Mental illness can leave us wandering about through our day, unfocused and aimless. Sleeping too much, watching too much television, and other forms of inertia, caused by depression and anxiety, are all too common.
Sometimes routine is a solution to our inactivity problem. Showering and making the bed everyday, doing one small chore every two hours, and eating meals at the same time are all examples of keeping a routine. Writing down our routine or a small list of things to do each day can help us achieve our goals.
I will state my intentions for today by creating a list of one to three things I would like to accomplish, and whether I accomplish them or not, I will know peace.
There are going to be times during the course of our illness when we need to take a break from our daily routine. Like it or not, our minds are different from those who do not have mental illnesses. Sure, everyone experiences anxiety, low moods, and irritability. However, those of us with mental health disorders do so at greater intensities. Our threshold for such mood states is much lower. Therefore, we need more downtime, more alone time, more time to process, more time to recuperate, more time to rest.
I will take the time I need to rest when I feel myself becoming overwhelmed with daily life, and I will know peace.
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Fear can dominate our lives. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the past. Fear of the future. Fear of all that is, of all that isn’t. It is an agonizing state in which to live. It is a state of mind, not a state of reality, in most cases.
If we can train ourselves to stay in the present moment, in the moment of what task is at hand, then fear cannot survive. What are you doing right this moment? Reading this meditation perhaps. What fear is there in this task? When you are making your bed, doing your dishes, taking your shower, what fear is there in that? None. It is the thoughts you have outside of those actions that cause you fear.
Keeping our minds focused on exactly what we are doing in the moment can eliminate much of the fear in our lives. It is not easy, but it is simple. It is worth striving for if only to gain a little peace in our day, minute by minute.
Life sometimes seems life a series of accidents, like things are spinning out of control. Scary, anxiety-producing, unknown. It can cause us to freeze in our tracks like a deer in headlights, just waiting for the impact take us out. Rarely does this ever happen. Our fears build up scenarios in our heads that make things more unbearable than they really need to be.
If only we could take a moment to stop our thoughts and concentrate on our breathing. Take a deep breath. Do the next right thing. Take it one step at a time. Have faith that if we only take care of what is in front of us – whether it be a daily task, a job responsibility, a self-care activity, a social commitment – the future will take care of itself.
For the future is never with us, only the present moment is. It is only in the present moment where we can take the actions that will make a difference in our quality of life. It is only in the present moment where we can find peace.
Life can often seem so mundane. We drag ourselves out of bed to carry on the same old routine day after day after day. When will it ever end? When will something exciting and new come our way?
What we don’t realize is that it is our own mind that makes these tasks boring and unassuming. It is our own preconceived ideas and unconscious conditioning of going through life without gratitude for what we have, what we are capable of doing.
Did you know that in most places in the world there are no indoor toilets? People go in the streets, in front of everyone else! Did you know that millions die of starvation each year? Many do not have running water for drinking or bathing.
Today, let us do something fantastic for ourselves. Take a warm shower, eat a meal, flush a toilet, visit a friend, brush your teeth. Be grateful for every little thing that you can do, for every little thing that is available to you. These are fantastic things! Things which are hard for us with mental illness to do at times – to eat, bathe, groom, socialize – but nonetheless, fantastic. Rejoice and delight in this fact.
We spend so much time and effort on our recovery, and some days, it seems as though there is little pay off. What is it all worth? Has it really made a difference? And then we look back over the months and years and we see that, yes, it has made a difference. We are further along than we were.
One plus one equals two. Life is more complex than such a simple equation, but does it have to be? If we take each simple action as an accomplishment, it can become as simple as the “1” in the equation of one plus one, and our daily activities will add up into something grand. Even something as simple as sitting up in bed in the morning and putting our feet to the floor can be considered an accomplishment, for it is healthier than laying there all day!
We must give ourselves credit for every little thing we do. Let us not take for granted each step we take toward recovery, for it is all the one plus ones that add up to the sum of our well-being.
When the cold of depression surrounds my heart with ice, and I shiver under the blankets in my lonely bed, it feels as though I will suffer alone forever with the silent screams of the voices in my unquiet mind. If only for a moment to feel the healing touch of God, to feel the warmth of his hands melt the chill of despair that suffocates my soul – oh, how lovely this would be!
At times, it feels as if our despondent mood will last forever, but like the tides of the ocean, the ebb and flow of life and its accompanying emotions are never stagnant. What is today will not necessarily be tomorrow. With every breath is the promise of new and different possibilities.
Hanging onto the hope of a better tomorrow is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. Taking the necessary steps to facilitate such an outcome is what we are called to do. We alone are responsible for taking care of ourselves, our health, our own well-being. We must not wait for someone else to take charge of our lives. We must take even the smallest of steps to begin to make the changes in our lives to become the person we were meant to be, to heal if only a little at a time; to try if only in some small way every day.
When I am feeling sad or depressed, or anxious and afraid, my first instinct is to get rid of these emotions either by doing something unhealthy like smoking or overeating, or something productive like cleaning the house or exercising. The goal in both cases is to block out the emotion; to ignore it; to purge it from my system; to eradicate it.
What if rather than trying to kill the emotion, I sat with it; let it flow through and around me, believing all the while I am safe, because it is my actions, not my emotions, that have the potential to harm me.
I find that when I do this, the emotion tends to dissipate on its own. It’s as if giving it recognition somehow facilitates its disappearance.
Today, I will acknowledge the emotions within me. I will validate their existence, keeping in mind that feelings are not facts. They cannot harm me. Like a river they will flow towards me, through me and then out of me, and I will know peace.