I struggle with anxiety. I always have.
There are many reasons why – most too personal to share – but it has ramped up a notch since my little family has come along; more to worry about, more to care about, more at stake.
Not surprising really and I know many others feel this way. It has been hard to admit, but while I’ve been managing this side of me for a while now, my increasing worries and anxious thoughts are starting to get in the way of me fully enjoying my wonderful life.
My decision to share all of this via Mouths of Mums wasn’t taken lightly.
I feel that too often our Facebook pages and blogs and Twitter feeds are flooded with all our amazing-ness, and purposefully miss out the juicy real-life bits.
Well, I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit that while I often write about the positives on Latte Mum, I still stress about life too much sometimes, I worry too much about what other people think and I get anxious about getting anxious for no apparent reason.
I live in a beautiful world, in a beautiful life, with the most amazing people in it.
But sometimes, the long-gone sadness of past times or the future worries about things that will probably never happen will creep into my mind. Sometimes the list of chores and tasks and activities I think I need to do will overwhelm me.
Sometimes I feel I have no time to breathe or just be.
Sometimes it feels like the sometimes have become all-the-times. I’m not afraid to admit it.
So, I decided to do something about it. With PND ruled out, it was agreed I needed some tools that would allow me to better control the frantic and anxious thoughts that often swirled in my head.
It was suggested I bring the practise of MINDFULNESS into my life.
Thus my personal project to becoming a less anxious and more relaxed mum begins.
Never heard of Mindfulness? Neither had I. It is a form of meditation I guess, that seems to promise a fresh perspective on life, and a learned ability to focus on the here and now, while picking and choosing what thoughts you’d like to focus on and stopping the endless cycles of anxiety and franticness that is so easy to fall into.
It’s been clinically proven to dramatically help anxiety conditions and depression.
There are specialist therapists and group sessions and CDs and many other ways to learn Mindfulness, but I’m currently working my way through the book Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman.
Honestly, I am completely blown away by it and just had to share.
The book includes commentary and an easy 8-week program that requires nothing other than a little time each day, and I want to share my experience with you in case you too can relate to how I’m feeling now and want to join me on this journey.
Week 1: Feeling better already
So the program for week 1 has asked me to commit to 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted meditation per day (already I’m concerned I’m going to fail – where on earth am I going to get that time from, 2am?!) and to also study a raisin in focused detail for 10 minutes before eating it (quite an amazing exercise if you want to see what it’s like to have just one thought in your head at a time).
Day 1 proved to be the most ridiculously usual day with the kidlets. I was covered in splotches of yoghurt, mashed potato, blue playdough and sticky finger prints.
I had zero time to go to the toilet let alone meditate.
All I actually wanted to do that day was shut myself behind a closed door with my laptop and surf Pinterest with a bottle of wine at the ready (which I didn’t do by the way).
I honestly couldn’t see how anything was going to slow my frantic life down.
Despite all of this I forced myself to do my first 8 minutes of meditation just after I had dinner.
It’s only half the meditation I was supposed to do but figure it’s better than nothing. It was a very easy exercise and I did feel better for it.
No humming or weird yoga poses, just an exercise about focusing on your breath and trying to bring your wandering mind back to the inhale and exhale and the here and now.
By Day 3 I was finding it easier to make the time for the two rounds of meditations. If nothing else, it’s 8 minutes of quiet in a room by myself and I’m feeling good about doing something for me.
When I decided to do the “raisin exercise” on my children that day – not as in eat them (although they are very delicious) – but rather focus on them each intently for at least 10 minutes, I soon realised I already do this thousands of times, on an hourly basis.
I know every hair on their head, how the differing shades of blue cascade in each iris and the cheeky chuckle of one versus the infectious giggle of the other. They are both such perfect little people.
I also realised I have triggers that cause those feelings of anxiety to rise.
I feel it’s important to start acknowledging them and either choosing to ignore them or approaching them in a different way that might minimise the anxiety.
Triggers identified this week include: messy house (must ignore, it’s not that bad), one or both children yelling/screaming when we’re out in public (must ignore, they’re not that bad), people staring at me and judging me and my yelling children when we’re out in public (must ignore, what do they know?!) and terrible drivers on the road that look like they’re going to crash into my car full of precious cargo (not sure what to do about them yet).
By Day 5 my days suddenly aren’t as much about time and the ticking clock and how many checks I can put against my ‘to do’ list, but about clusters of moments.
Moments that are wonderful, moments that are challenging, moments that are mundane. Moments that last for seconds and moments that last for hours. Moments that are being enjoyed and lived as they happen.
At the end of my first week of Mindfulness, I’m amazed by how much has changed already.
I feel like I’m starting to see the world in a more matter of fact way – the past is gone, the future is unknown and all I have is this moment.
Just deal with this moment, don’t analyse everything else.
It’s time to move on to the next chapter of the book and a new set of Mindfulness exercises.
Any of you inspired to join me on this journey yet?