How I change my Mindset on Hard Days
Winter can be long and draining in our wet valley. I find many times I need to change my mindset. While some endure a snowbound winter, we grasp onto every bit of uncommon light peeking through rainy skies. As winter matures, I have more hope for spring, but there are still hard days.
I am not a Medical Professional and this is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. If you are experiencing depression or consistent health issues please talk with a medical professional.
My hard days may or may not be like yours. I wake up feeling stress radiating through my bones. It feels as though the tasks around the house are so many that discouragement sets in. It seems crazy to even try to conquer all there is to do.
Then there’s the children. Those precious babies. Those God given blessings begin calling my name. Over and over they whine. In the midst of deciding I’m not cut out for the job as housekeeper, I also figure someone else better take care of these kids before I soon explode. Aren’t they supposed to be raised by a village or something? Where is that village? Do they just show up or do I need to order them like I do my groceries?
In the process of figuring out how I might hire a village to come take over, a child’s bodily fluids are lost, someone else is screaming and the other two have made a crayon art gallery of the new hutch doors.
This situation is fictional but, in all honesty, it could be any mom out there. I’ve had days much like this. I’ve had several rough days these last couple weeks and while some days can not be “Fixed” right away, there’s always things one can do to mentally start over.
The Quick Fix
If I’m having a hard day and my husband takes notice, his first inclination is to fix it. After making me coffee, taking the kids for a couple hours or doing some chores, he’ll ask if I’m feeling better.
On the one hand, this is so helpful and appreciated but I usually have to respond that I’m still struggling. Its frustrating for me. Its frustrating for him. He wants to fix it “now” and honestly, I do too.
One thing that is forgotten when we hit a crisis is the time it takes to get through it. When days are hard, one of the first inclinations is to think that if the hard parts of the day were gone, the day itself would be easier.
Why then do I still struggle?
I could talk for a long time about the chemical imbalance stress causes. We could talk about sleep or lack thereof. Adrenal health. I could talk about the connection between the physical, mental and spiritual components involved. All in all, there is no quick fix.
You could read every blog post out there with titles like “How to start over on a bad day” or “Change your day from bad to Amazing.”
The truth is, while we can do things to help (which I’ll talk about), our stress is indicating a bigger problem.
Our physical bodies are connected to emotions and our physical bodies and our mental state and our spiritual state: It’s all connected.
Sugar. Coffee. Wine. A Shower. A Bath. Self care.
Its easy to say that we just need a little attention for ourselves, but we are much more complex beings than that.
My Easy Fix
Yesterday I was feeling quite stressed and drained. In the afternoon I just wanted brownies. They sounded comforting to this girl who wanted comfort. I made them and then I ate them. I ate way too many and began to feel the affects.
I’d say chocolate is a wonderful nutritious food for the stressed woman, but for my body it acts more like poison. I’ve actually had to stop preterm labor because of eating too much chocolate. My body cramps up and shakes like I’ve had ten espressos.
You can imagine how I did not receive the comfort I’d hoped to get from this comfort food. Today I woke up in pain from the cramping and still feeling extra anxiety pulsating.
Quick fixes don’t work. They may help once in awhile but they don’t change the root of the problem.
Finding the Root
In order to pull a weed completely out of the ground, one must grasp as far down into the messy dark soil as they can. It means hands get stained and possibly poked by thorns. Even though gloves can be worn, there are some weeds that need bare hands to extract their entire form.
Trying to reset a hard day, is much like this job of pulling out weed roots. I can medicate for the day (and some days I medicate on lots of podcasts and sugar) but all in all, that does not truly reset the day. It only focuses my brain on something else for awhile.
Whatever causes the stress, leaves its mark on my physical body in tight muscles and low energy. It leaves it’s mark on my mental body by slowing my thoughts and not allowing me to focus on creativity or tasks because I’m so set on fighting the stress.
So how does one get to the root? She starts at the top and works her way down.
This can take some time. This is where a mental reset and self care come in.
Reset the Hard Day
Perhaps it’s sounding like I don’t believe in a day’s reset. That isn’t completely true. Stopping and refocusing of what’s truly important is so good. Taking a break to do this is also healthy.
The purpose of a reset though, should always be to help get me back to where I should be.
It should help me in future days; not just today.
- Eating Healthy
- Drinking water
- Soaking in Epsom salts
- Moving the body or getting outside
- Visiting with a Friend
Our bodies have several different branches that require balance and care. There is the physical body, the spiritual body, our mental state and our emotional state.
Choosing to eat healthy in the day would physically help me but it does much more than that. It would also help my brain to work better. I wouldn’t have the blood sugar drops that causes fatigue or the brain fog from foods that I can’t tolerate well.
Soaking in a tub sounds very relaxing for the body, but it’s not just for physical health. according to this article, “Epsom salts helps stabilize mood and relieve stress, anxiety and depression.” Perhaps this is because our body releases magnesium when stressed, leaving us depleted.
A Holistic Reset
The truth is, no matter what I do to help reset my brain, it will support more than one branch of health.
When I’m have a hard day, choosing one branch to take care of (like drinking more water for my physical body) is helpful in resetting my mindset. Even so, there is only one branch that I’ve found to affect every other branch immediately: the spiritual branch.
If you have a hard time believing in spiritual things, you may be tempted to skip this section but hang with me!
This article explains the connection between faith and mental health and stress. There are also physical affects that indirectly result from spiritual well being as this article shows.
Start with the Spiritual
As a Christian I cannot get through a hard day without reminding myself of what God says. His words are true and perfect. His love and plans for me are filled with grace. They do not depend on my performance.
I can’t help but feel so unworthy during a hard day. I have to go back to what God says about me. This gives me the motivation to take care of myself and love others better.
A Hard Season
I’m just going to be real.
I’m going through a hard season. The last year and a half has been quite stressful. While we’re thrilled to have finished our adoption in September 2020, I feel like a first time parent once again.
I’ve struggled with guilt as well as off and on symptoms of PAD (Post Adoption Depression). One of my first posts about gratitude expressed how I’d grown in my motherhood from stressed to feeling so blessed. Looking back has made me feel guilty because I’m just not at that same point right now.
But that’s ok.
My struggles in this season are completely different than at that time. The important thing is to look to and trust my father God to reset my hard days and my hard season.
Pulling out the Roots
The other night I was gifted with a long time alone in my bedroom. I was able to bring my stress out before God.
I found that the root of my “hard days” were feeling inadequate for my role as mother to four kids, including our recently adopted princess. In addition, I was feeling physically exhausted from dealing with a number of other stressors.
The spiritual Plan to Change my Mindset
Being still for a little while and journaling helped so much. I wrote out verses that stood out like 2 Corinthians 9:10:
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
- By first running to God, I was able to remind myself of the things I believe are true. He is faithful. He can use my humble willing heart to produce so much good. It’s not about me, but him. He gives me grace in my failures.
The Holistic Plan to change my Mindset
Finding time to process is hard and, for once, I was able to process things on paper. Here’s a passage from my journaling:
I try to tell myself God will provide my breaks but what about the times I feel I may not make it through this?! I’ve been trying to find verses to lean on but right now I need to take care of myself. Physically I need to take Epsom salt baths and continue my daily fitness. Emotionally I need to do “this.” I need to write things down. I need to call a counselor or fellow adoptive parent. I need this. Mentally, I need to take a break in the day to do nothing-no noise, no chores, maybe walking outside. Maybe sitting at my bedroom window for a few minutes. And spiritually I need to find God’s truth in my day and cling to it. I really need to set aside time with God.February 2021
- I found practical ways to take care of myself in the branches of my physical health, mental health and emotional well being.
Accountability to Change my Mindset
Lastly, having accountability plays a huge role.
I am blessed to have close friends in the area who talk with me pretty regularly. They pray with me and hold me accountable to do the things I NEED to be doing. Not everyone has this. Talking with a counselor also gives you good accountability if you are in a hard season that is not changing.
Resetting a hard day and Hard Season
- Seek out help from God and time to be “still” with Him. He loves you and gives you more grace than you’ll ever know!
- Figure out ways to take care of your physical health, mental health emotional health and most of all, your spiritual health.
- Find Accountability. I love this verse from Ecclesiates 4:8-9 that says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
It may not be a quick fix, but this will get to the root of those weeds that take the joy from our days. This world isn’t perfect. We will always be fighting something. Life is hard. But we can be prepared to change our mindset on our hard days.
From the Hilltop,
I loved reading your thoughts and experiences of your current day to day. I have been reprocessing the past twelve years lately. My time at LPC seemed like a pinnacle of my life and that everything following my time there was somehow a “Plan B.” It’s not that my life is awful. I have been gifted a wonderful life, but it is far different than the life I anticipated for my entire adolescent and young adult years.
God has been shouting at me probably this whole time, but lately I can hear His voice again. My life as it is right now is His “Plan A.” He knew the struggles I would have as a stay at home mom. I read through Exodus 3-4 today with my kids. It struck me anew that Moses did not feel qualified or up to the task he suddenly found God giving to him. He tried three different ways to say “no” to God. God pushed past all those excuses. God was not going to take “no” for an answer. Moses could not change God’s sovereign, loving, mighty plan of salvation by focusing on his own flaws. God worked through Moses and Moses somehow became the leader that was needed.
I am struggling daily in our home education journey. Everything feels off. My kids’ achievements are incredible, but somehow because I cannot seem to figure out how to get it all done peacefully (my own inner peace) and quickly, I feel my inner value meter waning toward the end of each day. I feel rushed and in a hurry and disconnected from being a mother. So the encouragement from Exodus 3 impacted me greatly today – a timely reminder that whatever I think are my flaws will not stand in the way of God’s sovereign will for my life.
God is also speaking to me about unconfessed sin – areas where He wants to clean me out. The israelites did not want to leave their idols and meat pots in Egypt and had no idea for what this G-d of theirs was leading them into wilderness places. They longed for what they knew. When I find myself longing for peace or putting my hope in that next cup of tea, I find that anything other than sitting with God is an idolatrous replacement for the only One who will statisfy me.
If we were sharing a cup of tea, I know we would have more to say. You are such a sweet kindred! I will continue to lift your family up as you do hard and beautiful things.
Thank you for your sweet wisdom Noelle. Yes, to home education being hard! SO much harder than I pictured after being a homeschooled gal myself. I am definitely coming to terms that I say I believe in God’s grace but at the same time, I can hold myself to a bar we can’t actually meet without his grace. It’s so hard for me to feel “good enough” but that’s what he’s made us as his children!
I completely agree with your comments on LPC school days! My soul longs to go back to that place, that year so often. I literally dream about it. It was a safe and covered place from the storms. Now that we’re in the storms I have to constantly be reminded that this place and life is not that sweet “safe” place. NO matter, I carry the biggest safety net I could ever have whatever the storms.