To thrive or just survive?
I have been absent from this blog for a little while and I want to tell you that it is not because I have been kicking my feet up and relaxing! If you follow me you know that life has been a bit hectic for me lately and when things get a little cray cray I do not put everything on hold and do nothing, I prioritize and one of the things that I took off of my plate was regularly writing blog posts. If you do not follow me then here is a little synopsis of what I have been doing for the last month and a half. We spent the last 2 years living in Puerto Rico and decided that we needed to move based on many different circumstances that came up as well as a feeling in our guts that it was time and that we needed to get moving sooner rather than later. When we make a decision to do something we get moving on it so in the span of a few weeks we found a house in the Florida Keys, rented it, packed our stuff, arranged for shipping, arranged to ship our dogs and our truck, then headed to the west coast to attend a Tony Robbins Seminar that had been on our schedules for over a year and to take a week of mild rest and relaxation. We all know what they say about best laid plans… Enter <Murphy’s Law> aka Hurricane Irma , the monster swirling around the Cabo Verde Islands that began to barrel toward the Caribbean meaning right towards our dogs in Puerto Rico and for our new home in the Florida Keys. This meant that instead of heading to Jacksonville to pick up our truck, then driving down to Miami to pick up our dogs we ended up at Kevin’s mom’s house in Mississippi for almost 2 weeks where we also evacuated my mom who had to get out of Homestead, Florida. We spent the week watching news reports and following the hurricane trackers while in constant contact with our dog boarder and trying to figure out the rest as we went along. Our well planned move and smooth transition turned out to be anything but smooth. Tony Robbins says “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” Through experience, I believe this to be true. With building a business and moving around as much as Kevin and I do we value uncertainty and adventure and have equipped ourselves and our lifestyle to tolerate a fair amount of it. There is always an element of uncertainty in life, things happen and we cannot possibly expect to control every situation or outcome and life would be devastatingly boring if we did. This last month was definitely a test and I wanted to share 6 tips I used to get through it all, still on a meal plan, moving forward with my business, never missing a workout, working, my marriage, and my life.
Prioritize your life.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot going on in everyone’s life and when things get crazy whether you are moving, have life things like death, divorce, injury, sickness, natural disasters, whatever it is, it is important to look at your days and see what you actually need to be doing to keep your life and your head moving in the right direction. When things get crazy, I know that I do not have the time, or the focus to do everything that I usually do and that I need to redirect my efforts on keeping my sanity while accomplishing my goals. While I was in the thick of my personal stress this last month I knew that I could not do everything, so Kevin and I sat down and made a plan. We talked about what we need to get done and what our goals are and who could do what. This is a huge help for me. Kevin and I are a team and we always work towards a common goal so we pick up each other’s slack. We both needed to stay focused on the test group for the 80 Day Obsession which means daily workouts and a highly involved meal plan. We had to keep our business and livelihood moving forward, we had to pack our house, take care of the dogs, and a few other work and life related obligations. We divide up responsibilities and I paired down the things I generally do for work to the things I have to do to keep moving forward, all nonessential operations were ceased until further notice, which was yesterday in fact. I stopped doing the extra tasks and we sacrificed some of the activities we value in the free time (photography, creative outlets, overtime/etc) so that we had time to deal with all that was happening, remain sane, go into self care mode and not neglect all of the things we have worked so hard to build. Neglecting all that we worked for would only add to the stress long term which is what I feel a lot of people fail to see during times of duress.
Make sure you are still doing things for you.
As things get crazy self care can be pushed to the wayside. This only leads to more stress. Do not forsake everything that you enjoy doing just because things are sideways. If you like to read, then find some time to read, if you enjoy massages then make time to go get a massage, if you enjoy a show on Netflix then watch it (don’t over do it though because too much TV can cause depression and inactivity). The point is, that you are of more value to other people and make more rational decisions when you are centered and feel good. This means that you need to focus on yourself and ensure that you have a little bit of “me-time” in your week. You may not get as much time to yourself as you normally do but schedule it in and just do you. Nothing good ever came from being totally engulfed in stress. I personally chose to make my workouts and nutrition a priority not only because it’s part of my job but finishing what I started I knew would make me feel good when the storm cleared and it helped me to manage my stress levels in a healthy productive way. Two birds with one stone!
Shift your focus away from the things you cannot control and onto the things that you can.
We often feel stress because things are happening that are outside of our control. In my case I was dealing with the hurricane in the middle of a move and having my dogs being stuck in a the track of the hurricane without me. I cannot control the hurricane, the flight schedules or regulations, and I cannot control where the hurricane hit or whether our house would make it. I could control what I did for my health, fitness, business, relationship, the things that would allow my dogs to get off the island as soon as they could, and I could control how much time I spent focused on and stressed about all of the things that were up in the air in my life. So this is what I did, I just put on foot in front of the other and worked very diligently on all of the things I could control and tried not to put too much emphasis on all the things that I could not. It was really the serenity prayer in action: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. We can only do what we can do. I stayed in motion doing what I had set out to do like the seminar, getting a tattoo, hiking with my team, getting my hair done to have that normalcy in my life instead of locking myself in a room and worrying all day long or staying glued to social media or the news. That does not help anybody. Especially not me!
This is never a bad idea. Even when things are not going overly well, we have a lot to be grateful for if we choose to focus on it. Kevin and I constantly talk about what we are grateful for and how far we have come in life. We always remember where we are from and all that we have gone through. If you teach yourself to find gratitude and focus on it you will have a much better ability to stay out of fear and stress. Make a gratitude list and spend a few minutes a day really thinking about all that you are grateful for, being able to go to the grocery store, having electricity, a car, a relationship, hands, feet, legs, a brain, the power of choice. The list goes on so keep adding to it! While life may FEEL shitty at the moment there are still people who have it much worse, try to be positive and happy in their honor.
Help other people.
The easiest way that I know to get out of my own head is to help someone else. To do this you can donate to a charity, clean out your closet and bring it down to the salvation army, donate to a food pantry, VOLUNTEER, give money, time, skills or anything else that will help. If you are in recovery you can go to a meeting or you can even go to an old folks home and have a conversation with someone who does not get visitors. There are a ton of options to get outside of ourselves if we choose to take them. The thing that I know is that it helps others and always makes me feel better when I do it.
With all of the devastation in the Caribbean, Kevin and I donated to Waves for water. They are a great organization that helps ensure that victims of the hurricanes in the Caribbean have access to clean drinking water which if you have done any traveling down there they will be in need of all the help that they can get to rebuild their infrastructure and get everyone back to living with the basic amenities that we take for granted. They have a specific campaign called Caribbean Hurricane Relief Initiative that goes directly to helping those island that have been devastated by the recent hurricanes. Here is the link to check them out and get more information on how you can get involved.
Focus on your health and fitness.
Working out is a fantastic way to shift focus and mood and I have found that since I have made it a nonnegotiable in my life, I have found it so much easier to deal with all that life dishes up. We will eventually get to the other side of what we are going through and I have learned that if I stay committed to my fitness and my health that not only do I feel very accomplished when I make it through my trials but I am in such a better head space in the moment. Exercise is good for us and in my opinion we need it to blow off steam and to feel a sense of accomplishment in our lives. I am at the point now that I double down on my health and fitness when things are tough because I can control it and I know it will be a positive force in my life no matter what is going on. I used to drink when times were good OR bad so now instead, I focus on my health! It’s just a better way to cope. When we cannot control the things that happen around us we can control moving our bodies and what we put in our mouths. The sense of accomplishment that you will feel after you kill your workout and make healthy choices in the face of life trials and tribulation will not only fuel you to push yourself in all areas of your life but it will inspire those around you through your commitment to yourself and your health! I look at it like this: I was going to go through the hurricane and all of the uncertainty around it no matter what. It is better to go through it with my body and mind feeling good than feeling crappy from eating junk food and sitting around depressed or getting emotional.
Do not future trip.
Most of the things we worry about have not happened and thus do not deserve the space in our head. There is a difference between being prepared and taking the necessary steps to ensure that you are making good choices and running on stress and fear. It is imperative that we stay as in the moment as we can when things get hectic or chaotic in our lives. We must focus on the things that ARE happening not the things that could happen. We have to deal with things as they come up and be prepared. Do not live in the future, it will only lead to a stressed out and unproductive present. When I was at Tony Robbins Leadership Academy we learned that we must interrupt the pattern when we engage in thought patterns or behavior patterns that do not serve us. When Kevin and I would start to get stressed out or feel overwhelm creep in while we were waiting out Irma or the arrival of Maria we would look at each other and sing 3 Little Birds by Bob Marley. You know, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” This would immediately shift the focus of our thoughts and make us smile. You can come up with your own pattern interrupt and the key is to practice it immediately! It would change our state, make us dance and smile and redirect our focus. That song is now our anchor during tough times and works like a charm.
No matter how you feel in life, the secret to having more or to getting your mind into a better place is action! For me, it has always been health and fitness and using physical exercise to change my state. One of the things that keeps me on track, is being a Coach and having to show up for my Challenge Groups. When I am accountable to other people it makes it much harder to disappear or throw in the towel. If you are at a place where you need a new challenge, a new focus, or an escape from something that is weighing you down, reach out to me through this blog or at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see if you are a good fit for one of my Challenge Groups! I hope that this was helpful and that you can use at least some of these tips to thrive during whatever is happening in your life.