One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time

Dealing with mental illness can be exhausting.  I feel like I am in a constant panic mode, worrying about things I have no control over, especially the future. I can easily feel exhausted just by the thoughts in my head.

Taking one day at a time can be hard but it can be made easier.

All you need is a toddler.

                          Tiny shoes are the best!

I had the chance to visit my sister and her family for a few days.  One sunny afternoon, I decided to take my 2 ½ year old nephew for a walk. I easily could take a 20-minute walk around my sister’s neighborhood during my previous visits, having my nephew sit in his stroller, watching the world go by. This is not the case with a toddler who wanted to walk on his own.

My nephew stopped and inspected everything on our walk, from dandelions to fake deer in someone’s yard. “What’s that?” was asked about every 2 minutes. We heard barking at one point and my nephew felt the need to search for where the sound was coming from.  We found the barking, in the form of a puppy. My nephew was delighted with this discovery, hands over his mouth as he gushed over “how cute” the puppy was.

For someone who is used to “getting up and going” taking the time to stop and smell the roses (which we also did on our walk) isn’t an easy task.

On one of our many stops, I stood there, soaking in the sunshine and the warm spring breeze. I watched as my nephew examined a stem he found on the ground, talking about the shape and color like it was an important specimen.  For a few minutes, I was completely in the moment. I wasn’t worrying about leaving my sister in a few days, not being about to see my nephews daily. I wasn’t thinking about how my body is failing me by not being pregnant.  It was a great few minutes.

Reality soon set in as it was time to finish our walk. Life started back up and it was time to move on. I knew I had to leave my sister and her family in a few days but I reminded myself to enjoy the time I had with them instead of dwelling on my departure. I needed to live in the moment.  While not always an easy task, it’s something I really need to practice.  I notice I feel better when I stop and enjoy the moment.

Then, something unexpected happen.

Back Story

That old saying “go big or go home?” That’s me, to a certain extent.  If I can’t go “all in” I’d rather not do it. I’m horribly impatient on top of that, so if I don’t see the benefit right away, I’m not going to do it.

Selfie in the woods, before the back pain

This attitude doesn’t always work, especially with exercising.

On a recent hike with my sister, I wore the wrong tennis shoes and did not stretch before beginning our hike. I felt okay as I spent the rest of the day playing and running around with my young nephews. That night, I slept the wrong way and woke up in pain. I still went about my day, picking up my 2 ½ year old nephew when he wanted me to hold him, ignoring the pain that was ever present.

I used ice and took some Ibuprofen but the pain was still there.  I felt slightly better when I moved around but woke up in pain after a night of sleeping.  To make matters worse, I had to make the 2 ½ hour drive home from my sister’s house.  My husband had to help me out of the car when I arrived home.

That evening, I used my heating pad and my homemade gel ice pack (see below for how to make one!) I also used Arnicare Gel. It helped briefly with the pain and I liked that it’s a homeopathic medicine.

I did some stretching and walked short distances, but nothing like I was doing before. I was consistently getting 10,000 steps a day and hitting the gym regularly. I had finally started to see some progress in my weight loss journey and my anxiety seemed to be lessened when I was exercising.  At the same time, my FitBit was broken, so I felt that every step I took didn’t count.  I fell into a funk, not wanting to do anything since I wasn’t able to go “all in.”

I ended my week eating ice cream in bed with a heating pad and crying.

As I cried, my husband reminded me that tomorrow was another day. He told me that when I woke up the next morning, I should walk around the house to see how I feel. If the pain wasn’t too bad, I could go to the gym and walk on the treadmill.  I needed to take it one day at a time.  I could remain on my journey, even with this slight bump in the road.

Nice view to enjoy on my first day back to exercising! 

A week later and my back is beginning to feel better. I went back to the park today and managed to get 6,500 steps on my new FitBit that came a few days ago.

Mostly importantly, I know that even if I can’t work out, I can remain on the right path by choosing to eat healthy (no more ice cream in bed crying sessions) and rely on other coping skills, like writing, yoga, mediating and listening to music to help with my anxiety. I don’t have to put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to coping with anxiety.

I can also remember to take one day at a time, enjoying small moments throughout the day.  Taking a few deep breaths and remembering not to aim for perfection.

I feel back on track after my walk today and I enjoyed the day for what it was- another step on my journey for a balanced, healthy life!

Homemade Gel Ice Pack


(2) quart size Ziploc bags (double bag to prevent leaks)

1 cup of rubbing alcohol (70% or higher; any brand will work)

2 cups of water


         Finished Product!

Add water and rubbing alcohol to Ziploc bag. Seal.

Place the filled bagged instead the other Ziploc bag. Seal the outer bag.

Freeze overnight.

Ice bag can be reused after refreezing.

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