Finding Balance

My life has changed so much since I took my last drink 6 years ago. And even though I am unimaginably grateful, there are still days where I’m not where I want to be. Finding balance can feel a lot like a circus act. Trying to take care of yourself without becoming obsessive while eating right, working out, resting, having a spiritual practice, getting to meetings, going to church. Let’s see, what am I forgetting? Oh yeah~ trying not to screw my kids up too badly, keeping the fire burning in my marriage, house clean, gourmet food……..

Just typing all that out helps me be a little more forgiving of why I drank. Jk! But seriously, I can’t lose myself in a cold one or a bottle of wine on those long, hard days when I’m overwhelmed and not sure whether I need to do more or do less. Learning how to relax, de-stress, and care for myself as a sober person takes time and intention. I feel like the word balance gets thrown around a lot and it sounds so Zen!

Cue to me perched peacefully atop my cushion in lotus pose, candles burning, soft music playing……Yeah, not really happening!

So what is it all about, this balance people speak of? Does anyone REALLY have it? And how can I get some?? Read on for some things I’m working on now to try to find balance.

Just writing that out helps me understand why I drank. Haha, jk!

Good quality sleep

Waking up peaceful and well-rested never gets old. As opposed to coming-to with my head spinning, desperately trying to piece together my steps from the night before. Whereas I used to rely on Ambien, Benadryl, or Tylenol PM to get some shut-eye, I’m actually enjoying good sleep for the first time in my life. I not only credit my sobriety with this, but also there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned butt-kicking with some weights or some cardio to wear you out! Read on to find out my evening unwinding ritual that also helps. Tried out this product I found called Sleep Support from Mindbodygreen. I can tell that I’m sleeping more soundly since starting this. Check it out here. https://shop.mindbodygreen.com/products/magnesium?variant=30314012803170&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=bing&utm_campaign=Bing%20Shopping&msclkid=a6d90d02447715e603ac6c84924b7551

Exercise

I depend on a good, hard workout 3 to 5 days a week to help burn off the crazy! I’ve put in a lot of hard work to build a consistent habit and I’m so thankful for it! It helps to start my day off on the right foot. Not only does it burn off that top layer of stress, but it’s also grown a much-needed discipline in me.

I love the confidence and energy that come from doing hard things and getting stronger. But sometimes I also get tired and need to rest, and that needs to be okay too. For me, the battle is not so much taking a break as it is not letting that break turn into a total collapse. Alcoholics and addicts can struggle to find that middle ground; that balance!

** This doesn’t have to be anything fancy or structured. Dance in your living room if nothing else. Just move! Get your heart, blood, and endorphins pumping!

Eating right

The past few years have been spent healing my relationship with food. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach a point where I’m “done” working on the food piece. On bad days, the days where I don’t plan well or haven’t been intentional about my mindfulness practice~ I end up bingeing, and it can it feel discouraging and hard. It can make me want to give up and lose myself in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food.

It’s then more than ever that I need to give myself grace. I have to remember that I’m still moving forward. I’m not being graded on this (other than by myself). It can be hard not to slip into all-or-nothing mode when we’re cleaning up our diets.

I have found that I don’t crave as much junk (which for me is the sweets and the fast food) when I’m prepared. And I’m more prepared when I have a better PLAN. Planning has never been my strong-suit, so this too has been a learning process. It sometimes means trying, failing, and being willing to try again. I didn’t get here overnight, and things won’t get better overnight. Learning to sit with discomfort and failure is an important part of a healthy change! This is where growth occurs!

Evening ritual

I find myself coming home exhausted a lot of nights from a tiring job of taking care of others. I want to be refreshed and have quality time in the evening, yet I also want to is slip into my flannel pj’s and stare at the telly. It’s hard to find balance! Feelings of selfishness and letting my family down swirl in my brain.

On an ideal evening, I have supper planned and listen to a podcast while I’m preparing it. The number of nights where I order take-out has decreased exponentially in the past 5 years. I’ll take this as a major win, because there was a time when the thought of planning & preparing food every night seemed monumental. And yet, here I am, doing it! I try to take a little time on Sunday to check out my recipes or Pinterest and see what looks appetizing, as well as what I have on hand. I’ve found that having a plan for most meals adds a lot of peace to my life, so I try to prioritize this each weekend.

I feel best when I clean up the kitchen and close it down after supper. Most evenings I manage to unroll my yoga mat for about 15 minutes of yoga/stretching. This is a great practice for my body as well as my mind. There’s a lot to be said for getting barefoot on your yoga mat, breathing, and listening to what your body has to say. Not only does this help me unwind, but I find that I sleep better, have less aches & pains, and prevent injury from repetitive job stress.

As I get into bed I try to go over my day: what went well, what I need to let go of, what I need to ask forgiveness for. In AA, this is known as Step 10. It’s a great way to end the day, because it helps you let go of whatever happened that day (so you can turn your brain off). You can notice any patterns or attitudes that keep coming up for you, so you know what you need to continue to work on tomorrow. And you can fall asleep with a clear mind.

We’re all a work in progress

It’s tiring doing all this work on ourselves! And sometimes I let one or more of the above slide due to stress or exhaustion. Sometimes I just feel like reverting back to old, comfortable ways! But I usually don’t want to stick around there too long. Because it just feels better to take care of myself. Even if it’s unbalanced and messy. I’m still honoring and loving myself through it all.

I may never achieve that image of myself on the prayer pillow and you know what?? THAT’S OKAY. I need to watch the expectations I have for myself, or having an idea of how it needs to look. I may not be able to spend an hour in prayer each morning, but I can certainly have a routine in place that both energizes and anchors me. I can allow myself to be less than perfect. I can REST. And I know that I’m worth the time it takes to learn about how this balance thing works for ME.

Let me know what balance looks like for you!

Peace,

Lisa