Finding Your Balance

by Mary Ann Sokolowski, LPC-MHSP

Yesterday I said no to attending something… and today… today I took a nap.

Now listen….. as quickly as you can roll your eyes at having taken the time to read that statement - I just as quickly felt silly and a tinge of regret, but confident and satisfied (actually smiling in contentment) all at the same time… and here is why…..

Yesterday those that I told I was staying home instead of meeting them out at one of Nashville’s fabulous coffee shops, were not mad at me.. and they are still my friends (they just had a little fancier coffee than my home brew of Dunkin Doughnuts) and will ask to me to do something else in the future. AND…. contrary to what I normally lead myself to believe the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD did not end when I put my phone on -DO NOT DISTURB- and took a nap.

A nap is something at is a luxury at this point in my life. I have created a life for myself where this is the case, but that is where I am. With kids, a husband, a house and a full-time job, laundry (that appears in such an abundance that I can only be lead to believe that there are 10-20 additional people that live in my house that I don’t know about and seems like an additional full time job) I rarely take the time to sit and do nothing (or even one thing at a time). By that I take it to the extreme.. while sitting on the couch watching a show I am researching kids dance classes or shopping on Amazon (to “simplify life” of course so I don’t have to go to the store… but meanwhile I am taking away my relaxation time). I am playing solitaire or reading instead of being, and it is HAAARD to slow down. To simply life, turn it all off, and nap.

When we write the narrative to ourselves that we must tend to it all, to say yes to everything, to actually FOLD the laundry in a timely manner, we get worn down. Albert Ellis referred to these absolutes in thinking as the “should” the “oughts” and the “must”. For instance… “I should go to the party or I will hurt their feelings for not attending”, “I must always keep a clean house” “I ought to put in more time at work”. Now I know that “ought” is not used at much in vernacular today, but it is defined by Merriam-Webster’s as a word “used to express obligation”. We “ought” to pay our bills, but when running late due to life… its is not necessarily an I “ought” to have been there earlier moment.

Where these absolutes creep in, and we shift our thoughts become dictated by absolutes, and narratives about how we “should” live life, instead of having flexibility in “how” we live life, anxiety, stress and feelings of exhaustion and being overwhelmed grow.

So that is why I am proud that I took the moment of no one around- not to clean the kitchen, or catch up on work- but to take a nap. I rested in the security of my relationships to say “no” to something that felt like it would be too much that day, and I tried to instate some self care. Whilst I am not always good at self care, I tried. Today I might fail, but I will try again tomorrow. I really “ought” to take more naps (and drink less coffee) anyways.

-Mary Ann