10 steps to let your body carry your mind
What doesn’t kill you doesn’t always make you stronger.
Sometimes life is more than you can bear, piling one stress on top of another. You barely have time to recover from one blow before the next one falls.
Holidays are often the most difficult time as you try to cope with high expectations that far exceed the resources available. You’re surrounded by glossy images of people and lives that don’t match your reality. It’s painful.
As a creative person, you suffer from creative block. New ideas don’t come and making anything at all feels like swimming through molasses. This only adds to your sense of failure.
You limp on, but every day is harder. It’s harder to get out of bed, harder to attend to commitments, harder to care about anything or anyone, including yourself.
You want it to end. Your spirit threatens to shatter under an immense load of bad thoughts, feelings, or events.
The sky is dark.
Your strength is gone.
What can you do now?
Maybe all your brain wants is oblivion, but your body only knows one thing. Even when broken, even at the extremes of pain and suffering, the body strives to go on.
Supporting your body can help your mind.
Often we neglect our physical wellbeing when we feel low. We’re caught up in mental and emotional battles. Our physical needs are just another burden to carry, so we ignore them.
Acknowledge those battles, and set them aside for now. Rather than being consumed by thinking and feeling, do something practical to help yourself.
You need to focus on survival. It’s strange but true; the mind rests easier in a body that is usefully occupied. You need both working together to feel better.
Mens sana in corpore sano.
A healthy mind in a healthy body.
10 Steps To Feel Better
- Get clean. Shower, wash your hair and brush your teeth. Then make your bed. This will give you a sense of achievement early in the day. If the day doesn’t go so well, you’ll have a tidy bed to come back to.
- Get dressed in fresh clothes. Wear something soft against your skin according to the temperature. Put on warm socks if you’re cold.
- Drink water. Cold, hot with lemon, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, whatever appeals. Then, drink more water regularly through the day. Even mild dehydration causes irritability and fatigue.
- Eat something easy like cereal, fruit, yogurt, or a sandwich. Missing meals can cause periods of low blood sugar, which in turn leads to symptoms such as anxiety, shakes, and brain fog. Eat little and often.
- Put on your favourite upbeat music to distract you from negative internal thoughts constantly running though your head. Wearing headphones can also help. You might prefer the radio, but avoid news programmes. The relentless focus on bad news stories is not helpful right now.
- Some or maybe all of your environment is out of control, mirroring your internal state. Pick a room where you spend a lot of time. Start in one corner and tidy up. Wash dirty dishes, put on laundry, and take out the trash.
- When feelings arise about the process, note them and keep going. Remember this is practical, not emotional. You can write them down which allows your brain to let go. Look at them when you feel calmer.
- If someone has offered their support and you feel able, ask them to keep you company and/or help you. Sometimes we don’t need someone to hold our hand as much as we need them to tidy the kitchen we can’t face any more.
- Go outside. Breathe fresh air, turn your face to the sun, stand barefoot on the grass and connect. If weather or other issues prevent this, open a window for a few minutes. Bodies need oxygen and sunlight.
- If you are able, get moving. A simple repetitive task like cleaning windows, mopping floors, pulling weeds, or walking can all help. Sing along with your music. You’ll feel calmer and achieve something, and that’s a double win.
Hard But Not Impossible
If you are feeling some December blues, or even depression, don’t fight it. Instead, do something for yourself. Be reflective. Let the emotions exist. And be encouraged that, like me, you can get to a better place, but it can take time.
I know this isn’t easy. I also know that you can work through this and come out feeling better than you do now.
You will be distracted by the pain. Tell yourself you will come back to it later, and concentrate on the task at hand.
Don’t try to empty your mind of all thoughts. Mindfulness means noticing your thoughts, letting them go, and returning to one point of focus. Imagine thoughts are like clouds in the sky drifting past.
Counting breaths or steps, reciting prayers or mantras, all help to still the mind.
Helping others can be very therapeutic. But we can’t give what we don’t have. Practise self-care so that you’re in the best shape to face the world. Making yourself your first priority is not selfish, it’s essential to your survival.
Remember we’re all different, and YMMV. Try different things and see what works for you. Return to it when life gets tough, before things spiral too far downwards.
Sometimes we sink deeper, and it takes more effort to climb out of the hole. Get to know your early warning signs, and act on them.
When you follow these steps you will find
- your body is comforted and nourished
- your environment is more restful
- your sense of control increases
- your mind is calmer
A break from pain frees up mental energy you can now use to address the underlying issues, with professional help if needed.
I hope you find something here that helps you move forward. This is not meant to be the only answer, rather it’s a set of suggestions to get you started.
But if you really feel you can’t go on and ceasing to exist seems like the only way out, please stop and reach out.
Help is available here. There is always another solution.
Sometimes, just surviving another day is the victory. Let your body carry your mind until you feel better.
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