When You Feel Out of Control
We can think about what food we feed our body, but what can we do to create good mental health? The truth is more than we are aware of!
Awareness is the key idea with mental health. How am I feeling in the moment? This seems especially difficult with the demands of daily life whether the stress comes from work, care giving, illness, relationships or other factors.
Being a “sandwich” parent caring for my family and my aging mom, worry creeps into my life frequently. Working on letting go of the worry is an ongoing process.
So how do I manage the worry in my life?
Last week, we took an amazing hike in the woods with my hubby, our daughter and her fiancé. It was a beautiful day!
Well, I felt the queasy feeling rise up when I accidentally hit some thorny branches while parking our rental car for our hike. My family quipped that I was scratching the car.
There it was…worry! I worried about the potential scratch on the part of the car I could no longer see while it was parked. Then the phone rang…it was my special needs daughter who calls me frequently…the call dropped.. I was worried again because I was across the country from her!
My son calls from back east…the call dropped…no cell service in the mountains…again worry! Oh boy…why was this feeling coming to ruin my day!
The emotions welled up…the family, a bit frustrated with me, pointed out that the truth was even if I knew what the calls were about, there was nothing I could really do and the car…well…it did not matter!
After a few minutes, I allowed myself to exhale all of the unproductive thoughts and enjoy the few hour hike with my family.
Later, I saw there was no significant scratch on the car and the kids had just called to say hi and tell me what they were doing.
This week, as I sat in a solid cinder block building about to co-lead a coaching group, a major storm began to broil visibly outside the window.
My co-leader expressed her fear with storms. I noticed my heart rate increased. I began to chat cheerfully in an effort to calm myself as well as the others in the group.
The participants were awesome and began the session without being further distracted by the storm. We all noted the power of using mindfulness techniques when situations like this arise.
I felt myself consciously let go of what might be happening at my home. After receiving a few texts that family members were safe, I was able to bring my attention fully to the group.
I was grateful to be able to go home and find my home safe although I was without power. The storm had caused significant damage on the streets near my home.
I work on recognizing what I can control and what I cannot control in the moment and use mindfulness to let go of what is not serving me.
Using awareness in the moment helps save our energy and helps the mind to release thoughts that are creating excess stress.
Here are some steps that are helpful in the moment when emotions seem to take control:
1) Notice what you are feeling
2) Identify what causing the feeling
3) Identify what you can control
4) Release the thought behind the feeling-Develop a breathing technique-Give yourself permission to release the thought
5) Create a new thought that feels better. Remember the new thought if the feeling rises up again
Develop a regular mental health routine. Give yourself permission to take time to do fun things for yourself. Include exercise, yoga, biking, hiking or any physical activity you love.
Take the time to enjoy life with those you love and practice being fully present. Your brain and your loved ones will thank you!