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  • Erika Dowell

12 Things that Keep Me Calm


1. Better isn't best. "You'll realize how bad it was and how you absolutely deserve better." "I've already realized it. Which makes me nervous; because better isn't necessarily the best.... If I can go from shitty to better to best, I mean. Better isn't best. I don't want better to be my best just because I think it's the best (in comparison)." 2. Turn off the notifications We make thousands of decisions each day: what we should wear, when it's time to leave for work, breakfast, tea, coffee, apple, oranges, how to get to work, makeup, hair, lunch, dinner, snacks, bedtime, bike, walk, drive. You get the point. Sometime last year I got frustrated with the decisions I had to make and the constant bombarding of information (noise). I shut off the notifications for emails, Facebook, Twitter, Kobo, Pinterest, Instagram, Cineplex, Netflix, games, LinkedIn, Slack, Starbucks, Toggl, Youtube, tumblr. Unsubscribed from all promotional emails, set up priority calls and texts. Since then, I've become more lax; I get push notifications for SMS, Whatsapp, Snapchat (because I get like 4 snaps a week, maybe), Calendar, Phone, and obviously Alarms. This week, I tried a new experiment of turning my phone on silent. Not just the temporary at work or at the doctor's office kind of silent. No, it's been on silent for five days. Admittedly, I have set up little flashing notification light to flash certain colours for different messages, but generally, I am being bombarded much less frequently due to simply tweaks in notifications. I've found that I'm more focused. FAQ around this: "What if I miss a text?" You don't actually miss it. You reply when you see it. Don't apologize for missing it. "What if I'm waiting on a call?" Is it a job offer? Is a baby coming into this world? Turn on priority calling. "What if it's an important text?" Define important, set up custom notifications. 3. Find happiness in even the smallest things I've usually been a pretty happy person. For about a year, I was pretty unhappy. Not unhappy in the sense I had depression (although I might have?), but I was so unhappy with work-life balance. I was angry most of the time and that was spilling into my relationship and my friendships. So, I started finding the most silly things to laugh at. I started smelling the roses, so to speak. See number two. 4. Stop texting, start calling Honestly, calling someone is better than texting. It's like 'Hey, you have my full attention for the next 10 or 15 minutes and I want to hear about your day.' Of course, if I spent 10 or 15 minutes every single day talking instead of texting with people, I would literally not have time for anything else. Set aside some time each week for this. You'll need to rotate through people and sometimes the same people will be at the top of the priority list. This is okay. You don't have to be everyone's phone call. See number two. 5. Celebrate the littlest things. Seriously. Sometimes you just need to meet a milestone; a little push to get you through. I celebrate when I make the most perfect cup of tea. There are things that make my heart infinitely happy; tea, books, friends, family. I don't care if this seems silly to anyone else. Being happy with these things is the very reason why my heart is filled everyday and how my most challenging days or months are still, and the end, happy. Go conquer the world. Also, make a wish at 11:11, if you see it. 6. Cancel your TV subscription It's a waste of money. You can literally watch everything online. Anything that isn't important you'll stop watching and you'll suddenly have all this time for reading, cleaning, studying, and friends. Put that $40 towards your savings. You're welcome. 7. The bedroom is for sleeping, reading, and... you know. I've struggled with nightmares for almost a decade now. That's a long time. Usually they come and go and there is no problem. However, I noticed in the last eighteen months that the frequency and the severity of them have drastically increased. My sleeps were painfully short, I wasn't focusing, and I was in a fog-like state. I took some time to think about why these things were happening: I bring my phone to bed every night. I had been bringing my laptop for netflixing too. I brought my iPad for reading. My parents always taught me to never bring TV to bed (like, don't have a TV in your bedroom) and put your phone away at bed time. Don't work late and don't study all night. I made the decision to make my bedroom my safe place for sleeping, reading, and making love (or whatever). I leave Netflix in the living room; leave any work problems, disagreements, and life problems out in the kitchen. Charge the phone on the other side of the room (I need an alarm clock) and make sure it's on silent (nine times out of ten). It didn't solve all the problems right away, and my phone is now on my nightstand, but the laptop, arguments, and other life problems are not coming to bed with me. I'm nearly a month free of those nightmares! Plus, my sleeps have been fantastic. 8. Do the dishes and take the garbage out Literally and figuratively. A clean house is a clean mind. A clean life is a happy life. 9. Trust your instincts I woke up in the middle of the night one night and knew, I knew, something wasn't right. Usually, this doesn't happen. I was wide awake. I knew I had made a terrible choice, but I didn't listen to myself and pushed it out of my mind. Turns out, I was right. My father has an incredible gut instinct about almost everything; and I like to think he passed that down to me. I don't get a "I have a good feeling about this." instinct, but I do have a "Something is so very wrong with this." instinct which is right 9.5 times out of ten. If you get that feeling, run fast and run far. Don't look back. 10. Put the bad stuff away. I'm talking about the things that create grief in your life that you just don't need. People, things, places, clothes, memories, etc. I often struggle with making sense of things way outside of my control. Or even events and people that have no impact on me, I ponder and wonder how they have got to that conclusion until I'm so side tracked that it now makes such a negative impact on my life. A few months ago, I was sitting at my parents' kitchen table discussing some bit of information with my father. It was bewildering to me that I missed details and didn't see them before. It was very helpful for him to tell me that I just need to put those memories and thoughts into a box and put them on a shelf. Learn from the bad moments, then put them away. They are nothing more than a learning moment. 11. Date Yes, date. Go on actual dates. Don't go on Netflix and Chill dates only. Go for a coffee date, a tea date, lunch date, dinner date. Go on a five minute date, a 24 hour date. Ask them questions. Take an emotional interest in them. My friend gave me the best advice: Date one person at a time. Focus on them until you either want to be with them or you know you don't. Protect your heart, of course, but don't set yourself up for failure. Don't fall in love in the first week, but don't ignore that you could fall in love. Don't overthink it and have open discussions about your feelings. Also, write love letters. Even if you never send them and they stay locked in your digital (or physical) diary and no one reads them, I can say that the love (and/or like) you'll have for everything will immensely be of greater quality. 12. Don't set yourself on fire to keep someone warm I discovered this saying back when I was discovering some of the roots of my nightmares. I'm pretty good at being empathetic to other people's problems. I like to think I'm also good at maintaining a strong emotional distance from things that upset my friends, and could upset me, and my actual emotional side. Be the support someone needs, but don't create undue stress and pressure for yourself because of it. Break up with people who make you start fires. See number ten for other reasons why not to start fires.

#personal #insomnia #selfcare

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