Busy mind needs help

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The new year always brings new plans, and I do like that aspect of the new year.  In January I started thinking about what challenges I could do – what marathons or swims or other physical challenges.  And then my little voice chipped in – you know the one that sits on your shoulder and whispers its wisdom in the early hours – ‘sort your mind out’

I’ve been writing this blog for 2 years and when I read back I see so much soul searching and guilt on the need to produce and be meaningful.  Two years on, my mind is still racing around, pit stopping at the guilt feelings and generally going at full pelt to get nowhere. Living in the moment and feeling contented are fleeting moments in my head and I would really really like them to stay around a little longer and take root.

Last month I realised the extent of my busy mental processes.  I’ve been doing some CPD for counselling and we were role playing to practise talking to clients about unhelpful thinking styles and patterns.  I was in the role of client and so shared a recent event that entailed my husband not responding in a rapid manner to a text message.  Within hours I had imagined that a) the dog had come to harm b) my husband had fallen down the stairs or c) both of the above.  Apparently, the Wi-Fi was off.  It dawned on me that my unhelpful thinking style is quite clearly on the catastrophizing spectrum.  Not a surprise to some who know me, but still one of those ‘ta da’ moments for me and a realisation of how unhelpful my thinking can be.

I need to do something, the challenge for 2017 is laid down –  I need to find some new methods of being in the moment and finding contentment and stopping the wild thoughts.  I have no idea how this might work.  Physically I can help by not chasing any PB’s and letting go of the need to prove anything to myself physically and give my mind a chance to catch up. Stop running away from my mind.

Meditation is another obvious tool – so I’m trying to challenge myself to giving this a good go.  I’ve tried twice and my mind is rebelling, but I didn’t think this would be easy and I’ll persevere.  Finding my steady mental pace is going to be a whole lot harder than finding my marathon one.

 

Throw those curtains wide…

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One day like this a year will see me right…

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I loved this Elbow song when I first heard it but didn’t give it much thought, just liked the idea that someone would be happy to have one good day, which, to be honest, didn’t seem very ambitious.

Then, 3 weeks ago, I found myself having one of these days, I even started humming the song and thought – ‘I’m having a day that would see me right’ (I wasn’t sure for how long at that point.)  One whole day where I felt happy, contented and at peace.  This happened on a recent holiday to Cornwall – I chose to have a day alone with my dog, just walking along the cliffs and it was heaven. There was nothing I had to do, nowhere I had to be, no one I had to talk to – just there on the cliff tops in the beautiful Autumn sun with my dog.

The effects of that day lasted a good two weeks, feeling better, more peaceful with myself.  It sounds a bit ‘new agey’ when I read this back, but this day was it.  It felt like I had just hit my reset button and instead of going back to factory settings I upgraded to a slightly happier and contented me.

I struggle with feeling at peace and contentment, there is usually a small voice telling me I should be doing something productive, or even just something else.  Like everyone, I do of course have calming moments – usually when I’m walking the dog, or running or gardening.  But these moments don’t last long – maybe an hour or so, or sometimes a little longer, a day at most, and then real life kicks in again (or my mind starts being difficult).  Even holidays don’t quite have the same effect.

What was it that made this day so special that it enabled me to reset for a while?  I think I can tie it down to a few core features

  • 1.    I was outside – amongst stunning natural surroundings
  • 2.    I was outside for a few hours
  • 3.    I was with my dog
  • 4.    I was alone (apart from the dog)
  • 5.    I was away from home – far enough way that it felt distant
  • 6.    I knew I didn’t need to check in with anyone or anything (work/home/amazon delivery…)

So now I’m wondering realistically what are the chances of this becoming more than a one off or once a year thing.  Is one day a year enough? What about one day a month or a week (probably pushing it but just think how calm and contented I could become if I had a whole day of resetting every week – seriously worth some thought.)

It’s also got me thinking more about mindfulness and what this really means.  I don’t meditate or practice mindfulness in any way but I’m guessing that this is what I partly experienced during that day, and I definitely need more of that.

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Time Marches on

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March 2015

My goodness, it’s nearly time to put the clocks forward, it’s officially Spring, how on earth did that happen so quickly? I’m sure I had lots of important goals and things to produce and do before we reached Spring.  This time of year brings the promise of new beginnings and new stuff to do and alas has also set off another midlife panic of how quickly this year is going and what have I done? Then I go into a tizzy and do nothing, and then worry that I’m doing nothing.

I read that the menopause can make some women wake up in the night with anxiety attacks about life passing by – well seriously I have that all the time, not just at night.  There is some comfort to being able to blame my hormones for my mood – which I can do apparently for the next 7 years – although I secretly think that this 7 year menopause is only the destiny of Daily Mail readers.  But to be fair to hormones, I don’t think they are really the cause of my current midlife debates with myself.

A friend recently suggested I take a few days holiday from thinking, so I have and I’ve loved it, felt calmer and enjoyed just sitting in the garden daydreaming.  Of course my week is almost up and I’m wondering if I wasted it, but that’s the little voice starting up again.  It’s made me think more about the whole mindfulness movement and how I can quiet the voices and enjoy just being.  I’m sure it’s possible – I use to feel guilty about not doing anything productive on long train journeys, but I’m over that now, so that’s a good start. Fortunately here are some experts who agree and reckon we should all stare out of windows more often. Read it here  – The importance of staring out the window.

I did some CPD a couple of weeks ago and we were asked how we would spend our time if we had a year to live.  You would have thought that question would have turned me into a complete wreck – a year to achieve goals I haven’t figured out yet?  But actually I decided I just wanted to be outside more and chill out. Anyroadup – I’ve bought another book – Stephen Levine ‘A year to live’ a snappy title about how to live this year as if it was your last and living each day mindfully. I’m not sure it’s going to be a page turner, but I’ll give it a go and see if it helps stop the midlife panic for a while.  I’ll let you know.