Tag Archives: Anxiety

Time Flies

9 Jul
Time may fly but always remember you are the pilot

© Jess Bruce 2016

Time seems to be disappearing at an incredible pace at the moment.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by how busy life seems to be? By how little time you seem to have?

I get a feeling that I can only describe as claustrophobia, of being trapped, when our calendar fills up and there seems to be too much going on and not enough time to get everything done.  I feel out of control and that induces a feeling of anxiety and panic.

To help combat this, I took to Google for some reassuring words. The idea that time flies past but that we are each the pilot of our own time helped me feel back in control.

I also like the idea that time only passes quickly when we are happy. Have you ever noticed how slowly time drags when you are bored or sad? So the fact I feel that time is playing a vanishing act on me at present must mean I am very happy, which in itself is a very uplifting thought.

Our minds are, as always, guiding our experience. The apparent speed at which time passes is merely a trick of our wayward minds.

A week today, Mr B, bump and I are off on our holidays, two weeks relaxing in the South of France. I can’t wait. For those two weeks, time will stand still.

See The Colour

4 Mar
© Jess Bruce 2016

© Jess Bruce 2016

If you worry or suffer with anxiety or get nervous (don’t we all from time to time?) then this post is for you.

I’m going to share today a really simple technique for calming and quietening your mind.

I used it a lot when I was first starting to recover from ME/CFS and was starting to push my activity boundaries by going out more. I needed a way to silence the noise in my head, the automated subconscious, but very loud voices, telling me ‘you’ll do exhausted in bed for the next week by going out’, ‘you’re going to do a migraine whilst you’re out’, ‘you can’t cope with this’….

By using this technique I was able to shut out all the negative, stress inducing mind noise.

© Jess Bruce 2016

© Jess Bruce 2016

But this technique has a much broader application than just in a chronic illness scenario.  If you’re nervous or distracted, or worried about something or just want a few mindful minutes then try this colour spotting technique.

I like to do this as I’m walking up the street but it could be done anywhere. If you’re at work, sat at your desk, anxious before a big meeting, you could take a few minutes out, it really can take just a few moments, and do this.

So what do you need to do?

Firstly choose a colour. Any colour. The first one that pops into your head or one that resonates with you. I like to use yellow as it’s bright and positive.

Then look around you and notice everything that is your chosen colour. Focus purely on that one colour and mentally note as many things as you can see.

So as I walk down the street, I see yellow daffodils, the yellow light on top of a taxi, the yellow shop sign, the yellow amber traffic light, the poster with yellow lettering at the bus stop, the little girl’s yellow wellington boots, the young boy’s yellow hat, the cyclist’s high-vis yellow vest….and so on. And before I know it, my mind is quieter and clearer, the stress or fear has fallen away, the negative voices subsided, having been crowded out and replaced by a much more positive and calmer frame of mind. I’m more mindful and present in the moment, focused purely on walking up the street and what I can see around me.

© Jess Bruce 2016

© Jess Bruce 2016

So easy, so simple and yet incredibly effective. If you find your mind has wandered off, then just bring yourself back to your colour and what you can see around you. You can repeat this technique as many times and as often as you need. The more you do it, the more positive synapses in your brain you build and the weaker the negative ones become.

Incidentally, after you have done this exercise, without actually looking again, try and recall what you can remember of a different colour. So if I’ve chosen yellow, I can reel off a whole host of yellow objects that I’ve noticed in the street. But what about red? Pause and try and name a red object. Don’t think about it too hard. Don’t look around you again. What can you remember? You’ll most likely not remember any colour other than the one you originally chose. Try it and see. This is a good lesson in you only see what you look for. As in, if you look for the negative in the world, then you will miss the positive. A good little life lesson I think.

So go forth, choose a colour and look around you. Take a few mindful moments out to calm yourself. And then get on with your day in a more positive state of mind 🙂

A Gentler, More Peaceful Approach

21 Jan
I am calm and serene just like the Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2015

I am calm and serene just like the Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2016

As was abundantly apparent from my last post, my lack of sleep was a source of great stress and tension for me. This state of mind was doing nothing to help resolve the situation. If anything it was simply making things worse. Stress and poor sleep go hand in hand, powering each other on, in one big sticky trap.

Notice the use of the past tense. Sleep, or rather my lack of it, was causing me much stress. But now I am happy to report I am no longer stressed about it (okay perhaps I am still a teensy bit concerned, but this is a work in progress. Baby steps = moving in the right direction and good enough for me). 

Am I sleeping perfectly? Erm I wish. Am I sleeping as well as I was before I stopped taking my sleep medication, sadly not. Am I sleeping slightly better than a week ago? There’s still a long way to go, but yes, touch wood, bow in thanks to the sleep Gods, yes I am falling asleep a little quicker. But the drop in stress levels came before this, albeit minor, improvement.

A shift in my approach to my sleep has taken the heat out of the situation. A calmer, more peaceful, more neutral approach to not being able to fall asleep, has dampened down the fiery aggressive ball of stress that engulfed me last week. And in turn is helping me to sleep a little better. And I know if I can continue this calmer more conciliatory approach, restful, refreshing sleep will come back to me.

By coming off medications, my body is going through a period of huge change. And as much as change produces uncomfortable, and for want of a better word, icky, feelings, the situation is not dangerous. It is not life threatening. Bumps in the road, such as dodgy sleep, are all part of transitioning through change. It is a phase. It is temporary. It is normal. It is natural. It is OK. It is necessary to move forward. So with all that in mind, it’s no big deal that my sleep isn’t great at the moment. It is right for me right now and it will pass.

My body is realigning itself. It is adjusting to a new set of circumstances. I have been on medication for the last 5 years. I have taken melatonin to help me sleep since 2012. My body is learning how to function without these tools in its armour. This takes time. And whilst my body grapples with this new landscape, there may be some bumps and a little unpleasantness. Whilst that is uncomfortable and somewhat irritating, it is not life threatening. It is natural, it is normal. It is okay. I am safe. I am okay.

Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2016

Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. © Jess Bruce 2016

And so I keep soothing myself with these messages in gentle and kind tones. I am okay…… I am safe….. I am cultivating a peaceful and conciliatory approach. Letting go of the fighting talk and leaving aside the boxing gloves. They can’t help me. Embodying the stress was just ramping up my poor ME/CFS addled nervous system; making the adrenalin and cortisol corse through my veins at breakneck speed. Adding fuel to the fire of stress burning bright; all taking me further and further away from the calm and quiet frame of mind I crave and the deep restful sleep I want for.

So now, I think to myself, who cares if I sleep tonight. If I don’t fall asleep quickly, what does it matter? It’s actually a good thing. It gives me time to ponder and think, time to read, meditate and relax. Really not drifting off quickly is no bad thing. It is the gift of time. (Okay perhaps I’ve gone a little too far with that last one. But you get my drift.)

I am trying not to grip too tightly to expectations because expectations are often unattainable and frequently missed; especially in times of transition and change. And that just sets you up for feelings of failure which is to stress what oxygen is to a burning flame. And after all, as uncomfortable as it may be, change is often unpredictable. The healthiest and happiest approach is to accept the unexpected and better yet to expect nothing.

I am relinquishing the need for everything to be fixed immediately; removing the urgency and lightning the load. I am accepting that this period of bumps is natural. It is normal. It is temporary. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is not life threatening. I am safe.

In short, there really is no point in stressing about not sleeping well – I could have saved myself the last 700 words and just said that. But gentle repetition of positive phrases is good for the soul.

And so I say one last time. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is normal. It is temporary. It may be uncomfortable but it is okay. It is not life threatening. I am safe.

Perhaps try this approach next time you’re stressed about something seemingly out of your control. It has helped me feel much less overwhelmed and put me back in the driving seat 🙂

Having just written this post, I am now flooded with feelings of deja vu. I have been here before. I have in fact written a post like this before – last year when our house move took on the path of an aggressive rollercoaster ride, and I struggled with the uncertainty and stress of another situation out of my control.  Apparently I’m a slow learner. Or rather in times of struggle and stress it is far too easy to lose your perspective and fail to see the obvious. But hey, next time I’m in a situation that is ramping up my stress levels, I will remember these words of wisdom and not struggle against the stress quite so much. After all, third time’s the charm right?

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