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Are You Helping Yourself or Hiding Out?

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Starving when I walk in the door, I quickly change into my cozy grey DePaul t-shirt, and black Lululemon yoga pants, then head for the kitchen.  In search of a quick fix for my hunger, I look for anything that I can prepare in 5 minutes or less.  Mindlessly I devour my food while standing in the kitchen.  Then I head for living room.  I melt into my oversized green chair, put my feet up on the ottoman and relax with my TV.  It is a familiar routine; up early, home late.  Exhausted.  When I am home I look for a much needed break from thinking about my next “need to dos” after another hectic 10 hour day.  I want to escape the nonstop part of my life for a while.

We all have ways in which we choose to mindlessly escape the world.  Every day we are sent endless messages that encourage us to engage in temporary fixes that claim to make our life easier and better.  During the most busy times of my life, I recall rewarding myself in a variety of ways.  I choose the drama on television to escape the real stuff in my life.  I watched chic flicks on a Saturday afternoon when I felt too tired to do anything else.  When I felt stressed I found relief in food or a diet coke and a few too many cocktails on occasion.  The ease of “take out” often trumped eating healthy when the last thing I had the energy to do at the end of a day was cook and then clean up.  Sometimes I would go shopping and buy myself clothes, purses, and shoes that I didn’t need.  These were my rewards for working too way to much and they often ended up in a garage sale or donated to charity barely used.  Does any of this sound familiar?  If so read on.

We all need breaks, especially when life gets hectic.  My “solutions” described above provided a temporary release.   After a while these coping mechanisms took over my free time.  Tuning out became an excessive ritual and I started to loose touch with myself.  I felt numb or indifferent instead alive and excited about each day.  When I realized my actions were blocking me from the life I wanted and messing with my health, I chose to tune back in.

First I determined which of my habits served me better as exceptions instead of the norm.  I looked for the best and most healthy ways to be in relationship with myself.  As I started to make healthier choices with my time, I found myself engaging in activities that made me feel more alive.  Cutting back on my TV consumption gave me time to read the books on my shelf and the magazines that had been piling up.  Taking classes allowed me to explore something new and gave me a reason to get my out of the office at a decent hour.  Hiring a personal trainer provided motivation to get to the gym.  Deciding to hike the Grand Canyon for charity literally changed my life.  Raising money for a great cause,  discovering new places and getting exercise appealed to me because my free time was limited and this met many of my “want tos”.  Through this I met interesting people that became life long friends.  Our conversations opened my mind to new possibilities which led me to my amazing husband among other things.  When I reconnected with myself  and got out of my own way, I became healthier and happier.

How are you spending your down time?  Are your rituals serving your best interests and helping you move forward or are they simply filling your time and keeping your situation the same?  I hope that you make time to do the things that will help you move forward toward your dreams.

 

Action Ideas & Tips:

First Step… Assess Your Current Situation:

Look at your coping mechanisms.  Recognize how you escape the world and how it makes you feel.  Think about not only the short term benefits but also realize how your actions are impacting you in the long term.  Are you zoning out too much, too little or for just the right amount of time?  Are you finding yourself saying life is ok or frickin’ fabulous?  

Second Step… Determine What Changes You Want To Make:

When you think about your goals and aspirations, will continuing to do what you are doing help you get where you want to go?   What makes you happy and rejuvenates you?  What do you want to start doing?  What do you want to stop doing?   Of the things you want to continue, do you want to spend the same amount of time doing them?  

Third… Set Yourself Up for Success:

Start by making small changes and build on them.  You do not need to take everything on at once.  The most effective way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one.  When you look at something you want to change, what would be a more helpful way to spend your time?

 

Don’t delay on taking action until when (FILL IN YOUR EXCUSE).   I have listed a few ideas above that worked for me or but there are many many more options to try.  Everyone is unique and it may take a few attempts to figure it out.   I suggest you pilot new things until you find what works best for you.  

Start taking action today or you may find yourself in the same place next year. 

 



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