Thursday, 16 February 2012

When you can't see the wood for the trees!

 Here are your two emergency mindfulness exercises to use as and when needed in helping deal with when we get stuck in our thinking and the worries start to make us feel ill with anxiety.

First sit in a chair and out loud talk yourself through what you can feel in your body.... foot on the floor, back against the chair etc. Check out if you are comfortable, if not change your position.
When comfortable continue the out loud dialogue and think about your senses.... what can you see, taste, smell and hear.
Then move to your mind.... how are you feeling? If ok, just sit with that for a moment and be now.
If not okay, using the metaphor of taking the problem out of your head and holding it in your hand, ask yourself what the feeling is?
Then ask what do you need to do with it in the moment..... is it related to something in the past? Can you change it in the here and now? Is it a worry about the future, can you do anything with it in the here and now?
The answer in the here and now is always nothing, as you are  in the moment  and that moment is where you are sitting in that chair.
So with the problem held in your hand in the same way as you moved your body to be more comfortable then allow yourself to be with the issue and to let it go, to slip through your fingers as if sand to the floor.
When we learn to be in the moment the self awareness of what we can do about any thought in our head makes us aware that there is more than likely nothing we can do as the issues are either always behind us or in front of us..... It's like the quote from Alice in Wonderland when she is at the Mad Hatters teaparty.... 'There was jam for tea yesterday, they'll be jam for tea tomorrow, but there is never jam for tea today!'

The second exercise is about what happens to our brain synapses when we are hooked into a problem. What we do when we focus on an issue is make our field of vision tunnel vision. All we can think of is the problem, we can't see anything else. So in affect all our brain synapses are firing in the same direction trying to make sense of whatever we are focused on.
This means that we got narrower and narrower in our thinking as our brain fights to make more and more sense of our problem.
This is damaging to us as we go round and round in ever decreasing circles.
So to change this thinking we have to get our brain synapses working in a different way, as if we are diluting the one way thinking, it offers us a more effective way to look at our issues and to reduce the power of the worry.
We all move around unconsciously, I talk with my hands all the time, even when I'm totally focused on a worry, so this does nothing for my tunnel vision.
What makes a change is if I make deliberate movements with my body.
Sofor example, if I am in bed at night I will start moving my fingers as if playing the piano. I will do this for a while, then stop and check out my worry, if it's still there I will continue with my hand movements for a while longer until when I check again I will find that the worry has dissipated. How this works is that, in making deliberate movements I'm increasing the activity in my brain and the synapses will be working to move my fingers and will no longer have the time to focus solely on my worry. And so reducing the tunnel vision and making the worry far less.
If it's daytime I will probably add walking around for a while whilst moving my fingers, or running up and down stairs, or dancing round the kitchen, anything that moves my brain. 
It works the same way as getting stuck on a crossword. You've stared at the damned thing for ages completely stuck. You walk away from it for ten minutes return and the answer comes straight to your mind.

Both these exercises work really, I know I use them all the time, and I get my clients to use them , who once they get into them are amazed a how effective they are.

What has to go alongside these exercises is deliberate time spent doing your psychological work that is, examining your feelings and letting them out and not swallowing them. So shouting out your rage, holding on tight to yourself (and your bear), and crying your grief out. Writing a daily stress journal to keep a safe place to acknowledge the pain, which then gets dealt with, and doesn't result in nonstop and debilitating trauma which makes it impossible to break out of the tunnel vision that is depression. 

If combinations of these techniques are used then we get mental health and not mental dis-ease. We get a balance of dealing with issues in a healthy way that allows us to feel more balanced. And everything works if we have balance.

 Wretched blog won't print this properly so sorry about the presentation but do not know how to format in usual way as wrote this originally as an email.


trousers said...

Oh this is very timely actually, I was awake for a while in the night feeling anxious about a couple of specific things. Should it recur I'll try and use your advice - thank you! x

nitebyrd said...

These are great techniques, Byrd! I absolutely can use them and WILL!

Thank you SO much!

cheshire wife said...

Where does multi-tasking fit in?

Mel said...

Yup. Techniques I use with students all the time. And with neurotic Brits that like to worry. LOL

Present company excluded, of course. :-/

GaynorB said...

At the moment life is a bit stressful at La Petite Presse. A very timely post ...

I'll let you know how I get on!

Paula said...

Tunnel vision. Dont like the dedscription, particularly as it is so very true! Second exercise reminded me of a certain exercise which used to help before and which I simply have forgotten. THanks for reminding me. Thanks for wident he tunnel again.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Such an interesting post Mandy, especially welcome as this comments problem is really stressing me out. I am now trying another tack having set comment moderation for after 60 days instead of never to see if that triggers any change but I am not hopeful. I just wish I was more technical!

Pam said...

That was a great piece of writing Mandy. Wish I'd known about these techniques and insights years ago. Whenh depressed or stressed I've always wondered about re-routing the brain but didn't really know how. Just felt it was something to ride through. I like that there are practical exercises that benefit and feel better equipped now.

Pam said...

That was a great piece of writing Mandy. Wish I'd known about these techniques and insights years ago. Whenh depressed or stressed I've always wondered about re-routing the brain but didn't really know how. Just felt it was something to ride through. I like that there are practical exercises that benefit and feel better equipped now.

Cait O'Connor said...

Very interesting. I have been reading books on mindfulness recently and I like your tips especially the rerouting of the brain by movement.

hannah said...

I've been slamming doors rather than gently play air-piano.
The cracks in the surrounding plaster are multiplying nicely :-)
I'm sure your way is better, especially late at night when trying to fall asleep .
I'm not joking: thank you for writing this down for this neurotic Brit.