Back to Basics

Trees in a forest

The last month and a half has been challenging for me.  I traveled to Greece for two weeks, which disrupted my usual routines, though I still managed to do some meditating and blogging while I was there.  Then my dad was hospitalized and died, and for a while it seemed nearly impossible to focus on anything else.  I still think about my dad constantly, and my mom and I are doing our best to figure out this new normal.  To top it off, I am pregnant with my first child, making me both excited and exhausted.  Simple tasks like eating and exercising have become much more difficult than they once were.

As a result of all these changes, I feel as though I’ve lost my momentum and motivation.  I’m doing my best to practice self-care, get lots of rest, and go easy on myself as my body and mind work their way through these momentous events they’ve never faced before.  But I don’t feel like myself, and I see old habits creeping back into my life.  So I’ve decided it’s time to take some of my own advice.  Here are some of the things I’m doing to try to regain some energy, productivity, and creativity.

  1. Make lists and plan my days.  I’ve always been a fan of to-do lists.  Lately, I find them to be essential.  Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the day to think about what I hope to accomplish and what I need to prioritize helps to keep me on track when I feel less than motivated.  Checking things off my list reminds me that even though I may be feeling rather blah, I am actually capable of getting things done.
  2. Cut out distractions.  I’ve been much more distracted than usual lately.  Sometimes my distraction takes the form of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and other times I find myself pulled down a rabbit hole of pregnancy articles and baby-related YouTube videos.  Yes, I have a lot to learn in that area, but I don’t need to learn all of it right now.  To keep myself more focused on tasks at hand, I’ve decided it’s necessary to start using site-blocking software again.
  3. Meditate.  Meditation has been very difficult for me lately.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it at all for a couple of weeks around my dad’s death.  My grieving was too active, and in that moment, I didn’t want to detach from my thoughts; I wanted to dive into them.  A few weeks out, though, meditation is beginning to feel necessary.  I know that it will help to combat the distraction, clear some of the clutter from my mind, and create space for more creative, meaningful thinking.  So I’m trying to establish a meditation practice again, and I’m starting small — just 5-10 minutes at a time.  When my breath doesn’t seem like a strong enough meditation object, I use a mantra.  When it feels particularly daunting, I turn to guided meditations.
  4. Read old journals.  It can be helpful to remind myself of how I used to feel, back when I was more motivated and excited about various projects and opportunities.  Sometimes, reading past journal entries or essays I wrote a few months or a year ago can start to get me back into the mental place where I was when I wrote them.  It sounds silly, but doing this reminds me of who I am at my core, when I’m not feeling dragged down by present circumstances.
  5. Walk.  I’ve written before about the benefits of exercise and spending time in nature.  Now that I’m pregnant, exercise feels much more difficult to me.  I’m tired all the time, and aerobic activity just seems a lot harder than it used to be (I hear this is due in part to increased blood volume).  But one thing I can do is walk, and I find that taking a walk in the woods instantly boosts my mood and energy.  And there’s something very satisfying about the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward one step at a time.

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PS: One thing that would help me to get back into a regular blogging routine would be to answer some of your questions.  I’d like to write more Ask Alexis posts, so if you are looking for advice, please send me an email!

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