Mental Wellness Challenge – 2020, October 23
Hi again. My challenge last week was to:
- Lift someone up. Give praise to someone who is doing their best.
- Just listen. Listen to the quiet. Listen to someone’s story. Listen to your heart.
- Tell three people in your life that you love them. You can use words or act… but let them know you love them.
I was able to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of other folks in my life, I took time to listen – to BE and I shared my love with lots of people in my life through my words and my actions.
The challenge was good for me this week. It brought me back to “seeing” that its important for me to be aware of my focus. I can (and do) tend to focus on the negatives in my experience, and the challenge reminded me that other folks, like me, are most often doing the best they can with what they have at the time. It reminded me that there will always be others that are greater and lesser then me and that I need to be more aware of where my focus is – am I looking for the right things.
The listening piece reminded me of the importance of BEING. BEING rather than doing. Even after a decade of trying to learn the art of mindfulness, I am still figuring it out… My challenge this week reminded me to look into the quiet and to be. The listening piece was also an important piece because I have a tendency to rush or push for an answer for questions others ask me… and sometimes I try to provide an answer when I don’t even know what the full question is… so – the challenge to do more active listening was timely in that way too. I realize as well – that I do that same thing within my own experience – I move for an answer before I have taken the time to listen to my heart and really know what my “truth” is. So the listening piece was good for me.
Sharing love can happen in so many ways for me. I like to do things for others – to help others – and it was good to look for the “why I am doing this” in some of my actions. The reciprocal was also important. It was important for me to see – to realize the things that folks in my life do things for me. The little things in my life that people in my life do for me that are too often too easy to take for granted… like the little chores that get done – the meals that get prepared or the dishes that get washed… Even that pot of coffee that gets put on in the morning… those are all expressions of caring – of love… and its really easy for me to take those things for granted or to do those things in my experience without being aware of intention…
This week, I am really feeling stretched thin… I’ve many “irons in the fire” and I am currently at a point where I am feeling a bit ragged from tending them. Now for sure – these irons give me a sense of purpose, accomplishment and are rewarding, but they also take time and effort. Maybe some of that “sapped” feeling comes from having a sore back or maybe the turning of the seasons, or any of so many other things… I just know I feel it… what’s the “it” I feel… STRESS…
The stretched thin feeling I am having is stress… Just like the tension that an elastic band has when its pulled tight to hold papers together… or the tension put on that plastic wrap covering the bowl of left overs in the fridge… In my experience, in my life, stress is both a great thing and a terrible thing… The stresses I experience can help me get the job done or they can be a barrier to getting the job done. I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this… I think stress works in similar ways for most folks.
For me – its super important that I watch stress. I can and do become super focused or… get blinders on… when I am feeling stressed. I can lose sight of the rest of my experience and THAT’S A DANGEROUS THING for me. I can start marching right into my darkness. Last week I shared about anxiety and living with a feeling of “impending doom” for a lot of the time. The anxiety I experience in that “impending doom” can numb my awareness to the stressors in my life. Maybe a little like the old experiment where a frog is put into a pot of water and the water is slowly heated… the frog doesn’t jump out of the water when it gets too hot… and well… that doesn’t tend to end well for the frog.
OK – So… Not all stress is bad, not all stress is good… but it’s there… it’s here… it’s in my life, my experience. The thing about stress is, my body doesn’t know – doesn’t care, about the source of the stress – good or bad – it produces the same cortisol for good stress and for bad stress. Cortisol can be good thing… too much of a good thing is a bad thing… (Cortisol causes some profound effects in our systems… check it out….)
Sure enough, my life must move forward – I have to move forward. How do I make sure I am using that ingredient in my life towards my best interests? For me – I turn to my wellness model. I get back to those 8 facets of my experience.
I start with examining the pressures – the stressors – to see where it/they influence my wellness.
As a reminder of the facets of my model – Values, Awareness/Vigilance, Purpose, Persistence/Commitment, Connections, Supports, Understanding/Acceptance, Action.
Sometimes I have to take the time to write things down – to get “OUT OF MY HEAD” and on to paper. Journaling plays a role here… but I will often just take a notepad and start writing down the ‘pressures’ that I am experiencing. Most often – I discover stressors that I didn’t know were there – and I get them down too. This acknowledgement of the stress is empowering me for and I get a sense of control over them/it.
100% – there are stressors and expectations in life that I have ZERO control over. Accepting that – is empowering. One that comes to mind right off is the politics in the world right now. I have absolutely no influence whatsoever about the elections in the US, the tensions in the middle east or heck – even the politics of our own land – outside of my single vote. So I vote. Then – I do my best to not feed the stress that I feel about the rest of the world. I limit my intake of news… This is really the application of my wellness model.
I recognize my values by accepting my responsibility to vote and then taking the action required to vote. I am aware that I get “wound up” about the politics of the day and I take action to limit the amount of exposure I get to the news. I connect with others in my life that support my interests and views. I understand that I only have one voice and that my voice is important. I act on my commitment to my wellness by purposefully making my mark and turning off the news.
From there – I have done what I can, anything else is outside of my circle of influence. Trying to do more than I can – than I am able is folly. There’s an old Clint Eastwood quote “A man has got to know his limits.” and there is an undeniable truth and freedom that can be taken from it. I am only responsible for my space in my world. I can only do what I can do, I can only influence that which I have influence over.
I’ve spent mountains of wellness, health and energy in my life in concerns for which I have no influence. I can’t get any of that life back.
Now, I’m not going to blow smoke at anyone and suggest that managing ALL of the stressors in my life is this cut an dry – because it isn’t. I’m not alone in my experience – my life touches other’s lives. I have a responsibility to make sure that my life doesn’t create such a large “wake” that I swamp anyone else’s.
There are times in my experience – where I have to pull off the main highway I am on, into a rest stop and let the rest of world keep moving on… and that’s ok. Covey put’s it like this – “Take time to sharpen the saw.” Taking a little time in my life to be aware of the stress, the pressures in my life makes me more able to manage them.
The other piece that I will share is – when I first started taking inventory of the stressors and pressures in my life – I felt overwhelmed. I saw this huge pile of “stuff” on the paper and wasn’t certain, didn’t know, was clueless about how to deal with it all. This is where I leaned on my supports, took a breath, and started working one piece at a time. “The longest journey’s begin with a single step.”
Those who know me know that I am WOUND TIGHT! My stress bucket isn’t empty by any stretch and I’m not just cruising through my life without a care in the world… I have to work at managing my stress. So – recall that our bodies produce same cortisol for good or bad stressors… I know, in my life, I need to manage the stress… good and bad. Too much of that good thing – is a bad thing…
This week my challenge is:
- 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.