Life, for women especially, is about balance. Like Bipolar Disorder, there is a constant need to find this balance between extremes. It is the theme of so many philosophies, such as the Yin and the Yang, the scales of Justice, and the like. But in today’s times, it has become ever more elusive and difficult to achieve. Why is this, and what can we do about it?
As I write this segment, I am up at 3 in the morning, wondering how I am going to balance being a mother, a wife, a nurse, a part-time University student, a blogger, a beauty consultant, a volunteer, a friend, a patient, a Christian, etc. You get the picture, and I know you got it quick, because we women have soooooooo much on our plates. You don’t have to have Bipolar Disorder to be juggling a million different projects at once, though this can make it even more complicated. I think I can speak for us all when I say, we women are spent…
Let me start with this first practical tip: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, TURN OFF YOUR PHONE/COMPUTER. Though this age of communication is wonderful, being able to reach people anywhere at anytime, it is a mixed bag. Because quite frankly, it can be invasive and over-stimulating. Am I the only one who is having a hard time keeping track of the work e-mail, personal e-mail, facebook, instagram, twitter, home voicemail, work voicemail, school e-mail, text messages, pager, and on and on and on? Yes I know you can sync things. But do we really want to? How overwhelming!
Another tip: leave a message on your voicemail or purposely disable it and request that all messages be sent via text. Phone calls, though definitely more personal, can be time consuming and emotionally exhausting. Please keep the following in mind: When you get the inevitable, “I left you a message/sent you a text”, as if you are constantly “on-call” and must instantly respond to any and all requests for your time and attention, think about the teacher on Peanuts: “whah whah whah whah whah whah”. Don’t feed into the guilt and such. One of the things I pride myself on, is that when I am with a client, friend, family, etc. they get my undivided attention, sans interruptions. Sometimes you have to “unplug” for yourself and those around you. There was a time where I purposely left my voicemail full FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR and instead only got text messages, e-mails and facebook PM’s. It was a way to find balance. Give yourself permission to only check these things once or twice a day at “prescribed” times. And can we please stop apologizing for “not getting back sooner”? We are not surgeons on-call (unless, of course, we are actually surgeons on-call, lol).
In order to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves. We cannot be everything to everyone. To simplify life, I have tried making sure that I carve in time every day for four essentials: exercise, meditation/prayer, quality time with family, and one hour of self-care in the morning (bathing/hair/make-up, etc) Everything else (besides work of course) is “if I can get to it”. If I do those four essentials, I have achieved what I have meant to achieve, and everything else is gravy. What is especially important to me: that little hour I take in the morning. Looking my best, helps me feel my best. Personally, I am not the most disciplined person in the world, but I am stringent about this. Yes, I do a full face of make-up EVERY DAY. Why? Because I, and you, are worth it. Pardon me, but Mama’s a bit tired and overwhelmed, but at least I’m going to look like I have it together. Looking like you have it together makes you feel a little more in control when everything around you is chaotic. Lastly, when people (aka hubby or significant other and children) complain about “how long it takes you to get ready”, again, remember the teacher on Peanuts…”whah whah whah whah whah whah”.
From a mental health perspective, if you have Bipolar Disorder, a mood stabilizer is a must in order to achieve mood balance. Taking anti-depressants sans a mood stabilizer is dangerous and risky. It can be tempting to stop them due to weight gain, drowsiness, etc . Trust me, don’t go there. Take your medicine that your psychiatrist prescribes you and don’t look back. Don’t try to experiment with your medicine yourself to “see what happens”. I tried this once… you don’t even want to know what happened! Mania leads to poor choices and bad consequences: debt, detachment from reality, impaired judgement, etc etc etc. It ain’t pretty.
Lastly, get comfortable with the word no. We women don’t like that word. We want to be “good, cooperative, everything for everyone”. Pardon my language, but, BULLCRAP! Great way to lead to burnout. Repeat after me: NO! Oh, you can be polite about it and gracious, but NO! Remember Dan Carvey on Saturday Night Live? “Not gon’ do it, not gon’ do it, not gon’ do it”. Sometimes it has to be NO!
Here is a “recipe” for a Cleopatra Bubble Bath. It contains ingredients that Her Majesty Cleo was rumored to have used to soften her skin and you can get most of this at your local grocery store or dollar store. It is luxurious. Unplug and take this bubble bath this weekend…. you are worth it!
1 cup of milk
1 cup of Epsom salts
2 tablespoons of honey
A few drops of lavender or your favorite essential oil
A tablespoon of bubble bath
Some new age relaxation or classical music