Now more than ever, I feel the need to find peace. My body (which has been plagued by immune system problems) yearns for it.
My main problem is that I’m a perfectionist with a type A personality, but looking back over the past 24 years that I’ve had autoimmune diseases, I realize they were red flags that I ignored. I worked too hard for much of my adult life, worried too much, and misspent so much time. I’m not sure if I’m having a mid-life crisis now at the age of 44, but I want more out of life…not more stuff, just more simplicity and solitude. I don’t want to fill up every part of my day being active. Instead, I want to take long hot baths and lie in bed just listening to some soft music or writing or reading each day.
So here’s my plan for this year (we’ll see how it goes). First, less energy spent on being a perfectionist. I don’t need to get outstanding scores on all areas of my evaluation rubric at work. So far I’m doing a pretty good job this school year just being proficient which was hard to accept at first. (It’s hard for a perfectionist to accept just being good enough, but for my sanity, I have had to do just that.) I will also make time for a bike ride and/or walk each day after work if it’s over 50 degrees because light activity makes me feel good. No more yoga for now since my rheumatologist pointed out that downward facing dogs and planks are too hard on inflamed wrists and fingers which I guess I kinda knew but didn’t want to admit. Instead, I will try tai chi which is offered at my church. (I may go back to yoga if the Enbrel I’m about to start taking for Rheumatoid Arthritis significantly reduces the inflammation because I truly do love yoga and I miss it.) I will practice my harmonica and continue writing my novel, but I will not pressure myself to do so and feel guilty if I don’t. I will do these things when I miss doing them. I will recite Psalm 23 each morning and picture the beautiful imagery within it as I drive to work. At least once a week, I will write down a blessing and put it into my blessing jar to read at the end of the year. (I did this a couple of years ago and don’t know why I didn’t do it last year again because it was truly a positive experience). I will continue to listen to calmer music which is already making a world of difference for me. (See playlist at the end of this blog for a sample.) When I feel stressed, I will not only listen to calm music but practice deep breathing and other grounding techniques. By the way, you can find a good article on some of these practices at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-empowerment-diary/201705/are-you-grounded-centered-or-both Most importantly, each day, for at least half an hour, I will seclude myself in my bedroom or the bathtub with a do not enter notice to my extroverted husband, and I will listen to soft music during that time. I will say no to people who ask me to take on long-term volunteer commitments, and I will not feel guilty. That’s the plan anyway.
If you’re looking for a playlist of soft music, you can try the YouTube list I compiled which is linked below, or you might try starting your own playlist. I’ve also come to enjoy the Soundscapes channel that comes with my Spectrum cable subscription. It’s nice to listen to on the weekends as I sip tea or hot cocoa.
One other thing you might try is listening to the same song that truly gives you peace over and over again. I started doing this after someone else mentioned this on her blog, and I’ve been doing this a lot with Hymn of the Cherubim by Tchaikovsky. Now when I feel stressed at work, I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and start listening to it in my head for a minute or two, which is easy because it has become ingrained in my memory. (It’s a nice way to detach from the chaos and remember my place in the universe…as a child of God who is only in this world for a little while.)
If you’re the type of person who needs to be doing something in your free time and can’t sit still, try to do something relaxing like doodling, coloring, journaling, bike riding, walking, lifting weights, or fishing. With or without music, you may find this helpful. If you have any suggestions for unwinding aka de-stressing aka becoming grounded, please include them in the comments below. I’d love to hear what works for others. I’m certainly no expert. I’ve just done a lot of reading on the topic and many of these techniques are helping me a great deal.