I went for a really hot three hour walk this morning. After hot rock climbing two days ago my leg muscles are still sore, and my feet hurt from putting nearly 20 miles on them in three days.
I could have been miserable for a good bit of that walk, and the last mile and a half back to the house was scorching. I chose instead to meditate, to be mindful and to embrace the challenge. And the heat.
I have taken my sweet time to read it, but I’m back to working through The Mindfulness Toolbox: 50 Practical Tips, Tools and Handouts for Anxiety, Depression & Pain.
This section struck me, because it speaks directly to the blurb I wrote about my blog about being a person that likes to get from point A to point B:
An outcome orientation is focused on the future, which often produces worry or anxiety about achieving a desired outcome. In a very real way, it saps the enjoyment and curiosity out of the experience itself.
Learning how to change focus from outcome to present-moment process can be a powerful experience. Most importantly, it reduces anxiety that comes from focusing on expectations and outcome-oriented thinking.
Here are a few examples of outcome orientation:
- Learning for the sake of getting that “A” on a test or report card
- Finishing a work task on time
- Focusing solely on a sports training goal or time
- Getting that promotion at work
- Receiving the highest review from a supervisor
- Making sure the house is always spotless
- Comparing one’s progress against that of others
By shifting awareness to the most minute and tiniest details of one’s experience, the process orientation comes into the foreground. This practice also trains the brain to stay in the moment.
I knew I needed to make an orientation adjustment, and now I know why.
I spent the entire Summer Solstice inside, and most of it in a dimly lit room. I’m grateful that I have so much room for improvement. Yoga was not helpful yesterday, it was activating. So I stopped.
I started listening to Brené Brown’s book The Power of Authenticity yesterday. She’s a shame researcher and a delightfully authentic human. In her work she’s found that we experience shame the same way we experience trauma, and I want to heal from shame as much as I want to heal from trauma. I’m starting to understand why they often go hand in hand.
I wanted to do a yoga session and thought that would be within my bandwidth today. 11 minutes in, I realized I was getting activated on my way to a trigger, I was hot and sweaty but not in an “I’m exercising” way, I wasn’t enjoying it and was actually starting to be rather miserable.
I wanted to push through, because yoga is supposed to be a good thing, it isn’t supposed to be activating, it’s supposed to help me connect to my body, I didn’t want to be a quitter, it wasn’t even a hard practice…also I am too fat to get into some of the poses, I can’t believe I can’t do this right now, I’ll never be able to get my life on track…
Ah. The shame gremlins she talked about. The thoughts that make me = bad and wrong and not good enough.
I stopped the session. Yoga wasn’t right for me yesterday. Maybe because I was in the process of learning about shame and realizing how much shame I feel about my body. Maybe because I needed more rest (I hiked for two hours the day before). Maybe because I needed to experience recognizing what is good for me and what is not good for me and acting on that for myself, not because someone else said that was the way to do it.
As I listened to Chapter 3 of Healing from Trauma: A Survivor’s Guide I noticed I was experiencing some of the trauma symptoms the narrator was describing. I was tensing up, getting a headache and tightening inward, as if to curl into a ball and protect myself. I was aware I was doing this (mindfulness practice seems to be showing some results!) and unclenched my jaw and rolled my shoulders a bit.
I’ve noticed also during yoga, which I’m practicing more regularly again, that I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my shoulders. There are positions that are really challenging for me, like making a bridge with my fingers pointed toward my feet or clasping my hands behind my back and straightening my arms. I didn’t remember that being the case previously, but a lot of times I blame weight gain for my yoga practice challenges.
Oh…wait…trauma response…tight shoulders…
I’m not sure if it’s more freeing or discouraging to realize that my lack of flexibility and range of motion is due more to trauma than my fat rolls, but it does provide a path forward, and a solution – more yoga!
That was advice from my therapist, who explained to be that in very simplified terms, people either drain you (introvert) or energize you (extrovert).
People drain me.
One of my new goals as I try to practice a lifestyle that leads (hopefully!) to fewer panic episodes and less anxiety is to be much more mindful about the things that push me over the edge of the panic cliff, and about letting stress build up until my brain freaks out and quits.
I’m in week two of wanting to mostly stay in bed, so this seems like pretty good goals.
I don’t really rest much. I haven’t in years. I don’t take vacations that act like vacations, I don’t schedule down time, I don’t pause – I just speed through life then crash and burn and get up and do it again.
I spoke on a panel yesterday evening about two hours from where I live, so spent a lot of the later part of the day in the car or talking to a room full of people. I really enjoyed it, the topic is of real interest to me and my fellow panelists were very informed on the topic. I stopped for dinner with a friend on the way home, got home at midnight and went to bed.
I woke up at 10:30 this morning. I slept hard.
This evening I’m back at another program, although I’m not speaking at this one, and it’s not quite as far away but it’s very similar. So, trying to learn from yesterday and be mindful of how I feel, I’m taking an hour or two this afternoon to be quiet and still before I hop in the car and go be work me around a lot of people. Then tomorrow I will plan some down time during the day so that I don’t get too rushed and overwhelmed as I recover from this last big PTSD episode.
My brother gave me Jabra Elite ear buds for Christmas to replace the ear buds that came with my phone. I had ruined them by getting caught in a couple of thunderstorms last summer, and he went above and beyond on the gift. They’re great.
They pair with an app, which I finally downloaded today. As I look at ways to mindfully improve my health, I’m going to have to put in some cardio. I haven’t done that since my car wreck. It was just too much for my brain to handle high intensity exercise.
Now, however, I’m at a point in recovery that I can start pushing myself to make some physical health gains, and I’m doing it with some limitations on what and where I can do it since I’m caring for my Grandma 4-5 days a week.
Do what you can, where you can though! So I downloaded the app, and it told me to run for 15 minutes to check my VO2. Haha, I don’t run, and I’m certainly not able to run for 15 minutes! What a joke! Do only people who are already fit own these? I don’t get a runner’s high, and I hate running.
I did it though. I stayed focused on my breathing, made reasonable goals along the way, went back to my breathing to try to keep a rhythm, and toward the end checked the time a few times.
My health level is poor.
No kidding. That’s why I’m doing this.
I have the new phone, the new laptop is here and I’m still rigging my way around the challenges of staying with my grandma.
I unintentionally slowed my roll on mindless stress eating this week. I mean I know I cut way back on sugar and gluten, and I mostly quit snacking, but I don’t know that it was with some big diet intention.
I sit around a lot in a dark apartment, and this crisis wasn’t going to make me gain weight too, is all.
My PTSD brain likes sugar. So. Much. Sugar, carbs and fat are my drug of choice since I don’t smoke and rarely drink, and right now my brain is pissed that it’s not getting what it wants.
Y’all. I didn’t even get any food at Chick-Fil-A when I stopped by for my free bottle of water.
My brain is so pissed.
I had the idea that I could only did this when I was in a low stress time and could really delve into food and fitness changes. Once again I’m surprising myself with what I can do with mindfulness.
And a new makeup bag to fit all of my new makeup…