Finding Comfort Amidst Change – A Meditation

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Change is difficult for us sometimes.  Often we avoid it or fight it because it scares us. There is a sense of safety in maintaining the status quo even if it is unhealthy.

When positive change occurs it can bring on stress even though the change is good for us.  Sitting with the anxiety, feeling it run through our veins, through our heart, circle our mind again and again, letting it exhale through our breath can eventually allow us to become more comfortable with the stress. Like anything or anyone, the more time we really pay attention to the details of it, I mean really, really observe every nuance of something, the less threatening it will seem.

Today I will sit with my discomfort and get to know it by observing everything about it, including where I feel it in my body, my mind, and my spirit, and I will know peace.

To the Worrier – A Meditation

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Worrying is a natural part of life. There isn’t one adult person who hasn’t worried about something at some point in his or her life. It is when the worry starts affecting your mental health by way of anxiety and depression, and your physical health (your sleeping, your eating, ulcers, etc.) that it becomes a problem.

We live in a time-based reality. Past, present, and future. Worrying is a past and future minded activity. We are either thinking about something in the past that has already happened, or thinking about something in the future that hasn’t happened yet (and sometimes about something in the future that may or may not even happen.)

This leaves the present time as the only place for us to escape our incessant worrying. We do this by engaging in activities that distract us and keeping our focus on the task at hand; by paying close attention to our surroundings at all times – really listen to the birds tweet, fully take in the grass’ green and the sky’s blue; listen to each word of the song on the radio, each note that is played instead of daydreaming about your worries while driving in the car.

This is called being “mindful”, and it keeps us out of past and future time and out of worrying. The mind doesn’t like it and will try to pull you back into past and future, but you can fight it by consciously choosing to stay in the present moment by never doing anything on “auto-pilot” again. Feel whatever you do with all of your senses and you will be in mindfulness.

Today, I will practice mindfulness or present-time living, and I will know freedom from worry and anxiety, even if only for brief moments.

Mind, Body, Spirit – A Meditation

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Mind, body, and spirit are all important parts of a person. When one is ill the others suffer as well. Sometimes those of us with mental illness become so focused on our mind and its problems that we forget to address body and spirit issues as well; issues that could help improve the mind.

What do we do each day to take care of mind, body, and spirit. Are we taking our medications as prescribed? Using positive cognitive skills? Exposing ourselves to healthy media and relationships? Are we eating well-balanced meals? Staying away from drugs and alcohol? Exercising? Do we take time for spiritual practice? Prayer? Meditation? Yoga? Mindfulness? Time alone with nature?

Today, I will pick one area – mind, body, or spirit – and research or think of one action I can take to improve my health in this area. Then I will begin this action within the week.

On Being Consistent – A Meditation

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So often with mental illness being consistent in our daily tasks and responsibilities is difficult. We want to shower everyday, but it is not always manageable due to severe depression. We want to finish the tasks we start, however, mania keeps us frantic and unfocused. Showing up for family events and dates with friends can be daunting when anxiety takes hold and won’t let go.

Yes, being consistent, “a man of your word,” so to speak, is not always possible when you have a mental illness. Guess what? That is ok. Really, it is, because having a mental illness is not a choice; it’s not a matter of will power, or want, or preference, or feeling like doing this or that or not. It is a medical condition that directly affects the centers in our brains responsible for decision-making, motivation, concentration, and emotional regulation, just to name a few.

Today, I will remind myself that my mental illness is not a choice, but a disease I did not ask for nor that I want, and the effect it has on the consistency of my behaviors is sometimes more than I can control. I will be kind to myself and cut myself some slack when I do not live up to my own expectations consistently.

Now – A Meditation

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Sometimes I find myself thinking about the past; regretting mistakes I’ve made or missing the “way things used to be.” Other times I find myself worrying about the future; trying to predict outcomes and plan for scenarios yet to unfold.

When will I realize the futility of such mental activities and the toll they take on my emotional well-being?

Unlike the past and future, the present moment – what is happening right NOW – is the only true reality. The things of the past are no longer real. They were real when they were happening but those moments have passed and have now become memories. The things of the future are not real because they have not yet happened. When they happen they will be real at that moment but not a minute sooner.

To live in the past or future is like being asleep or unconscious because you are missing so much of what is actually going on in the now. To live in the present moment is to be awake, fully conscious and alive!

Today, to the best of my ability, I will try to notice the things in my present moments. I will try to stay in the “now” and I will know peace.

Acceptance – A Meditation

There are many things we have no control over: people, places, things, events, the weather and time passing. This can be frustrating, depressing, and even scary.

There are many things we do have control over: how healthy we eat, how much we exercise, how we respond to life events, to people, places and things, and how well we take care of our health – physically, mentally and spiritually – by going to the doctor, taking our meds, meditating and/or praying.

The key is to accept the things we cannot change and to change the things we can. Acceptance does not mean we have to like them. It simply means we need to acknowledge they are reality and we do not have control over them.

Acceptance does not mean we accept unacceptable behavior from others. We have the right to defend ourselves. We are not meant to be doormats, but we must realize that ultimately, we have no control over the behavior of others, only our own.

Acceptance means letting go of tension, worry, and fear. Acceptance is the relaxing of our shoulders, the unclenching of our fists, the releasing of our jaw, the softening of our eyes, and the slowing of our breath. Today, I will accept the things I cannot change and I will know peace.

Routine – a Meditation

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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.

Taking a Break Meditation

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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.

Dealing with Agoraphobia

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Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which one feels and often avoids situations that may cause them to feel panicky, trapped, helpless, or embarrassed. Using public transportation, being in a crowd, and standing in line are a few examples. According to the Mayo Clinic,

You may feel that you need a companion, such as a relative or friend, to go with you to public places. The fears can be so overwhelming that you may feel unable to leave your home.

I definitely identify with this as I only feel safe leaving my house if my husband is with me. It is especially hard for me to drive myself anywhere. He has to be the one to drive. I believe my fears have to do with previous anxieties experienced in crowded situations. The noise and unpredictable stimuli of people merely moving around me is anxiety-producing for me. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to stop it, but I do know that I am tired of it controlling my life!

I take a PRN anti-anxiety med before going to any social event, which helps a great deal. However, I have to ration them because my doctor only prescribes me five of these pills a month per our agreement due to my addiction history. Thus, I am left with no medication assistance when I have to go to places like the store or to some of my kids’ activities.

So, what’s been happening over the past three weeks is I have been working myself up into an anxious state before leaving the house to do anything by telling myself how awful it is going to be and how much I DON’T want to go. I now realize this type of thinking has to stop if I am to find any relief.

Therefore, I have dug out my DBT (Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) binder to review some skills to help me regulate my emotions. I am starting with “Wise Mind” which is the part of our mind where “Emotional Mind” (our thoughts based on distressing feelings) and “Reasonable Mind” (rational thoughts) merge together (what I want to do vs. what I should do.) Wise Mind says, Yes, our Reasonable Mind is right, but Emotional Mind is important and needs to be validated, too. It is all about having compassion for yourself while still pushing yourself to do what is out of your comfort zone.

Last month, I overextended myself by doing way too much out of my comfort zone without checking in with my feelings and wants. I completely ignored Emotional Mind and blindly succumbed to Reasonable Mind, which over time lead to a state of depression and extreme anxiety – throwing me full force into Emotional Mind. Hopefully, with my new-found awareness I can now start using my Wise Mind to get back on track to emotional well-being and productive living!

What type of “Mind” do you tend to have – Wise, Emotional, or Reasonable? How does this affect your emotional health?

3 Simple Ways to Combat Worry

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I am a worrier. Worry is one of the major symptoms of depression, and I have come to accept the fact that worrying is a part of who I am. Some days are better than others, but overall, my mind is usually running amuck with worrisome thoughts. Here are some ways in which I try to combat the worry in my life:

1) Practice Mindfulness

I try to stay focused on what is happening in the present moment. I asked myself, What am I seeing right this very second with my eyes? What do I hear? What task am I performing and how does that feel? For example, the laptop is hard and flat on my legs. The keys are small and black, and the cursor blinks methodically as I sit and think of what to type next. I am staying in the moment, not thinking of past or future events – not worrying! Being mindful by engaging in productive activity is one of the best ways I know of to stop worrying.

2) Prayer

I am not a religious person, per se, but I am a spiritual person. I believe in a higher power that gives me strength to deal with what comes my way in life. I have a plaque hanging on my wall that says, “God doesn’t give us what we can handle, He helps us handle what we are given.” I truly believe this, if we only ask for His help via prayer. It has always worked for me. Not always in the time frame that I want, but has worked eventually, nonetheless.

3) Talking with others

When I share my worries with others, especially others who have had similar fears, it seems to unburden the worries from my mind. It’s as if naming them aloud releases the power they have over me. By telling trusted friends how I am feeling, I also get the benefit of their insight and wisdom on how they dealt with the same worries, and their now broader perspective on the issues. It is also just nice to know that I am not alone in my struggles.

Are you a worrier? Is there a particular worry you can’t shake? How do you cope with worry?

This post is linked to Write into the Light’s Weekend Mental Health Writing Prompt – Worry.