Recently, I have been feeling pretty good. I feel like life is beginning to flip. This flip is a good thing. I am having way more of the good days versus the bad days lately. It is starting to get more comfortable, stringing together good days, but it does still feel weird. I will take more comfortable and a taste of the good-weird, any day. It is getting more comfortable, but due to the more comfortable feeling, I still can’t let my guard down. I still need to keep working on myself and I need to continue moving forward.
One way you continue to move forward is by recognizing you need to take time for yourself. I realized this early this past week. I noticed my focus beginning to slip. When my focus slips, which it does and it is always going to at some point, the negative thoughts have an easier path back into my life. I noticed the negative thoughts were jumping back into my brain more than they had been lately.
All of what I have been working on, since I recognized I needed help, has been to strengthen my mental health. The goal is to get back to a point where I am comfortable with myself. Get back to a point where I recognize myself and also a point where I like myself and what I am becoming. I also am preparing for the next time the battle knocks on my door.
Over the weekend, the week before, and early last week, I noticed my resolve lessening some. I could feel myself lose focus. I didn’t slip into what I would call a bad place. I didn’t necessarily feel bad either. I did feel off. I did feel like I had lost some of my balance. I could tell that if I didn’t do something about this feeling, I was potentially going to fall into a bad place.
It is OK to fall back. I’m not saying I hope we fall back, but it is OK when it happens. It will and does happen throughout the journey. Part of all of this is recognizing that it is OK to not be OK and it is OK for the fall backs to happen. We have been working on the present, but have also been working on preparing for these moments as well. We have been preparing for when these moments happen, and we now have better tools to lessen the fall. We have been preparing ourselves for when we fall back and, also, working on how to bounce back quicker and stronger.
Part of these tools is recognizing when something has changed. I was able to recognize I wasn’t right. I have worked on recognizing the different feelings I have and also to recognize when they could rise up and cause me to slip.
I began to see it Monday and Tuesday I had a plan to reverse course and also to allow myself to step back and regain focus. I took the rest of the week off. I decided to take time for myself.
Through the pandemic, I have been reluctant to take much time off. With my job, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I was working from home a lot more. The hospitals didn’t want us in there if we didn’t need to be there. Partly to protect me from the virus, but also to protect them from me. Either way, it meant I was at home more. It also meant I had more down time.
This increased level of down time made me feel like I couldn’t take time off. Number one, I can’t really go anywhere even if I did take time off and, number two, I have a lot more down time so I shouldn’t take additional. This is how I felt about it.
The problem, as I see it, is even though I had more down time. My brain was still locked into the job. I wasn’t able to allow myself to shut it off for a while. I honestly felt guilty. I would spend as much time as I needed to complete my job day to day, but sometimes I completed that task quickly and had most of the day to myself. But I was never “to myself”, I still kept a level of focus on the job just in case something where to pop up.
I honestly felt guilty taking time off. After all, I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to work out of my home. With the element of going into the hospitals to do that aspect of my job all but gone, I had much less to do and my downtime went up significantly. The downtime became my time off. Therefore, I didn’t take much additional time off to allow myself to fully unplug. Or at least I didn’t feel I needed it, or should actually take it, even though I still had the time off banked.
The pandemic has been tough. It also has been a huge learning experience. None of us have been faced with this type of forced adjustment to our daily lives before. This whole pandemic thing has found us trying to figure everything out as we go. There is no blueprint from the last time this happened. We haven’t lived through anything like this before. We are still traveling through uncharted waters even as everything continues to change right before our eyes.
It hasn’t changed the fact I feel guilty for taking time off. Well, we need time off. We need to take time for ourselves. We need to continue doing everything we can to stay on the road to better mental health. We have to take time for ourselves.
Last week I realized, no matter how I felt, I needed to take some time for myself. I needed to step away and work and focus on me. So I took the rest of the week off. It worked out to be the perfect week for it. Is there really a perfect week? My brain tells me “no” all of the time, but I took the rest of this past week off and it was great.
With taking this time off, I came into it with a couple of goals. Mostly, I wanted to reconnect with some activities I like to do, but haven’t done in a while. I wanted to work on a colored pencil piece I started over the past summer and I wanted to record a new song.
Neither of these things I have done in a while. I love art, but I find myself not doing it all of the time. I am really cyclic with my hobbies and the wheel hadn’t stopped on “art” for a while. Same goes with the music. About 6 months ago, I started to record some songs I made up. No singing, but I do record the guitar, bass guitar and drums myself. It is a fun process, but a process that takes time to complete.
6 months ago, I jumped into the music creation side pretty hardcore and now I found myself having not created anything in a while. Again, the wheel hadn’t stopped on “music creation” for a while.
I decided to make these two things the focus of my time off. I chose these two things as I hadn’t done either in a while. I felt like I needed to mix my routine up a bit. I felt these two things where the best bet for me to mix life up in a good way.
Yes, I did work on my drawing I had previously started and I did record a new song. I was able to check off the boxes for these two things. It felt good. The best part of it is I had to put my focus on both of these activities in order to complete them.
The focus allowed me to unplug from everything. The focus allowed me to step away from my other daily obligations and really just concentrate on myself. The focus helped me to feel more balanced and centered again.
I was able to recognize I was off. I was able to recognize I needed to pull away from everyday life for a while and get my mind back on the right track. I was able to do this before I had any sort of a crash and the reset from this particular place was a lot easier to achieve than if I had fallen so far back that I had a crash.
I wish I had been able to recognize this need and acted on it sooner throughout this journey. It is so refreshing going from feeling “off” versus feeling “lost”, like originally at the start of my journey, and getting back to having more balance. It takes less work and energy when you feel off versus feeling lost. When you get back to the more balanced you, you feel almost stronger than before, as everything required way less effort to raise yourself back up than it does to raise yourself up from feeling terrible for a period of time.
I needed this time. Not only do I feel stronger, I also feel even better about myself than I did before I took this time off. I needed this more than I even really knew I needed this. I can see it now as I sit here today typing this blog. I really should have down this a long time ago and then just keep refreshing this balanced feeling as it went.
Enter the guilty feeling and all of that stuff which hindered me before I finally took the time off. I can’t go back and re-take all this time off I should have taken before, so I will be grateful for what I did take off now and build from it. I am grateful for the peaceful feeling I have right now and I will try and ride this wave as far as I can.
In the future, I know taking this time off just needs to be done. I need to drop the guilty feelings about taking the time and just take it. My body and mind needed exactly what I did for myself and I need to do exactly this from time to time moving forward.
What do you do to take time for yourself?
We all need to do it. How we do it is individual to each of us. How I go about it is different than you may go about it. We have to FIND what works for us and then DO what works for us.
I know my, just-take-a-few-days-off formula, may not be so easy for everyone to do. I don’t have kids. I get it. I wanted them, but I don’t have them. The silver lining of not having them, I guess, is I can just drop most things and take time for myself easier than some others.
Taking time for yourself doesn’t actually have to be taking time off for yourself. Yes, I think you should do just that, but taking time for yourself can look like just about anything. The key is you give yourself the time to do whatever you need to do.
Time for yourself can be exactly opposite of you being by yourself. To some, spending time with family and friends is the time one needs for themselves. A family movie night may be just what you need. Taking time to dive into a good book can be just the time you need. Going out for a walk may be the time you need. Taking the rest of the week off was the perfect time I needed.
The idea of taking time for yourself is more about doing what you need to do to remain you. To remain your mentally stronger and happier self. However you do it is for you to figure out. What works for me may not work for you or just isn’t what you feel you need. The key is you do something which helps keep you focused. Or it’s something which brings life back into focus. The idea of taking time for yourself is doing something, anything, which helps to maintain the balance you have worked so hard to create.
It is OK to step back. It is OK to need a reset. It is OK to focus on yourself. You may be thinking you have no time based on all your other responsibilities, but the time you may need doesn’t have to be over a set amount of time. The time you need for yourself could be short or it can be long or whatever falls in between. The important things is you take time to do what you need to keep yourself in balance and in a good place.
How can we be good for everyone around us if we don’t take the time to ensure we remain good for ourselves?
Do what you need to do. Even if it is just for a short time after the kids go to bed. Do something to help keep yourself focused and balanced. Do what you can to keep yourself on this journey. We aren’t there yet. We always will be working on getting there. We can be in the good, but it still takes work to remain in the good. Do what you need to do for you and everything you need to do for others around you, will fall in line and be easier to do. Take time for yourself!
You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this road together!
Have a great day!
A website I’ve started. This blog and a podcast, amongst some other stuff, live here. Check it out!
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
Feel free to jump over to Facebook and join the group I’ve started. It is a place where everyone can contribute to strengthening each others mental health and a place to lift each other up:
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
I’ve also started a podcast in hopes that my desire to spread mental health awareness can reach more people.
Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health
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