I met a very good friend for breakfast at a local garden center, we didn’t really give ourselves a time scale but we settled onto couches by the expansive windows that let in vast amounts of light and sunshine. We had a catch up of events in our lives, we shared inspiring web sights, we laughed about her ‘I phone’ verses my android phone and basically put the world to rights.
During a pause she turned to me and said, “this is what nourishes and sustains me you know.” I felt the same. We began to talk about the things in our lives that drain us and the things that sustain us. Basically we all have our first aid kit, our toolbox of rituals, routines that keep us buoyed, happy, the things that make life pleasurable. Everyday things that sustain us and keep us happy, because lets face it if we are happy our family is happy because we are less stressed.
We called it the list that sustains us: walks in the park, walks by the river, yoga, reiki, coffee, meeting with friends, getting hair done, getting nails done, reading, dancing, going out, having 5 minutes while the kids are distracted, time with our partner, fun times with our children. The list is endless
Even so there are always times in our lives when we have events, situations, people that drain us. These life stressors are inevitable, a child gets ill, we get ill, work gets hectic, building work starts on house, our elderly parents needing us a bit more. I guess the list is endless and you have your own to add.
Often during these times our energy levels are focused on the stressors and our routine the little things we do to keep us sustained and nourished slowly ease off because well “I’m worried sick about my child I don’t have time to meet up, or “ I can’t concentrate on reading right now because my mind is pre-occupied.” What can happen is that as we drop the activities that sustain us, our mood may dip and then we will feel less likely to pick them up again once the stressor has diminished or finished.
I have spoken to many people who are grieving or are caring for somebody else and find that their mood fluctuates depending on that day. They have said that having a list of activities or rituals that sustain them keeps them going, even if it is just some time to them selves.
Talking about the things that sustain me has really helped me focus on the times in my life when I have let them go and then forgotten to pick them up. I now have a list in my head of all the things I love to do and the things I have to do to give me back my balance and equilibrium during or after a stressful time.
Having an honest discussion about the things that drain me has also helped me feel less judgmental towards myself,telling myself “it’s okay to find this stressful,” makes some things easier to cope with.
After I had my daughter I forgot what it was like to have time for myself or what I used to love to do. It’s only now 8 years later that I have begun to incorporate quite a few activities and rituals that sustain me. I did it one activity at a time.
A great way to start is by making a list of the things you do to sustain yourself through the times that drain you. If your activities have eased off introduce one activity back in to your routine until it becomes a habit and see how you feel.
The oxygen mask analogy is a beautiful reminder, the first thing you will do if you are on a plane and the masks are activated is to put one on yourself, it is only that way that you can help those around you. Breath deeply!