Shower, feed cat, wake Teenager, coffee, make-up, brush teeth, wake Teenager again, find lost school tie, etc.
All practical tasks, aimed at making us presentable enough to begin a new day. But what about getting ready emotionally?
Woven in amongst these mundane tasks, my mind wanders unchecked, flooding my weary brain with worries and problems.
Why have I put on a pound when I spent yesterday drinking miso soup and eating apples? Will my numb arm stay like that all day? Why hasn’t the man of my dreams knocked on my door yet? These thoughts drag me down, meaning I always start the day at a loss, so how can I expect the day to improve, despite my presentable appearance?
Felicity Aston spent two months alone in Antarctica and created ways to deal with her solitude and the challenges that lay ahead. Rather than letting a negative emotion dictate her mood (and without anyone to help rein them in), she practised ‘mental hygiene’, or psychological housework, every morning.
She would ask herself if she had any worries or doubts lurking and would mentally deal with them before getting on with her day. I read the article with piqued interest.
Ok, so I’m not trekking through the Antarctic, but I am alone a lot of the time and like most of us with MS, each day is a series of physical challenges. We could do without the extra emotional baggage.
I tried this yesterday, with one eye on the skeptic-o-nometer. Normally I start worrying in the shower. I wake up with no problems, but by the time I’m washing my hair, I’m a whole bundle of stress. I decided to just concentrate on the shower, nothing else.
Downstairs over coffee, I mentally sorted through my brain. Three major worries. I wrote them down and next to each of them, jotted down exactly how I could tackle them. It was that easy. By transferring those seemingly insurmountable problems onto paper, I had released them from my mind. They no longer had the power to cycle endlessly through my brain, colouring every thought.
And you know what? I had the most productive, most stress-free day I’ve had in a long time. Those five minutes I spent gave me a whole day off from worrying. Which gave me more time to concentrate on important things like….well, just enjoying life.