Here are your expected outcomes for this week:
- Create a mindful morning routine to start the day with intention.
- Clarify your priorities in your daily journal.
- Relieve anxiety with deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
Tool: Cultivate Mindfulness
When you were first diagnosed with a chronic illness, did you feel like your world was crashing down? Like a performer juggling plates, did you begin to lose your balance and watch the plates drop and break, one by one, as you lost relationships, a career, physical strength, and eventually even your dreams for the future?
This is usually the point when people come to me in a panic, desperate to find out what they need to do to patch together those broken plates and start spinning them in the air again. The problem with that approach is that it will only lead to another crash in the future – one that will be even harder (if not impossible) to reverse.
The answer lies, not in patching together a former, defective way of doing things, but in creating a new, more balanced approach. A skilled juggler knows that he must turn his attention inward to build a stable and grounded core if he will ever succeed in keeping those plates safely in the air. What does this mean for you?
Today, busy-ness and disconnection are badges of honor.
We live in a modern society that is more insulated from nature than any previous generation. Women (and men) are out of sync with seasonal changes, monthly cycles, and a daily circadian rhythm. Their bodies are a mystery as they misinterpret basic signals for food, water, and rest.
When suppressed for long enough, the body’s cries escalate and signs and symptoms of serious disease begin to develop until they can no longer be ignored.
We are living in a culture that places emphasis on working hard and pushing through the pain. You are judged by your accomplishments and your productivity. The busiest people are rewarded the most and uttering the word “No” is often an unforgivable offense. This has resulted in a world that is stressed, sick, and discontent, despite significant technological, medical, and spiritual progress.
It’s up to you to break the cycle.
Notice how your thoughts and words define your reality. Before you tell me, “But I don’t have time for self-care!” ask yourself if what you really mean is, “I haven’t made self-care a priority.” Can you afford to not make yourself a priority anymore? How has this choice affected you in the past? Do you really believe that your health, your happiness, and your life aren’t a priority?
By paying attention to the moment you are in right now, by taking note of your external and internal environments, you are focusing on the present. As many spiritual practices would agree, the present is all you really have. “Each day has its own anxieties.” Reflecting on the past and planning for the future have their place, but excessive amounts of either can lead to depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness can help.
The practice of mindfulness in its purest form is not about emptying about the mind, but it’s about directing the mind and choosing what you pay attention to in this moment, preferably only one thing at a time (a stark contrast to the “multi-tasking” mentality that has been so popular in recent years).
It is time to shift your focus. Rather than tuning out, it’s time to tune back in to your own mind and body. It is a process that will require your wholehearted time and attention, but the goal here is progress, not perfection.
Katherine Housh, RN, BSN, HWN-BC
CWC Board Member