Checking the foundations

It’s one of those weeks where the diary is full and there are lots of people to meet with and conversations to be had and thinking to be done. The meetings are later in the evening than I love, the work days involve travelling a fair amount.

So today I am checking in on the foundations. I am considering blackout blinds, because the earlier sunrise is waking me slightly earlier than I want. But in the meantime, my new found habit of not drinking caffeine after noon and my Lenten avoidance of alcohol are ensuring I am sleeping well for the hours I am in bed. I am also trying to wind down at the end of the day doing some light journalling and reading before bed to switch off, even when the meetings finish late.

Exercise has been a bit harder to fit in, but I have done some yoga and a run so far this week. Even the days without yoga and running have had good walks in the sunshine. And the sunshine has really really helped.

Food has been great thanks to planning the week’s menu and deciding who is cooking each evening (I have got off very lightly on that this week). That said, I need to stop writing and go and make some lunch to take with me today!

I have had time every day to catch up with family and have grabbed coffee with friends. All the Scout meetings have been interesting and full of lovely, supportive people. And we are not quite half way through the week.

The second half of the week – that is after 6pm on Thursday – has no work (I have Friday off) , no volunteer meetings and lots of fun planned. I will definitely have plenty of time to be quiet, reflective and prayerful and to play the piano and spend some time being creative. The balance of life is not within every hour or every day, but over the weeks and months.

Grasping the habits

I have set up various habits, or daily rituals if you will, in order to create some routine, but also some comfort.  There is nothing  wrong in my life, but I expect there will be one day.   There always is.  I am a huge optimist in life.  “Things will turn out ok” is my permanent view.  I’m not daft though, things will go wrong,  Hugely wrong.  I can’t stop that from happening, no one can.

I decided to start putting into place the things that people recommend for good mental health before I need them.  Exercise, healthy food, reducing some of the bad habits – in my case, automatically reaching for a glass of wine after a bad day – a series of hobbies which improve my skills, get me out and about and meeting people – and a habit of mindfulness practice, gentle journaling and gratitude listing.

Today I am testing it all out as we hit a bump in the road of life.  Only a tiny wee one and it will be resolved quickly and we will work to make sure no permanent harm is done.

The interesting thing is that I made myself go through the rituals in the midst of dealing with the problem and they did help.  I think it’s about finding some perspective outside the problem.   External perspective in the gratitude list – where every day you write down three things you are grateful for, they have to be different every day, so coffee only features once a month – makes sure I realise that there was good in the day, a lot of it actually.   Writing this makes it more external and much less dramatic.

Having a bit more awareness of how the brain works helped me see that a lot of the drama was about a fight or flight reaction and it takes a long while for cortisol and adrenalin to leave the body and that the brain cannot distinguish between real danger and perceived danger – it is all scary.  I was also very aware that I am reacting to a situation through memories of past situations. Knowing that even when we’re in a negative situation, we are not reacting to just that situation, but everything else in our memories too, helped me put it into perspective.

It was not easy to spend some time journaling and meditating as that did not feel all that important.  I didn’t wake up feeling like writing this today.  It has all helped though, I feel much less dramatic in my head than usual and more able to see a way through a conundrum and somehow more confident in my decisions.

PS this is not a passive aggressive plea for attention, we are all fine and happy and ok, we just had one undesirable thing happen.  And I am taking the opportunity to use that as a test bed for some of my habits. Comments on good habits are very welcome, but there is no further information on the bump in the road, it’s not important anywhere apart from in my brain!