When You Need A Win

I’ve been in a funk lately. I’ve been grumpy and short-fused with people I care a lot about. I’ve been even worse to people I don’t care for. The reason for this is simple, and it’s something that I’ve seen coming every year right around this time. I’m not going to go into details of what happened — because suicide is taboo in my culture, don’t you know? — but I will tell you how I plan to deal with it.

Step 1: Get better sleep

My allergies have been killing me. Because we didn’t really have a winter this year, a lot plants started shedding their pollen early and often. There have been a few days when my eyes are very swollen and I can’t breathe at all through my nose. Last week, my nose ran so much that I thought something was seriously wrong. Then there are the sinus pressure headaches.


He knows how I feel.

All of this gets in the way of sleeping, of course. A stuffed nose drains on the side you’re sleeping on and then you shift in your sleep in order to drain the other side. This makes you restless at night and you don’t fall into deep sleep for long, certainly not long enough to feel refreshed in the morning.

I went out to the drug store and got some allergy eye drops, some allergy medication with pseudoephedrine, and some nasal spray. After a hot shower that opened up my breathing passages, I threw in the nasal spray, took the medication, and added the eye drops. Man, I got some really good sleep last night… Finally.


A live look-in at my brain during deep sleep.

Step 2: Get a workout in, even if you don’t feel like it

The evidence is clear that exercise helps with mood. (Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a workout regimen.) When I started a regimen of at least one hour a day of running, biking, or swimming, I managed to lose 25 pounds. Then winter came (and I went to Puerto Rico), and I lost the habit of doing something active for an hour a day. Instead, I fell into a habit of sleeping in late when I could, popping open the laptop on the couch, and eating. Of those 25 pounds, I’ve gained back 7.


Me going through my car door, basically.

Not good.

I’ve started getting back into the habit of working out at least one hour a day this week. If it’s not a walk or a jog around the neighborhood, it’s an hour in the pool. (I can swim now, me!) Or it’s an hour on the bicycle around the neighborhood. The key is to continue this trend for a few weeks so that it becomes a habit. The other key is to do it in the morning, so that the rest of the day can go better.

Even if I don’t get to do it in the morning, though, the goal is still to keep moving for an hour… Get that heart rate going and burn some calories while producing some good brain chemicals. In the long run, this also helps with sleep.

Step 3: Enjoy becoming a dad

In case you didn’t know, my wife is pregnant. Baby Ren is due to arrive this summer, and I’m going to need to be in a good mood and rested to handle that huge responsibility. My wife has been having a little bit of trouble with morning all-day sickness and other issues associated with getting pregnant, so it’s up to me to be there for her to help her through. For that, I need to be in good physical and emotional shape. For that, I need sleep and exercise… And…

Step 4: Eat better

My problem with eating dates back to when mom used to settle me down with promises of fast and/or high-calorie food. Instead of an apple or a carrot, I was rewarded with candy or cake, or some other deliciousness. As an adult, my problem is not a food desert, per se. It’s an over-abundance of cheap, high-calorie food that is available to me on my way to and from school/work or anywhere else I go. It is very easy to give in and buy a combo meal. A little too easy.


Too easy and delicious.

So I’m taking a deep breath and thinking twice as to whether or not I’m hungry and/or whether or not I should stop and eat fast food. If I’m hungry, is there anything else nearby, something fresher with vegetables? If I’m not hungry, what can I do to stop the craving? Drink more water? Chew some gum? Think happy thoughts.

Step 5: Stop worrying

It may come as a surprise to you — as it did to me — but I’m not the end-all, be-all of all things. I’m not in as much control as I thought I was. Things, lots of them, happen all around me, and there is nothing that I can do about it. I’m learning to be okay with that. This is key to the other steps as it helps me to just learn to let go of things.

This also includes focusing less on the news of the day and more on the personal, real-life relationships that I have with multiple people. So what if a Kardashian had a bad day? So what if Orange 45 said this or that? 99% of what goes on out there in the world doesn’t affect me, and I can’t affect it. So why worry?

Putting it all together

As I continue to work on my doctoral dissertation/thesis/oh-dear-God-what-have-I-done, I need to keep my mind and body in good shape to sail through whatever may come. The Baby Ren is going to take up a lot of time come summer, and I’ll need stamina for that. Doing research and writing the dissertation will require mental clarity and good mood. And growing older — with older limbs and joints — will require less excess weight.

Here’s hoping I succeed.

5 Comments on “When You Need A Win”

  1. Tell me about morning, noon and night sickness! My wife had it bad, each time. To the point where I worried about malnutrition!
    Amazingly, she and the baby survived her bubble-belly stage of life.
    When she’s felling down a bit, due to the gravity of her gravid condition, spring a reminder on her, “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down”. 😉
    My wife was rolling, very nearly literally, after I got her with that one. 😀

    As for allergies, yeah. Worse here in Louisiana, less freezing (only a few days total below freezing this winter), making allergy season a living hell. Living off of 50 mg diphenhydramine. It has felt like I was literally drowning from post nasal drip.

    Getting plenty of exercise here. Car blew a head gasket, so it’s heel and toe express wherever I need to go. Well, heel and toe and cane express.


      • Tempting. Took a $3k loan out on my 401k, that should get me a decent vehicle.
        Havn’t tried Flonase, 50mg diphenhydramine seems to be doing the job well enough, once I actually get around to taking them.


  2. The blasted alder trees started to spread their pollen early this year, January instead of February. I did not get the sniffles, I got the itchies. At night.

    I am finally recovering from my involuntary self-mutilation during sleep that caused scratches all over my arms, legs, back and stomach. Fortunately not much to my face, though I did wake up to find my ears had some scratches. Oh, and I did wake up in the middle of the night and take a Benadryl. It helped, a little.

    I think I can now go back to swimming. I was afraid of actually bleeding in the pool. I did wear lots of black to cover where I bled. I also figured out a good way to get blood out of clothes and sheets: first do a warm soak with oxygen bleach.

    Every season is so different. One year my face was so swollen, especially around my eyes, that I could barely see.


    • Luckily, I have not been as itchy this time around. I did one year, but I don’t know what exactly happened. It got so bad I also didn’t wear anything that would show the blood. This year it was my nose and eyes… I had water coming out of my nose and dripping everywhere if I couldn’t get to it, like when I was carrying the groceries into the house. Gross.


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