‘E’ – Energize Yourself for the Long Run

depicts someone tking one step at a time
‘G’ is for Go One Step at a Time
July 21, 2021
Try
August 4, 2021

‘E’ – Energize Yourself for the Long Run

This is the final in a series of seven posts in which I explore how to move forward when our journey is difficult. The series began with an introduction and has covered the first five of six TRUDGE practices for long-term resilience: Tell the Truth , RememberUnpack Your History, Decide: Fear or Excitement, and Go One Step at a Time.

TRUDGE – being resilient as you move through a challenging time in your life. When life is a hot mess, it can seem pointless to eat a healthy meal or take time for a walk.  However, these sorts of things are what will get you through.  We can get away with shortchanging ourselves for a brief amount of time, but to deprive ourselves for more than a few days will create real consequences. 

Instead of depriving your body when it most needs good care, energize yourself for the long run. Take care of your body as if you were preparing for a marathon.  Eat healthy, exercise, breathe, stretch, hydrate. Take care of your specific needs.  Note: your brain is part of your body.  Thinking abilities and stress management improve with elevated nutrition, oxygenation, hydration, muscle flexibility, and decreased pain. Trudge situations require us to step back and make time to be healthy.   

I have worked with a lot of parents of children with significant mental health and/or developmental needs.  I always ask what parents do to take care of themselves and their adult relationships.  Almost every time they frown at me and say, “I don’t have time for that.”  My answer is, “you don’t have time to not do that.”  

I learned this the hard way.  I was several months into a special needs adoption; I had been running flat out with all my focus on the needs of my children.  I started to run a fever.  No meds brought it down, and it kept climbing so I went to the ER. A few hours later a doctor handed me a lab report with the diagnosis: mononucleosis.  I looked at him in panic and said, “I don’t have time for that!  I’m in the process of adopting a child with special needs.”  He said (matter-of-factly) “well then, that is probably why you have it”.  Ugh.   

I was forced to let housework go, accept many casseroles from others, teach the kids to do some of the chores, and focus on the basics.  Once I could get up and about for more than 45 minutes at a time, I built in more for me.  I moved bedtime earlier and told the kids they didn’t have to sleep but they did have to keep their heads on their pillows.  Reading, Legos, action figures entertained them until they slept.  That gave me time to do my bedtime list and to get to bed on time, a priority for me.   

What do you need to keep up your energy?  You know you; what do you need?  If you can’t answer that question, start to pay attention to you.  Remember, keep it simple.   

Sleep

What is your ideal sleep schedule?  Are you a night owl or a lark?  Adults need 7+ hours a night according to the CDC.    What helps you sleep best? 

Hydration

How do you keep up with your body’s need for hydration?  Hot days and the dry air of winter heating are both times when more attention is needed.  Plus, a glass of something cool, or a warm cup can meet your needs on so many other levels.

Nutrition

What actually helps you feel better?  This is a danger area with lots of online gurus who suggest supplements, and dietsIf you aren’t sure of your needs set up a time with a registered dietitian to establish a meal plan which meets your unique needs.  Simplify your meal planning and prep.  No need to be fancy, or to establish a whole new system.

Exercise

woman demonstrating yoga pose

What do you need to keep going?  Keep it simple.  Set time to stretch, walk and move your body.  Dance in the kitchen.  No dramatic goals: do what helps your body and spirit feel better. 

 

Breathe

What grounding technique works for you?  5 senses grounding is one way to slow down and take a few breathes.  Bedtime is a good time to pay attention to slow breaths as a way of relaxing and winding down.

Medical Care

What do you need?  It is so easy to let the day-to-day stuff slip by.  Refill your meds. See your doctor/dentist. Do your exercises.  Time and attention spent on your specific needs now can prevent major trouble later.  Take care of you, you deserve to be as healthy as you can be.

Take some time today and take stock:

What are your priorities for keeping your energy up?    

You can Learn, Model, and Teach resilience.  Learning to take the time to care for yourself gives you energy to get through this time of Trudge.  It is also a really strong way to Model self-care to all those around you.  In families where a parent looks at a kid and says, “I need 15 minutes to…..” eventually those kids also learn to take time to do self-care.  Same goes for supervisors, friends and leaders of all kinds.  Teach those in your circles of influence some of the skills you have learned.  One way to do this is to teach them that they can come to you for support in caring for themselves.  

To learn more, explore learnmodelteach.com for tools, videos, and coaching opportunities.

Peace,

Laura A. Gaines