9 Tips for Navigating the Healthcare System

Twenty years working with and around healthcare professionals, as well as being an occasional patient, has taught me a few things about our current healthcare system (in the U.S., anyway). Along the way I have a gathered a handful of suggestions that I give to friends and family (when asked), and that I use myself when interacting with what I feel to be the primary elements of healthcare.

DNA

Courtesy of Pixabay.

*This article is NOT intended to give medical advice. The intent of this article is to offer ideas about how to navigate the healthcare system. Readers use the ideas in this article at their own risk. (I really do think they are good tips, though!)

Your Doctor

  1. Be candid. Your doctor needs to have all of the information in order to access your situation accurately. Missing bits of information can delay diagnosis as well as treatment. No need to be embarrassed, physicians are trained to deal with what might seem to be the most personal physical issues. If you’re worried about privacy, take heart. In the United States, HIPAA laws help keep your information safe from others, and also available to you.
  2. Write stuff down. This is important before and after the appointment. Writing down details prior to your appointment about frequency, duration, and type of symptoms can help give your clinician a clearer picture of the situation, and you can avoid the chance of blanking on important details while in the office (spoken from experience). If your doctor isn’t already in the habit of giving patients a printout after the appointment, detailing the visit, writing your insights down right away will help you remember important points and instructions that you may have been given.
  3. On occasion, don’t be afraid of getting a second opinion. As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes medicine is more an art than a science. This means that not every treatment will work in the same fashion for every patient. Getting a fresh perspective from another trained professional and trying a new modality to solve a problem can occasionally be the difference between successful treatment and failure.
pharmacy

Courtesy of Pixabay.

Your Pharmacist

  1. Pay attention. Most pharmacists have trained at least six to eight years, and many hold doctorate degrees in pharmacy. You may only spend five minutes at the counter when picking up your prescription, however, a lot of critical information can be conveyed in those five minutes (side effects/possible interactions/what to do if you miss a dose). Paying close attention and asking questions at the counter ensures that you get the most out of your prescriptions.
  2. Read the label and call back if you need to. It might sound odd, nevertheless, sometimes instructions change depending on various factors, not limited to: what size/strength the pharmacy has in stock, if the pharmacist noted an issue with the prescription and called your doctor to verify the order. At any rate, always read the label and confirm the instructions with the pharmacist before you leave. If you have questions, or feel as though you might have missed some information from your visit to your pharmacy, feel free to call back. In my experience, the best pharmacists are more than happy to share their knowledge!
  3. Plan ahead. To make your visit to the pharmacy quicker and easier, make sure you have your prescription insurance card (sometimes a separate card from your medical insurance card) with you, and that you know your drug allergies and the names of other medicines that you take (over-the-counter medications, as well). When ordering refills, note that many physician’s offices request 24 to 72 hours to reply to a refill request. Try to order at least three (business) days before you will run out of medication so that the physician has adequate time to call back the pharmacy for your request.

Your Insurance

  1. Avoid Surprises. When your physician recommends a new procedure or treatment, it may be helpful to call your insurance company ahead of time. This allows you to confirm whether or not the procedure/treatment is covered (and at what cost to you). If it’s not covered, it may be worth asking your doctor for an alternative modality.
  2. Understand your policy. Not nearly as simple as most of us would like, knowing things like what your deductible is, how much your copays are, and what kinds of services are covered can help you avoid unexpected bills, and also help you determine if your policy serves your needs.
  3. When traveling… When you are on your way out-of-town, a quick review of what your “in” and “out” of network hospitals are, might be a good idea. Nobody plans on getting ill over vacation, but (again, speaking from experience) it happens. Knowing what facilities your insurance will cover at your destination can help lower your stress levels (at least a little). If you are heading out of your home country, you may want to find out if you have overseas coverage.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy year! I hope at least a few of these tips are helpful to some of you. Stay cozy!

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5 Vital Self-Care Habits That I’m Not Doing (Yet)

There were times in my past when my life was very organized, health conscious, and perhaps even mindful. I’m not sure what exactly has changed all of that, but over the last decade my life has gotten so busy and I have had such a difficult time saying “no” to new projects that I have allowed my self-care to slide a bit.

Unfortunately, I see the effects of this decline in my work, relationships, self-image, et cetera. It’s not of ultimate concern yet, but in an effort to shore myself up and avoid catastrophe, I have tried to isolate the 5 self-care habits I would benefit from most right now.

Should one incorporate them all at once? Of course not; maybe one per week if you are ambitious.

1. Respect your sleep schedule.

My husband and I doggedly observe our son’s sleep schedule. Dinner, warm milk, pajamas, teeth brushing, story, and bedtime. This routine occurs like clockwork on most evenings, and he is almost always in bed by eight o’clock. I, on the other hand, often lured by one digital gadget or another, can carry on rather effortlessly until eleven or even midnight—under the guise of I am “working.”

Of course, “work” during these very late hours usually consists of probing Twitter and Pinterest for the keys to the universe, such as: how to make a soup less salty or what blush brush I should purchase next. Needless to say, if I were to treat my sleep schedule as we do our son’s, I would be a more efficient worker and be . . . well, less exhausted.

New Objective: Treat bedtime with the same importance as work, meal, or any other integral time of the day. Creating a scheduled sleep schedule is ideal, but if occupational and family duties don’t allow for a consistent schedule, at least create a bedtime cutoff (i.e. “I will go to bed no later than…”).

2. Get ready everyday.

Have I ever spent an entire day in pajamas? You bet! Of course, I  regret this at times . . . Like when the neighborhood kids accidentally flop their football over my fence or when various mail/delivery drivers arrive bearing packages (and they need to be signed for, indubitably).

Additionally, I am also slowly beginning to realize how not “getting ready” can sap my working energy as well. The days I don’t follow some sort of morning schedule tend to be “lost” days or days I’m not productive or checking many things off of my (various) lists.

Conversely, on those occasions that I do make an effort to put myself together and face the day at a reasonable hour, I am usually more efficient than I expect. I’m making a concerted effort to get ready every morning now, because “you never know what life will throw at you” (and the UPS driver probably doesn’t want to see your pajamas).

New Objective: Simply put, get ready everyday. Create a morning routine that is quick, easy, and satisfies all the components of morning preparation important to you. Try your new morning routine for a week, regardless of whether or not you have work or family obligations. See if it works for you. Notice if it makes you more productive or more “present.” Change your routine if you need to in order to better fit your life and schedule.

3. Drink enough water.

I know this is a subject discussed at length. I do understand the human body is made mostly of water, and we require it to maintain various bodily functions and overall health . . .

It’s just that trying to keep up on my water intake while simultaneously speaking nonstop to clients and colleagues makes it really difficult to remember. (I wonder if anyone would notice a Camelback at the office?)

New Objective: If thirst doesn’t drive you to drink (water), try to create some type of reminder in order to maintain hydration. Consider setting timers on your phone and make an effort to take a few sips at each interval.

drop of water

Elixir of life?

4. Exercise, obviously.

This is another glaringly noticeable shortfall of my current daily routine. I used to be so competent at keeping up an exercise routine that I never even questioned its existence as a part of my day. A few years later, I seem unable to commit to any exercise program, even the seven minute ones.

I know exercise makes me feel better, more alert, and puts me in a far better mood. So what holds me back? Sometimes I wonder if it’s just inertia, and if simply starting a program and planning to do it a week at a time would eventually turn it back into a ritual.

New Objective: Try super short workouts in the beginning. Attempt to be consistent with just one day a week and try to move up your frequency gradually.

5. Take a break.

I’m sure this sounds very odd, given how lazy I have portrayed myself to be so far. I would argue, though, that a self-image of laziness drives me to be working at something most of the time. For instance, I might be in my “lazy clothes,” but I’ll bet I’m contemplating my next project for work, or how I’m going to finish executing my own small business plan.

Of course, this constant need to be busy (even if it’s just internal) is quite exhausting. Days off don’t really feel like days off and meals with family tend to be dominated by conversation about business.

New Objective: Schedule time for breaks. Remind yourself that you are human and that humans were not built to toil continuously. Make the time for family, friends, and self-care.

morning coffee

With so much vying for my time and attention these days, forcing myself to step back and perform self-care can feel a little like taking myself out of the action (perhaps I have some “fear of missing out”). It can be hard to remember taking care of myself will allow me to perform better in future endeavors and keep sane.

What helps you feel refreshed and ready to take on your days?

Thanks for the read; stay cozy!

5 Tips for Managing a Busy Life

pocket watch

Finding time for a side hustle while maintaining a full-time career can be a huge challenge. Throw in an active family and a few extracurricular activities and life can become a crazy run from morning until hitting the pillow at night. Self-care and free time can quickly become extinct and it can suddenly feel as though every moment of the day is scheduled and accounted for.

This type of lifestyle can feel super organized in the beginning, but because it doesn’t allow any time cushion, even small hiccups can suddenly cause panic. (Not to mention how easily one can become frazzled by the constant movement and the lack of self-care or reflection.) Here are some ideas for how not to overschedule.

  1. When you are doing a new task (i.e. something you’ve never done before), estimate your time…then triple it. Starting a new project will always take extra time, but when you are learning a new skill along the way, such as mastering WordPress or photo editing, even small items can take loads of time to comprehend. Allow yourself enough time so that you can actually learn and fully understand the task at hand; this will save you time in future endeavors of the same type.
  2. When you are doing a task you’ve done before, estimate the time needed, then add some more (especially for creative tasks). Sometimes you just want to get whatever it is done, scheduling appointments, tagging posts, or organizing business files. Other times though, especially in regards to any type of artistic aspirations, you may find yourself wanting to give more to a project. While letting yourself get so lost in your creativity that you expend hours you don’t really have would not be desirable, giving yourself an extra hour or so can lead to a more exceptional product.
  3. Build downtime into your daily schedule. Burning the candle at both metaphorical ends while trying to maintain your sanity are usually incongruous concepts. This may seem obvious, but I think many of us are programmed to pick up our phones and “try to get something done” during any pause in the day. Give yourself a break and some real downtime everyday. Schedule 30 minutes of reading, a long bath, a coffee with a friend, anything that gets you completely away from any type of work. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and able to enjoy your blogging/YouTube/affiliate marketing/etcetera project much more, and you’ll likely be extra productive as well.
  4. Give yourself a cushion. Not for your couch, but for your mind. It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes things will go wrong. Deadlines will be missed for all kinds of reasons, business related, family related, and the like. It’s important to not attempt to schedule every hour of your hourly planner in case something does happen; make sure there are pockets of time (albeit small) between activities that are just a bit longer than travel time. This will give you moments to stop on the way for ibuprofen, get a snack, or call your child’s pediatrician when you need to, without causing your daily schedule to unravel. Being efficient is great, and so is acknowledging the more unfortunate realities of life.
  5. Have morning and evening routines. It’s been stated over and over how important routine can be in regards to both success and overall health. Having a daily routine for morning and evening self-care, tidying, and/or business related tasks can save so much time. Possessing the ability to perform a necessary chore automatically, rather than having to plan or prepare for it, can also help reserve your mental energies for decision-making during your work day.wristwatch

It’s true that adding downtime and time cushions into one’s schedule may result in a  decrease in the amount of time one is able to spend on their side project within a day(although, hopefully, initiating routines will save some minutes or hours). However, most side hustles take awhile to become successful businesses…sometimes months, but in most cases years. This means that you could be working at both your regular career and your side hustle for a long stint before you actually see any return on your time investment. Allowing yourself to get frazzled early on and give up will not ultimately serve your goal. Perhaps it’s slower, but maintaining your health and sanity during your start-up years means that you can keep plugging away at it for the long haul, avoid burnout, and therefore be able to reap the benefits later.

What are your time-saving tips?

Stay cozy!

The Perfect Day

It would begin with a long, luxurious bath, followed by a full hour of applying lotions and potions, and a mini manicure. I would look something like Ashley Judd after all this and my outfit would be a quintessential blend of expensive and luxurious, a study of sophistication in dress. I would then be whisked away by my husband to a posh restaurant downtown for a fancy brunch with friends. Parking and traffic would not be problems, and the morning would be a blur of cerebral conversation intermixed with lots of laughing. Later that day, I would fix an early dinner of superb culinary quality, and my family would extol the virtues of such a meal. There would be no tantrums, no exhaustion, no worries about the next day, or regrets about the previous, and we would all get to bed on time.

sunset

Then I wake up.

My work days are chaotic just by the nature of my business, this I have come to accept, but I can get really frustrated by not being able to “control” my days off. There is no such thing as the perfect day, it does not (cannot?) exist. At least it cannot be allowed to subsist as long as I rigidly hang on to my expectations. I find sometimes that clinging to a preconceived notion of how my day “should” progress can cause me more angst than not.

These are the concepts that can help keep me on an even keel and discover the joy in my day, especially when my spoiled, OCD brain is fixated on particular outcomes.

Plan for Alternative Outcomes

Try to plan ahead for a few of the most plausible alternative outcomes. Bring snacks for your small child in case of traffic. Organize an easy dinner option for if and when you get home late. Come up with a different brunch option just in case there’s a closure or a line.

You can’t plan for everything, but there are probably a couple of likely hiccups possible in any arrangement; try to stay prepared for the most conceivable deviations.

Find the Good

Try to suspend expectation if you can. This allows you to experience the moments more fully and appreciate the good that does happen. It’s always prudent to make a plan, but not allowing for variation from a predetermined goal can rob you of the meaningful, brilliant bits that happen whether you are focused on them or not.

If you can’t concentrate on the positive in the moment, it may be helpful to create a gratitude journal and attempt to recapture the pleasurable activities of the day after the fact.

Accept Reality

Bad things do happen, by any one’s standards; sometimes there is no silver lining and no way to justify an outcome. Some of us have a tendency to “go back” and try to sniff out the ways that we “could have” altered an event or instance. This, I have found, is a dangerous game. For one, allowing yourself to feel guilt over something you were not accountable for is soul killing. This practice also implies that you have more power, and therefore more responsibility, than you actually do.

When bad things happen, grieve the moment (depending on the severity), and try to move on. Most loathsome incidences of the day-to-day variety don’t need to be dwelled upon, as doing so doesn’t change the past, and only hijacks your future contentment.

breakfast toast

What, no croissant? Still delish!

Maybe the day didn’t go exactly as planned, perhaps milk was spilled, or the delivery was delayed, etcetera. Try not to let the small issues of the day decrease your joy. Attempt to concentrate on what is going right, and let the problems go. Guilt and cynicism, while common in our current culture, don’t accomplish anything, and they can sap your energy and undermine your goals.

How do you stay happy and mentally flexible? Wishing you all an as-close-to-perfect-as-possible day!

Stay cozy!

Late Summer Harvest

Recently, my family and I went on a quick trip a little south to see family and friends. We had such a wonderful time just visiting, playing in a local park, and enjoying some home cooking from my grandmother. It was an idyllic weekend in many ways and for many reasons, not the least of which was my own ability to “suspend,” if you will, my troubles for a bit (not a small feat for someone so organically neurotic). I allowed myself a little break from the anxieties of work and the world, and just enjoyed my cherished loved ones.

While we were there, we visited a farm and bought some fresh peaches, and picked various vegetables from my grandparents’ garden. I was reminded of the beauty of a late summer harvest and the bounty that benevolently cared for ground can produce. Every time I go back there, and stand amongst the vines and the leaves, I feel a little closer to the earth, terra firma, home. I feel, for a moment, like I am finally focused on what truly matters, the essentials: food, shelter, and above all, family and friends.

late summer fruit and vegetable harvest

Late summer fruit and vegetable harvest

It is always a bit of a shock to me when I realize how much of brain is normally consumed with concerns that are so artificial and have very little to do with real life. I then realize that I am quietly angry at the ten thousand things that vie for my time, attention, and money, on the most mediocre of my days. Ten thousand things that seem to stretch far and wide and yet have no real bearing nor genuine interest in my life.

I allow it to happen to me though; it’s not the fault of those nameless, faceless, and yet omniscient entities, it’s mine. I let myself become distracted and distressed by events and persons who happen to be half a world away, beyond my physical and perhaps intellectual grasp. I am NOT one who enjoys feeling powerless about situations, even if they be a million leagues afar and property (or fault) of someone else.

However, I also cannot solve all the problems or atone for all the situations that may ravage the globe. I simply am not capable of, nor would I be proficient at, as a single human being, carrying all the sorrows of the world. Mine is to do my little part, help where I can, and carry on.

It is a hard pill to swallow at times, realizing just how small and insignificant I might be.

And yet, there in my grandparents’ garden, it is a comfort to be touching the grass with my toes and devouring the sweetest of plums under one of the many apple trees, observing my young, beautiful son play in the yard. To feel the abatement of worry, and the arousal of our most basic senses seems like a tiny vacation to me. I have left my smart phone inside, ringer off, and I don’t miss it for once. I wish to recede from the world and become “smallish”, if only for a moment or so.

If restricting my world to the very simplest of pleasures for a weekend makes me happier, what does that say about the manner in which I generally run my life? What does it say about whom and what I let into it? How did I let it go this far? And how do I re-center myself and my life in what seems more real?

I’m not sure about the precise logistics yet, but I’m working on it…

late summer fruits and vegetables 2

Late summer harvest

Other than the peaches (which were from a stand), the other produce was plucked from either my grandparents’ garden, or the garden of a nearby friend, and gifted to us before our return home. They were all succulent and delicious! I hope y’all get to enjoy some of the season’s best!

Ever so much thanks to our friends and family for a lovely weekend, and a minor resurrection of my humanness.

Stay hominid, stay cozy.

The Power of Sleeping on it…

Although it has taken me half a lifetime to learn, I am still amazed at the power that a night of sleep can have on the decision-making process. I’m not certain of the science behind it, but I am confident that delaying a decision with a night of rest has saved me from bad purchases, unacceptable job offers, and general malarkey.

I didn’t employ this method of contemplation (or procrastination, as some have mistaken it for) until I was well beyond the years of frequenting malls and going out to eat or drink with friends and acquaintances incessantly. I sometimes regret all the money I wasted on things that I didn’t really want or need to enjoy the moment. That’s something else I’m just currently learning as well, the value of my time, but I’ll save that for a later occasion…

Enjoying a night of repose has helped me fight urges to make frivolous purchases. It has helped me so much that it is a technique I generally employ for any purchase over twenty dollars. It’s not necessarily a strict rule, but I find that when I make use of it, I am able to resist temptation more easily. I believe that this is true for two reasons. First, I have had time to let the initial “charm” that an item might have, wear off, and secondly, I have had the opportunity to define where (and even if) that item will actually fit into my life. As I strive towards a more organized space, I have to be more conscious of the items I bring into it.

money

This is not to say that “sleeping on it” prevents me from making any and all purchases. In fact, I still invest in items regularly, but I’m usually much happier with my decision after I’ve delayed it for an evening. If I still want something after stalling, I can safely assume that I am desiring the article for its own merit rather than its perceived attributes.

For big-ticket items, of course, several days (and several slumbering nights) may be necessary to be able to give a final stance. Though, I try not to discount the small items that I spend money for either. It all adds up, and if I’m not careful (as was true in my youth) all those small acquisitions can turn into a very sizable bill (see my youth, above).

Something that also regularly happens for me these days is that my mind will (or has the opportunity to) come up with different solutions to an issue overnight; for example, I am perhaps smitten with some particular organizing bins in the store, but after waiting for a night I recall that I already own such items, they’re just packed away and I need to retrieve them. On other occasions, I will realize that I can borrow an item, or perhaps search for it second-hand.

Although I do very much regret spending money that I don’t need to (frivolously), I would like to make clear that I have no reservations about spending money on a well thought out purchase. To me, the point is to make sure the item fits my personal criteria (budget, usefulness, aesthetics), and then procure the item without guilt or self-reproach.

Being responsible with one’s money is a form of self-care, in my opinion. Take care of your money, and it will take care of you; a good night of tranquil repose might be helpful to both…

Rest easy, and stay cozy!

The Evening Wind Down

The transition between the waking hours and the sleeping hours can prove to be a tricky subject for many folks. These hours can provide relaxation and connection time for some, but for others they can be the final moments to get in more work after an already strenuous day. For yet others, the need for “transition” between stirring and slumber seems like a frivolous or unnecessary behavior. I believe, though, that even in this turn on/turn off, stop/start world, allowing time for transitions can be important for your mental health as well as your sleep quality.

In my younger years, the evening wind down usually consisted of reading a good book, or watching Netflix and maybe having a glass (or two?) of wine with my husband before bed. We would always dim the lights about an hour before bed and perhaps light candles in the colder months. It was a process that took hours and I think we both slept better (wine not withstanding) after an evening of quiet chat and relaxing activities.

Today, my schedule is a bit more erratic and neither of us have the time for the slow evenings that we used to. The latter half of our day usually consists of tidying, preparing something for dinner, tidying some more, finishing up some work bits, and helping our son prepare for bed (“did you brush them all?”), all the time in a dash against the clock. I notice, though, that when I do get the chance to read before bed (even if it’s Peter Rabbit rather than something by Marian Keyes), or remember to turn down the lights after dinner, I do tend to sleep a bit better.

In the medical world, the idea of creating better sleep and pre-sleep habits is referred to as “sleep hygiene”. WebMD and many other reputable sites have loads of recommendations for improving sleep quality. Here, I will convey what has worked best for myself, some conventional, some not.

Tea/Warm Fluid: It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s chamomile tea, warm lemon water, or even warm milk (my son’s favorite), slowly and deliberately sipping something warm before bed has always helped me relax.

Read/Avoid Screens: A lot of sites recommend reading before bed. It gets you away from screens and the “blue light” that is notorious for interfering with sleep patterns. I would assert though, that reading something calm or peaceful before bed will treat you much better than horror or mystery. For instance, I love Michael Crichton books ( I think that I have literally read them all), but I don’t like to read these types of books right before bed.

One could also try a magazine that you enjoy if you’re not into books. Whatever you do, just try to put down the phone (I understand, believe me).

Lights: I have actually noticed that this affects my young son more than myself these days. If I let the lights stay at full force right up until bedtime it seems that all of us, but especially the youngest, have a hard time settling down before bed. Unfortunately, with our (generally) jumbled evenings, I don’t always remember to turn them down or off a little while before bed and this usually leads to some extra time elapsing between bedtime and actual sleep time.

Time Together/Time Apart: People are social animals and therefore have a biological need to feel connected to other humans. Having family time before bed can help both adults and children gain much need connection after a stressful day and improve sleep for both parties.

Conversely though, if you work in the service industry, or you parent full-time, what you might find useful is some time alone. Ask your partner for 10 minutes to yourself, and use those 10 minutes wisely. Read, think, or just breathe; whatever you need.

Write/Schedule: If I can navigate the various tasks that have become my evenings and still manage a few minutes of writing, I feel so much more accomplished. Writing can also help by allowing me to empty my brain of the concerns of the day. Some people enjoy using a gratitude journal at the end of the day to count their blessings.

What I also find truly relaxing is scheduling my next day’s tasks before bed. I hate waking up in the night only to realize that I have something important to accomplish the next day that I forgot to plan for. Scheduling at the end of the day lets me relax, knowing it’s all there in my planner, and I don’t have to face the next day blindsided by my responsibilities.

planner 2

For me, creating a better evening strategy is primarily centered around decreasing sensory input, doing something relaxing, and maintaining a solid connection to myself and my family.

What do you do to wind down?

Stay sleepy…I mean cozy!

It’s Never Too Soon…

It’s never too soon to start curating your life. That is something I wish I would have known eons ago. It’s taken almost (but not quite) four decades to figure out how much the path I took as a young person could affect me now.

flowers on table

We all have to make tough decisions as we grow and blossom out of adolescence. I always attempted to be careful and measured as I tiptoed toward adulthood. I kept my eyes on my work and my family; these are the core of my being and I have no regrets about this.

Yet, I also spent a lot of time accumulating things and experiences and education, being open to so many opportunities that at times I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by ideas and various visons of what my life could be, but never being able to spend much time on contemplation. I understand that a lot of people laud the idea of being so willing to participate in, well, everything. I want to support this concept also, nevertheless…in hindsight, I see the value of curation.

Curating your life makes reference to thinking in future terms about not just the big things (work, kids, parents, etc.), but also the small things, i.e. the kind of things that make up a day. It takes great foresight in your teens and twenties to imagine what you will wish your daily routine to look like as you approach middle age. Will you be part of the “rat race”? Will you escape it? How will you spend your free time? Will you have any of it?

These are things that conceivably no one can truly grasp in their early years and perhaps there will always exist so many elements of chance that we may never get a true sense for what our coming years will be like until we get there. Though, it would be nice to think we have some control over it all, right?

So, I would suggest perhaps, to the younger generations…consider yourself as an older individual if you can, just for a little while. Consider what you want out of a single day in that life. Attempt to spend some thought and effort on the path to such a life.

Then, I implore you, go back to enjoying every sweet and agonizing moment of your youth, just do so with a plan.

Be well, and stay cozy.

 

 

Notes on Anxiety and Decision Making “Pauses”

I’ve mentioned before that my job can be a challenge. I have to be extremely accurate in my decision-making, hundreds of times a day. I cannot afford to be wrong.

I also DO NOT have any sort of God-complex whatsoever- the exact opposite, in fact. I have struggled with anxiety all of my life. People tell me that they never would have known, I guess I hide it well. If they could see all the worst-case scenarios and second guessing that go on in my head on a daily basis, they might wonder how I function at all.

Yet, I do. I suppose this level of awareness makes me very good at what I do, but it is also extraordinarily draining. There are many, many days when I ask my significant other to choose dinner because I just simply can’t make anymore decisions. He gives me a look, but because he is a saint, he agrees to decide on the eggplant parmesan for me and our evening rolls on.

I think people who have traditionally high-stress professions may be particularly prone to this type of temporary decision making inability. Although, I also believe that any job can be high stress given its unique set of judgement making, multitasking, and time management requirements (sounds like parenting, doesn’t it? Props to all ‘rents). I concede that I am also a sensitive soul and therefore have to conclude that at least part of the situation may be due to the temperament of the individual.

I know there must be other folks with high-stress occupations (or parents) that have  experienced decision “pauses” and must understand…Or maybe I’m just unique. Doubtful.

Here are some things that I decide to do when I cannot decide to decide on anything…er…yeah…

Unplug (Your Brain)

When I can’t make a determination on something so simple as food or beverage, I know it’s time to take a break. Not a well thought out read-a-great-book-or-interesting-article break; what I seem to crave in these moments are total mind-numbing activities (NO decision-making required). Netflix please!

*When I engage in an activity like this, though, I do like to give myself a time limit. Otherwise I find that I feel way too guilty about wasting the time afterwards. I find that an hour is usually more than sufficient.

Humor

Some very important people in my life, folks that I have been blessed to know, have taught me that humor really can be the best medicine. If I can manage to understand the joke through the haze in my brain, a good belly laugh can do wonders.

I encourage finding humor wherever you can, there are days when life can seem awfully bleak without it.

Let Someone Take Care of You

Even the most introverted introverts need people. Especially in moments like this, I find that letting someone whom I trust fix me dinner and sit with me through a mindless sitcom helps me feel so much better, and a little more human.

If you happen to be a very self-sufficient soul, your confidants may not readily recognize that you need some support. Don’t be afraid to ask a trusted friend or partner, they will likely jump at the opportunity to help you out.

Meditate

I’m not very good at this yet, but the instances that I have tried this have generally turned out quite well. It takes me quite awhile to calm down my internal dialogue (and I never can get it to completely cease), but just sitting and trying not to think can be so refreshing.

There are several types of meditation; guided, silent, walking, object, etcetera. I recommend finding a comfortable place to sit and experiment. There are numerous meditation guides on the internet that can help you get started.

yard buddha

After I partake in one of these activities and follow it up with a good nights’ rest (i.e. I get to bed on time), I usually feel like myself again at daybreak, ready to be picky about what kind of coffee or yogurt I will have that morning and tackle all the occupational judgements of the day. My decision making abilities return for awhile and I’m able to not only plan, but prepare dinner.

I hope this helps anyone out there who might also be having occasional decision “pauses”. Take care, and stay cozy.

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My Favorite Summer Lip Balms

This is the third installment of my favorite makeup items from my 5 Minute Makeup post. I understand that lip balm is not technically makeup, but it is what I wear on a daily basis and what I feel most comfortable in at work.

I live in an area that can be quite warm in the summer and quite cold in the winter. I find that in order to maintain some level of moisture in my skin without too much greasiness, I need to change out my products from season to season. Although I prefer MUCH heavier lip balms in the winter, I find that warmer weather calls for a lighter (yet still moisturizing) lip balm.

I have two lip balms that I rotate between in summer months. One has SPF for days outside and the other is my nightly/for a day in lip balm. They are the Chapstick original with SPF 15 and the Nivea Kiss of Moisture lip balm.

I have been a sort of lip balm junkie my whole life. There is nothing I abhor more (well, maybe a few things, but you get the gist) than a lip balm that just sits on the lips and refuses to absorb and actually soften the lips. Overly waxy lip balms, or balms that disappear within minutes of application are eschewed from my list as well.

These lip balms do the job and are an essential and reliable part of my day. Not only that, they happen to be two of the most economical lip products that I have ever tried!

What are your favorite lip balms? Which ones should I try?

Stay cozy!