That list in your head (or on your notepad) feels like a mile long and almost impossible to accomplish, am I right? Living with chronic migraine has taught me a lot about the things on that list(s) that actually matter. I used to put everything on it from laundry and dusting to remodeling parts of the house. Seriously. Is putting new molding in the family room really necessary to be on the daily wish list of things to get done... the answer is no! I would also have several versions of my lists written down - I am not crazy, I honestly couldn't remember where I kept half of them - an unfortunate gift from chronic migraine.
I physically cannot do all the things on that ridiculous list, not even a totally healthy person would be able to climb that mountain. Holding myself to such impossible standards never helps me, especially my mental health. When I don't get it all done, I harp on myself in my head. I am not allowing myself the grace that is needed to get through the day-to-day. When I realized this, I slowly began to shift my thinking to a more positive, forgiving space.
Now, I don't see it as keeping my expectations low...I see it as keeping them more realistic. Living with chronic migraine means that I need to adjust to what my body needs, not matter how badly I want the list to get done. The most important things, the ones that are always top priority, are taking care of my children - making sure they are loved, fed, clothed and clean - and then taking care of myself. (Don't worry I am not forgetting my hubby, he's a strong, military man that can fend for himself.)
Learning to reframe how I look at writing lists and organizing my thoughts has helped me tremendously. A few years ago I kept a weekly chore chore chart, but I found very quickly that I could not keep up with it. Now I do things that have to get done as needed, and depending on what I can handle. If the kitchen is messy but I feel like death... then the kitchen waits. If the laundry is piling up and we still have clothes to wear, it can wait. If I am not feeling up to making a home cooked meal (which can be very exhausting for me) then we have cereal, leftovers or mac & cheese - which the kids wished they could have every night.
One of my goals this year was to focus more on gratitude, especially for the small everyday things. Allowing myself to let go of unhealthy expectations of myself has been hard, I am still a work in progress, but it's also such good self-care. When I focus on snuggles, reading books and accomplishing simple tasks, that crazy list in my head gets pushed aside and it's not dragging me down anymore. I am trying to give myself some of the grace that I so freely pour out to others.