I was on the beach the other day with my family. We were just hanging out, enjoying the weather and simply being. In fact, I think the big highlight was stopping to write her name in the sand…about 10 different times. It felt so great to be outside with the clear air, just breathing, enjoying the sun.
But it hasn't always been easy for me to stop and enjoy the simple moments.
I've had stressful jobs in the past that caused debilitating migraines–if you know me, you know the horror stories of trying to get home on the 405 from the westside. My migraines are quite often accompanied with severe nausea…so you can imagine how fun those drives were…if you can't…well, they weren't fun at all.
So did I leave those jobs? Never immediately, in fact overall I was in the same industry for 10 years…so the times I escaped the job that stressed me out, I simply managed to replace it with a similar job. Yay me. And of course, I continued experiencing the same stress-induced migraines.
Wait. I'm going to step back a bit. I just realized that I am blaming the jobs for the migraines.
The truth is — these jobs by the very nature of how busy & demanding they were, kept me from doing a key thing that many people do too…taking care of myself. I ate poorly, I didn't have a regular exercise routine, I rarely got physical exercise…and I definitely didn't take time out to sit on the couch and space out.
It was towards the end of the last job I had in this field, that I started creating a shift in how I took care of myself. I started taking pilates at lunch 2x per week. I knew I'd feel better, as I'd done mat pilates for awhile and loved that.
Here are some of the immediate benefits I achieved–and when I say immediate, I mean within the first week.
1. Clear Mental Clutter
2. Physical Energy
3. Bounded up stairs without losing my breath
4. Lost weight
5. Toned my muscles
6. I was in a better mood
7. I was happier
At that point I hadn't even started to change my diet, but after seeing improvements in my weight and body, I naturally started eating better.
What happened next was like destiny for me and exactly what had to happen for me to start taking care of myself even more. My whole department including me were all laid off!
Thank you universe!
Of course, it's a little easier to eat well and fit in more exercise when you aren't being tugged in several different directions at work, but I took the opportunity and ran with it.
I made a decision to only do activities that I enjoyed. In the year that followed, here's what I accomplished and am still very proud of:
- I was offered several jobs at major corporations (even a one at mothership Apple too!), but turned them down to continue to pursue my happiness career.
- I wrote, co-produced, and recorded a 4 song CD. Check Anne Miller out on Itunes. That's me!
- I completed Physical Mind Institute's Mat Pilates training.
- I began & completed Physical Mind Institute's Comprehensive Pilates Apparatus Training
- I started teaching Pilates
- I started blogging on a very casual level
These are the first things that come to my mind from that year after leaving an industry that burned me out inside & out.
I felt so transformed in those days and really started to see the importance of taking care of yourself.
What does this have to do with you?
If you haven't taken the hint so far, I want you to take care of yourself. Right now.
I'm not telling you to quit your job or leave your marriage or anything drastic really.
What I am trying to tell you is that a small decision to start doing even 1 thing can be a catalyst for bigger changes. Say, you've been thinking of taking a photography course on Saturday mornings for an hour every week. Simply consider the beautiful pictures you'll be able to take. Allow yourself to daydream a moment where that might take you.
What about that Zumba class at the gym that happens at the exact perfect time — either right at lunch or after work or on a Sunday afternoon. Think about how great you'll feel during and after class if you just jumped in and took it.
I'm purposely not suggesting you come take pilates with me, because this activity you choose has to come to you on its own.
Ask yourself these simple questions and see what comes to mind:
What activity sounds fun?
What's something I've never tried before that I've always wanted to check out?
What activity have a I read about recently that sounded cool?
They are all pretty much the same vein. Write down the first few things that come out and then do a quick search to see if you can find the activity nearby. Schedule it as soon as possible so you don't have a chance to reschedule it or talk yourself out of it.
Ok, so guess what? I've been holding something back…I didn't mention one important thing about the questions you just asked yourself and answered.
Simply by taking this moment to consider the possibilities and answer them with specifics, you've just spent time taking care of yourself. Being aware of what you want, being open to trying new things, making a “shopping” list for yourself…all those things are small ways to give yourself what you need and desire.
So, again, here's what I want you to do:
Take a moment and think about the questions I mentioned above.
Plan one “thing” this week that will be genuinely fun for you. It doesn't have to be exercise, but physical activity is a great way to decrease stress. Don't worry so much about that now, just try to think of something that you will have fun doing.
Do that thing.
Keep doing activities that are fun, that excite you, that relax you, that you enjoy.
This is your first step in taking care of yourself on a regular basis.
The simple act of carving out small moments for yourself will lead to larger acts of kindness for the most important person you know…(hint: look in the mirror!)