Mindfulness. A beautiful way to live in the now and allow for more appreciation and purpose. But how do you live in the moment when you’re going through something that seems challenging or stressful? The constant attempts to mitigate and manage stress is like working a muscle. If overused or expended constantly, stamina can diminish leaving you with zapped energy and could even be detrimental to your health and wellbeing. A self-care survival tip when you’re living in a difficult moment is to step away to take a timeout and find something to distract your spiraling mind.
What is most wearing is the feeling of being out of control. To give you an example, I've been stressed lately about my injured dog. While I am doing everything under my control to make things better for him, the hardest part is feeling helpless. As a natural problem-solver, my mind constantly searches to find solutions even when there isn't one. I can tell it has been taking its toll. Yesterday I noticed my face was a few shades lighter from the stress and I even had crazy dreams about carrying a heavy backpack that was weighing me down. I appreciate it when dreams are literal. In this case, it's a good reminder for me to take a timeout.
Everyone's timeout outlets are different. I have found that entertainment outlets are perfect for shutting off the mind. Years ago when I had a death in my family, my stressed mind was so thirsty for a break that I read the whole Twilight series in one week. It really gave me the reprieve I needed to have the energy to both deal with the loss and also be able to support those around me. I focused my mind away from something I couldn’t control to something I could.
It's important to note that timeouts are about balance. Too much of a distraction could be a gateway to becoming a crutch or vice. Knowing yourself and honing internal honesty about what you need is the key to this balance.
In addition to understanding your balance, it may be unrealistic to drop everything to take a timeout. If you don't have a chunk of time to dedicate, scheduling five to ten minutes throughout your day can be helpful. These short breaks can allow you to keep moving through your responsibilities while also giving yourself time to check out and relax. If you're still finding it hard to manage the stress/grief/challenge, it's time to ask for support (from a loved one or a professional). Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength -- that you are courageous to speak up for what you need in order to change your situation.
Whatever challenges or hardships you face in your life, when you find it hard to cope or you've clenched your worry muscle for far too long, it's time to give yourself permission to take a timeout. When you are ready to check back into reality, you'll have a refreshed and recharged perspective and hopefully more energy to live comfortably and happily in the moment.