Monday, November 17, 2008


For all of us, life gets a bit challenging at times. When it's a day here, or a week there, you can heave a sigh and just plod on anyway. Even if you totally lose the plot and attempt to eat your own weight in Mars Bars, at least it'll only be for a short time - and how much harm can you DO in a day or a week anyway?

But when the stress continues on, and on, and ON relentlessly, with no end in sight, it's a lot more difficult to deal with. I honestly do not know how I got myself competition-ready this year, with everything that was going on. My best theory is that comp prep worked as a distraction, something to focus on other than how shitty life was in general.

I do have a few strategies for dealing with tough times. Sometimes they work, sometimes not so much.

One thing that often works for me is to take a big dose of perspective - the old it could be worse way of thinking. This one, I've pulled out quite a few times over recent months and it usually has the desired effect, at least for a short while. Honestly, just look around and it's easy to find several somebodies who have it far tougher than you do.

Of course, there is a point of no return, when you've been so crushed by having troubles constantly heaped on you that even though you can recognise that somebody else is in a far worse situation than you, it makes no difference to your outlook. After all, you can only deal with what's happening to YOU right now. Sometimes just taking the next breath is all you can manage....

Strategy number 2 is to focus on the positives in my life. Kind of count your blessings, I suppose. I have a happy marriage (and staying married for 24-plus years is a huge achievement these days), great kids, extended family that I can turn to for help when needed, a roof over my head, enough to eat, I'm healthy and fit, and I get to make part of my living from doing something that I love. Hmm. That IS a lot.

But what do you do when none of that positive-thinking stuff actually WORKS any more? When everything gets on top of you and you are Just. Not. Coping. Today I remembered some advice I gave to a friend and client a few months back, and revisited it. It went like this (excuse the crappy analogies, I was aiming for a bit of from-the-heart sympathy and good advice, not the Booker Prize for literature):

There’s so much negative stuff going on, one thing after another is going wrong in your life. Every single bad thing feels like a brick being hurled at your head. You can only get smacked in the head by so many bricks before you go down and don’t get back up again.

But you know, sometimes you have to stay down for a while to a) avoid any more bricks and b) lie there and catch your breath and wait for the bleeding to stop. Then you start to look around and think Holy crap! I’m in a HUGE mess….how did I let this happen? It was just a few bricks…. And you get to your wobbly feet and start to think about how far you have to go and how long it will take to undo the damage.

Not that I've inflicted any actual damage on myself, but I haven't quite been hitting my nutrition and training goals, either. I really think I'm at the "staying down" point. I need to just lie here for a bit and regroup and not get hit by any more bricks for a while. For me, what that means is that I still aim to train daily and to eat well, but since I don't have a fat loss goal or an imminent deadline to meet, I will NOT beat myself up for being imperfect. It's not an excuse to eat, drink and blow off training of course, but sometimes you have to put less pressure on yourself and simply tread water for a bit.

All of that is my muddled and long-winded way of saying that I'm actually doing OK. And I can see light at the end of the tunnel. It's still a bit of a distance away, but it's there, shining in the distance.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, I'll be hitting the gym, and hitting it hard. That's always good therapy.



Kathryn said...

You remembered me of a time a few years back when I went to a psychologist cos I thought I had depression. I told him all my troubles and he said - you're not depressed, your life just sucks!

Luckily I have a sense of humour!

Its funny how we seem to cope with the big stuff, it's the little stuff when it happens day after day that wears us down. Hope the regrouping sees you coming back stronger than ever :D

Unknown said...

and friends. You have friends. Lots of people that love you.

ss2306 said...

I stayed down and got hit by so many bricks I lost count but then out of the blue I'm back and in business, bigger and better than ever.

I feel your pain but know that soon enough you'll be standing on top of all those bricks laughing your head off at them.

As Sara said "we love you"

Unknown said...

Kerryn you are so right about the need to stay down sometimes and just let all the other stuff pass over you while you recover and regroup. It's impossible to keep striving and achieving all those goals all the time - there is a real place for staying still and when the time is right- moving onward and upwards once more!

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