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Just Don't It

As I’m sure you noticed, I’m using a grammatically incorrect title, but I couldn’t resist.  (May my seventh grade English grammar teacher forgive me!)  

During the 1980's a trendy Nike ad campaign caught the world's attention with the tagline “JUST DO IT!”  Nike's message was loud and clear: there were no excuses when it came to exercise.  I think it was a brilliant campaign, as it motivated people to work out.  The catchphrase is just as true nowadays as it was a couple decades ago. 

Nike represents more to me than just its slogan.  As a teenage long-distance runner in the 80's, I wore Nike shoes long before I'd be diagnosed with postpartum bipolar one disorder in 2007.  Since then I experienced a marathon of seven hospitalizations, I tried over 20 different medications, and I finally opted for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) when my father died and I sank into suicidal depression. 

I finally reached stability over a year ago with the right meds and self-care program, and to say I've been grateful for my recovery is a massive understatement! 

However, just because I did become stable and the IBPF even honored me as a "Story of Hope and Recovery", life has been a daily challenge and I know it always will be that way. The past few weeks have been particularly rough ones.  An unexpected family crisis popped up that tested me in many ways.  The good news is that I've gotten enough sleep each night thanks to my antipsychotic medication.  This medication has been key in keeping me on the straight and narrow path of mental stability.  Even so, I’ve struggled with some unhealthy habits that could potentially affect this hard-won stability, and it's time to kick them out the door.  (I wonder if any of you do these nasty bugaboos too?)

Here are some of my “JUST DON'T ITS”:

1) Yelling too much at my family members.  (I often have bona fide reasons to raise my voice, but I’ve been overdoing it.)

2) Eating an entire pint of gourmet (a.k.a. ultra-high fat) ice cream far too often. This is a biggie "just don't it"!  As a former certified personal trainer, I should have known better than to do such a thing to my body.  I definitely don’t recommend consuming this much ice cream if you want to maintain your overall health and specifically, your weight!

3) Spending too much time on social media at the expense of my other projects and duties.  It’s fun, but I want to cut down.  Facebook has become my social media version of ice cream.  (I can see you mumbling “Hunh?”)

4) Feeling intimidated asking friends who I’ve helped over the past year (i.e. providing them with childcare) to please return the favor once in a while.  It's hard for me to ask for help, but it would lessen my stress if I had some child-free time to do errands or have some nice, quiet time to relax and recharge.

This is an incomplete list, but you get the idea.  It’s better to have a short list to focus on anyway, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

As far as “JUST DO IT!” is concerned, Nike was right all along in their message to cool it with excuses and take a simple step to break a sweat.

One of my favorite bestselling authors/artists SARK ("Inspiration Sandwich") calls these tiny steps "micromovements".  The author of over 2 million books in print, SARK uses micromovements with her writing, but micromovements can apply to many other actions.

For example, if you want to take a walk, tell yourself you'll walk for one block.  As you begin your stroll, you might surprise yourself by going just a little further than a block.  In your next walk, you can continue to build upon your initial success to a slightly further distance. Walking can totally reset your mood for the better, and it's an ideal way to try out micromovements.

If you've been putting off paying an intimidating stack of bills, commit to paying one bill.  Once you start writing the check, see where your energy level is after picking up (and moving!) your pen - maybe you'll find that you can pay one more bill on the same day!  Micromovements are a great way to "JUST DO IT"!  It feels so good to accomplish a small thing; for those of us who live with bipolar disorder, completing a mundane chore can be profound.

When we experience days when we're depressed, if we take on a seemingly "little" task such as making a bed or taking a shower, that action can shift our energy and attitude the lasts the entire day.  I've followed SARK's advice during both good days and bad ones, and I've found that micromovements definitely work.

I wish you strength in getting rid of some unhealthy habits of your own and with incorporating the art of micromovements into your life. Why not get a little ahead with your New Year's Resolutions and JUST DON'T IT?

Thanks for reading!

Dyane

p.s. What single "JUST DON'T IT" would you like to phase out of your life this fall?

Comments

Dyane, I would...
1) Just Don’t yell at my son or my husband. Just Do tell them that I love and appreciate them.
2) Just Don’t sit on couch all day without moving. Just Do walk a few steps or dance a few moves.
3) Just Don’t isolate myself from family and local community by burying myself in online communities. Just Do talk to my family and neighbors. Just Do reach out and volunteer on behalf of those of us with mental illness in my local community.

Just Do again tomorrow those activities that didn't make you feel worse today. I remember feeling sad that reading to my little 2 yr old boy didn't make me feel better. (When I'm well I get great pleasure from spending time with him). However, I realised that if it didn't make me feel worse, it was worth repeating the next day as it was doing me no harm and my son was happy. Also, at this age he was oblivious that I didn't feel happy inside (as I was very experienced at hiding my feelings!). Looking back now, I'm glad I did this as at least I felt I had achieved something small (which done each day has the accumulative effect of getting you back on the path to recovery).

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