Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Procrastination, Fatigue, Overwhelmed?

Let me begin this short thought piece with this clarification, which is you know your body better than anyone else.  Well, hopefully you do.  Maybe, there are some people that are not in touch with their bodies, so they are not sure when to rest and when to be active;  but, I fully believe one can learn to know.  Also, when in doubt, take baby steps and see how you feel.

Today, I have a job to do that I put off for
  • when I wasn't tired.
  • when I didn't have something more important to do.
  • when I felt like it, which has nothing to do with how my body feels.
What I have found is putting off what needs to be done, just makes things worse.  Whether it is picking up in your house, cleaning, writing a letter, making a phone call, getting that new router up and running, filling your weekly pill container, or any other chore you can thing of, it helps to pick one job and start it with a small step.  One little step is the beginning to moving forward.

If I have hit a rocky road on my path to moving forward, I am still ahead of where I used to be, because I am building on the habits I had begun to establish.  Even if I have steps backwards, I can use the same method of baby steps to return to keeping my house clean, getting rid of clutter, or any other job that needs to be done.  Wallowing in guilt or failure is really not an option.  It just keeps me frozen.  I cannot wait until I feel "mentally" ready to get the job done.  The step seems to be the thing that has to come first for me;  then, the mental readiness gets easier.

This is written from my personal experience.  It is my opinion, and it is not meant to be a diagnosis for changing anything in anyone else's life.  I am simply sharing that by actually taking a small step to get something done, I am able to feel less overwhelmed.  Taking baby steps helps me to break the cycle of procrastination.  It encourages me to get moving and to move forward in my life.

I hope small steps will help you move forward too.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Relaxing into Change, Not Fighting A Battle

This morning, not soon after I woke up, I started thinking about the title of yesterday's blog post, Fighting the Battle.  Sometimes, the word fighting may evoke angst and anxiety in individuals.  Personally, I think a constant battle would be exhausting, both emotionally and physically;  therefore, I think it is wise to have way to reframe thoughts on the words I am telling myself.

When I used the term fighting the battle, I was thinking of the grit it often takes to get on with life.  However, that grit does not have to require raising one's cortisol level, nor demand pushing through despite any pain and anxiety you may feel.  You may actually prepare your brain better for what you want to achieve by relaxing first.  Here are some ideas I have used.

  • Get comfortable in a relaxed sitting position.  You can gently recline if that is best for you.
  • Take easy, deep breaths.  Breathe in through your nose, and Count 1, 2, 3, 4.  Hold 1, 2, 3, 4.  Let breath out through your mouth 1,2, 3, 4.  Repeat several times.
  • Picture one thing you want to achieve and the steps to do it.
  • Now, envision doing the first step and do just that one step.  You can continue on in this manner through each step, and you may find that what seemed so hard to do is easier than you felt before you changed your mindset about it.
Another method I have used that gives me some visual cues to encourage me when I don't feel like cleaning house is focusing on one or two things that I want to do.  Say I want to clear the dining room table of the stack that has grown there -- I can pick up an item, then put it away or throw it away, as I walk through that room.  After I have done this several times, I have often been able to see the difference and I have not felt overwhelmed.  In fact, I usually want to do more.  

Note that it may take more than one picking up trip by the table to see the difference;  however, congratulate yourself when trying this for taking each step:  it's a good feeling and rewarding to see the pile get smaller.  If you have a physical disability that requires pacing yourself, then make sure you limit the time spent working to your present ability.  After a while, you may find you have built some physical endurance from the activity, as well as having eliminated the overwhelmed feeling you used to get from believing you have to clean the whole table or clean the whole room at once.

These two methods, that include preparing yourself to get a job done or simply picking one focused thing to do, are techniques that can help you break out of feeling frozen in a do nothing or a do little state without overwhelming pressure.  This is relaxing into changing habits by a slow immersion, rather than pushing yourself into an anxiety attack.  These are easily applicable Baby Steps that can be expanded into longer steps as you feel more comfortable with the habits you are working on.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fighting the Battle

It often seems like the battle is never ending when you have a chronic illness.  Even when you have been seeing improvement, there are times you feel like you cannot throw off all the cords that have bound you.  It seems they tighten and pull you down again.

The only thing I can say for getting through this is "keep on fighting."  Rest between bouts; then, start moving forward again, one step at a time.

You may think that is easy for me to say.  No!  It is not!  I know this, because I live it.  I am living it right now.  I am having to modify my behavior to fit my situation, and it is not easy.  I start retreating into my little turtle shell, only wanting to be in situations where I feel comfortable, which is mostly at home;  and, my step backwards throws me back into a loop that means I am having to regain ground on the habits I thought I had fixed.

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you ever had a relapse and ended up sitting around in your pajamas too much?  Have you seen your house get a little messier (maybe a lot messier), and you have not cleaned your bathrooms and other areas as often as you normally do?

Have you ever had another member of your family become ill or had some other prolonged situation arise that sapped your strength and emotions?  I bet I could name many things that may affect how you are able to handle your illness and responsibilities.  However, the point I am making is not about what affects you, but what you do when you realize how far you have fallen from where you were.

I can write about the backward steps from experience, because I have lost count of how many times this has happened to me.  Moreover, I am experiencing this now.  I am having to climb my way up again, and it is worth it.  My brain tries to get stuck in the old ruts and loop back into what used to be the chronic illness norm for me, which is quite depressing.  Some of that dread I used to to feel in the morning upon awaking has tried to creep back into my life, and I am having to make behavior changes that include telling myself that the feelings will pass and it will be a good day.  Praying and thinking of scripture before I even get out of the bed has helped too.

The point is not to give up, because there is still a race to run.  It may be a very slow walk with one heavy foot in front of the other, but it is doable.  It can be done, even when you do not immediately see large scale results. In fact, you may never see large scale results, but you can feel good whenever you take a baby step forward.

Here are my daily basic steps forward this week, and I am not limited to just these steps.  In fact, I have already been able to achieve more.  I am not listing obvious steps like self-grooming, eating, or taking medication and supplements;  however, one certainly can do this when planning one's goals for the week.

  • Get dressed in something other than pajamas.
  • Do stress relieving exercises, such as slow counted breathing patterns.
  • Focus on one household chore at a time, and do not think about how much more needs to be done.
  • Enjoy reading my book without guilt.
  • Take a short stroll outside, because it is better than sitting in the house all day.  
  • Do not talk negatively to yourself about all the things you have not done.

These are my goals.  What are yours?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Avoiding Work or Any Other Thing in Your Life That Could Be Good For You

Do you ever have a day that you feel fine, but you really do not want to do any of the things you could do?  I think I hit that day today.  I really don't feel like I have done much that is significant:  it has been my lull during the middle of the week.  I feel great, but I realize I have used all kinds of avoidance techniques when there are obvious things I could do around here.

Do you know how to read the signs of avoidance?  Do you blame it on fatigue or the blues?  Do you know how to make yourself do some of the things you are not getting done?  Do you really want the day to just slip away?

Here are some of my obvious signs of avoidance.  Please keep in mind that I feel fine.

  1. Staying in my p.j.'s.  Yes, I know pajama days are a valid way of resting, but sometimes you just have to get regular clothes on to get moving.
  2. Staying on the computer too long.
  3. Walking by that bedroom chair that is piled with clothes.
  4. Walking by that full clean laundry basket.
  5. Starting to do a small cleaning project and getting conveniently distracted.
  6. Thinking of all kinds of things you Could do, but staying on the computer too long.
  7. Feeling bored when You have lots of things that you could do.
  8. Feeling guilty that you feel good, and you know you could get ahead on your work;  but, you get a cup of coffee or some sort of snack to munch on.  (That is one I try to avoid.)

I think I could probably come up with a much longer list, but I am tired of avoiding stuff.  I think I am going to set my timer and do #8.  After that, I will reboot my laundry or maybe I will do that first.  Then, I am going to shower and wash my hair.  I have really been avoiding that one, because it is cold here.  Also, I am going to take the time to pat myself on the shoulder for the things I have gotten done, rather than feeling a vague sense of guilt and wondering if someone was judging me for sitting around a good part of the day.  In fact, I am going to go ahead and congratulate myself for getting up today at an earlier hour,  which is something I have been working on.

Here goes.  I hope this will encourage you on one of your days of avoidance!!!!