My mind just doesn’t work. I have come to understand that when this happens I need to STOP and ASSESS what is actually going on for me. Usually, it’s that I have a million things going on in my mind and I am operating on overload.
It happened earlier this year when my dad had a serious accident. With any traumatic event, at the onset, it feels very overwhelming. In my experience I was flooded with concern for my dad, for my mum, for their business, for their welfare, for their mental health, their ability to understand the situation……….. the list goes on and on.
I was totally absorbed in taking care of the situation. As the eldest I also saw it as my responsibility to take care of the situation, not that it was, this was a self-imposed pressure.
As well as all of this, I was updating family on Dads progress and I was researching and investigating all that I could to help me understand the situation. I was going to work trying to show up to a stressful and demanding job.
When all of this is going on, something has to give and eventually it will.
I was at the hospital first thing in the morning to catch the Doctors, going to work and then going back to the hospital where I would stay until late. At work I was trying to find time to call services and felt a pressure in doing this being away from my desk and often on hold.
I was getting it done, but it was doing me in.
Here’s the thing, no one is immune to the affects of stress. The moment of realisation came for me after Dad was transferred to another hospital for recovery. As I was walking out of the ward two wardens were wheeling a deceased person toward me. I came face to face with the reality that we are not invincible.
My mind got busy with what ifs and a sadness for the family of that person. I caught myself out thinking this and felt like I had it under control.
But I didn’t.
I got to the car and bawled my eyes out. I was exhausted, not taking care of my self properly and not listening to the messages that were arriving in me, like the bubbling of anxiety under my skin and in my chest, the inability to concentrate. Our minds are great at catastrophizing and mine was doing some of its best work.
Sometimes even the most prepared or “intune” person misses the message. And this is ok. Different things affect us in different ways.
Although I missed the message, the impact of the experience was less. With an understanding of what was going on for me. I took the time to assess my Body, Emotions and Thoughts. I then chose how I would Act next. This process is referred to as B.E.T.A.
I recognised what I was feeling in my body, I understood I was fatigued and I was emotional because my thinking was on auto pilot catastrophizing and this was a symptom of the stress.
when we take care of others we often don’t talk about how we are feeling, we stay strong for them and forget about ourselves. It’s what we do.
This is what I did next
A word of caution on alcohol consumption. A few wines with friends turned me into a blubbering mess. Alcohol is a is a depressant, it stimulates the central nervous system. It is not a bandaid to lift our mood, in my case it heightened my emotions.
Through regular practice of mindfulness, I understood what was happening to my mind and body and I knew what would help me to get on the road to recovery. Mindfulness helps us to build an understanding of our thought processes in challenging times and an awareness of the stress we experience. With out this understanding I know the experience would have been much different.
It wasn’t too long before I felt like I was functional again. I just needed to be kind to myself.
How do you practice self care?
Wishing you wellbeing.
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