Healing Tools: Mindfulness

I caught myself being stressed out all day long with an accumulation of things: feeling inadequate, not being able to get the toddler to sleep, the dog barking so loud I’m sure I’m getting hearing damage, the ups and downs of my medication, and beating myself up for losing my patience.

I noticed a common precursor to my spirals into stress: a negative, usually self-critical thought: “You can’t do this; why are you trying to do this? This is too hard”, even “You stupid woman”.

Stress is a physiological response to a perceived or imagined threat. Something is a threat based on the the way I am interpreting myself in relation to my outer circumstances. When I believe myself to be weak and frail and doubt my ability to cope, more stress happens.

When I believe myself to be strong and resilient in a friendly universe, I can avoid some stress.

If I can catch the negative thought, I can prevent the negative spiral and not end up in a heap of despair at the end of the day. 

This fun project got thrown on the floor when he decided he was done. Grrr…

This fun project got thrown on the floor when he decided he was done. Grrr…

Today, I only caught it in hindsight. I didn’t follow my own wisdom of not trying to push through a downtime where my symptoms are significantly impairing my function. I had too many things I was trying to manage at once. I should have just abandoned trying to make dinner and kept my toddler occupied in a safe and quiet activity until Dad got home. And then I wouldn’t have had to yell when peas got spilled/dumped on the floor and saved myself spending an hour in a high stress state.

I am trying to catch the negative thoughts and improve my interpretation of myself. When I felt myself starting to get stressed about the larger-than-expected mess from an art project, I told myself: “You can handle this” instead of “you stupid woman; why do you do these things”.

I can’t always control my outer circumstances and I can’t always control how my body is feeling and functioning. I can work on managing my reaction to these circumstances and catch the thoughts that are creating a stress response in the body.

I am not a medical professional. If you are having trouble managing stress, or are experiencing physical symptoms, please seek professional help.

If you want to learn more I recommend the following resources. 

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course - find one offered in your local area.

I am not affiliated with these organizations.