Tag Archives: Healthy Mindset

When Your Reality Makes You Weary

It was a gift—a relaxing camping trip with my family.  We had unplugged, played, napped, laughed, read books, and connected.  Heavenly, but it couldn’t possibly last forever. Now it was back to reality.

Our family’s “reality” includes my husband returning to his usual midnight shift job, with a Wed-Sun work week.  It was Wednesday evening; in anticipation of his first night back to work, he laid down for his usual nap.  After a hot summer day, the heat still lingered into the evening.  My 3 boys were buzzing around, indoors and out, playing with their neighborhood friends.  Doors were opening and closing loudly, the outside water faucet creaking on…and off…and back on.  I heard muffled squeals of excitement outdoors as I felt the rush of the cool A/C on my bare toes.

Then came a familiar wave of panic.  Like an unwelcome visitor, it plopped itself down in front of me and I was forced to acknowledge it.  I didn’t have to ask what prompted this feeling because I already knew.  It was the dread of being my husband’s “sleep gatekeeper.”  That’s what I call it, anyway.

I’ve always seen myself as the sole person responsible for his sleep quality, quantity, and therefore general health.  In my mind, everything hinges on him getting quality rest, something that evades most midnight-shifters.  When your husband struggles to meet his daily sleep needs, AND you have 3 active boys and a very vocal dog, the struggle to maintain a quiet house is exactly that, a struggle.

Midnight shift is counter-intuitive to human nature, offering up persistent fatigue, absent-mindedness (we call it “third shift brain”), and low vitamin D levels.  Those who work these hours take on an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and cognitive decline.  As a wife, I’m keenly aware of the fact that the most dangerous part of my husband’s work day (despite being a police officer) is his drowsy drive home after shift.  To keep the house quiet during the day, I alter my laundry and vacuuming schedules, whether I park my car in the garage or out, and ration my trips in and out of my bedroom while he’s sleeping.  I pack what I need each day, and live out of our guest bathroom to avoid waking him.  (Many times I’ve forgotten crucial “items” and have had to improvise.)  It isn’t easy, or normal, but it’s how we’ve done life for over half of his 16-year career.

This particular Wednesday evening as the noise ensued and the panic came knocking, I realized that my physical response to our reality was second-nature, and had been for quite some time.  I felt the anxiety wash over me; choking back tears, I felt hopeless and stuck.  I didn’t want to do this anymore; I longed for the blissful normalcy that we had tasted on vacation!  I was weary.

Do you have weary moments?  The kind where there is no end in sight and you don’t have it in you anymore to endure?

I asked God for comfort and a Word.  Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.  When I studied this verse in Greek, I learned that weary means “exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)” and rest means “to refresh; to cause one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; and to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation.”  This kind of rest can only refresh when it is given from above.  I can’t achieve the full measure on my own.  Anything I try to do for myself is temporary, at best.

When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it can feel impossible.  Enduring for as long as we must requires trust.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.  We can trust Him to take our burdens and lighten our loads and we can trust Him to strengthen us to endure anything that we face.  In this verse we also have the promise that it won’t last forever!  That summer evening, I needed to rest in these reminders.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I have my share of tears and fears.  All I know is that when I go to Jesus and cast my anxieties, somehow miraculously, I’m able to get up the next day and do it all again.  The same can be true for you.  Hang in there…think action verbs: come, trust, and cast.  You will find rest for your weary soul.

Summer’s Here: Get Over the Dread and Into that Suit!

It’s finally summer!  The long-anticipated warm weather, longer days, and relaxed schedule are upon us.  High fives all around! We made it!

An old familiar wave of dread hits me in the midst of my elation…I’m going to have to take my kids to the pool.  They are probably going to ask at LEAST once this summer.  Ugh, I need a new suit.

I’m no longer in an age and stage where I can buy something off the rack.  Swimsuit “try-on expeditions” now require extra preparation in the form of pep-talks, fasting, tantrum breaks (for me, not my kids), and built-in time to stop at MULTIPLE stores.  I usually leave empty-handed or with 3 suits that I ultimately return, begrudgingly returning to my stretched out, faded suit-of-old.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I battled a body image/eating disorder.  Summertime used to be a major trigger for me and I’ve had to do a lot of work in this area.  Here are some tips to help you to get over the dread and in to that suit:

Unpack your mindset.  Are you focusing on your faults and imperfections? Worried about peoples’ opinions? Comparing yourself to others? Whether at a “healthy” weight or way past it, wearing a swimsuit is something most of us don’t enjoy.

As our own worst critics, we tend to assume that others share our internalized attitudes and beliefs.  Here’s the deal: people don’t view us through the same lens, so let’s chill out.  Even if someone had a negative opinion, do THEY define you and give you worth? My friend, we have been given a priceless status by our Creator. No one, and no amount of cellulite, can change that.

The comparison game is dangerous, stealing our joy and distracting us from embracing life.  I wrote about this in another post, Your Body Isn’t the Enemy.

Speaking of distractions, what are you missing out on because of your mindset?  I realized that my unwillingness to put on a swimsuit and take my sons to the pool was compromising my relationship with them.  (If I had daughters, the impact could be more profound.) They aren’t going to understand that “mommy has some body image issues, and that’s why she won’t take you swimming.”  They’re kids!  They want me…not me with a six-pack.  I want to be that confident, active mom who cares more about connecting with my boys than what I look like in a swimsuit.

Focus on relationship-building instead.  Sometimes I nail this mindset and other times I need reminders. And that’s ok! (I’ll just re-read this post.)

Boost your confidence.  Set some goals that help your body feel healthy, and the mind will follow.  If you’re currently less active, start walking and moving intentionally.  Strive to eat cleaner in the summertime when fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant.  If you exercise regularly, mix it up and try a new program.  Personally, I’ve found that strength training is a huge confidence booster.  If you haven’t tried it, gradually add it to your routine.  If you’ve been dabbling in it for a while, increase your weights and challenge yourself with every workout. Perhaps running, yoga, dancing, or being able to do push-ups are your goals.  If it’s a healthy goal, go for it!

Fake it till you make it?  Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, suggests that this adage should be rephrased, “fake it till you become it.” Even though we are mentally in one place, it doesn’t have to be our destiny.  Our nonverbal behavior has a significant positive impact on our self-confidence.  Try this: put on your suit, forget the mirror, and start behaving confidently…try it at home regularly.  Pair this with positive internal dialogue to drive the point home.  If you are also implementing healthy habits (previous strategy), your self-talk could sound like this: I respect my body and am taking excellent care of it because I am worth it. I’m feeling stronger and healthier. The outside will soon reflect the inside.   

If you’re still stuck, buy an amazing suit.  Most of us feel self-conscious about our “trouble zones” because they don’t seem to change quickly enough for our liking.  The solution?  Buy a suit that addresses some of your concerns (suck-me-in-spandex is a blessing) and then get out there!  I’ve seen gorgeous swim dresses, skirts, wraps and cover-ups on the market.  There are SO many options.  Remember: you get what you pay for.  I’m not being compensated for recommending these sites, but I’ve been impressed with Swimsuits for All.  Here are 2017 coupon codes from RetailMeNot.  Honorable mentions: Modcloth and Venus.

Not seeing what you like?  Get creative!  I couldn’t find any swimsuit bottoms like my favorite exercise shorts, so I bought a second pair and used them as a suit.  I have a muscular upper body; many of the tops on the market make me look like an adolescent boy, so I Googled sports bras and found something cute that could double as a swim top.  I’m also “thigh-strong,” so I often opt for skirts or shorts.

If you’re tempted to sit on the sidelines this summer, I truly hope that you’ll give these strategies a try.  Don’t miss out on life, my friend.  It’s time to behave your way to a healthier you…mentally, relationally, and physically.  Get into that suit!