I had an awful dream last night. One of those ones you wake up from in quite a state and you have to take a moment to make sure that is was only a dream and it didn't really happen.
I tend to have them when I am run down, stressed or just have too much nervous energy built up and I take them as a bit of a flashing neon sign that is telling me to slow down and regroup.
Do you have a month or time of the year that is a hard one for you?
For me June is a dangerous month psychologically, as it was the month that I had my breakdown a few years ago and it is a month that brings weather cold enough to make my damaged bones ache to the core.
Despite it being a month that is full of birthdays and happy occasions, it is also a month that has skeletons and as June approaches I can practically smell the old black dog lurking in the shadows waiting for me to show any sign of weakness and that makes me nervous.
My typical coping mechanism is to drive full throttle into the thick of it and then right through the middle and out again - hopefully making it through without any collateral damage. The problem is that the way in which I go about trying to avoid a head on collision with my fears, is often my undoing as exhaustion is as tempting as an open bar when it comes to attracting depression and anxiety.
The good news is I am aware of it and chances are that you are also aware of your danger periods too, and that in itself is the first step in regaining and maintaining control.
Trying to outrun your fears can be exhausting right?
What if we stood firm and nurtured ourselves instead?
The nurturing doesn't need to be extravagant or expensive - although if someone offers to massage my head for an hour who am I to refuse?
Arming yourself means nurturing yourself and the nurturing comes from being kind to yourself, looking after yourself and giving yourself permission to take it easy whilst you ride the rough seas.
Simple ways to arm yourself include;
1. Get more sleep. Yeah I know, it's the impossible dream right? But seriously, go to bed early, nap when you can and make sleep a priority. Being tired leaves you emotional and vulnerable, so why even allow yourself to start on the back foot.
2. Don't over commit yourself and say NO more often without offering any excuse. I suck at this, but I am working on it because I know in my heart that 'Less on my plate = less stress'. Practice it okay! Enough said.
3. Try and eat well. Eat more of the food that will give you the energy you need and less of the things that cause sugary highs and lows or things that make you feel bloated and lethargic.
4. Drink less alcohol. Oh trust me, this one hurts because coping cordial is often my carrot dangling at the end of a really shitty day. But too much of the good stuff will sap your vitamin B and leave you feeling tired and emotional and can effect the quality of sleep you do manage to get.
5. Exercise. Ouch. The last thing I often feel like leaving the warm house and doing is exercise, but it is something I KNOW I need to do more of. Try to think about your blood pumping those natural endorphins through your body and how good it will make you feel then just do something, anything, just get moving.
6. Do one thing for yourself every day that you get enjoyment from. Read a magazine, take a bath, paint, create or get your nails done. Do whatever floats your boat, but make sure that you schedule it into your day and make it an appointment you WILL not miss. Having at least one thing to look forward to is sometimes all you need to get through a particularly crappy day.
7. Laugh. We all know it is the biggest mood lifter and is good for the soul, so laugh loud and laugh often. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh - friends, your kids, whoever - or just go and stand in your backyard and laugh just for the sake of laughing. Pretty soon you will be feeling totally ridiculous and will be laughing out loud for reals.
8. Cut yourself some slack. Is the world going to end because you haven't tackled Mt Washmore, the kid's bedrooms are in a mess or your family ate cheese toasties for dinner.. again? No, it's not! So give yourself a break and quit stressing about it.
9. Get amongst it. If you are anything like me, you have a natural tendency to hibernate through these kinds of periods and whilst a little time by yourself can be good for you, too much of it will make you feel cut off and unnecessarily alone. Even if you really don't feel like it - put yourself out of your comfort zone, catch up with a friend, go see a movie or take yourself off to a course or something. You may have to fake the enthusiasm to start with, but I pretty much guarantee that as you drive yourself home you will be saying "Geez I am really glad I did that".
10. Read a feel good book or watch a heartwarming movie. Sometimes something as simple as enjoying someone else's story for a while is enough to rub off on you and change your whole mindset.
Do you have a month or time of the year you find particularly hard?
What do you do to get through it?