reminder that I can get along with just about anyone, but I need to choose my company wisely when it comes to who I hang out with for an extended period of time.
Find a devotional that feeds your soul. In no way am I implying that devotional books are a substitute for Scripture (I write devotionals, and my hope for each one is that my readers will be inspired to pick up their Bibles). For me “Spend more time in the Word” is a given. But sometimes the right devotional book can lead us to the right Bible verses and deliver the exact message that we need to get through the day. I’m a Streams in the Desert fan—very old school, and occasionally politically incorrect, but it always seems to include at least one sentence that offers the perspective that my heart craves.
The more I journal the better I feel. If I journal long enough, I will either catch on to how whiny I’ve become, solve my own problem, know what I need to seek wise counsel on, or get tired and fall asleep. I usually write out my prayers, which prevents my mind from drifting off and doubles as a record of God’s work.
This is actually the cabin journal. I feared that if I posted a picture of MY journal someone might think, Cool, that’s where she writes the good stuff! The truth is that’s where I write the worst stuff. You don’t even want to know!
It’s amazing what happens when I do the things that I know make a difference!
What about you? What are the things that make or break how you feel? How does at least feeling better improve your outlook on life or your ability to handle stress?