Keep Your Wits About You

When you carefully manage your mental health like I do, a change of routine can get everything out of balance.  An older, wiser mother I know offered her best advice for enjoying the holidays–despite any stress or change of routine.

She said, “Keep your wits about you.” 

In other words, do whatever it takes to keep yourself in balance.  Even in the most rushed of days, I want to take time to exercise, sleep enough, eat healthy foods, and spend time in reflection and prayer.  My doctor says that these activities recalibrate the brain to keep me from being “reactive.”

Venomous Cobra

Imagine a snake that whips her head around and attacks with speed and ferocious power.  When I’m reactive, I snap at family members and let the venom of a bad mood dominate my speech and actions.

Instead of reactive living, I want responsive living.  I want to be at peace in my heart and gentle in my speech.  I want to respond, not react.  I want to be like a butterfly, carrying sweet nectar–not venom–within me. 

So when I excuse myself from the holiday rush for a brisk walk, an early bedtime, or a moment to reflect and write a blog, I’m investing in my own balance. 

I want to enter a room full of friends and family and be a blessing–alighting as a butterfly upon each dear soul.  Let me offer beauty, let me delight you.  But first, let me take a moment to keep my wits about me.  

(Photos, “Indian Cobra,” courtesy of Kamalmv, Wikipedia, and “Monarch in May,” courtesy of Creative Commons)


What Gets You Out of Balance?

A couple of days ago, everybody complained about the water in the pool.  After a rainstorm, the pH levels of our public pool were “off.”  Our eyes stung, the water felt weird, and some people complained that their bathing suits were changing color.  It was strange. The pool staff adjusted the pH, but it still took time to stabilize.

I learned how sensitive a swimming pool can be.  Did you know the pool levels need to be monitored daily, sometimes several times a day?  Did you know how easily the pH levels change?  I had no idea.  I had no idea the delicate balance of chemicals involved in daily pool maintenance.  It’s a lot of work!  And results don’t come immediately.  Sometimes it takes 24 hours for a pool’s normal pH to be restored after an imbalance.

I liked learning that about my pool.  My pool’s imbalances remind me of my own.  It’s not so strange to monitor my well-being daily, sometimes several times a day, and recalibrate based on what’s out of balance. I’m like a lifeguard holding that chemical kit and pH tester.  I’m armed with tools to get myself back in balance.

If I’m not feeling good, if the family is stressed out, or if we aren’t experiencing peace and joy, we stop and ask:  “What’s out of balance?”

Then we recalibrate.  Sometimes, we recalibrate twice a day.  We make any and all adjustments to find balance again. 

Just as rainwater and outside chemicals and debris radically alter the pool’s functioning, I’ve learned after all these years 10 things that get me “out of balance.”  I wonder if you could add something to my list.

I don’t feel so happy!   I wonder:  

1.  Have I had too much junk food, sugar, or processed food?
2.  Have I had enough sleep?
3.  Have I had time to pray and connect with God?
4.  Have I exercised in the last 48 hours?
5.  Have I deeply connected with my husband and each child recently? 
6.  Have I had enough social time with friends?  Have I had too much? 
7.  Have I had a creative outlet in the last few days?
8.  Have I conversed with too many toxic people (manipulative, guilt-trippers, complainers, gossipers) in my day?
9.  Have I assumed too many responsibilities and not delegated enough?  (Especially when it comes to keeping an organized and clean home. . . I don’t have to do all the housework, ever)
10. Have I let my mind wander and create irrational future scenarios of doom (finances, health, etc.)?

What sort of things get you out of balance?  What brings your mood down most of all?  I’d love to hear what else we could ask ourselves to check our “balance levels.”   Living with flair means learning to monitor myself, ask what’s out of balance, and then, recalibrate.