Give yourself permission to be perfectly human! after all, we are all human.
Last night as I was winding down, I sensed there was too much “noise” in my head, unproductive fear and worry, to promote a good night’s sleep. I knew I needed to do something about it before I climbed in bed, so I left my family in the living room, enjoying “Chopped” on the Food Network, and went to my room. I grabbed a pen and notepad and wrote down all my fears and worries (aka journaling.) Thinking I’d quieted the “noise,” I went to sleep assuming that my “before bed” activity was a guarantee that I’d sleep well.
Wrong! I found myself wide awake between 3- 5 am, creating completely unrealistic, irrational scenarios in my head. Usually when this happens, I don’t fight it and just go with the flow, seeing it as an opportunity to connect with my creativity, thinking up inspirations for my blog. But not last night. Instead I overstressed about being awake, beating myself up for worrying and obsessing about things over which I have no control. I was frustrated that I could not break out of this emotional storm. After all, I’m a life coach and a balance expert. I should know better!
They say that it’s always darkest before dawn, right? Well, my morning was no brighter. After struggling with a clogged toilet, I was rushing so I wouldn’t be late for my Zumba class. With temperatures outside below 32 and my car iced over, there was no way I was making it to the gym on time, so I decided not to go. Instead, I put on my gloves, hat, and scarf and took a 45-minute walk outside.
And that was the turning point.
Movement, especially outdoors, is a valuable aid in working through emotions. The processing I did during this 45-minute walk could easily equate to a good session with a therapist.
When you’re on an emotional roller coaster and you feel trapped in a cycle of negative feelings, there are 2 things you should do right away:
1. Move your body. Exercise in any form can act as a stress-reliever. The production of “feel-good” endorphins during physical activity elevates your mood, making you feel more in command over your body, and helps release emotions. The singular focus required with physical exercise, like playing racquetball, practicing yoga, or swimming laps, takes your mind off your troubles and leaves you feeling calm. Regular exercise can help with symptoms of mild depression, anxiety, and also improves sleep! You don’t need a gym or a class to get this result. A simple walk in nature does the same thing.
2. Step back and observe the situation from a distance. This may involve reaching out to a professional, or it may simply be finding a close friend to talk to. Talking about our stresses and troubling issues goes a long way in relieving stress. There’s more to “getting things off your chest” than simple lip service! It helps you evaluate and correct. Removing yourself from a stressful situation is also important. It’s very hard to be objective when you are in the eye of a storm. Things are often not as bad as they seem, but it’s much easier to see that when you can step away.
Now, back to my lousy morning! I’m not sure if it was the cold temperature or the physical movement, but as I was walking I felt my internal storm releasing, and I could see the “cloudy skies” become clearer and clearer. The first insight that came to me was that I need to listen to my own advice. It is easy for me to help women I coach to get into an “observant” mode so they can see their situations objectively. I help them develop strategies which allow them to create distance between themselves and their situations so they can see the “big picture.”
One of my clients, an army veteran, used this analogy: take a helicopter ride and see the whole picture from above. Detaching from my own personal situations, however, is much harder. When you are in a situation like this, ask yourself, “What advice would I give a client or a good friend?” Follow that.
Insight #1: It is normal to be able to help other people detach from situations and review them objectively; it is more difficult to detach from your own. Talk to yourself as you would talk to a loved one.
The second insight I gained along my walk was that the emotions I went through in the middle of the night are very normal. There is no reason to fight the roller coaster or try to stop it. I just need to go back to what I know and “go with the flow.”
Insight #2: It is better to just accept the “emotional storm” than to try and fix it. Just like a real storm, it has a beginning, middle, and an end. It is temporary and it shall pass.
The third, and most important, revelation hit me as I was getting closer to home, near the end of my walk. Just because I am a professional balance expert and life coach does not mean that I am immune to struggles. It also does not mean that I will always be able to “weather storms” easily.
Insight #3: Give yourself permission to be perfectly human!
This is the one of the core principles I live by, and I simply needed a reminder because, after all, even I am human.
If you, just like I do, tend to put on your “superwoman cape” and have unrealistic expectations about yourself, this video clip is for you. Please take a few minutes and watch how to “give yourself permission to be human.”
Giving yourself the gift of permission to fall or fail is one of the greatest gifts you can receive. No matter what you’ve achieved in life or how successful you feel you are, you are and will always be human. Be as kind and forgiving with your own mistakes and blunders as you would to other people. And please share these insights with your “superwoman” friends.
Balance Expert & Life Coach
For more amazing ways to grow, visit my site at balancedmoments.com.