There's a lot to be said for planning time well and at the moment it feels like there's a lot of pressure on us all. We are keeping busy. Busy trying to be everything to everyone. To run a gazillion miles or bake the most fantastic 'healthy' cake, or a plethora of other stuff to fill up our days, in ways that are nothing but positivity, light and joy.. But that. Often. Just sucks.
It sucks because there is already a load of unseen stress hanging around with this pandemic and all of the other changes that we are making in our lives. We are trying to keep each other safe, by staying apart. We are trying to help our local communities to stay together, whilst some days keeping ourselves together is a hard enough task. My Self Care checklist for the month is pretty low key for this reason. I have a few basics like 'take your exercise', 'go to bed early' or 'enjoy a slow cuppa' and other such feats to accomplish as I know I need to reduce the amount of 'busy' that I have previously used to avoid thinking, feeling or dealing with life. I find I can easily convince myself I am okay if I 'just keep doing'... until its too late and I am overwhelmed.
When lots of our days look similar to the past 9 months of 'very similar days', its hard to keep check on our thoughts and feelings. So when you have a couple of days on a dark spell, it can be hard to realise how long you have felt that way, and to be objective. So as October came in I started to take my own advice and begin tracking my moods each day.
I have made a 31 day tracker which I split out into 2 months, then listed out some moods which I often feel and noted when I had Bad Sleep, or Extra Good Sleep. Its a tactic taught to me in therapy a few years ago and now that the months are getting darker and the weather is less sunny in the UK, I know I have a tendency to start to dip. Or my perception of how much I dip can be obscured, if I have a run of 3-4 days where I can see I am on a low. In reality my low days are often connected to my bad sleep nights and are far less than my days of 'meh!'
A 'meh' is not a 'low' day, it's just a slightly off day of 'can't be ars*d'.
A 'low' is a 'way down in the hole' day.
There is a significant difference and thankfully using this seemingly 'stupid mood chart' which 'doesn't help anyone, anyhow' (or so I originally thought) is actually really insightful and easy to use. I made my own version using an iPad app called Zinnia which I use for creating Journal pages. I can print mine out and scribble on them, but you can also work digitally on the app too. Or you can download my PDF
version here, add your own moods and start to track your month ahead.
After one month, I began to acknowledge that I was pretty happy or content most days, but not because I was over-achieving anything. Its important to keep track of the things you are doing that make your days feel brighter. Being mindful of those you are connecting with, where you have been spending your time and what you have been spending it on. Constantly trying to be everything to everyone, will lead to burn out and stress will not be resolved, just recharged.
Sleep is a wonderful thing and if you are lucky to have a run of a couple of days of Extra Good Sleep, its way more likely that your mood will be restored. Likewise, if you have been running about all day after the kids, or working until midnight and then trying to make sure you have run the allocated miles on your training guide.. it's no wonder your brain is too wired to sleep properly and your follow up day's mood is less than glowing.
I was just starting to recognise that I am happier when I just concentrate on my own needs and my family. Keeping up with friends on the phone, or with a walk outdoors, those days really helped to keep my head clear and to spot when I was feeling blue and needing to unwind or talk to others.
So take the 'stupid mood chart', that 'doesn't help anyone, anyhow' and give it a try :)
You might be surprised at the results too xx