In counseling sessions, I constantly find myself suggesting to clients that a switch of unhealthy habits for healthy ones will help with some of their emotional struggles. These words flow out as easy as water from the drain, and both of us know, as the dew of each word hits the air, that it’s not that easy. When you’re depressed, anxious, traumatized or just having an awful day, the habits that flow as easily as those words aren’t usually the ones that are best for us.
I’ve been having a few of those days, or weeks really, myself. For many a reason, both legitimate and otherwise, I’ve just been having a hard time. When this happens, because it does happen to just about everyone, my go to habits include, but are not limited too:
No writing, no working out, no coloring/art, no socializing, no personal/professional drive, no meditation or prayer. I get lost in a sea of laziness that makes Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall look like a disciplined professional athlete.
Until I’m not.
One colored pencil, one walk on the beach, one journal entry, one phone call to a friend, one workout video. One. I just start with one and trade it out for the other. Just one. And for some reason, one almost always becomes more.
The past couple months have been months of one. This week, one became more. Instead of heading to the couch after Elsie’s vet appointment, we headed to the beach for wave watching. Instead of eating out of boredom, Elsie and I went for a walk and I did an extra workout this evening. One for the other,
I have been lucky enough in my life not to have significant boughts of depression or anxiety, and I realize that fighting for that one can feel like life or death for people who really struggle with these illnesses or significant trauma. That’s why just one is a serious and joyful victory worth celebrating, especially when you have to work incredibly hard just to achieve that one healthy habit in a day/week/month.
It’s no miracle cure, no fast acting pill or quick fix. It’s not a program or product you can buy. It’s not always a workout, which I know seems to be the go to answer for everything these days. It may not even be physical at all, but whatever it is, it’s a mindful, emotionally aware choice to replace with another choice.
It’s just one for the other.