August is still a week away, but since I haven’t chosen a monthly mantra in a while, I thought I’d get a jump on this one. I very much need to focus the next 5 weeks or so on one thing: I need to MEND.
Even though MEND isn’t a word we use often these days, I think it’s a good one. It’s active: things don’t mend themselves. It’s gentle: damage has been done but things are not ruined beyond repair. It feels right.
Mend the physical stuff
I’ve been living with chronic back pain for years now. Earlier this year it reached a critical point and I knew something needed to change. Quickly.
When I met with my massage therapist/myopractor, she stared at me in concern. “Jen. I’m amazed you’re walking at all right now, let alone walking without complaining constantly.” My entire body was out of whack. Putting it back in alignment was painful, time consuming, and not possible in just one appointment. I went back the following week for more work and have gone a few more times since.
In addition to manually putting my back + hips back into place, she gave me some some exercises to help hold everything there. Weak muscles = things don’t stay put. She and I are working together to mend my back (hopefully) permanently.
I also pretty much stopped exercising once summer started. When I went to zumba for the first time in over two months, I definitely regretted taking that break. Getting back into a regular workout routine will both help reinforce the work I’m doing on my back and improve my overall health.
David wants to look into his diet a little more closely. Again, summer and traveling and whatnot as kind of thrown us out of balance. I’m not sure if we need to do a complete elimination diet to see if there are specific problem foods, or if we can get away with planning better and just increasing our veggie intake. We’ll play it by ear, but we’ll definitely be looking more closely at the foods we eat.
Mend the mental stuff
After going off my depression/anxiety medication, I had to make some big adjustments. I’m able to feel a broader range of emotions now, which is sometimes overwhelming. I get the urge to cry A LOT. It’s uncomfortable. I hate crying.
I also have a harder time slowing my brain down before bed. Falling asleep sometimes takes so much effort! I have to be so careful about what input my brain gets right before bedtime, because too much stimulation is definitely not helpful. While I’ve tried to create a good evening routine to encourage better sleep, with our summer travels I haven’t been very consistent. Time to get back into that rhythm.
And with all the bodily pain I’ve had off and on, I’m struggling with my body image…and not in a way I’m familiar with. Rather than getting hung up on how my body looks (although that happens too) I feel frustration + betrayal over how it feels. I have long believed all bodies are good bodies…but it’s hard to believe my body is a good body when it hurts all the dang time. Because I have done things + created habits that are contributing to my own discomfort, there’s also plenty of guilt to deal with.
I don’t like it. I catch myself avoiding + numbing almost every single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I do not want to think about these complicated, deep down emotions. But if I want to mend my mind, I have to process + release all these thoughts + feelings. Holding onto them makes both my mental stress and my physical pain worse.
Two tools I’ve found really useful: the Instagram account @mindfulcounseling and the app Headspace. The first is like free mini therapy sessions via social media. So convenient and legitimately helpful. The second has tons of guided meditations that are helping me learn to set my busy thoughts aside and be present.
Mend the relational stuff
Sometimes relationships get off-balance. It’s normal. Too many of mine have gotten than way, it seems, and I’d like to do some course correcting. I need to mend the damage of being a “grumpy angry mom,” as Margot called me at church recently. Mend the holes in my marriage created by too many daily stressors and not enough quality time together. Put some extra effort into a handful of friendships and family relationships that have fallen by the wayside.
I genuinely think a lot of this will be helped by getting back into a routine. Scheduling in social activities, one-on-one time with my kids, and date nights is so much easier when our days already have a framework to build on. I’m just not very good at creating my own routine + sticking to it, but I thrive when a bit of a routine is imposed on me. Yay school!
Lest anyone get overly concerned, these really are minor issues to be resolved. My friend Heather recently told me, “Just because something needs work doesn’t mean it’s broken.” And that’s exactly it. Nothing is broken; it all just needs some maintenance.
So I’ll work on mending some things this coming month. Not fixing, because fixing implies brokenness, which isn’t really the case. Not healing, because healing is too passive. MEND seems like a mantra to help me actively find + repair anything that’s not working at full capacity AND improve my environment to protect those weakened spots.
And I don’t usually ask, but if you could send some healing vibes my way or share any advice you have for working through similar mental/physical issues, I would really appreciate it. Mending is hard work and I need all the help I can get.