Just Don’t It – Redux

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Hello friends!

I wrote a different version of this post a few months ago. I decided to revise half of it and added a section about “micromovements”, a concept created by the bestselling author SARK.

What’s a micromovement? you may ask.  (Hint: it’s not a tiny bowel emission! 🙂

Read on and you’ll learn what a micromovement is and how to incorporate one into your life…

During the 1980’s a trendy Nike campaign caught the world’s attention with the tagline “JUST DO IT!”  Nike’s message was loud and clear: when it came to exercise, there were no excuses.  I think it was a brilliant campaign as it motivated countless people to work out.

The catchphrase is just as true today as it was a couple decades ago.

To me, Nike’s slogan holds a special significance.  As a teenage long-distance runner in the 1980’s, I wore Nike running shoes long before I’d be diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder.  Since my diagnosis I’ve experienced a marathon of seven hospitalizations.

I tried over 20 different medications, and when my father died I was desperate and demanded ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), which brought me out of the suicidal state I was in. I finally reached stability with the right meds and self-care program, and to say I’ve been grateful for my recovery is a massive understatement!

However, just because I became stable (the International Bipolar Foundation even profiled me as a “2014 Story of Hope and Recovery”, an honor I frankly never thought would be bestowed upon me in a million years!), life has been a daily challenge and I know it always will be that way.

The past few weeks have been particularly rough ones. An unexpected family crisis popped up that tested my hard-won stability.  The good news is that I’ve gotten enough sleep each night thanks to my antipsychotic medication Seroquel. (This medication has been key in keeping me on the straight and narrow path of mental stability.)

Even so, I’ve struggled with some unhealthy habits I call “JUST DON’T ITS!” that could potentially affect both my mental and physical health, and it’s time to kick them out the door. (I wonder if any of you do these nasty bugaboos too?)

Here are some of my “JUST DON’T ITS”:

1) Yelling too much at my family members. (I often have bona fide reasons to raise my voice, but I’ve been overdoing it.)

2) Eating an entire pint of gourmet (a.k.a. ultra-high fat) ice cream far too often. This is a biggie “JUST DON’T IT”! As a former certified personal trainer, I should know better than to do such a heinous thing to my body. I definitely don’t recommend consuming this much ice cream if you want to maintain your overall health and specifically, your weight!

3) Spending too much time on social media at the expense of my other projects and duties. It’s fun, but I want and need to cut down. Facebook has become my social media version of gourmet ice cream. (I can see you mumbling “Hunh?”)

4) Feeling intimidated to ask friends I’ve helped over the past year (i.e. providing them with childcare) to please return the favor once in a while. It’s hard for me to ask for help, but it would lessen my stress if I had some child-free time to do errands or have some quiet time to relax and recharge.

This is an incomplete list, but you get the idea. It’s better to have a short list to focus on anyway, so I don’t get overwhelmed.

Now, as far as “JUST DO IT!” is concerned, Nike was right all along in their message to cool it with excuses and take a very simple step to break a sweat.  One of my favorite bestselling authors/artists SARK (“Inspiration Sandwich”) calls these tiny steps “micromovements”. The author of over 2 million books in print, SARK uses micromovements with her writing, but micromovements can apply to many other actions.  I’m sure you’ve heard different versions of her concept, but I like her approach best, which she describes in some of her books.

For example, if you want to take a walk, tell yourself you’ll walk for half a block.  Yup, just half a block.  As you begin your stroll, you might surprise yourself by going just a little further than that half  block.  In your next walk, you can continue to build upon your initial success to go a slightly further distance. (Walking can totally reset your mood for the better, and it’s an ideal way to try out micromovements.)

If you’ve been putting off paying an intimidating stack of bills like I do, commit to paying just one bill.  Once you start writing the check, see where your energy level is after picking up (and moving!) your pen – maybe you’ll find that you can pay one more bill on the same day!   

This all may sound overly simplistic, but micromovements are really a great way to “JUST DO IT”! It feels so good to accomplish a small thing; for those of us who live with bipolar disorder, completing a mundane chore can be profound.  Recently I’ve used micromovements in cleaning our one bathroom (an always odious task) and with our incredibly messy dining room table/office.  I had partial success with both tasks, but there was definite improvement (i.e. clean toilet, half the table was clear) and I can try again.

When we experience days when we’re depressed, if we take on a seemingly “little” task such as making a bed or taking a shower, that action can shift our energy and attitude the lasts longer than one would think!

I’ve followed SARK’s micromovement advice during both good days and bad ones, and I’ve found that even if I don’t do a whole lot, they definitely work to shift my attitude.  

I wish you strength in getting rid of some unhealthy habits of your own and I hope you incorporate the art of micromovements into your life.

Thanks for reading!

Dyane

p.s. What single “JUST DON’T IT” would you like to phase out of your life this fall?  I’d love to know!