Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, November 06
Hi Blog. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote here… Life has been hectic, I haven’t been feeling very well and time has simply run through my fingers. That’s the way it has been…
I’m still not feeling very well – I am still having “body issues” and those are really starting to wear on my mental health… as are the turning of the seasons, the unrest in the world and the rest.
My last challenge was to:
- Be kind. BE INTENTIONALLY KIND.
- Be aware. Practice awareness.
- Be intentional. Be intentional in your actions. Turn your AUTO-PILOT off. Maybe not all day, maybe just for an hour or so each day.
On being kind – I think I did OK. The real truth is that, since I haven’t been feeling really well – I haven’t been “at the helm” as much as I should be and I can’t definitively say one way or the other that I did or didn’t intentionally practice kindness.
On being aware. I was acutely aware of the largest of issues in my experience. That said – I was again – on autopilot a lot of the last couple of weeks and didn’t pay attention to the smaller bits of my life. There’s that old saying – “Look after the little things and the big things will look after themselves.” Well – sometimes – for me anyway – the big things really over power the little things…
So – I suppose – on being intentional – I didn’t do very well over the past couple of weeks. Sincerely – I think if I would have been more intentional – I likely would have had a better experience… That just didn’t happen for me.
I have lots of different threads running through my mind and I’m not 100% certain what I want to share or write about. I know I have shared about being intentional before – and I don’t really want to be too repetitive – that said – it’s the “hottest burning thought” on my mind right now – so I will follow that and if I cruise off somewhere else – well – that’s the way the cookie crumbles or the blog gets written…
Being intentional or “on purpose” is a huge piece of my wellness. I would say that being intentional is a cornerstone of all of my wellness – physical, spiritual, emotional, mental – the whole me. It is one of the facets of my wellness model for sure – and as a reminder – or if you’ve never heard of my model – the 8 parts are: Purpose/Intention, Action, Awareness/Vigilance, Acceptance/Understand, Values, Persistence/Commitment, Supports and Connections.
My truth is – that when I allow myself to slip into autopilot mode – bad things tend to happen. Well, OK – maybe not immediately – but over time, if I am not at the helm and in control of where my life is going, I tend to end up wandering towards darkness, anxiety, depression and all the swirls that come with those things.
I find that, if I think of my depression, anxiety and the rest as real spaces – I am more able to pilot my life around or past them. In my life, my experience, I have constructed “aids to navigation” a lot like channel markers, buoys, cairns or inukshuks. Not physical markers, but very similar, to help me stay away from those spaces. Only when I am actively, intentionally in control of my experience – can I steer myself away from the rocks and what not that my life could come aground on.
My “aids to navigation” certainly help me around the spaces, places and experiences that I know exist or come up in the patterns of my life – but there are so many other things that happen in my life that I have no knowledge of. For those things – I need to be at the helm. I need to be at watch for icebergs, flotsam and jetsam or other crafts in my world – other people doing the same as I am or issues that simply come up… like storms or disasters.
When I move away from intention and purpose, I lose track of the reasons that I am doing what I am doing. As a simple example – when I’m not on purpose when I wash some dishes, I might not be as meticulous as I should be about how clean the dishes are. When I am “on purpose” – I am washing the dishes because I am contributing to the wellness of my home, I tend to me more meticulous about the details. I know this is a really trivial example – but it applies to all the pieces of my experience.
OK – so sometimes this purpose and intention can come into conflict with other real parts of my life. Part of my experience is being a bit of a perfectionist… Here, my intention is to do the very, very best I can – to do a perfect job…. At times – perfection gets in the way of production or getting the job done – however even then – I need to make the intentional call to accept “a job well done” over an incomplete or “un-attempted” attempt at perfection.
Why am I doing what I am doing? How is this serving me? How do my actions mesh with my values? This, to me is being “on purpose”, being intentional. The intention/purpose piece of my wellness model can be taxing. I find it a struggle to “be intentional” all the time. I know there is benefit in the struggle because I know that my mental wellness stems from “knowing where I am going”.
Obviously, there’s pieces of my experience that I have zero control over and simply have no way of planning for. When “shit” happens in my experience – it really is less about the shit that happened and more about the way I react to it. When I’m not on purpose – I am VERY reactionary. I am prone to rather explosive reactions… I KNOW those reactions are super unhealthy for me and for the world around me. When I am intentional – when I take a second to think, to be aware, to measure against my values, to be aware of the people in my life that could be adversely affected by a powerful reaction – I can and do temper it. My reaction isn’t as “weird”… I don’t get a huge cortisol flood.. and the folks around me don’t run for cover… and more importantly – I have remained at the helm – in control. I didn’t drop anchor at full steam or inadvertently blow through a “No Wake Zone” at full speed…
When I started writing this piece, I was really feeling unsettled and was all over the place… Even the little while that I have been focusing on intention has helped me to start to sort out the “stuff” that is going on in my experience. There’s some things I have control over and others that I don’t… but if I am not taking a little time to be aware of those stimuli, I don’t even really know what they are… I just FEEL THEM. Being “on purpose” or intentional brings me back to knowing what’s going on in my experience. For sure – it doesn’t make my tummy hurt any less, or make my back all good to go, or take away my headache… what it does do is reminds me that I am taking real steps to work on those things… (I’ve been to see my medicine man, I’ve done some pokes and prods, and there’s a plan…) Not really different than the other things that are going on in my life… the busy schedule… the family stuff and the work stuff.
Yes – its work to be intentional. I know my life is richer, I am healthier and more content when I practice intention.
This week my challenge is:
- Drink water. At least 4 large glasses a day.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do each day – give your body those 30 extra minutes to recharge.
- Draw a picture of something. Spend 15 minutes – and draw a picture. Connect with your mind.