I wrote this post on Tuesday, as I like to draft most posts early in week ahead of Friday publication. I have separately shared to some that by Wednesday I hit bad day state, which is just how it is with depression. The fear I wrote below took over and I can see now that the chaotic thoughts was early warning. Not sure how long it will last, but I do know there will be an up day coming along, just doing all the right, compassionate things to reach it. Back to the original post…
I usually know what I want to write each week. In fact I have a list of topics and ideas which would take a few months to work through. But for the first time since starting the blog I don’t know what (and even how) to write this week.
I could choose from my list – perhaps the positives and negatives of social media for mental wellbeing….art as therapy…how writing a letter can help emotional management…the power of doing nothing….acceptance…values…recent media articles relating to mental health….arghhh I don’t know!
How to move forward? Perhaps that is what I should write about….
When the mind is chaotic like this, with too many choices and an inertia to actually do something it leads me to full time procrastination, doing things that I tell myself are useful but actually are avoidance tactics. It increases the fear of depression . You can hear the rat of depression shuffling in a dark corner of the mind, sniffing the air to see if there is a hint of a down period coming.
So I start to read more news stories, around mental health, as ‘research ‘. I feel the need to browse social media rather than a wish to. The last of the Christmas biscuits call like a siren from the rocks of temporary pleasure. I jump from book to book, with a reduced attention span. Meditation becomes restless, feels like a chore or worse, something to just get through. Music is on random shuffle and I keep jumping tracks , trying to find the song which will help bring focus. None of them do.I have a hundred ideas in my head but apart from briefly thinking about them they just move on. If my mind was like a road it’s a full motorway with a hundred interesting, distracting and fleeting vehicles speeding through.
Do you recognise any of these or similar? So this is what I did. I started writing, up to this point and then stopped.
<Short interlude, soft elevator music playing in background>
Back now, a few hours later and this is what I did while gone, maybe it could help give you some ideas.
My steps to help with a chaotic mind:
- wrote in my journal the list of the ideas to then come back to later. Hard to not want to spend time on them more, but just listing helps focus.
- guided meditation. I often meditate based on what I have learnt but when the mind is like that full motorway a guided meditation is brilliant , to help focus and remind you to observe the thoughts , not engage. And the old adage is true – a longer meditation will help when restless.
- focussed on doing some jobs which I knew I had to do. So went and prepared the vegetables for dinner. Really focussed just on this task,keeping attention on the vegetables. The smell of them, the colours and textures.
- recognise that the fear of the rat is to be expected, that is normal and treating that fear with compassion. So not getting rid of it or avoiding, rather allowing the fear to be there with the knowledge I recognise it and can take steps to manage if the rat gets more loose. That is easier to write than to do, the fear gnaws at you.
- reminded myself of the reason I write, the awareness and understanding I am trying to share. That this is something I do for me in the first instance. That people read is a humbling, awesome bonus.
- considered some of the feelings that the other topics raise. For example, I am nervous of writing about acceptance and values, as the blog is read by a number of professionals who teach these topics. Social media – The Blurt Foundation have written about it really well. And so on. But when I really look at those emotions, I can see they are not the reality. The professionals are supportive and engaging, not judgemental. Others have written about some of the topics, but you may not have read those and I am bringing my perspective to them.
- agreed with myself a specific time to sit down, with intention of writing what has helped with my thoughts
- switched off phone and disabled notifications on the iPad I am writing on, sat down and wrote.
Oh look, I wrote a post. This is what actually happened, I am not creating this as a story for a post
Now I know some readers may not meditate nor am I saying that you have to do that. I guess the summary is:
- write down what is in your mind
- do something that helps you become grounded in the present
- don’t turn away from your fear or worry…. engage with them to understand fully what they are
- start what you want or need to do with intention, by limiting or restricting sources of distraction.
Would love to hear any thoughts or tips you have for settling the restless mind.
Thanks for reading, Chris
Did you know that Thursday 1st February is Time to Change’s national awareness campaign Time to Talk. Details from here https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day-2018.
Image via Good Housekeeping/Google Images