Archives for October, 2011
You know the story, an apple a day's supposed to keep the doctor away. But can a healthy diet also help keep depression at bay, too? Some researchers see a connection. And that's important, because sometimes depression's treated as though it's "all in your head." As it turns out, it may well be in your body, too. And, if that's the case for you, then it's worth investigating. So let's take a quick look…
I bought a pair of shoes a little while ago. They're red. They're great. They were the last pair in the shop, my size and on sale. Perfect. Well, not quite, actually, because they pinched a bit when I tried them on. But surely not too much. Surely they'd get better with time… I'll take them. But when I tried them on again at home (after wearing them around for days with thick socks on to stretch them), and they still pinched, I thought: "What planet was I on when I bought these?" And, instantly, I knew: "Planet Wishfulness." Have you ever been there? It's a trivial example, but it can happen anywhere - in relationships, in your work, in pretty much any part of life. Wishing that something would fit you, when it just doesn't ... not quite. For wishing can clash with reality; it can hide what's really going on; it can get in the way of you making decisions that might be really important to make.
You are not a machine. You’re mortal. Organic. You don’t come in a shape that will always easily slot into all the timetables and schedules and systems that beckon. That's probably no surprise. (And yet how many demands do you put on yourself sometimes?) So there might be times when you can’t “keep on keeping on,” or where maybe you don’t always have the energy to “push on through.” Where it’s not always so easy to “just do it.” Times, instead, where you might need to rest. Replenish. Respect the boundaries of your humanness – perfectly imperfect just as it is – and simply restore the balance a little. To stop treating yourself like the machine that you’re not…
Cloudy days will come. For you. For your family. For your friends. And not just the kind that dominate the skies above you. But also the ones that help set the weather within you. The internal cloudy days that send your mental and emotional landscape into overcast sadness. Cloudy days will come... I was thinking this the other day, when some of my family came to Sydney to visit. Even now, in spring, it was suddenly cold and wet again. And even though it was sun that we wanted, it was cloud and some rain that we got (as you can see in the photo). So what do you do when the internal cloudy days come to visit? How can you get through them? Or maybe even prepare for them? On this year's Mental Health Day, perhaps it's worth getting mentally meteorological and taking a look at what you'll do when your weather changes.
I came home tired the other day - flat. Feeling the pressure of all the tasks I "should" be doing. Hearing the list of responsibilities that were calling my name. The weight of obligation over pleasure or rest. When things start to feel like this, I tend to put my head down, my blinkers on and just keep ploughing through. It's as though there's no time to stop and breathe - that somehow I don't "deserve" to just yet. And life turns into a dead to-do list or a string of endless homework. Have you ever felt a bit like that? And then, as I unlatched the gate to home, something broke that spell. A simple flower. Or, actually, a rather complex one (the one in the photos). The way it was just blossoming all over the place, white spilling out purple and yellow, literally brought me to my senses again. It invited me to look closer: • at its petals and patterns • at this moment of light and colour and scent • at life as it is just now. So, in a way, it was mindfulness in action. And that's the thing about mindfulness. It's nothing "special." Yet it's immensely potent. It can reconnect you to a sense of the sacred even in the middle of the mundane. It's something you can tap into at any moment you like. And it can add untold fathoms of depth to even the flattest of days. How?
In Part 1 of this post, we looked into some of the tough parts of living with chronic pain - and some ways you can help yourself through it all. We ended up talking about pacing as being a way of still being able to do the things that are important to you, without having to hurt yourself to do them. Pacing is one of the core ideas of a pain management system (ADAPT) set up by the University of Sydney Pain Management and Research Centre. Pacing can help overcome a couple of cycles that many people with chronic pain get locked in: Pain > leads to rest and frustration > and when the pain eases again > you're tempted to do way too much all of a sudden (because you finally can) > which takes you back to pain again. Sound familiar?