Thursday, February 13, 2014

At the end of the day

You know those feelings where you should be doing something, but you are unsure whether it is worth the effort to make yourself do it? Those times when it would be so much easier just to sit down with a good book and a bowl of chocolate chips and ignore the things that should be done? And then do you remember your feelings about yourself at the end of the day when you are surrounded by laundry and a mental to do list that remains unchanged? Speaking from experience, I know that I feel fairly rotten about myself as I lie in bed thinking about the day and what I accomplished. Or didn't accomplish as the case may be. We all harbor suspicions about our true character and a day of avoiding tasks we should have done only serves to confirm our worst fears.

Having experienced this feeling more than once, I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't enjoy it and try to avoid it if I can. The key to avoiding it is to remember during the day, at those moments when I am tempted to turn to the book and chocolate (or whichever pleasant, yet time wasting diversion you prefer). In those moments, it is helpful to stop and think, "How am I going to feel about this at the end of the day?" Sometimes the answer is actually, "Yes, I will feel better, as will everyone else, if we take a break." If life has been too busy and crazy, taking a break for the usual and letting the to do list go is the healthiest thing you can do. Our brains and bodies need to rest.

Usually, though, this is not the case. Sometimes I may be tired or it has been cloudy for too many days or I just have a general malaise and doing anything productive does not seem appealing. It is so much easier just to avoid it and do whatever is easiest. The trouble is, what is easiest is not always going to have a positive outcome. At the end of the day, it's not going to feel good at all. Not only because nothing was accomplished, but because the negative feelings which were the cause of it all were fed.

If I can ask myself the question about the end of the day, and give myself an honest answer, and can pick myself up, something happens. Just the decision to get on with life has the effect of turning the poor mood around. Then, there is the added benefit of feeling as though you accomplished something (or at least set out in that direction). Rarely will I get everything done that I had hoped, but working towards that end is often enough.

This is not to say that we must always be doing something, accomplishing something. That way madness lies. We need to take breaks in our day to rest. We need to sit and cuddle with our children. We need recess. But making the conscious choice to take a break is a lot different from feeling unable to stand up and do what needs to be done. With the latter, we don't have true rest because we are feeling guilty all the time we are immobile. With the former, we can truly rest because it is planned and we know we will continue on with our day afterwards.

I know none of us will ever be 100% successful in this, but I find when I stop and ask the question, I'm more successful than not. So, ask yourself if you will feel better at the end of the day if you do or don't do something. No one wants to go to bed feeling rotten about one's self.

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