I feel very depressed right now. I haven’t felt this sad in such a long time. When it hits, it really hits hard. I felt the downward spiral earlier this morning. I was laying in bed with a stomach ache, lethargic and looking for an excuse to do nothing. Then I got a text from a student’s mother. Cancelling tutoring for the rest of eternity. One of my favorite little ones!
Woe is me! I feel so lonely. I am alone. There is nobody. Nobody loves me.
Do you see how it goes? When the blue demon bites, he goes for the jugular.
When my husband asked me what he could do, I replied, “Slit my throat.”
Oh, but let’s just hold on a minute, shall we? When this electric blue thread begins to weave its way into my heart, I have to step back and assess. The first think I do is look to the physical.
ASSESS THE PHYSICAL
What have I been eating lately?
Have I been exercising?
Am I sleeping OK?
How about my meditation and breathing practice?
Zounds. I’ve slipped on all fronts this week, and the spiral was predictable and avoidable.
Here’s what I mean:
Exercise I usually walk an hour a day, five days a week but did about 30 minutes this week.
I’m feeling Seasonal Affected Disorder nipping at my heels. Have been waking up at 3 a.m. and am having trouble getting back to sleep. We just passed the Autumnal Equinox and the days are getting shorter.
Meditation and Breathing
I’ve been avoided my meditations. Is it boredom? No time? No energy?
I have been consuming sweets and carbs and things that go bump in my intestines as if the apocalypse was pending. Near nigh. Dragons at the gate. I can’t stop. I make special trips to the store for ice cream and candy. I don’t even taste the high-profile carbs as they slither down my gullet. Something needs to be done.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
Now that I’m done with the assessment, I make sure not to beat myself up for perceived failures. Last week, I chose to ignore the physical. The affects are clear and present. Now it’s time to return to center. I choose the JUST RIGHT life.
Next is the schedule.
Review it. Can I still do these activities on my schedule? Have I made it too hard to keep on track physically? What adjustments do I need to make for winter? How can I keep the routine from being, well, routine?
Reduce and eliminate the sweets, add healthy choices.
Start with 20 minutes every day, at least five times this week. Lengthen the walks next week. The main thing is to re-establish consistency.
Meditation and breathing
I love starting and ending my day with meditation, but when I sleep in, this is the first thing that gets cut. How can I re-dedicate myself back to a healthier schedule?
I’ve resolved to practice a walking meditation during my morning walks. I may need to retire a bit earlier in the night the evening or fall asleep listening to relaxation tapes.
It’s time to dust off the SAD lamp and adjust my morning schedule to include 30 minutes underneath this bright light. Seasonal Affected Disorder affects some bipolars and the “winter blues” can be debilitating. The SAD light helps the brain produce more mood elevating chemicals.
MY LIFE IS A BALANCING ACT
I can never take for granted that I am doing well. I must assess my moods and adjust my activities to help return to center. When I have a dramatic fall-off, it is almost always predicated by my slipping in at least three of the five major areas that I refer to as The Physical. The physical affects the emotional, mental and spiritual balance. Once I return to a routine of balanced eating exercise, sleep, meditation and breathing exercises, I usually feel better within a few days or weeks. The main thing is to forgive myself for being human, and to encourage myself to return to a Just Right Life.
Ann Christensen has begun her new book in the Mental Health Toolkit series: Goldilocks and the Three Energies: Manage your mental toolkit. She explores the physical tools of exercise, diet, sleep, meditation and breathing.