So. If you are anything like me, you tend to function on auto pilot, while obsessing over the many, many things you have on your plate as a woman, mother, partner, career woman, friend, and so on and so forth. You have your set routine that you can do backwards and forwards and, most days, in your sleep. You have probably driven the kids to school and you to work without even paying attention to the route you took, how many lights you went through, or what songs were on the radio. A lot of times for me, the monotony of it all becomes a bit overwhelming and I find myself searching for something more. Back in November 2019, I found myself in that space and I had to figure out how to get myself out of autopilot. Why? Because that mindset always leads me to finding myself facing depression or anxiety....and I make it my business to keep those rascals at bay.
Then, in March of 2020, the virus hit and the monotony was stripped away from every one of us. I don't know about anyone else, but now I am yearning for that normalcy and for the chance at being on auto pilot. And that in and of itself is making my anxiety and depression flare. So, to try to keep them under control, I have been attempting to use my go-to self-care routines. But, low and behold, none of them are working for me. I have tried it all and it is all to no avail. So, I decided to dive deeper into a therapeutic technique that seems all so fitting for this moment. You see, at this time, we have almost no control over how our lives function from day to day. And we surely have little say in what tomorrow holds. If we focus on those things that we can't control and on how uncertain tomorrow is, we will surely lose our minds in this season. So, I decided to start practicing mindfulness as much as possible during my days. What is mindfulness? Some think of it as only the art of meditation. Some think of it as "hippy" tree hugging behaviors. But, in reality, mindfulness is simply the practice of shelving all of those things that are on your plate to intentionally take a moment and just be present. It is the art of allowing yourself to take a moment to just be. To be fully aware and in that moment and appreciate it for whatever it is. How do you do that in a world that is so chaotic right now? Well, sometimes, we have to find innovative ways to do it, but here are a few of my favs:
1. Mindful walks/drives... use your 5 senses to take in all of the beauty around you
2. Mindful eating....use your 5 senses to savor and really experience your food
3. Yoga.... in order to stay balanced, your focus must be on your pose and the moment
4. Deep Breathing.... focusing on the rhythm and depth of each breath as it flows in and out
5. Meditation, guided imagery, sleep stories.... the use of mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace have helped me with this because it is so hard to get my mind to slow down
6. Painting/Coloring.... I have spent hours on end completing a painting or a coloring sheet because, as simple as it seems, you can get lost in the focus on that one task
7. Puzzles... again, focusing on this one task has the power to fully immerse you
8. Cooking.... as much as I hate to admit it, it's like therapy for me at times...just not every single day
9. Chores.... washing dishes by hand or doing laundry in one swoop calms me and gives me a sense of accomplishment
10. Star Gazing.... have you ever just stopped to look at how amazingly vast the sky is at night? You should!
11. Be Still.... if nothing else, sitting still in your environment and just taking it all in will give you a sense of calm and gratitude for your blessings. Whether that means sitting outside while feeling the breeze and watching the clouds roll by or sitting in your living room while your kids play and soaking up their giggles, just take a few moments throughout your day to just be still
We are beyond a doubt living in unprecedented times. Due to that, your regular bubble bath or glass of wine or session with your best girlfriend may not be enough. But, don't let these times drive you insane. Find what works for you and do it. That may mean finding a few somethings and rotating them....whatever works. And if need be, remember that there are mental health professionals who are able to assist you via telehealth options during this time. Don't be afraid to reach out.
Light and Love.....