Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Year's Resolutions 2013

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. They always seemed as arbitrary to me as the idea that the first day of the year is remotely different than the day before. Nothing's changed; it's just Tuesday. But the past few weeks have been depressing and filled with setbacks, and I've been thinking a lot today about what I need to do to change a lot of the things I talked about on Monday in the end-of-year meme. And though I still believe that any day is a beginning, I've decided to write these down for myself now.

My first-ever New Year's Resolutions.

1. Exercise every day.
I'm always happier when I'm exercising. Negative energy builds and builds with me, exacerbated by my high blood pressure, and my mind becomes a tea kettle: when the steam builds up, it's an explosion, but an explosion that comes with an emotional breakdown that spirals out of control. Exercising every day--even just a little bit--stops that build-up by giving my anxious energy somewhere to go. It makes me feel better and more capable, which builds my confidence, which makes me feel even better and more capable, etc. Even if it's walking up and down the stairs several times a day or doing my leg lifts, I need to expend that energy.

2. Try to meditate every day, but don't beat yourself up if you can't do it.
Sometimes the noise around here is just too distracting--particularly on windy days--and I just can't get in the state I need to be in to meditate successfully. I also have a tendency to try too hard. I start to get frustrated with myself for not being able to do it, which only makes it worse and more tense. But when I get in that great state, I feel good for days afterward. My blood pressure is lower, I don't get frustrated so easily, and the little things don't set me off. So I'll try for it every day.

3. No more being online from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.
It's fun being online, but after a while it can be too much. I get more and more annoyed, and I also waste the potential of the day. Sometimes is okay, but not every damn day, jeez. I need to get out in the world more.

4. Work more.
While I'm looking for something maybe more reliable, it's important to be better about working every week, at least one day a week. At the very least. I'm not always great about looking for jobs, I admit, but that's got to change if Becca and I are going to survive and keep our home.

5. Less sleep.
I'm an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type. Have been since I was a toddler. I miss waking up around 6 in the morning, and I want to start getting to bed earlier and waking up before 8 on days when I don't work.

6. Be more patient.
Not every little thing needs to be addressed, especially when it's fanboy bullshit or political idiocy. It's okay to express frustration sometimes, but it's time to just let things that don't matter drift off over the horizon. I can be informed about politics without getting so annoyed that I want to smash something, and a big part of that is not engaging in the online anger that benefits no one and simply chases its own tail. That garbage is ultimately irrelevant and changes nothing. Especially be more patient with people I know and interact with daily, because I'm so exhausted being so easily ruffled. It's stupid and I'm tired of getting in fights over things that ultimately don't matter at all. Patience, understanding, peace.

7. Less sugar.
Sugar is turning out to have the same effect on blood pressure as salt, so it's time to cut down. I've already stopped putting it in my coffee, and it's not bad. I haven't drank anywhere near as much soda this year as I have in years past, and it feels nice to have the occasional Coke as a treat rather than drinking it all day long. I've been successful with this, so I can keep doing it.

8. Cook once a week. For now.
Becca had a rule that I had to cook once a week. I need to keep doing that, because it gives me a lot of confidence and, let's face it, even just standing for a while is good for me. Maybe then I can move up to twice a week. I need to be better, too, about finding more recipes and more variety. I just don't have an imagination for it just now, because I don't have a ton of experience eating variety. I did make a pizza yesterday, and it felt nice. Was still too sick to taste anything but the sauce, but it was nice.

9. Take a nice, long bath one day a week.
Showers are all well and functional, but I feel cleaner and more relaxed when I have a long soak. I just do. Nice, long bath and then running the shower afterwards, and I feel the cleanest.

10. Read Stranger in a Strange Land.
I haven't read that since high school, either, and reading Dune makes me want to revisit that other great epic of consciousness from the 1960s.

11. Lose a pound a week.
I think this will be the hardest, but I hope it's easier than I think it will be. I don't really have a way to weigh myself; I weigh too much for conventional scales, and I can't always go in to the doctor's office because of my money and insurance situation. But I know what it feels like when I'm losing weight, and it feels good. A lot of my health problems--my blood pressure, my depression, my anxiety--are only made worse by being so goddamn heavy. I know it's possible to do this, I just need to be resolved. The problem is not overeating--I don't eat enough--the (major) problem is my sedentary lifestyle. That can change, and it's going to have to if I want to, you know, stay alive. So just quit talking about it and fucking do it, already.

12. Eat more.
I don't eat enough. I go too long without eating, my body starts to starve, and then it gets shocked when I have, say, a normal-sized dinner, and it retains everything. So I need to make a real effort to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sometimes I'm sure I'll snack on something, but the important thing is to eat healthy foods, stay satisfied, not starve myself (which will be hard because my body is very used to that feeling) and keep the engine going. The more the engine burns, the more fat it burns. It seems counter-intuitive, but it works.

13. Don't get discouraged.
Happens to everyone, but I need to make sure that discouragement =/= derailment. Remember, setbacks can and should be temporary. If you stumble, get back up and keep moving forward. If I mess up, it hasn't ruined everything unless I just decide to stop trying. So get back up and keep going, for fuck's sake.

14. Get a grip.
I need to acknowledge that I will always have serious problems with my anger, my depression, and my anxiety. But I can gain control over these things by being honest with myself and being conscientious about most of the things on this list: exercise, meditation, engaging in my interests, reading, writing, eating, cooking, cleaning, working, and being a part of the world, even if it's just the immediate world around me. I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and start helping myself. I was the happiest ever in June when I was swimming and cooking and walking and not being so afraid. I want every month to be June. It won't always be easy, but it will always be possible.

All it's got to take is some warmth to make it blow away, blow away, blow away...


Allen Gilchrist said...

Great list! I like that you have been thoughtful about what you want, what it takes to do it, and why it's in your best interest to do so! I aim to make the same list/assessment for myself!

Roger Owen Green said...

Good plan. Some folks swear by 5 or 6 small meals a day; I've not tried it myself, but you might consider it.

Hobgoblin238 said...

Great list. I need the exercise everyday thing too.

Caffeinated Joe said...

Great list and you CAN do it! Believe in yourself! Good luck!

Kelly Sedinger said...

I do better on a number of small meals, with the larger meals front-loaded in the day. So I prefer to consume more calories at breakfast and lunch than dinner. This isn't ALWAYS practical or successful, but I generally like it that way.

Best wishes!

S ELEMENT said...

Terrific list. I'm working on some of the same things this year.

Re: meditation, what has your approach been? I've been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's book on mindfulness. It seems interesting, and despite my skeptic sense being on high alert as I began, am now thinking of putting some of his ideas into practice.

SamuraiFrog said...

Over the summer, my mother-in-law gave me a book called "The Relaxation Response" by Herbert Benson. It's been invaluable; it's about using a simplified version of Transcendental Meditation to combat the fight-or-flight response, and it addressed nearly 100% of the problems I have with my anxiety and stress.

S. Element said...

Sounds interesting -- I'll check it out. Thanks!

Kal said...

I share many of the same goals with you because those are the exact same things I want to change about myself, my brother. I will be here to encourage you all the way as much as I know you hate that. I will print this post and past it on my fridge to remind me that someone If someone I admire can at least try...then so can I. Though to fair with myself. I have had a pretty good year health wise with my Diabetes and weight lose. Now I want to be stronger.