The Transformation: Rejuvenation

Don’t tell anyone, but I think I left this topic until last because rejuvenation has been {by far} the hardest part of my transformation to get my head around.

My whole life I have been running along at breakneck speed, getting stuff done.  It’s what I do.  I am always busily engaged in something productive.  My definition of ‘productive’ has never included watching movies, reading books, walking in the park, hanging out with friends, watching TV, playing games, napping, lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, listening to music, or sunbathing.  No.  Productive to me has always meant re-modeling the kitchen, building furniture, writing cookbooks, developing recipes, writing blog posts, shooting images, driving somewhere, the day-job, helping others, installing vertical blinds, cleaning, digging in the yard, or doing any number of other actively useful things.  Relaxing has never been a core competency of mine.  I would even go so far as to say I don’t know how to relax.  For me it is a case of feeling I am not good enough if I am not busily engaged in something useful.  Intellectually I know that is ridiculous – we all have huge intrinsic worth – but emotionally I feel like I have no value if I am not contributing in some way.

And then my adrenal glands went on strike and my world came to a screeching halt.  Most days when I got home from the day-job I barely had the energy to climb the stairs in order to go to bed.  There were several days when I thought about camping on the blue leather couch in the living room under a pile of blankets instead.  Mr. McHenry would have loved that.  I quickly realized that it’s hard to be productive when your body simply refuses to get up and go.  This, of course, drove my brain completely nuts.  But once Dr. Bizzy had figured out what was ailing me I recognized that rest and relaxation were a major part of the prescription for getting my adrenals back online.  Enforced inactivity.  Eeeek! 1239442_637336416286800_1607325988_n

Having a body that wasn’t able to function was my biggest ally in learning how to relax, so as strange as it may seem I am very grateful for this experience.  I have learned how important it is to get adequate rest and rejuvenation and I am even learning to look forward to relaxing.  I cannot believe I just typed that.

Here’s some of the things that I started building into my life in order to give my brain and body the rejuvenation it needs on a regular basis.  Some of these things I have covered in other recent posts, which just goes to show how marvelously integrated all the various pieces of our lives are.

  • Once a week I walk to the coffee shop with my bestie for a large mug of green tea and some girlie natter.  That’s 50 minutes of healthy walking, a huge pile of anti-oxidants, some wonderful support, and a bunch of giggles over the course of 2 hours.
  • Once a week I do a restorative yoga class.  75 minutes of calm, mindful, relaxing peace.  I never knew being still could feel so good.
  • Twice a week I workout for 15 minutes to strengthen my body, switch on the fat-burning hormones, and get a “runner’s high”.
  • I started viewing weekends as time for rest and rejuvenation instead of an extra opportunity to work.  I work hard enough during the week.  I am now using weekends for well-earned R ‘n’ R.  This is such a dramatic change for me and I admit I’m still a bit lot lost.  I should point out that I include pottering in the garden as R ‘n’ R although some of you would consider that work.  I find growing and nurturing things very therapeutic.
  • I started meditating for 15 minutes a day, usually right before bedtime, but sometimes first thing in the morning.  Nothing fancy, no complicated mantras, tying my legs in knots, candles, incense, or tasseled pillows.  Just a comfy chair, eyes closed, and focusing on my breathing.  Amazingly rejuvenating.
  • I read before I go to bed every night instead of being online checking email.  It might be only 15 minutes some nights, but it gets my brain to switch gears, and I am getting through books that I’ve had on my bedside table for years!
  • If I make myself a cup of coffee at home I’ll go sit on the couch and hang with the ‘kids’ for 15 minuets instead of drinking it at my desk or slurping it between tasks.  It has brought new meaning to the term coffee break.  15 minutes can be amazingly reviving.
  • I started The Big Breakfast Adventure.  How often do we say to people, “Oh we must grab coffee and catch up!!”?  And then 3 months later we hear ourselves exclaiming that exact phrase to the same person because we still haven’t had coffee.  And I’m talking about people that we love and want to be around.
  • Some Saturdays I’ll walk – or perhaps more accurate would be wobble – over to Starbucks after my eccentrics at the gym, order a large green or peppermint tea, find a comfy chair in the corner, relax, and people watch for half an hour.
  • If I am working at home and the sun is out, I’ll take 15 minutes to sit in the sun and watch Mr. McHenry and the gang chase insects or play in the grass.  It’s like re-booting your brain and clearing out all the clutter.
  • On weekends I’ll curl up on the couch for a few hours with a positive, uplifting read, a pile of cats, and a blanket.  It took me a while but I am finally OK with spending some of my weekend this way.
  • I shut my computers off at 8pm at the latest on work days, which gives me an hour to relax, take a long, hot shower or bath, or whizz through a few home or personal tasks before I start my pre-bed routine.  I find that getting a few short tasks done every day during the week really frees up time at the weekend.  Doing tasks in little chunks feels a lot less like work than doing chores for several hours in one hit.
  • I stopped reading the news.
  • I started reading good books.  The kind of books that inspire, uplift, encourage, and make you look at the world (and yourself) in a positive light.  You know – all those ‘woo-woo’ books in the self-help and motivation departments of the book store.  Books like The Seven Habits, The Four Agreements (favorite. book. ever.), The Road Less Traveled.  You get my drift.  Books that let me know I can.  Books that make me excited about life.  Books that make me feel good; particularly about myself.
  • I started being more selective over who I hang out with.  Positive, supportive, uplifting, joyful people – yes!  Negative, unsupportive, critical, draining, unhappy people – not so much.  Of course, everyone has bad days – I am talking about people who are chronically negative and unhappy.  You can’t help people who don’t want to be happy, and they don’t help you, so that’s a lose / lose  all round.
  • I created a few positive mantras for myself which I focus on here and there throughout the day, especially if I notice I am feeling a little tense or not my bubbly self.
  • I’ll take 10 minutes here and there to visualize happy outcomes, joyful feelings, and favorite moments.  Things that make me feel good.  Doing this can change your whole day around if it’s not going in quite the direction you’d like.  Doing this when you feel great just makes everything feel even better.
  • I put ‘Do Nothing’ on my to-do list and schedule.  Our best ideas come when we are not working.  They come when we are playing, out in nature, having fun, doing nothing.  Create some space for your brain to go wherever it feels like.
  • I spend a few minutes every day reflecting on all the things that I am grateful.  Gratitude makes you feel good.  1785_464287816952280_458903415_n

The hardest thing for me in all this is not the doing but in how I think and feel about doing them.  I find it easier and easier to do these things on a regular basis, but I still struggle mentally with not feeling productive for every minute of every day – even though I know from the last month or so of doing these things that they are highly productive, just not in the way I am used to thinking of productive.  They are highly productive in that they cause me to be more productive with the rest of my time.  Doing less some of the time = being able to do more the rest of the time.  A refreshed and rejuvenated brain and body can do more in less time.  For me it’s a mental paradigm shift, but that shift is happening faster and faster the more I experience the results of some relaxation and rejuvenation.  The irony is that in being forced to do less, I have been able to help more people through this series of blog posts about my recovery.  Had I not had this experience I wouldn’t have been able to write about it.  It’s a funny old world.

Now, stop reading this and go get some R ‘n’ R!  Then come back and share with us what you do to get relaxed and rejuvenated.

 

What does 'sane' mean? Click here...Want delicious uber-healthy recipes? Check out my Cookbooks!
  • Susan - Many great ideas. I plan to incorporate some of them into my life.
    Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Reisler - Best blog post ever! Thanks Carrie for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Allison Sherman - Such a great post. Did you find it freeing that you actually had to take time for yourself? Like when people asked something of you and you said “Nope, can’t. Gotta rest. Doctor’s orders”. It’s like we don’t give ourselves permission to relax until we can point to a professional telling us we have to! I guess either way you get there it’s a good thing.

    I have experienced something similar since my adrenals also took a bit of a vacation (not anything like yours, though). I know that the kids get home from school at 3:30 so every day around 2:30 I think “Gotta get to the couch!” And I spend 45-60 minutes on the couch reading the news, playing scrabble, chatting with friends via text and sometimes taking a snooze. It’s my time and I love it. Helps me be more focused when they do get home. Thanks for all the ideas. I’m an extrovert so my energy comes from people interaction so texting friends is good for me! :) And my goal for 2014 is to read all the Harry Potter books. I’m starting book 4 now. It’s been fun to read something so imaginative and different than all the diet books I used to read.

    A question about your eating… now that you’ve dropped a bunch of sizes, do you find yourself saying “Oh I can have that treat a little more now” and falling off the SANE wagon a bit? Seems like anytime I make a little progress it’s a slippery slope back to the inSANE world. Just curious if your eating mindset has changed.ReplyCancel

  • lee adley - Carrie can I use almond rather than coconut milk in your hardcore green smoothie?ReplyCancel

  • Isabel - Carrie, your open-ness regarding your difficulties is incredible. Your post on depression, on your brain trying to kill you, I have never read anything that put it so succinctly. I have lived with depression most of my life (up and down like a toilet seat as they say – I’m an expat too :) and never could explain it, how it felt, to those that matter to me. I have bookmarked that particular blog post so next time I am asked I will say – read this, this is how it feels.

    I applaud your courage – writing about it, living with it, and having it under control.ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*