Some days it might feel like your owner has put you in the kitchen sink and tried to kill you with water.*
Oh wait no, sorry, that’s just how my dog actually feels today.
What I wanted to talk to you about is when you metaphorically feel like that, I mean unless you’re into some kind of BDSM you probably don’t have an owner let alone fit in the kitchen sink.
It’s very easy for your mind to get carried away with a situation, whether you have mental health issues or not and I wanted to share with you my top 10 ways to balance my mind when I’m feeling a little unsteady.
They say it takes 66 days to develop a new habit, so try practicing a couple of these every day for 66 days and eventually it should become second nature!
*She got covered in mud on a walk and I was bathing her, no dogs were harmed in the cleaning of this animal.
Simply stop what you are doing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a rush or relaxing or anything in between. Just stop, take 60 seconds to close your eyes, listen to your surroundings and reset, it’s amazing what can happen when you break the cycle of words going round your head.
2. CACTUS THEORY
Sounds a bit weird right? Well it works!
Imagine your thoughts and feelings are a cactus, every time you poke and prod at them you aren’t getting rid of them or improving things, you’re just hurting yourself. Put the cactus (thoughts and feelings) to one side for a moment, acknowledge giving them space and realise that you can exist for a moment without them hurting you, or you fussing at them.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE THE WEIGHT
Take an item and hold it out for as long as you possibly can in front of you with outstretched arms. It hurts to keep holding it and eventually, no matter how heavy the item, and you have to drop you arms.
Now identify this with your thoughts and emotions. You might feel the need to obsess over a situation because you feel guilty/anxious/nervous/angry/hurt etc, but the longer you keep going over it the heavier and more painful it becomes. It will be the same weight whether you pick it up and struggle with it, or pop it down and work out how to deal with it later. Much like whatever is happening in your brain will be the same problem whether you pick and pull at it, or let yourself have some breathing room before you deal with it.
Even a feather will become heavy if we hold it up long enough.
Stretch your body, work from the top down to the bottom and acknowledge how each part feels. Check in with yourself and with each stretch feel yourself easing the stress away from your physical being.
Put your entire focus into that stretch, if you find your mind wandering, bring it back to focusing on how your physical body feels instead of your mind.
Write down how you’re feeling, now burn it, or screw it up, or rip it up. You’ve transferred the words from mind to paper, this now gives them freedom and stops them being trapped in the narrative cycle in your mind.
Don’t draw with a plan, get a plain piece of paper and a pen, just let it flow. Put your emotions into your arm, down the pen and onto the paper. With every pen stroke you are moving your uneasiness along with you, you’ll feel less stagnant and begin to flow again.
If you don’t want to speak to certain people, answer the phone or do certain things, don’t.
Identify who and what is good for you when you are at your lowest, and put boundaries in place for those who don’t.
Stock phrases such as “I’m sorry I can’t talk right now, I’m a little busy but I can speak to you tomorrow” or “I’m just taking some time out for myself today, I’ll get back to you ASAP” help because these statements aren’t asking a question. You aren’t looking for permission to have alone time, you are telling someone you are having it.
It’s very important to learn how to say no politely and firmly.
8. HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING WRONG?
Ask yourself if you have done anything wrong, chances are you haven’t! This simple question helps me to identify on a simple level whether my anxiety is justified, or if it is my brain playing tricks on me!
9. GO FOR A WALK
Sounds obvious, but as you’re walking, whether indoor or outdoors, focus on how your feet connects with the ground. What muscles do you feel moving? How do your arms move? What can you hear around you?
If you’re outside can you feel the weather on your skin, are you wrapped up warm or out in the sunshine?
Having a long hot shower can help reset and focus my mind, you’re away from technology, no one else is in there with you (and if there is waheyyy) and much like the walking meditations – focus on how the shampoo feels in your hair, how the bubbles move along your skin, your feet in the water.
With all of these meditation/mindfulness type exercises, every time your mind wanders back to the anxiety or sadness, just acknowledge it and move your focus back to the task at hand.
A lot of these suggestions are everyday activities with a twist, I use all of these techniques in so many ways everyday – from teeth brushing, to washing the dishes and hanging out clothes.
Life is too fast paced, we do not take enough time to sit and focus on the task at hand. We’re always looking to “what’s the next thing to do?” or “where is the next place to be?”.
Once we master the art of channelling our focus intently into the mundane and solo tasks, we can transfer this skill into socialising, the workplace, relationships etc. Reminding us to be present in all situations, to rationalise our emotions and that we can enjoy the moment once again without fearing the future or obsessing over the past.