My mornings have a fairly set routine.
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.
just recently found your blog from a reference in MS Matters magazine and am very pleased to have done so. It is heart-warming to hear how other people with MS are coping and remaining positive and cheerful. I hope I have still got a GSOH but after 26 years with PPMS (I’m 67 but still feel 35) and have “progressed” from minor stumbling to house bound with Zimmer frame, it gets more difficult. When it takes a full hour just to get dressed, some times I want to howl with rage but other times I think “sod it” just keep smiling and keep on keeping on. What else can you do. Will keep following your blog, for which many thanks.
Hi there John,
Thank you so much for your lovely comments!
Sounds like you’ve got the right frame of mind. It’s weird, isn’t it – MS can split us either way. I could either go under or make the best of a bad situation. MS isn’t going to go away, but my attitude towards it can be ‘positive’! I too, often think ‘oh, sod it’ and smile. Like this morning when I lost my balance putting my socks on, lol.
Love the new phrase “mental flossing”. We all beat ourselves up in many different ways for varied reasons – and all for damaging reasons. My intentions are always good but…. anyway my favourite 2013 phrase of the year is ‘Brain Fart’ which describes ‘abnormal brain activity while performing a repetitive task’. Now, I do these frequently.
Couldn’t agree more about damaging reasons. I absolutely adore ‘Brain Fart’, and may nick it off you.
1. The Antarctic would be nice for the lack of heat.
2. Am trying the writing-down-worries-and-solutions technique, as soon as I have 3 months and the 42 reams of paper I’d need. hahahaha….. [trails off and weeps]
3. I’d like you to return my skeptic-o-nometer. Thanks!
4. SO glad it worked and you had a lovely, stress-free day!
Love that! I still try to do it every morning and it really does work. I am serene and calm. Until The Teenager wakes up, lol.