Now that the kids are back to school, I’m finding myself sliding back into old patterns which turns out are crucial to maintaining my mental health. Oh how easily I abandon all routine. I don’t know what it is but when my kids lounge around, I lounge around. When my kids can sleep in, I seize that opportunity to sleep in with them.
You get what I’m saying.
Off to school they went this past Monday- and every day since- and I am sitting at my kitchen counter intoxicated by the smell of my “pumpkin sweater” wax melts reflecting on how I thrive when I maintain a little meditation and a whole lot of mindfulness.
These past few days I’ve woken up and reached for my journal and my yoga. I am feeling more refreshed even though I am waking up earlier and staying up later. And my mood…oy. Let’s just say over the last few weeks it hasn’t been great but the last three days, it’s been better.
I have patience- I mean I’m still human so I only have patience up to a point- but when I’m deep in the anxiety I have none so some patience for me may as well be all the patience for others. This realization, or mindfulness if you will, has me making all the promises to myself that I won’t ever, ever get out of my coping mechanism routines. Like next summer will be the summer I maintain.
I think what it comes down to is that I am an ‘all or nothing’ type person. I lack middle ground. That’s true of every part of my being from my relationships to my emotions to my coping strategies. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything but just in case you can relate, just know that you aren’t alone.
What I really wanted to share today is that I have come to the conclusion (once again) that there are certain things I need to do in order to start my morning. And when I am consistent, my depression and anxiety seem to be in check which in turn makes for a better day. That’s not to say that just because I do the things means I never have episodes of anxiety or depression. They are just…better managed. And overall, more bearable.
And because I’m a writer and think I’m clever, I am going to refer to these as the M&M’s. Now if I was really clever, I’d figure out how to turn that play on words to encompass three M’s because really they are the M&M…& M’s. Ok, I’m moving on from that now and diving right into what I think we can do to help keep our brains more balanced with seretonin (in addition to any medications we may find ourselves needing because there’s still no shame in store bought seretonin).
Long story short, they are meditation, mindfulness, and movement. Might I add that yoga will give you all of these.
But I’m not gonna indulge in the amazingness that is yoga because, well I need to give a quick side story to explain.
This weekend I was involved in a family Zoom call and somehow I weaved the topic of yoga into the conversation because well, yoga is life. In the midst of my hard sell my sister actually uttered the words “I hate yoga.”
I am still recovering from her confession.
While I was trying to lift my chin off the floor she added insult to injury by telling me why she hates yoga. Like she has actual reasons.
So. Apparently there are some people who are adamantly against yoga and as a result I thought I would offer other ways to get your M&Ms in before going about your day and even if it is yoga, I won’t call it yoga, mmmmkay.
Meditation. So if we put the M’s in an order of occurrence, I think meditation might be the way to start. This can be a tricky one, I think. I have mentioned before that meditation used to provoke my panic attacks. Honestly, it took me a solid month of practicing meditation- and dealing with the subsequent panic- before I found any benefit in it. Also, I find that people think of meditation from like the movie images where you sit criss cross apple sauce, thumb and forefinger mashed together while the rest of your fingers are all stretched out and your eyes are closed and you are sitting there repeating some mantra- like “ohm” over and over. It’s taken me awhile to arrive at the conclusion that meditation is actually bout finding the silence around us so we can embrace the stillness within us.
What if we stopped trying to meditate and just like turned off our electronics and logged off our social media? What if we didn’t scroll our phones first thing in the morning? What if we took time to indulge in a higher powder at the start of our day? What if we practiced gratitude upon rising because even when all the shit around us or in us is falling apart, the fact that we wake up and are given another opportunity to try again… maybe we can find gratitude in that.
All that to say that sometimes meditation can look like taking deep breaths. Like just breathing in until your lungs are so full they start to burn, and then holding that breath until the need to exhale becomes so overwhelming that you can’t resist the urge and then breathing out until your belly button meets your spine. And then doing that a few more times. You might just notice an actual change in your nervous system. I know I do.
Mindfulness. Next up is being mindful or aware. Like really aware of what is happening around you and in you. And giving yourself time to process it all. So, I am going to try to paint you a picture of what mindfulness in the mornings look like for me.
I drink my coffee quietly in my dimly lit living room because my life requires me to wake up before sunrise. I like to sit in the corner of my couch between the arm rest and a stack of pillows and cuddle under a blanket. And then I just give myself permission to observe. It usually starts with my observing what is happening around me. Like my dog cuddled up on the opposite side of the couch snoozing and snoring. And me seeing the sun trying to rise and bringing light in through the creases where I missed closing the drapes the night before. I usually notice that my carpet is in dire need of vacuuming and could really use a good old fashioned cleaning. I am also privy to the fact that I should probably get better at dusting things like coffee tables and light fixtures but who really has the time for that shit. I always notice the dishes in the sink and the dryer tumbling away while water simultaneously pours into the washing machine. And I think about how much I hate dishes and laundry but remind myself that if I could just find the inner strength and stamina to do a load a day then I might be able to keep the sink clear and hampers empty and my sense of clutter and mess would drastically reduce because for some reason a clean sink and empty hamper is my one measure of whether or not I have my life together.
Once I take the time to notice what is happening around me, then I can usually turn inwards and peel away and what is happening within me. And once I have acknowledged my environment and taken stock in my emotions, then somehow all the chest tightness untangles and the brain fog lifts and everything just feels more manageable. I feel like mindfulness is comparable to unclogging a drain. It gets rid of all the stuff that keeps the water from flowing freely. So 10 out of 10, recommend.
Movement. This is another tricky one because it seems like people are overall resistant to the idea of exercise. Like suggesting someone exercise is a personal attack on their physical appearance. Or at least I have been conditioned to interpret it in that manner. Let me just say that I am not a fan of traditional exercise. I do not enjoy being short of breath and sweaty. I mean, that is essentially my baseline because, anxiety, so why would I willingly participate in activities that produce those results?
To all y’all who feel me: I would like to offer that movement can be anything that serves us. From stretching to walking to running to going to the gym to yoga (had to), we can participate in activities and movement that fill our spirits and elevate our mood.
I find that when I am more mindful, I am able to tune in and hear what type of movement my body is needing and then I am able to respond and then I just feel better. Like I wish I had a word for “better” that really drove the point home but all I can think to say is that it just feels good to move in a way that my body needs.
And maybe that sounds hokey, or “crunchy” to use a modern colloquialism, but don’t let that stop you from exploring how you can utilize movement to benefit your overall well being.
So there you have it. Those are my suggestions for kicking anxiety’s ass and alleviating some of the side effects that depression has to offer. And to end this thing I’d like to leave you with a quote from a Yoga with Adriene practice that just so beautifully sums up everything I’m trying to say:
“When your mind wants to quit, see what happens when you stay.”
Keep going friends. Relentlessly engage in the things that serve you and recklessly abandon the things that don’t. I promise it’ll be worth it.
I don’t know what prompted this but Rebel Housewife has been hopping with views this past week! And while I’m not actively seeking validation through views, it is nice to know that people are stopping by to visit!
So, I just wanted to say thank you for being here. Thank you for reading these words. And I really hope that you find them helpful and encouraging and validating because really what this space is about is letting you know that you aren’t alone in the trenches and there is light in the darkness.
That’s all the clichés I have for today but in light of this information, I do want to insert a shameless plug. If you’d like to keep up with Rebel Housewife‘s monthly-ish newsletter, I’d be honored for you to subscribe!