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How are you doing? No, really, how are you doing? We’re often asked that question. Maybe people want to know the answer, but maybe they’re just asking to make polite conversation. Regardless, how do you answer when someone asks you how you’re doing? I might occasionally say “tired” or “busy,” but, for the most part, I respond with the standard “well” that people are expecting to hear.
Lately, I’ve been getting a little sick of answering “well” when I’m not actually feeling that way. I’m tired of not feeling “well” when I should be, too. What about you?
As part of my set yourself up for success series, I’m working on establishing routines and surrounding myself with people who care. While routines will certainly help my frame of mind and stress factor, they’re not the end-all solution to feeling great. Surrounding yourself with smart, caring people is a great way to help yourself feel better, but it’s important to feel better on your own merit, too.
1. Get enough sleep
I’ve been waking up early to start my day on the right foot. Even though I’m not a morning person (I’m more of a 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. type of person ;)), I’m trying to change. I can get so much more accomplished in the hour before my family wakes than I can in the entire day. Even when I was working outside the home, I could get more accomplished from 7 a.m. – 8 a.m., when no one else was in the office, than I could during the rest of the day.
I used to stay up late to finish everything, but after going to bed at 2 a.m., I felt like a freight train ran over me every morning. Since making the change to getting up earlier, I’ve been also trying to go to bed earlier. As soon as the kids go to bed, I’ve been trying to tie up all loose ends, like making lunches, packing backpacks, making sure that the dishes are done, etc., to make my mornings easier. Then, after relaxing with the farmer for a little while, I try to be in bed no later than 10 p.m.
I haven’t been successful every day, but when I am, I’ve noticed a difference.
2. Put your best face forward
Even if I just slop on mascara and lip gloss (I’m loving Maybelline’s new Baby Lips ever since my sister-in-law introduced it to me a month ago – best of all it’s less than $3 on Amazon), I feel ready to take on the day.
When I glance in a mirror during the kids’ nap and see a haggard, old lady looking back at me, I feel even more depressed. However, on days that I actually take the time to fix up, I look more awake (especially if the kids kept me up all night), feel better about myself, and it changes my entire outlook. It’s amazing what a little mascara and cherry lip gloss can do!
3. Dress for success
As much as I love wearing an oversized tee-shirt and yoga pants, I don’t feel great when I wear them. Every time the doorbell rings, even if it’s the UPS man who has seen me at my worst (unbrushed teeth, greasy hair…. you get the picture), I have a mini panic attack if I’m not dressed for success. I don’t recommend that you wear your Sunday best around the house, but at least love yourself enough to wear something that doesn’t have holes in it.
My kids think it’s hilarious to wipe their noses on me instead of using a Kleenex, so I often find myself at the grocery store with drool, boogers, or worse smeared on my shoulder. I need to always wear something washable (I’ve learned the hard way to specify that whenever I order clothes from Stitch Fix and Rue La La, my two favorite places to buy clothes online). Washable clothes can still be cute, though. I want to look somewhat nice every day, and yoga pants and the farmer’s old shirts don’t do the job.
4. Fuel your body
Do you remember to eat enough fruits and vegetables, cut out (or at least reduce) the number of sweets you eat every day, and drink enough water? I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world (I’ve taken to storing Oreos in the freezer so that I don’t eat them. If not, I can eat an entire package by myself).
I’m learning that when I focus on eating at least five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day, I find that I’m not as hungry for sweets. Especially when I make a conscious effort to eat an apple for a snack (I cut one up for the kids, why not for myself, too?), I feel better about myself at the end of the day. Also, hiding in the pantry to sneak Oreos before dinner is just silly (if the kids don’t see me, does it count as much?).
Another trick that I sometimes do is log my food for the entire day into the MyFitnessPal app in the morning. Then, as I’m reaching for my seventh Oreo at snack time, I remember that I’m going to have to add that to my already full calorie count for the day. To make sure that I’m drinking enough, I start out each day by drinking a glass of water. I try to make sure that I drink eight ounces every hour (or a glass of water every two hours). Staying hydrated makes me feel more energized. I also eat less on days that I drink enough water, and I avoid getting kidney stones, which are not fun, I might add.
5. Exercise (there are ways to make it fun!)
When I was working outside the home, I went for daily walks on my lunch hour. Now that I’m home full-time, it’s a little more difficult to drop everything and head to the nearest park, and my walks are a lot less peaceful. I miss my daily walks, though (and so does my waistline). Instead, I’ve been trying to fill the void by going to the YMCA at least twice a week. They have childcare, so I know the kids are in good hands while I squeeze in a fitness class.
I never regret the time I spend at the gym, bonding as we dance across the room in Zumba! Also, my Mommy Group occasionally schedules walking dates instead of letting the kids terrorize one of our houses. It’s refreshing to get out of the house, and you get the chance to interact with like-minded adults.
6. Take the time to do what you love
If you had all the time in the world, what’s the one thing that you would do for yourself? Do you love to read? Take long baths? Sew? Waterski? Whatever your hobby, take some time for yourself and immerse yourself in an activity that you love. Even if you just spend 15 minutes reading while drinking your morning coffee (one reason to wake up before everyone else), you’ll feel enriched. If you’re lucky, maybe you can even multitask, like read while taking a bubble bath (sign me up!) or count your fun activity as fitness (even if I’m just standing behind the boat, letting the wind whip my hair, I still include waterskiing as exercise. It’s the thought that counts, right?).
I hope that the next time someone asks you how you’re doing, you can honestly answer “well.” I’d much rather say that than “haggard” or “frumpy” if I’m giving an honest response!
Feeling better about yourself is a work in progress, but it’s well worth the effort.