Feeling stuck in a rut? Does your life need an overhaul? What is it that you need?
It is easy to feel like things are weighing us down in today’s fast-paced culture. And losing of sight of our own personal needs and wants in the parent game is all too easy. One can end up feeling like an automaton, moving from one pre-programmed situation or activity to another. Yes, life does have to go on but does it have to happen with quite that degree of intensity?
The biggest challenge seems to be allowing ourselves time to relax and enjoy life. This is often something we, as parents, leave until the last minute. Things become unbearable and by then, it’s too late. We end up having arguments and conflicts with loved ones. The credit card whips out to pay for a shot of fun but in the back of our minds, we know there will be a bill to pay so we can’t totally enjoy it. There is even a likelihood of becoming ill or injuring ourselves due to stress; then we have to slow down, whether we like it or not.
Our children see all this and, to a degree, they soak it up like little sponges. In order to encourage them to grow up with good self-management habits, we need to be modelling and practising them ourselves. Remember that even our own habits have their roots in infancy.
Now don’t get me wrong here. This article is not intended to highlight the horrors of dysfunctional social conditioning. As I see it, it is all about being gentle but firm with yourself. If you have found yourself in a rut, then you are the only one who will get yourself out, but it might take a bit of readjusting to do so. If you also want your children to lead happy, contented lives, then challenge yourself to show them how.
Put a new perspective on life
Connect with nature
Getting out for a walk every day in an area of bush or along the beach or a riverbank opens your eyes to the subtle changes in the seasons and reboots your hard drive with vitality and fresh air. We have a tendency to get stuck inside our houses and our workplaces. There’s a bigger picture happening outside and it helps to broaden your horizons by immersing yourself in nature. Taking time to smell the flowers really does do wonders for your soul.
Change your routine
Have you been eating the same cereal for breakfast for years? Change it. Taking the same route to work every day? Change it. A change is as good as a holiday, and introducing new activities, foods or ways of getting around into your daily routine can help to increase your awareness of things that need to change in your life. Another old saying comes to mind here: ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’. Sometimes we are so entrenched in our own problems that we can’t see the bigger picture. Challenge yourself with small changes and watch yourself learning new ways of increasing your levels of happiness and personal satisfaction.
Take up a new hobby
Now is a good time to learn something new, get the grey matter ticking over or get your fingers busy. If you happen to choose an activity that involves a group, like quilting or a book club, then it’s an excellent way to meet new people too. You may recall an activity you loved doing as a child, like stamp collecting, and return to it. If you decide to learn a new hobby, like playing the guitar, then set yourself achievable goals. Motivation is a big part of breaking out of a rut and taking on a new project that is purely for your own enjoyment is a great way to encourage this.
Have a clean out
This one can happen on many levels. The obvious place to start is with your physical environment. Get rid of those uncomfortable clothes that don’t fit properly. Make physical, mental and emotional space in your life for something new to come along. Maybe you have been feeling lethargic and weighed down lately? Even if it doesn’t necessarily show on the outside, it might be a good time for an inner body cleanse. Research a detox method that feels right for you.
Start thinking gratitude
Even when you are feeling down, there is always something, no matter how small, that you could be thankful for. Take a moment to consider the good things in your life. A powerful time to do this is at the beginning and end of the day. Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?” when you wake up and then, at the close of the day, “What was the best thing that happened to me today?” Keep a gratitude diary to encourage the process. You will find that after a while, giving thanks will come as naturally as breathing.
Make yourself a Go Slow poster
Affirmations can play a major part in changing how you think and therefore how you live your life. Practitioners of Neuro Linguistic Programming say that on average it takes 21 days of repeating an affirmation for our brains to save it into the hard-drive of the brain. Make colourful posters with directives on them and display them in places where they catch your eye. Go Slow is a good one to start with.
Get into water
Years ago, a line on a parenting poster caught my eye. It read “When they are grumpy, put them in water.” This has always stuck with me and now, when I am feeling down or out of sorts, I hop into water somewhere. It doesn’t just work for children! Sometimes it’s a cold dip that I need to liven up my brain, and sometimes it’s a long hot soak in a hot tub that’s required to relax and unwind. No matter how deep your rut is, climb out of it and drop yourself into the water. Guaranteed to refresh and invigorate, regardless of temperature.
Kristina Jensen is a poet, freelance writer, musician and home school parent living on a boat with her family in the Marlborough Sounds.
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