You may have noticed that I’ve been M.I.A. for some time now…
The end of 2019 came at me fast and hard and in an effort to hold onto the bit of sanity I had left, I decided to unplug from social media. In my case that looks like not creating my own posts but still spending at least an hour a day scrolling through everyone else’s feed and occasionally pming my friend’s hilarious memes.
This “pseudo shutdown” followed the shocking realization that I had been drastically compromising my health and well-being for months. It wasn’t until my partner had to take time off work to care for me and our newborn that I even knew what had happened.
It was mid-September and I was skipping my second meal of the day. I was attempting to knock a few more things off my to-do list when I suddenly began experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, and a headache.
SPOILER ALERT: This was not the first time this has happened. The only difference was this time it was happening around a small person who is completely reliant upon me. Immediately my mind started going through every worst-case-scenario as I desperately begged my body NOT to pass out in front of the baby.
Thankfully my partner made it home in time and was given an opportunity to reflect on my habits. Since then, I’ve made some much needed lifestyle changes and I want to share what I’ve learned with all the other type 3’s (if you know, you know).
- STOP TAKING ON MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE!
- Look. I get it. You’ve got goals to fulfill and a lifestyle to maintain. However, spreading yourself thinly over everything isn’t going to bring you any closer to achieving that. Instead, focus on a maximum of 3 big tasks every day. Big tasks include grocery shopping, mopping the floors, eating or showering without children interrupting, or finding the cure for morning breath. Anything that you take longer than 30 minutes to complete. Commit to it, set clear and direct action steps, and get it done. Give yourself a 2-3 hour time limit and whatever doesn’t get completed in that time frame is for tomorrow or the weekend
- Remember that small things can have a big impact.
- Along with my 3 big tasks, I allow myself to complete a couple smaller things throughout the day as well like watering plants or calling the doctor. This keeps those small things from piling up and becoming overwhelming. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment which I desperately need as a type 3.
- Use your resources.
- We all know someone who is sitting by their phone waiting for something to do and someone to help. Call those meddling folks up and put them to work. I understand that asking for help can be hard so I suggest being very specific with your ask. Take a minute or a day to recognize what you need to get done and which part of that you’re comfortable handing over to others. Be realistic about what others can offer and clearly state your expectations. Take a deep breath, and say out loud “I DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF!”
- Schedule something for yourself every day and commit to it.
- I don’t care if you take five minutes to stare at your back hairs in the mirror. We all need time to be with ourselves. Often, our feelings of neglect stem from the many ways we’re ignoring ourselves. It is imperative that you make time for your needs every day. Put it on your schedule and don’t allow anyone to interrupt you. Treat this time with as much respect as you would your job or any other obligation.
- Keep snacks everywhere!
- When I’m in the zone, eating becomes a side thought. I will focus intently on something for hours and before I know it, I’m “hangry” and everyone is a target. If you’re like me, a great way to avoid low blood sugar and eventually killing everyone is to always establish your snack stations. Before I begin any task, I make sure that food and water are nearby. I then set a timer for every couple hours, reminding me to take a break and eat.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Fun fact: At least 75% of the people in the US are dehydrated (google it). Dehydration can cause many health issues including fatigue, headaches, dry skin, dizziness, confusion or irritability, and much more. Many of us may feel these things happening and attribute it to illness and in reality, we’re just thirsty.
- Rest! Please.
- Every new mom I know (including myself) hates being told how much they need to rest. But sis, you need to rest. Maybe your rest doesn’t look like sleeping 8 hours a night. That’s fine. But you need to find some way to have downtime. Whether that’s meditating, having your body to yourself, taking a power nap, whatever. Just do it.
I know that all of us are very different, and this list may not apply to your specific needs. That’s ok. The bottom line is that we all benefit from taking a moment to stop and analyze our habits.
As someone who’s mental health relies heavily on completing the fifty-eleven tasks on the to-do list in my head, I understand how easy it is to prioritize everyone and everything besides yourself. But believe me when I say that that shit is not important. YOU are important. Everything else can wait. That project will get finished, the house will get cleaned, dinner will be made, you’ll return those emails, and so on.
Or you won’t.
Maybe you’ll start a new project, pretend not to see the dishes in the sink, let the kids eat ketchup tonight, and “accidentally” delete your entire inbox. Either way, I promise you that you will survive. It will be ok and you’ll likely forget about it after tomorrow’s stressors come in. So why not take small steps to make life slightly easier today?
I know it’s a lot. And trust I know that you don’t have time to… (insert unnecessary task here). But you know what else you don’t have time for? Being sick with a baby. You don’t have time to be hospitalized. You don’t have time to die. These are just the facts. So please, take care of yourself.
I’m not saying anything new here. This is all the same played out info we’ve heard before. You know this.
And… if you know so much, then why aren’t you doing better? Do better.