Today, I’m much less of a disaster than I was a few weeks ago. 2020 has been an unmitigated disaster and the truth is it wore on me much more than I even thought. I suddenly found myself sleepless, eating and drinking way too much, and stressed beyond anything that I have ever felt before. I was heading in a pretty rotten direction, the dark circles beneath my eyes growing heavier with each passing white knuckle day.
I thought that the state of the world was to blame until one night I was up late and looked in the mirror and saw a mere shell of the human I was just last year.
My first reaction was to call my doctor in the morning and ask him for help (and I didn’t mean a stern talking to). But after several conversations with nurses and my doctor, I decided I didn’t need that kind of help. The way I saw it, my mind was like an old house that recently had hosted a large party right after a hurricane.
What I needed was renovation, not a new coat of paint.
I stood in my backyard one night thinking. I swear I could feel the stress trying to get out, like moths heading aimless toward a light on the inside of my skin, their tiny winged bodies bonking against my body in fits. I tried hard to find the larvae, the bugs that hatched these pests and the things that kept me twitching restlessly throughout the day and especially at night. After some soul searching, I found out what most of it was and I jotted down a list of things I needed to do to renovate my life.
- Delete All Social Media Accounts
If you are someone who defends social media by saying “I only use it to keep in touch with friends” or “It’s the only way for my family to see my kids” then you’re lying to yourself. You have an addiction. It’s a vacuum, an echo chamber, a time waste that could be spent in better ways.
Social media needs an email address to start an account. Create an account with a file-sharing network and share your kid’s pictures privately with your family. Getting off all social media (that includes LinkedIn) will take your stress level down immediately. Live for you, not likes.
- Only Drink Alcohol in Celebration
Friday is not a celebration. Making it through a work week should not be considered a job well done. Celebrations are for milestones; marriages, births, deaths. They are moments you remember your own life by.
- Stop Watching the News
You will not miss anything. There’s nothing good in the news. A brief scan of local news once a week will catch you up on what you need to know about your city. As for national, don’t worry, your coworkers and/or daily acquaintances will fill you in if the world is falling apart. Getting it second-hand takes just enough off that your blood pressure stays at a reasonable level. Plus, if all news is fake, why watch?
- Eat More Plants
Never is a healthier diet a bad idea. This doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian tomorrow, but if your dinner plate looks like a steak commercial every night you should cut back. Get most of your calories from plants and have the meat be the secondary part of the meal. Better gut health means better brain health.
- Get Good at One Hobby
What do you love to do? What was your obsession when you were a kid? Chances are you probably still love something outside of work. Mine is fishing. When I was a kid, I wet a line every chance I had. It became less and less throughout high school and then rare during and after college. But in the last few years I got some new gear, bought a few books, and started taking my hobby to the next level. I just came off one of the best fishing trips in my life. Hard work pays off and this time the dividend is fun.
Books. You don’t even have to buy them. They keep scores of them at public libraries all over the country.
Read the classics, read some poetry. Get out of your comfort zone and turn Netflix and other streaming services off. Just start with one night a week. It’s really addicting. The best part is that when you first start out reading again you get really tired really fast. You’ll get a great night’s sleep.
These aren’t exactly revolutionary ideas and some of it is stuff you might already do on the regular. Put them all together for a few weeks. Just try a few weeks. You’ll see a difference. If you don’t want to all at the same time, then I recommend deleting social media first. You won’t miss it.
Staying healthy starts with your mind.