Regulation

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It’s officially been a month since beginning my experiment with no alcohol, television, or Facebook. I’ve also been drinking more water, drinking less coffee, taking a magnesium/melatonin supplement at night and a probiotic/green juice supplement in the morning, and following a twice-daily skincare routine. The results of all of this are predictable, but somehow I find I’m still surprised. Pretty much all of this, aside from the skincare routine, is serving one purpose. My body and mind have stopped swinging wildly back and forth. My mood (of which there was only one – “FREAK OUT!!!! BUT HIDE IT BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL KNOW YOU’RE WEIRD!!!!”) – is beginning to regulate.

I’ve read 15 books in a month. My output at work has increased, while my work anxiety has drastically diminished. I have found it far easier to devote mental energy toward my own growth, rather than the cultivation of my rather detailed and pointless romantic fantasy life. It’s kind of amazing how overwrought my imagination can be. Maybe now that I’m cutting back on building fake futures with imaginary people, I can use those fanciful thoughts to write books or make art.

As far as sleep is concerned, though I still find myself procrastinating at bedtime, I fall asleep quickly, and sleep relatively soundly. This is a huge change for me, and one that I am still not certain is here to stay. Sleep is so important, and for the past few years, it has seemed ethereal, at best. It feels like it could be taken from me again, so I can’t afford to get cocky. In less than a month, I went from needing anti-anxiety meds and a dose of valerian to *sometimes* be able to *maybe* get four or five hours of sleep without lying in bed with my heart racing, to sleeping seven or eight hours a night, with a natural wake up at some point to drink a glass of water and pass back out. I’ve only had one anxiety-ridden night in a whole month. This is huge.

What’s strange is that when I was putting together my Bold Goals for the year, I didn’t consciously connect the fact that giving up the so-called “time wasters” (social media, television, drinking, emotional eating, etc.) had anything to do with curbing my anxiety issues. I was more concerned with forcing myself to stop procrastinating and start living. One of my goals for the year was to work on lessening my anxiety, but I didn’t really connect procrastination and anxiety together. I guess this isn’t too surprising, as I don’t believe I could see how interconnected my anxiety triggers were, given that I was white knuckling through my life. It’s hard to see the dangers when everything around you seems to have sharp edges.

So far, cutting the pointless noise of time wasters out of my life has functioned very similarly to cutting refined sugar out of your diet. Have you ever noticed how, having eaten one slice of cake, you now crave more carbs – sugary soda, bread, potatoes, it doesn’t matter, just GIVE ME MORE!?!? It’s generally never a good choice. It’s enjoyable for about two seconds, until your stomach hurts and you get all crazy from the sugar rush, then you crash like a toddler about an hour later. The same thing happens with the time wasters. It’s a momentary jolt of excitement, followed by hours of mindless semi-engagement and background dismay/guilt/disappointment, and after that a poor night’s sleep because I’m anxious about all of the things that didn’t get done because I couldn’t tear myself away from Facebook stalking or binge watching some show on Netflix that won’t mean anything to me three days from now.

Another good thing (TMI warning – I’m going to talk about bodily functions, so stop reading now if you get grossed out easily) about staying hydrated, getting more rest, and being calm is that it’s helping to regulate my digestion. Or who knows, maybe regulating my digestion is making me calm. It’s probably a little of both. They say that your gut is your second brain.

The giant glass of water every morning is followed by a green juice/probiotic supplement, and then I try to eat yogurt with honey and berries or apples. Lunch always has added fiber of some sort – generally something from the salad bar at work – and dinner is simple whole foods, like eggs and a veggie stir fry. Many, many glasses of water throughout the day, added flax seed wherever I can, and the magnesium supplement at night mean that my generally sluggish digestion has been pretty regular for the last week and a half. (It’s taken me all month to get to a point where I’m comfortable setting a routine in this department, and that’s OK. I can take my time, and I can change anything at any time if it’s not working.)

Oh yeah, that’s another thing. I’ve started being very clear with myself that I’m not allowed to be a bully anymore. It’s OK to have plans and schedules, but in my personal life, not meeting an imaginary timeline doesn’t automatically make me a failure. Straying completely off course doesn’t make me a failure. Changing my mind completely – pulling a 180, even – is OK. It doesn’t make me a failure. The only thing that makes me a failure is cruelty to myself or others. I’ll always support what I can see is in someone else’s heart, so why not offer myself that same loving hand up?

This has me thinking about my worth in a different way, too. I’m suddenly looking forward to investing in myself. It’s not “fixing” my undesirable parts or hiding my flaws. It’s emphasizing my strengths and finding ways to appreciate and bolster my differences. I am beautiful. I have worth. There’s nothing here that needs to be replaced or forgotten. I have this feeling that if I continue to take care of my brain, giving myself space and time, minimizing my exposure to things that make me anxious and scared and otherwise emotionally unwell, I will naturally also begin to hone what it is that makes me powerful, memorable, and unique.

No matter what, I’m excited to continue this journey. I’m staying off of Facebook, and have decided to continue to abstain from alcohol and television for as long as it suits me. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for bed. Saturday morning means no alarm clock. Bliss.

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