The Two Week Reset
As many of you may know, Mike and I just relocated the first week of May to a new apartment that is just 4 miles away from my office and 10 miles away from Mike's campus (& much closer to his clinical sites, too!) Mike had been adamant for quite some time that we relocate closer to my office, he could see more clearly than I could how much of a toll the commute was taking on me. I was insistent that I could keep plugging along, but five and a half years of 10+ hours spent commuting a week, combined with my health and the immense amount of stress I'd been under, particularly this past winter and spring, was truly starting to derail me. So I did something that wives hate to do...conceded that my husband was RIGHT! (yes Mike, I put it in writing that you were right ☺)
All of this happened during what we have coined the semester from h*ll. Our condo was prepped and put on the market while I was in Massachusetts on my girls trip and when Mike was at the peak of his suffering from pericarditis, a complication from his heart procedure in January. Luckily we had an incredible realtor and our condo sold within a week, but since we were downsizing we had a ton of purging and packing to do and our actual move occurred smack dab in the middle of Mike's finals. Immediately following the move we had the two night Hearts Delight event in DC and spoke in front of almost 400 people. Insanity. As I’ve shared with you all in past posts, I’ve been struggling with anxiety and panic for months now. Although I was fighting some intense battles everything was still bubbling just under the surface, as Mike’s schooling, selling and packing up our home, prepping for big American Heart Association events and commuting kept propelling me forward. Come May 12th/13th I was 1,000 percent SPENT. As a result, my emotions and everything I had been fighting to keep in check came pouring out. I almost felt worse than I had over the past few months. Why was this now coming to full manifestation? The answer was actually simple: I now had space, and time, to finally breathe and process things. With my commute essentially eliminated I was given hours upon hours back in my week. I could no longer push everything down and continue to just plow forward. I was forced to really take a hard look at myself and to experience the full capacity of my emotions.
I was inspired by someone very close to me who had just taken two full weeks to focus solely on their mental and physical health. Two weeks of really focusing on listening to their body. Practicing deep breathing, meditation, journaling, resting, watching tv, reading, properly fueling their body…the list goes on and on. These are all things that I certainly strive to incorporate into my daily life…but it is amazing how easily the time commitments, pressures, and stressors of everyday life can throw you off track. I made up my mind to prioritize myself and my body for two straight weeks almost immediately after moving into the new apartment and unpacking. I knew I needed to make the most of this newfound gift of time!
Over time I have certainly done a good job at working to prioritize my time and commitments and say no to the things that don’t benefit me, but with so much of my time still being taken up during the week driving it was never quite enough…and I never did it for long enough. Sure I’d spend a weekend at home without plans - but most of that time was actually spent regrouping from the insanity of my week. By the time my plan-free weekend was over, I had really just broken even. But my 2-week reset post our move was on a whole different level and the results have been astonishing.
Instead of getting on the road in the morning by 7:45 for an hour and fifteen-minute drive I was waking up at 7:45. And instead of walking in my front door at the end of a long workday at 6:15 I had already been home and worked out for a half hour by that time. These benefits alone have been life-changing. The consistent routine of exercising has been extremely beneficial. I am pretty good about prioritizing taking walks during my lunch break at work - but as the summer nears and the temperatures rise it’s harder for me to do during the day without coming back into the office an insanely sweaty mess. Now I can get a small walk in on my lunch, spend the rest of my break soaking up some vitamin D, and then finish up my workout in the gym when I get home in the evening. I’ve also been incorporating some weight training which is new for me in my exercise routine. As I mentioned two Loving Lately posts ago, I’m working hard to fight fear with gratitude. Seeing my body strengthen, much like Allison mentioned in her post on Pure Barre, has really given me much to feel grateful for and a huge sense of strength and empowerment.
During my 2 week reset, I also took advantage of my newfound gift of time by not only sleeping and exercising but engaging in serious downtime as well. Mike was on his two-week break from school and we both relished in watching a fair amount tv and movies (without feeling the least bit guilty) reading and spending most of the memorial day weekend lounging at the pool. We also spent a lot of time cooking clean, nutritious and delicious meals! Cooking is so beneficial not only in the sense that you are fueling your body, but many studies have shown the mental health benefits of cooking - linking the concept of using your hands to create as having a profound impact on your brain and mood.
My designated 2 week period has concluded and I definitely feel immense changes. I am certainly more rested and less stressed. I feel stronger both mentally and physically. I’ve had the space to work through some of my emotions (a work in progress, don’t get me wrong) and have been able to have constructive conversations about them. I feel more organized, more energized, and more settled. Not to mention more motivated than ever to keep on making integral changes and putting myself first.
I realize that eliminating a commute or relocating isn’t necessarily feasible, or even applicable, to many of our readers. The commute is just one example of something that was really hindering my quality of life. What in your lives is standing in your way of consistently prioritizing your mental and physical health? What toxic situations can you take in your own hands and eliminate? Or, on the flip side, what positive practices can you incorporate to off-set your everyday stressors? Because lets face it - stress is inevitable and we all have to work to pay our bills and function in society.
I firmly believe that managing our physical and mental health comes down to how we spend our time. I want to end this post with a quick quote from Emily Ley’s book Grace not Perfection which was lent to me by one of my best friends and a book I’d encourage all of you to pick up and read! The fourth chapter tackles the concept of busyness, prioritizing commitments, and how we spend our time.
“Instead of prioritizing our commitments and carefully choosing what we fill our time with, we so often focus on just making life happen - on surviving - every day. Though we all desperately want to slow down and make time for what matters, we don’t give ourselves permission to reevaluate. Just imagine what we’re missing out on when we put our heads down and barrel through the day” (Ley, 2016, pg 58).
“We’re all looking for someone to give us permission to slow down - to be perfectly imperfect and uniquely different. So here it is. You have permission…make margin for what matters. This is your one precious, crazy life. White space in your calendar is priceless. Why work so hard to fill it up? Aren’t the in-between moments where we find the most joy?” (Ley, 2016, pg 61).
Ley, E (2016). Grace not Perfection. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.