Mental Wellness Challenge
2022, February 22
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. I’ve been pre-occupied with “STUFF”… and very simply did not feel much like blogging.
In my last post I challenged you to:
- Watch a sunrise.
- Draw a geometric shape that represents how you feel. Then color it – give the emotions you are feeling right then – some colour. There’s no right or wrong for colors – I might see joy as yellow, you might see joy as blue, someone else might see joy as red. Maybe don’t try to “think” about this too much – maybe try to “feel” more about this.
- Encourage a friend, a co-worker, or even a stranger. Offer them some words of praise or encouragement. They might just need that little boost.
I hope you did well with the challenge – me – mostly well done – the shape and colour exercise is one I tend to struggle with a bit…
I’m usually up early enough to watch the sun come up. A few mornings over the past couple of weeks were fantastic sunrises. Some of our sunsets have been beautiful as well! Spectacular colors. I love seeing the sun just start peeking over the horizon in the mornings.
My shape started out simple enough. As I thought more about what I feeling – my shape started to get busier… in fact – really cluttered. I was drawing sharp edges, hard lines… it was interesting to me to see how there really wasn’t one overarching theme to my shape. I started to think about some of the “things” I have be taught or have learned on my own about my own mental space. The picture reminded me of what one of my psychologists had told me about the way some folks with ADHD experience floods of emotions. And/or that some people with ADHD (me) tend to get overloaded with feelings and emotions, that we (I) can have a difficult time sorting our feelings out. I’ll share more about “emotional dysregulation”…
I made a point of encouraging folks in my circle. This is something I try to do along the way – to make certain that I pay attention to the good work/s that I see all around me.
This week I’d like to share a little more about my experiences with my ADHD. I started sharing about emotional dysregulation. People with ADHD can and do feel emotion far more intensely than “neurotypical” folks. I can feel the burn of a “burn” for weeks after the person who made the off handed comment or critique made it.
As I am learning more about ADHD and the parts and pieces of the disorder, I am recognizing the places in my experience where my emotional responses to some events really weren’t congruent with the significance of it. I’m learning to slow my responses down – and try hard to not get swept away in the immediate flood of emotions the event is bringing forward.
I have noticed that I pretty much always down grade any euphoric moments and amplify what I see as tragedies. I don’t know why I do that – maybe it’s human character??? Maybe its just me. I’ve been a “cup half empty” sort of person for the majority of my years. Its only the last handful of years that I have been really trying to “change my mind” and see the brighter side of my experiences.
I am working it. I am working on me. I am making conscious steps to change the way I process my experiences. Charles R Swindoll wrote “I cannot change the inevitable. The only thing I can change is attitude. Life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.” I suppose I’m a slow learner – but I am learning.
So – if the majority of my experience comes back to my reactions to the stimuli – I sincerely do need to work more on getting in control of the way my emotions draw me from here to there to there. This is a really tough piece – Feelings are just feelings. Feelings are just feelings. This is true of thoughts as well. Thoughts are just thoughts. These are the CBT pieces that I’ve been working on – these are some of the pieces of my wellness model that I focus on. When my feelings influence my thoughts (or vice versa) and that then, fuel my actions – that’s where I can get into difficulties.
My wellness model helps me to account for the importance of my values, connections with family and friends, through awareness and acceptance. The model helps me to correct or address the incongruencies of my emotions and thoughts to what’s actually transpiring. I have to admit that this isn’t a 100% occurrence for me… far from it.. The truth is my emotional response time still exceeds my cognitive response time… perhaps as I continue to practice and become more accustomed to those few seconds of “hang time” before I react – I’ll get better at it.
So – how does that little exercise of drawing the shape of what I’m feeling and coloring it in work? I’m not 100% certain of the science behind it other than I know that when I do the exercise – I am forced to think about what I am feeling and make a picture of it. Then determine what I see – how I see it as a color. I know for me – reds, orangey yellows, bright greens are HOT colors. These are usually the colors that I attach to anger, frustration, disgust… my fear – usually a black or dark color… so I get a glimpse of the emotions I am feeling. Then again – red can represent passion… so then I that I think is where the shapes come in… I see/recognize the sharper shapes as more “critical”, edgy. More rounded softer shapes as warmer – even considering the colors. I just know this – the exercise gets me to slow down and think about what I am feeling rather than just letting my kettle boil and boil….
This week my challenge is:
- Stretch your body. Get up, touch the sky – get up on your toes and really reach for the sky. Bend over, touch your toes. Put your arms out to your sides and stretch out as far as you can reach. Wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a massive hug. Take a really nice deep breath in – down deep – fill up your lungs. Stretch three or more times each day.
- Read something – just for fun. Read an interest piece, a feel good story. Maybe some fiction. Take a few minutes to disconnect from the every day and melt into some words.
- Cut someone a little slack. Cut yourself a little slack. There is so, so, so much going on – on this little marble we live on… I don’t know about anyone else – but I can feel the tension – the anxiety, the pressure, the worry… so – ya – cut someone some slack… maybe that driver who cuts you off or the individual that is consumed in self thought and makes a mistake – cut them some slack – who knows – it might help you day along the way too…