As we ramp up into spring (although it has already been spring in South Texas for the past 6 weeks, at least lol), my energy levels usually ramp up along with nature. Well, 2017 was a fluke exception, but we just won’t talk about that. 😉 Typically, my energy waxes and wanes with the seasons; as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I find myself feeling like accomplishing more. I decide to take on different day-projects like updating patient education handouts or revising lab test interpretation guides. Sizzling stuff, I know. But hey, it’s my (warped) idea of fun.
Last year (OK, I guess we are going to talk about it) was, as I mentioned, an exception to that rule, where I’d started to wind up and get going early on, only to be trounced by stress and tragedy and other annoyances like oppressive heat. Oh, and my brain went away. I’ve learned that you can’t function without those. I’d been all excited to rev up and plunge in when I ran into the unexpected proverbial brick wall.
This year, hopefully, will be different. I’ve had 2 new developments…
The first is that I’ve applied for admission into a Masters degree program in my field of study – nutrition and integrative medicine. I just completed the second of 2 phone interviews (the first one being with my admissions advisor and this second one being with the director of the program), and I should hear word by early next week whether or not I’m accepted. The good news is, the director with whom I spoke said that he didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be admitted, so the upcoming phone call/email will be a matter of technicality. Score!
This might be the motivating factor, the kick in the pants I need to get my cognitive and motivational mojo back. It might help me jump back into my game and provide me with some momentum. I’ve found that it’s incredibly important for me to have something to look forward to. And also some structure. Structure helps.
The second development occurred last week. I’d woken up with my usual trigger point-spurred cervicogenic headache; feeling those headaches in the morning does not bode well for the rest of the day, since these headaches typically tend to get worse for me as time goes on. I had work to do, but my 2-gelcap dose of Advil wasn’t making much of a dent. So, Mr Kitty said, “hey–our pharmacist friend/colleague stopped by with some samples of a new CBD oil he’s playing with”. And knowing said pharmacist friend, it’s quality stuff, made to legal specifications that wouldn’t run afoul of any (draconian) laws.
So I tried it. I didn’t have anything to lose, so why not? I honestly didn’t expect it to do much for my pain, since if you know how trigger points work, the location of the source of the pain is not the same as where you feel the pain–and where you feel the pain isn’t where there’s any tissue injury. Oh, and the trigger point itself doesn’t usually hurt much on its own; in fact, I only feel it when I or someone else applies direct pressure to it.
I’ll use my example: the pattern of this headache is that it snakes up the back and side of your neck, intensifying behind your ear, then looping around to your temple, where the pain concentrates again. It’s sort of a walking cane-like pattern. There is no inflammation in the local tissues, however; the pain is coming from somewhere else. In the case of this particular pattern, the culprit is a little trigger point, about the size of a grain of uncooked short-grain rice, that resides in the upper trapezius muscle, where your shoulder comes in and meets the base of your neck.
So, given that, as I said, I didn’t expect the CBD oil to do much. Well, I was right–it didn’t do much for the pain itself. But it did do something that I had not expected…
I had dabbed a healthy dose on my skin at the base of my neck and also on my temple, first thing upon getting to the office, before meeting with my first patient of the day. This particular appointment was one toward which I felt more than a little apprehension. The only other time I’d seen them was to give them their report of findings, and they had complained about the financial aspect and postponed their first checkup and displayed a lot of obstinance and disagreeability. And apparently they had a lot of questions (usually arguments disguised as questions in order to avoid taking responsibility for the stubbornness, which I don’t necessarily fault people for–it’s a common theme in human nature).
What would’ve been a 30-minute checkup had they followed my time interval recommendation swelled to 90 minutes, and we did end up covering a lot of good ground, rationally discussing a lot of excellent topics. What was most interesting about this session was that, instead of feeling completely wiped out and cognitively/socially exhausted/fatigued, I felt…OK! And when I learned that said patient was lamenting to our front desk assistant that the appointment had gone much longer than they thought it would, well, normally I would’ve taken it very personally and gotten all defensive (behind closed doors) because this is my passion after all, and although I’m not easily offended, this is one area that has shown itself to be an exception.
This time, however, I was actually able to just let it roll off. I felt for the patient and their situation in an empathetic way–it’s not that I was heartless and uncaring–quite the opposite, actually. But I was able to avoid letting it get to me and darken my mood and dampen my motivation and sap my mental strength and energy.
Not only did I not feel the all-too-recently-familiar overwhelming urge to go home and rest, I actually felt like going back into my office and…accomplishing stuff! I interpreted a lab test and revamped a patient educational handout (!).
Then I realized that this relaxed, non-anxious, constructive, motivated disposition might actually be an effect of…the CBD oil I used! Turns out, I was right about that. Might it be a key component to giving me back my mojo??
For fun, I decided to continue to use it through this last weekend (and I slept like a rock!) and also this week. So far, I have made it through all of my patient appointments, conducted phone interviews and a counseling session, and even revamped some more patient education handouts. I have actually felt like staying at the office beyond that which I need to, in order to actually Get Stuff Done.
I figured I shared with you my darker times, so I’m sharing with you my sunnier times as well. I like to be Fair ‘n Balanced and stuff…
Maybe, just maybe, 2018 is really turning out to be different (and thus, better) after all…
Oh, and I’ve been reading the Harry Potter series out loud to Mr Kitty, and we’re totally into it, like hard-core. That helps, too. 😉
So, my recipe for getting going when you/I want to achieve stuff:
- Have something to look forward to.
- Use aids where needed, whether they’re herbs (like Eleuthero/Siberian Ginseng, which is next on my list to incorporate), Vitamins (like B-complex), minerals (like Magnesium), vaping (nicotine is a brain stimulant! And the exhale is water vapor–clean and yummy), and…CBD oil (!) 😀
- And read for pleasure, something new, something that has nothing to do with one’s daily activities, to add to the quality of life and make it more enjoyable.
- I also make a to-do list and make a game with myself of trying to accomplish everything. Not accomplishing everything does not lead to self-scolding, but rather, moving that task to the next day. Accomplishing everything is awesome, and if I do, I mentally try on some items slated for the next day to see if maybe I can accomplish them, too.
- Don’t expect too much of yourself or take on too much at once. Don’t import other peoples’ troubles/problems into your own set; be concerned for them, sure, and be there for them when you can, but focus on your steps.
Motivation is tricky. It’s either there, or it’s not. And sometimes it’s not even that simple – I might be motivated to do one thing or one type of thing, but not another. Some days are screw-it free days, for my mental health. Some are social days, while some are hermit days. Some days I might feel like revamping handouts, but not diving deep into something complexly analytical, and other days, it’s vice versa. Some days are idea/brainstorming days, whereas others are better spent revising stuff I’ve already done/created and improving upon it. Some days are list-making days, and other days are physical activity days, and still other days are, well, you get the point. 😉
I’ve learned long ago to Go With My Brain. Whatever my brain is amenable to, that’s what I do. It’s all gotta get done at some point, so I might as well work with the Mode my brain feels most comfortable in that day.
Getting started can be tougher yet. If I’m not used to being mentally active at all, how do I get there? I’m starting small. Brainstorming for items to add to my to-do list and assigning days of the week on which I’ll work on (or even complete) them is a good first step for me. Asking myself “do I really want to go home now, or is there something relatively quick or easy that I can get done first?” is another good step for me. Setting deadlines for myself is another awesome strategy that has worked well for me; I don’t tend to miss deadlines.
I have to remind myself that I’m not going to be Cognitive Superwoman overnight. But by attempting to make some kind of progress in some area, no matter how much or in which area, I can get there. By working with my brain and its mood and energy level, that makes it easier. By keeping myself properly nourished, with protein, fruits, and vegetables, and well-hydrated with fluids, I have a prayer of being able to think straight. By not taking on too much at once, that makes it doable. By keeping my to-do list readily at hand, I can stay on task, remain somewhat structured, and avoid forgetting important things.
We’ll see how all this works (or keeps working) In Real Life… 😉