by Lisa Rector
I’m pretty sure the root of all my problems is lack of sleep.
Actually, I am absolutely sure.
I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). If you have it, you know exactly what I mean. My legs run in my sleep, wearing holes in my sheets; I go through two sets of sheets a year. My legs spasm during the day if I don’t get enough movement or if I overwork my legs. I have to have the perfect amount of exercise. My legs will “tweak out” on long car rides. How do I describe that? Because car space is so tight, even in the front passenger seat, if my legs can’t move how they want, they freak out. The sensation is much like ants using my blood vessels as a highway. Sometimes the sensation is like mild electric jolts.
And don’t get me started on plane flights. I take nerve medication to dull the pain.
Even though I take medication at night, getting a restful night’s sleep is still a miracle.
Number one resolution is to get enough sleep. Why? Because if I don’t, I am a serious disaster, and my brain is foggy. I was worried I was suffering from short-term memory loss. I leave notes right in the middle of the counter so I can remember things for the next day. Sometimes the next hour.
Yeah, it’s that bad.
But once I made the connection of my irritability and my poor memory to my lack of sleep, I felt hope.
I can work with this.
Number one is to take my medication regularly. I don’t like taking prescription pills, but I have to suck it up and just do it for my sanity.
Number two to counter my foggy memory, make a lovely graphic of the things I want to accomplish every day, but also realize that I don’t have to do all of the things on the list every day. With the list, then in those moments when I stand there thinking I should be doing something but I can’t remember, I can consult the list.
Many of the things on my list are non-fiction books I want to read, mostly pertaining to my spirituality. I was getting discouraged with my scriptural reading and with keeping up with Sunday school lessons. I feel more power with a list. Plus, instead of feeling as if I need to do a marathon sprint with any particular book of scripture or other religious material, I can read a little of each every day.
I’m doing this with my writing education as well. I really want to read Chicago’s Manual of Style and my Emotional Thesaurus and Character Traits books, but just a few pages each day. That way I feel like I am moving forward.
Another thing about my resolutions. A few years ago I ran a half-marathon. The marathon destroyed my body and triggered an all over inflammatory response where my body attacks itself. My body still is and, I’m pretty sure, will always be messed up. An excess of anything, including inflammatory foods and too much exercise makes me swell, and my body shuts down. What? Yeah. How do I overcome that?
It sucks. I feel like I have an autoimmune disease. And who knows, maybe I do. I don’t plan on going to the doctor to find out. But I have noticed that tasks I could accomplish are growing more difficult. My husband has to dig the holes in our hard clay soil for me now when I garden. I can’t walk as an exercise for more than twenty minutes. Thirty minutes pushes it big time, and by the end of the day, I am nonfunctional. I can’t go clothing shopping or grocery shopping for more than two hours. And I have to come home and rest for half the day when that’s over.
But at least I know my limits.
What does this have to do with resolutions?
I discovered what works for me. I sit a lot, but I have to get up and move because of my nerve pain in my lower back and neck and my lymphedema in my ankles. But movement relieves all of these. Whenever I know I am going to be sitting for a while, I set a timer for forty-two minutes. Why forty-two minutes? That’s the length of a TV show or that’s how long it takes me to pluck out a scene. That’s also how I break up my reading tasks. Read Chicago for forty-two minutes or read my church materials for forty-two minutes. It’s a perfect amount of time. I read just a few pages, an article, or a whole chapter if it’s short, but I break things up if sections are too long. That way I don’t feel overloaded by spending too much time in one particular area.
And then I jump up and either tackle a chore like vacuuming or
So, in the end, what matters is that you set up your resolutions so they work for you.
I have a mantra I like to follow. It’s posted on my blog side bar. “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”