Good morning, Brain Fog

Monday morning. Had breakfast and a large cup of coffee. Brain feels like it’s stuffed with cotton balls.

So instead of remaining in this fog, it’s time to examine it, and maybe even talk to it. Time to suspend reality for a few moments….

Me: “Good morning, Brain Fog. I’m noticing that you’re back with me today.”

Brain Fog: “Yep, it’s me. You had a long and sort of blah Sunday, and I thought it would be a great time to stop by for a visit.”

Me: “If you’ll give me a few moments,  I need to think about why you might be visiting today.” (pause) “It seems like you’ve brought your partner Anxiety with you this morning. My shoulders feel a little stiff and my jaw is tight. My breathing is a little shallow compared to how it feels when Anxiety isn’t around.”

Brain Fog: “Smart woman. I wasn’t sure you’d notice today. You’ve been doing some avoiding lately, and that makes me and my friends stronger.”

Me: “You’re right about avoiding, now that you mention it. Avoiding paperwork, avoiding making and/or returning phone calls, avoiding doing laundry, avoiding church yesterday…. It’s because whenever I think about doing those things, Anxiety jumps right up and starts doing its thing. I don’t like how it feels when Anxiety visits.  I don’t like the physical feelings, and I don’t like the thoughts. Sometimes you guys even gang up on me like today. It’s a lot to handle.”

Anxiety: “Yeehaw! I knew today was a good day to visit. You can’t avoid me. I’m too strong and persistent. Bwahahaha!”

Me: (Stops to take a long deep breath) “Hold it right there, mister! You can’t come sneaking in here and ruin my day. I’m in charge of my body and my thinking!”

Anxiety: “Could have fooled me….”

Brain Fog: “Busted….”

Me: “Okay, here’s how today is going to go. I’m taking a 5 minute break to do some deep breathing and get centered. I’m going to say a quick prayer to ask God to help me relax, refocus, and to catch you two when you try to sneak back in. I might even take a quick walk to the mailbox for some fresh air. When I come back, you guys are outta here! For the next 30 minutes I’m going to tackle some files and get some work done. I’m not going to surf the Internet. I’m not going to read headlines on my RSS reader. I’m going to be relaxed and focused. At the end of 30 minutes I’m going to give myself credit for accomplishing whatever is done.”

Brain fog: “We’re gonna come back, you know. We’re sneaky like that.”

Anxiety: “You won’t even know what hit you. We’ll definitely be back….”

Me: “I’ll be on the lookout. I’ll be paying attention to my body for signs of tension and stress. I’ll notice when my brain just wants to play on the Internet instead of tackling the pile of work. As soon as I notice you guys, I’ll take some action to relax and focus, and out the door you’ll go again. I’ll be waiting….”

Unusual, I know, but I’m feeling more focused now that I’ve checked in with the inner self and challenged those buzzards. Anxiety and Brain Fog, be gone!

Peace to you today.

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Doing what is possible

I did not do the impossible, I just did all that was possible at the time.”  Miklos Nemeth, an economist who became the Prime Minister of Hungary in 1988, was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain which divided Europe during the Cold War. (See BBC article “The man who pulled the Iron Curtain”.)

Sometimes when I’m struggling with depression and anxiety, the mile long to-do list is way too overwhelming and nigh impossible to accomplish. Nemeth’s words bring up all kinds of parallels for my own life, ways to take little steps to get bigger things accomplished.   Time for a list:

  • Make today’s to-do list do-able. Pick 3 small to medium projects that I can actually accomplish, and then tackle them one by one. (Credit for this one goes to a good friend who mentioned this very idea just last night. I’d include her name, but I’ll have to ask her first.)
  • If projects seem too overwhelming, pick 3 small actions/jobs that are do-able and then tackle.
  • If even that seems too difficult, pick ONE job and go for it. Then pick another one.
  • There have been moments where a whole job is too much, and breaking that down further is the only way to get something done. For example, I might pick up 10 things around the house that need to be put away (I am queen of clutter). I might get myself to just start ONE load of laundry. Or just take out the trash. Or clean off the coffee table. Or pick up magazines in one room. Or do dishes for 5 minutes.
  • Even then there are the days where it takes all I can do to get out of bed and brush my teeth. But setting goals that are very small and manageable are critical to getting through the day in one piece.

One final important thought about breaking tasks down into steps that are manageable and do-able. I must, must, must give myself credit for accomplishing even the smallest task. If I beat myself up for not accomplishing something, I feel worse and the guilt cycle starts. If I say to myself, “Hey, you did it. You got something accomplished.”, then I’m being kind to myself. I’m choosing a positive message. I might even be able to tackle the next little thing on the list. And then the next thing.

Peace to you today.

Self management

Self management....
Self management….

Looks like it’s that time of year again to change the desktop wallpaper to something a little more… meaningful.  Last year I found a website (wish I could remember the URL) called Street Sign Generator that lets you create your own street sign pictures and choose a background to match.

For a little while at least, I’ll be using this on my desktop to remind me to stop drifting in the mental fog and pick something small to accomplish. (And then pick another thing, and another….) I’m not trying to beat myself up, just using a little humor to help with self management and get something done. Reminder duly noted. Getting to work right now.
Peace to you today