Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mental Health: Plan on It!

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, 
but to schedule your priorities. - Stephen R. Covey


Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. - Pablo Picasso


When I'm depressed, I lose a sense of time and priorities. Everything in life is awash in grey. I get nothing done and as the days drip by, I become increasingly aware of a monster growing in the periphery: anxiety. All the appointments, tasks, projects, and people that have been neglected, await me at the entrance of my cave.

...happier days
I'm sitting here now, staring out - afraid to move forward, but knowing that if I don't do at least something, the monster will grow larger and larger. 

So, how do I get myself up and out when I feel so overwhelmed? How do I gain some control and get moving again back on my path? 

Among the many self-care tactics which I've written about before, there's one other tool in my kit: my personal planner. 

A personal planner keeps track of appointments, tasks, and contacts, yes; but it can also do so much more! {Those of you in the "planner community" (and yes, there is a planner community) know what I'm talking about!} A planner can be your road map and guide, as well as your creative outlet, mental health manager, and curator of your dreams!

I think I'll be digging mine out now to help me get rolling again.


About My Personal Planner

There are an infinite number of ways to set one up. Mine typically features these familiar sections:
  • Calendar
  • To Do
  • Notes
  • General info and key contacts

In addition, I've added "Focus" and "Goals" sections which contain:

  • Inspiration: gratitude list, list of my accomplishments, life's highlights and lessons, quotes, affirmations, visualizations, etc.
  • Lists: various lists and key information from diverse areas of my life, in alphabetical order.
  • Other sections dedicated to life areas for which I have a lot of info to track: my job, college, college club, etc.
Aside from its functional, organizational, and motivational elements, my planner has also become a creative outlet.

Personal planner decorating has actually become quite popular. A quick Google search will yield post after post and video after video of planner set-up ideas and decorating tips. 

When I was in PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) a few years back, one of the therapeutic activities our group did involved art. To help us relax, and express our emotions using our visual cortices, we drew, made collages, and yes, even colored. Decorating my planner has the same effect on me. It's a soothing, serotonin-raising hobby!

Some of my tools include:

a pretty planner,

sticky notes and stickers,

...the beaver's face cracks me up every time!

decorative clips,

washi tape,

colored pens,

decorative tab dividers 
with a great inspirational quote,

and finally, planner charms {see pics above and below}.

I've included just a few of the resources out there to get you started. Happy planning!


Special thanks to all my friends in the US, the UK, and Australia who gifted me most of these planners and supplies! I appreciate your kindness and friendship, and I promise to pay it forward when I can!

Planners by Filofax USA and Filofax UK

Inspirational Dashboards by tweetiepiecollage on Etsy

Planner charms by CraftersRetreaton on Etsy

Canoe do it? sticky notes {with that beaver face!} by Hatley

Washi can be found on Etsy and office supply stores are great places for sticky notes and pens.

Not shown, but also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

Planning pages, goals, and inspirational forms and lists by Life Is Crafted

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Crossing the bridge, and letting go...

I have been very depressed over the last week. This time, it's not just brain chemistry. There's a legitimate reason in my life right now. I'm not at liberty to go into details, but suffice it to say, someone I know and care about is suffering from addiction and depression. 

I've done the best I can to support her, but I can only do so much. I know that I have to, as Alcoholics Anonymous says, "Let Go, Let God"; but that's easier said than done! The need to control outcomes is a difficult thing to...control!

I'd like to share an excerpt from a book of daily meditations from which I'm trying to draw inspiration from now: The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie.* {A book I highly recommend for those in recovery of any kind, those who are co-dependent, and, well, everyone else!}


"Letting Go of Those Not in Recovery"  February 12

We can go forward with our life and recoveries, even though someone we love is not yet recovering. 

Picture a bridge. On one side of the bridge it is cold and dark. We stood there with others in the cold and darkness, doubled over in pain. Some of us developed an eating disorder to cope with the pain. Some drank; some used other drugs. Some of us lost control of our sexual behavior. Some of us obsessively focused on addicted people's pain to distract us from our own pain. Many of us did both: we developed an addictive behavior, and distracted ourselves by focusing on other addicted people. We did not know there was a bridge. We thought we were trapped on a cliff.

Then, some of us got lucky. Our eyes opened, by the Grace of God, because it was time. We saw the bridge. People told us what was on the other side: warmth, light, and healing from our pain. We could barely glimpse or imagine this, but we decided to start the trek across the bridge anyway.

We tried to convince the people around us on the cliff that there was a bridge to a better place, but they wouldn't listen. They couldn't see it; they couldn't believe. They were not ready for the journey. We decided to go alone, because we believed, and because people on the other side were cheering us onward. The closer we go to the other side, the more we could see, and feel, that what we had been promised was real. There was light, warmth, healing, and love. The other side was a better place.

But now there is a bridge between us and those on the other side. Sometimes, we may be tempted to go back  and drag them over with us, but it cannot be done. no one can be dragged or forced across the bridge. Each person must go at his or her own choice, when the time is right. Some will come; some will stay on the other side. The choice is not ours.

We can love them. We can wave to them. We can holler back and forth. We can cheer them on, as others have cheered and encouraged us. But we cannot make them come over with us. If our time has come to cross the bridge, or if we have already crossed and are standing in the light and warmth, we do not have to feel guilty. It is where we are meant to be. We do not have to go back to the dark cliff because another's time has not yet come.

The best thing we can do is stay in the light, because it reassures others that there is a better place. And if others ever do decide to cross the bridge, we will be there to cheer them on.

*Beattie, M. (1990). February. In The language of letting go (pp. 41-42). Center City, MN: Hazelden.