Everything that we are exists in the present moment
Uncomfortable with our limitations we run
Into the bottle
The thin white line
Of roads or drugs or shopping carts
And empty hands
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
A life spent outside of ourselves is never enough
When a decision is made to instead allow the encompassing moment to enfold us
The realisation dawns
It is here
In this particular light and shadow
That we are born
Over and over
Undo the laces, take off the shoes
This moment is like warm water
rushing in to soothe
Let it wash over the roughest edges on the toughest of days
And wash them away
*I caught up with a friend for coffee Saturday morning. We both agreed that the previous week had been hellish. It wasn’t just us either, many people mentioned the same thing.
“Maybe there is a doomed constellation overhead or something” I said gloomily. I follow a little astrology sometimes, I know Mercury retrogrades and other what nots are supposed to cause havoc down here on earth.
Later I thought it over – labelled it a weirdly bad week and put it behind me .
Then Monday swung around and I can feel it building again. That nasty tense energy.
Sometimes we go through these things – we face these things. We grow from these things. I can’t think of any happy, peaceful time that has taught me much – these heavier days are necessary and they happen to us all. It’s a process.
We cope in various ways, some can be destructive if we haven’t learned a few strategies.
Need some? Here are some of mine and they will probably run counter to some you might have heard of
I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Alcohol is like pouring gasoline on anxiety. It annoys me to see characters in movies pouring themselves drink after drink as if they deserve it after a hard day. What they really need is something far less toxic. Yet this is what young people see, like I did, and they think “oh, this is what we do” I know, for years I bought into the “alcohol will soothe away that thing which ails you” myth too. The “Mummy needs her wine” is a particularly toxic myth levelled at us by the alcohol industry. I’m not against people drinking a few light beverages and having fun, but descending into dark places and waking up worse is no cure for troubles and actually exacerbates most issues.
I drink Matcha green tea – to make it involves a ritual I find soothing. You probably won’t see a moody character in a movie doing this. But it works and it’s healthy. Don’t like green tea? Try hot chocolate. Look I know it hasn’t got that perceived cool cachet of a glass of whiskey or wine – but it works and I don’t wake up feeling already behind the 8 ball before the day has begun.
So by now you have probably guessed I am not a smoker, a toker or a midnight shopping addict either. I don’t gamble or do drugs – this list may not be for you I get it and it gets worse (or better as far as I’m concerned) so, read on at your peril
Burn incense, the good stuff like Byron Bay incense – very soothing. Hate incense? Try essential oils. Hate essential oils? I’m sorry I cannot help you, everyone I know (including some very manly men) who I have turned onto essential oils are now addicted to them. I’ve become a dealer, although I don’t charge so – I’m still not the least bit edgy. It’s a harmless and healthy, deeply soothing practice. Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times and with good reason. It works.
I journal. Last year I swapped from paper to a Remarkable. It’s a digital notebook with the feel of paper, that you write on similar to a notebook. I like that it is less messy and paper wasteful. Yet I still hand write not type – the two have a different connection to the brain.
I feel I can write an entire 10 pages on why exactly the lady at the shop is bothering me – without causing a tree to be felled in some sacrificial ode to my angst. And, hopefully ensure privacy and prevent anyone from reading my journal in the future and thinking …my God this woman is mad. I’m not. Journalling is scientifically proven to be good for mental health. There is something soothing about unwinding the thought smudges and tangled emotions. It’s a conversation with self that allows our inner child or ego or whoever it is that is upset, to be heard and understood. I sleep so much better for it and am less blocked by unhealthy emotions that I can’t quite describe. If you can’t describe your exact fear or problem, even to yourself, you probably need to find a way. A problem revealed is a problem you can take steps to deal with.
I sleep. I place a heavy importance on sleep. If I can sleep properly then 90% of what is bothering me will have disappeared overnight. The problem might still be there, but the emotional toll is reduced. And that is the majority of what bothers us. I believe the phrase “nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so” comes from Hamlet. it’s very true.
I don’t eat. What? Okay that was clickbait. I eat according to a certain rhythm.
This has been the biggest game changer for me because I used to be an emotional eater (and drinker and shopper). I have been intermittent fasting for over a month now. Yes it’s new, but I already know I’ll eat this way for life.
One word peace.
There are many other superlatives – this one had my highest appreciation though.
I eat one meal a day only, which consists of a surprisingly large amount of food consumed within a 2-3 hour window and then I fast for 20 hours, sometimes longer. The peace, energy, focus and space I have found around this practice is incredible .
Food and the consumption of it, takes up a large proportion of our mental space. It takes up time and energy. If like me, emotions cause us to eat too much, or food of poor nutritional value – it doesn’t help us at all and actually drains our energy. Digestion is a major energy sapper and the chemical and hormonal reactions triggered by excessive amounts of sugars and processed carbs lead us to gain weight and become sick.
The other side of this coin is equally brilliant. Not only do I gain focus, clarity and energy from not eating for the majority of each day, and I am never hungry (in order to do this you must clean fast, black coffee and water only during the fast) when I do eat I get to eat whatever I want.
Every day comes with a celebration of food and it tastes delicious. Because by the time I eat, I am properly hungry. I eat nutritious, delicious food and as much of it as I want without feeling in the least bit guilty about what I’m eating. This never happened before my fasting practice as I was always worrying about sticking to some pre ordained way of eating – now it’s simple – I just eat whatever I want until I’m full and then I don’t eat again until the next day. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. There is further information at the bottom of this post if you are interested in this way of eating.
I talk to friends or family. Particularly my sister. A trouble shared is a trouble halved. Or something like that. It’s true, especially if they have a good sense of humour, or an even worse story.
My husband has a mate – another business man, they sometimes play the game of who is having the worst day. Surprisingly helpful and good for a bit of black humoured smirkery.
And someone is always having a worse day. Even if we don’t know them, rest assured, there are plenty of people having a worse day. I like to run through imaginary scenarios in my head, it doesn’t take long to feel better about my particular lot in life.
Cleaning – the idea has been around for a long time. Many cultures have rituals and rules around cleaning and I believe the reason why is because it works to make us feel better about ourselves, as well as being healthier.
I clean and order just one room if that is all I can manage time and energy wise. I’m not saying the chi is off – but I know I will feel better, get a little shot of dopamine and bonus, the house looks better, which makes us all feel better. And when it stops raining trouble, I can flop backwards exhaustedly and not have cleaning or some equally boring task still to do. Whilst going through hell keep walking, and clean up while you’re about it. The only way is through, carry some Norwex. Can’t believe I am saying this, because for most of my life cleaning and organising were so far down the ladder of priorities that it was nearly off it. It just works, so I do it.
Decluttering simplifies cleaning and simplifies life. It’s just as satisfying as cleaning, and twice as satisfying as shopping for more useless things to clutter up the house and wardrobe. I used to shop to feel better, now I declutter. It is far less costly too.
Sorry if this sounds boring. Growing up and becoming disciplined can be seen as boring. It’s not. That’s another myth. Hedonism and doing whatever we want becomes boring and is self destructive and weakening. It takes away our power.
Discipline is actually the ultimate act of rebellion against a world that tells you you should have everything and should buy it from them. Taking personal responsibility for your lot in life and changing it for the better is something that scares Governments. Autonomous, strong and healthy independent people are very difficult to control. We don’t need healthcare, we don’t need Centrelink payments, we don’t need an awful lot of the control measures that keep us sick and malleable. Luckily we are a largely sensible group that look after ourselves and don’t need controlling anyway.
The more disciplined we become, the freer we are. It’s a strange paradoxical phenomenon, and contrary to what we’ve been taught, and what the media tells us, but if you’ve made it all the way to here, particularly through the incense and essential oils (which I’m considering changing to the bottom because of their woohoo factor), you might as well continue reading because there isn’t much left and it’s all important.
Humour – black, white or brindle. It frees that weight to blow out of your system. I’m fortunate in that a bad day can often bring me out in little self directed sarcasm. If I can’t quite find my funny bone I watch Jimoin videos on Utube. The man is hilarious. But each to their own.
I’m extra kind and gentle to myself when I’m having a bit of a dusting by life. I speak nicely and if I don’t – well I tell myself off for being so mean and try to do better.
Being hard on ourselves is such a stupid reaction when we’re already down, yet I used to do it all the time. As if I’m somehow to blame for whatever malevolent force is loose in the air around me. It’s not helpful. Be kind. Go gently and the best part of doing this is that we automatically become much kinder to everyone around us, which makes them sweeter, and that can solve so many issues that would otherwise add to our stack of dirty plates.
I don’t just look after my present self, I look after my future self.
I learnt this tip from Mathew McConaughey in his book “Green Lights”. I fill the coffee beans and water in my coffee machine every night. This ensures my coffee making process is smooth every morning. I put my my clothes out ready for the next day. I do this for my partners future self too. In fact I look after my partners future self as well as I do my own because I want his future self to be a happier more organised person too.
I ensure that I “don’t leave crumbs” wherever possible. Meaning, I don’t leave crappy little untied ends that will come back to haunt my future self. Like unpaid bills, like unsaid words, like words that have been said that shouldn’t be, atonement’s not made, forgiveness not given. I don’t lie. I don’t do things that I know are wrong that will come back to bite future me. I do procrastinate in some areas – I’m working on that, I’m really working on that. I know it’s a problem for my future self, and I’m trying to deal with it now, so she won’t have to.
Future me is even more important than present me. I look after her in the hope of arriving into a better, fitter, happier and stronger future self when I get there. It works, even on bad days.
Bad days can turn into worse days if we don’t catch them when they begin to turn. When there is still a chance of salvaging them.
I have been known to take showers in the middle of the day if necessary to reset it if it is going down the tube. There is something about the practice that calms me, and because it is normally something I do as part of my after exercise morning routine – it works on some level to say “let’s start again”.
In winter I light the fire – always. There is nothing like a fire to soothe the soul.
Mostly, I try not to add to a bad day by assuming things and leaping to conclusions about things that are already out of my control. My mind is extraordinarily good at making up stories. I’m not great at turning the worry’s witches switch off – but I do quietly have to ask myself sometimes if I’m simply not making things up.
There is very little that is within our control – listing those few items can be helpful. A small list of things we can do, distilled and clarified is much more helpful than worrying about the enormous out of control world that is not our domain to deal with.
I am not good at passing things to a higher power. I wish I was, but I’m too much of a control freak. I sort of put all my mess in a box and send it addressed to higher up, but then I send tracking after it. I’ve never had the serenity to surrender: I hope some day I truly can. I’m becoming better at it. Still a ways to go.
I don’t use social media – that helps enormously. That is to say, I don’t use social media to distract me from a bad day. I have Instagram because I’ve lost the password and cannot get rid of the account because the Gods of Instagram won’t respond to my pleas to reset my password, or to close my account. I began deleting all my picture posts (thinking well I will just leave it blank then) but I got bored with it. Now it just looks kind of weird. I’ll get back to fixing it. I have Facebook, but I don’t use it for more than five minutes once a week, just to check on family members that don’t seem able to communicate in any other way.
Not using social media really helps a bad day by not triggering an even worse mood. And it is the loneliest place in the world if what you are seeking is authentic connection. For goodness sake don’t look there for anything genuine.
I think that’s about it
I hope my list of slightly odd coping mechanisms helps if you’re having a bad day. And know that, if you are having an awful time, an upswing should be arriving shortly.
There is so much beauty. Getting out into nature reminds us of this. Sometimes it is just ten minutes spent gardening or tramping along with a dog. The fog parts and the sun shines through. Metaphorically speaking at least. Nature and exercise are probably the best cures for most things. They deserve more than a summary mention at the end, but if you read this blog much, you would have gathered I’m fond of both of these and use them often.
Some resources to look up for Intermittent Fasting
Delay don’t Deny by Gin Stephen’s – her original book and global bestseller. If I hadn’t read this simple and well written story of Gins own weight loss (but the benefits of fasting include far more than just weight loss) I wouldn’t have begun my own
Feast without Fear – Gin Stephens
The Obesity Code – Dr Jason Fung
Intermittent Fasting Success Stories – Podcast
Lifespan Podcast series and book by Dr David Sinclair. I first became interested in intermittent fasting after listening to Dr Sinclair. It’s benefits for health and longevity and avoiding diseases like Alzheimer’s probably interested me more than weight loss. That said I’ve easily shed 7kg in the last month without even feeling like I’m trying.
Fasting becomes easy as long as you practice a clean fast. Black coffee, black tea or water only.
The first week will be odd as you lose the habit of meal times and snacks. Hunger may come in a rather convincing wave, but if you ignore it, it goes away within a few minutes. OMAD is not for everyone – it works for me but even fasts of 16-18 hours work very well for weight loss and health benefits such as a more rested digestive system, energy, clarity and some autophagy still apply, or so I believe.
If you would like to know more or have questions I’m happy to help though the books are your best resource. Drop a comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Header photo: a mud puddle shaped like a love heart. I can see it. Maybe because I tend toward looking on the bright side of life. Look for the good, it’s there. It might be in a mud puddle, but it’s there, even if the outline is indistinct, it becomes clearer the deeper we look, particularly when we look into ourselves.