I’ve been feeling off lately. The one constant in life is that things always change. Things can be going wonderfully for a while, but sooner or later a banana peel is going to land in your path. Normally I handle challenges well. I’m a doer; a fixer; a problem-solver. So if I can tackle something head on and conquer it, I come away feeling accomplished and steam right on ahead.
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and can’t be handled with a “dive in and knock this out” approach. That is where I’ve been for the last couple of weeks, and when I reflect back on it I realize just how much havoc that wreaked on my peace of mind. I’m doing pretty well now and feel mostly back to normal, but for about 10 days that was not the case.
I made mention of this in one of my last blog posts where I shared a blueberry muffin recipe, but I will tell the story here of what I did. I was at Michael’s house on the night of July 3rd. My hometown does fireworks that night so the rotary club members can enjoy their 4th with their families without all of the work of putting on a show. I took Ruby, my Cocker Spaniel, with me because it was too hot for her to be outside all day at home and I was 30 miles away so I couldn’t be there to let her out. That night we went straight to Michael’s house, so Ruby went there with me for the first time.
In the morning I got up to let her out. He has a screened in deck with a doggie door for his dog, but Ruby has never used one and didn’t know what it was. So I opened the door for her to get out into the yard and called her, but she was being nervous and sniffing around a deck that was new to her and wouldn’t come. So I went over and grabbed hold of her collar to pull her to the door. The deck right in front of the door has screen above it and it had rained the night before, so it was wet. I was crouched over, and when my feet hit the rain water they went out from under me and I landed hard on my tailbone.
I landed so hard that I got sick and threw up. I made it to the bed and laid down, and then I started seeing the familiar flashing lights of a migraine. My usual dose of ibuprofen that cures a migraine didn’t work this time. In short – it was a bad fall. It was the kind of fall that you can’t just walk off like I’m accustomed to doing when I hurt myself. I couldn’t sit, and I couldn’t stand for more than about 10 minutes at a time. All I could do was lay down with ice on it for a couple of days.
By the weekend I was finally able to be up and mobile for about 15-30 minutes before having to lay back down again. Saturday is my normal cleaning day, and I was able to do absolutely nothing. I normally get up and tackle it…I get my laundry folded and caught up, my floors clean, my counters and bathrooms all scrubbed, and sometimes even the yard mowed by 9am.
That Saturday, all I accomplished was making blueberry muffins for breakfast. 15 minutes to make them before laying down. Take them out of the oven to cool and lay back down while typing up a recipe post for them. 15 minutes to snap some photos of them, then lay back down to edit and finish the post. That was how my entire weekend went, and while initially I was making jokes about it, by a few days in it was taking a toll on my mood.
I was frustrated. I was disappointed. I felt useless, and I felt like I was missing out. My sister and her boyfriend came to visit and we initially were going to spend the day out at a local beach. Instead they took my boys to the water park while I laid on the couch. After they were done I took them downtown for ice cream, where I had to stand the whole time because all the chairs were hard and I couldn’t sit on them, and by the time we left I was sore from standing and aggravated.
I tried to keep in good spirits, but as the days went on with some pretty tough limits on what I could accomplish, my mood tanked. I am miss independent, and I’m not good at being restricted. I’m even worse at accepting help. Or maybe not so much at accepting help as letting someone help me while I sit back and do nothing. I’m more of a teamwork kind of person — I’ll gladly accept help as long as we’re working together, but I don’t like having someone just do it for me.
So there were several factors that went into my deteriorating mindset. Not being able to physically do things I needed to do. Not being able to get my workouts in. Having to let people do things for me. Not being able to go out and socialize with my friends. To add insult to injury, something else came up that triggered my anxiety during that time as well. I don’t think I realized how much it was affecting me until I finally reached a point this week where I could function close to normal again, and I realized that in spite of having most of my abilities back, my mood has still been a little cranky and I’ve been easily bothered by things.
Back in January, I did the Mindset Reset program by Mel Robbins that was free on YouTube. I recalled that program in the midst of all the chaos. I’ve gone back through some of the videos, and it occurred to me that I’ve become complacent. Several months have gone by since I did Mindset Reset, and my mindset has been so strong and positive since then that I fell into a new default and forgot a lot of the tools I learned, and I wasn’t paying attention to the signs that my mindset was falling into a crappy place.
So 1,000 words later, let me get to the meat and potatoes of this post: peace of mind is a forever job. As Mel Robbins herself says so many times — it’s a process, not an event. It isn’t a one-and-done. That is so undeniably true! I’d been in a great mindset for so long that I forgot, and when the anxiety came up I didn’t deal with it right away. In fact I did exactly what I know I shouldn’t do because it makes anxiety worse for me — I swallowed what I was feeling to help someone else. I buried it because I didn’t want it to be a burden that added to someone else’s struggles.
(Watch Mel’s video here on how to stop screwing yourself over — this was how I discovered her and I loved this Ted Talk!)
For me, one of the biggest ways to ease my anxiety is to speak up. If something is bothering me, I have to say something and get it out. The reason for that is one of the underlying causes of my anxiety was being in situations throughout my life where I couldn’t speak up and say what I thought or felt because I would be attacked for it. That created a fear of speaking up, and that fear created feelings of anxiety that still get triggered — and always will, because that is how anxiety works — when I’m in a situation where I need to speak up and don’t.
One of the other triggers for my anxiety is security. Or more specifically, feeling like I’m losing my security. And there was a situation that subconsciously triggered that in me (which was totally irrational, by the way, but that’s what anxiety does). I felt the anxiety come on through that lump in my stomach and muscle tension in my ribs. It lingered with me for a few days before I finally sat down and did the work to figure it out. That is another trick I learned about anxiety. Step 1 was figuring out what happened in my past to cause my anxiety (which I did previously with the help of a counselor). Step 2 is figuring out what event in the present triggered it. Then from there I break it down by asking — how did that event make me feel? Why did it make me feel that way? Finally, based on what I know causes my anxiety, why did it really make me feel that way?
I’m able to go through that process to break it down as far as I can get it, and once I understand where it’s coming from I can enact the tools to combat it. One of the biggest tools I use, I learned from Mel Robbins in her Mindset Reset program. Anchor Thoughts. Basically I disrupt the thought process that’s going on in my mind with a helpful and positive anchor thought that cuts off the garbage and places me back on a productive path. It interrupts the bad thought patterns that you’ve trained yourself to have during shitty life experiences, and it reprograms your mind to have new, healthy default thinking patterns. It works incredibly well, and I’m grateful to have learned those tools from Mel, as well as from my counselor.
If you struggle with anxiety, complaining, procrastination, negative thought patterns or ruminating, feeling agitated and getting easily worked up over things, or just aren’t happy with who you are or where you’re at in your life — first of all know that you’re normal. We all have things we struggle with in one way or another. No one has had a perfect life free of struggles and conflicts. Mel’s Mindset Reset program was life-changing for me, and that is why I wanted to share it with you. It’s something that I learned so much from, and I can see now that I will continue going back to it forever.
I stopped a small bout of anxiety in its tracks this week, and then I used her 5-Second Rule, or “do it anyway” mindset tool, to get myself back on track. After being down and bumming for a week and a half, it’s been a bit of a struggle to get motivated again. At first I was frustrated because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to. Then my mood dropped to the point that I was feeling lethargic and sloth-like and kind of just said screw it, I don’t even want to now. There have been several times this past week where I had to catch myself making excuses for why I wouldn’t, and say you know what — do it anyway.
I hadn’t been able to exercise and was beating myself up for falling behind. When Monday came and went without much physical restriction, I decided it was time to try some yoga again to figure what poses I can do and what I can’t. It took me until Thursday to actually do it, because I just didn’t want to. I was feeling that way about a lot of things this week. Maybe from the injury, maybe from the stress of dealing with anxiety, maybe from my crappy mood that was a culmination of all the circumstances combined. But I just didn’t want to.
Thursday after work, when I had planned to do some yoga and thought “screw it, I’m just going to get over to Michael’s house”, I stopped myself. I said nope, you’re going to do it. And I grabbed my yoga mat on my way out the door and did my yoga at Michael’s house while he mowed his grass. I discovered I can’t bend forward to touch my toes or put my hands on the ground, and I can’t do downward facing dog. But everything else I can do, and now I can work yoga back into my life. And you know what? It feels so good to know that I can do it again!
Mindset is something that can trip us up so easily, and we don’t even notice or realize it. But in all honesty, if we can master our mindset, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. So if this is something you struggle with, I hope that you will check out Mindset Reset, and that it will help you too. I’m definitely going to be using the tools over the next several days to get back to being myself, so you will probably be hearing about it again.
With that, I wish you all a wonderful weekend! I have a gardening post in the works for you, as well as a new Mediterranean Monday coming up first thing next week. So until next week….