Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inner stuff

You may have wondered what happened to my use of 'Mood Manager' recently, and the answer is that my month's free trial expired at the end of March so I've stopped using the software.

Was it useful? Yes, but not in the way it was intended to be used. I didn't actually find that monitoring my moods was particularly helpful; what has been helpful has been taking the time to think about myself and how I'm feeling as a regular part of my daily life.

I've been thinking about this over the last few days. I found myself feeling stressed and anxious and I hadn't taken the time to reflect so I was getting more and more worked up, and feeling that I had too much to do and possibly couldn't achieve all that I had set out for myself. This is a bad point to come to for me because there's a real possibility of spiralling into a whirlwind of negative emotions along the lines of not being able to do anything, failing, not being good enough... I'm sure you get the picture. I can find it quite hard to get out of that very negative way of thinking, but on reflection that has the effect of being an avoidance strategy. I get so worked up that I have to drop some activity in order to salvage any achievement at all. Perhaps that's why I do it? I'm confronted with lots of things that apparently interfere with the things that I really want to do, so I allow myself to fall into a pit of despair - which is horrible but familiar - rather than having to deal with the situation, perhaps? I don't know, which is to say that I find it uncomfortable to think about it, so I'm not going to follow that line of thinking any further right now!

Anyway, luckily I had only just got to the early stages of this rapid spiralling descent when I realised that the real problem is that I simply haven't made any time for myself recently, and certainly not any time in which to reflect upon things. No wonder I'm having problems coping! And as soon as I realised that I began to be able to manage my feelings of anxiety, and to gather together some strands of self-control.

I find the state of being in a worked-up panic about things very disabling. I feel as if I don't have control, that external forces are driving everything and that I'm about to disappear along with my own wants and needs. It can descend into total panic, but on those rare occasions on which I manage to avoid going any further down that path and I calm down I manage to reclaim a sense of control about all sorts of peripheral anxieties that manage to tie themselves in with the main causes of worry.

For example, I realise that I've not been sticking very well to the CSIRO diet that we've been following successfully for almost a year. And having made the effort to get back into going to the gym I haven't been to the gym for two weeks. Now I do have a semi-reasonable excuse for both of these perceived 'failures', which is that it's the school holidays so our daughter is with us AND we drove around southern New South Wales visiting family and friends for a week which put us out of our routine. But since we've come home my rising sense of panic has at once allowed me to say that I can't cope with controlling either exercise or diet and it has prevented me from taking any control.

The word 'reflection' keeps appearing as a key to all of this. I don't need special software; what I need is acceptance that in order to stay sane I need to spend some time every day or so reflecting on myself, how I am and what I'm doing.

Having paused for long enough to reflect a little on my current condition I seem to have retrieved some enthusiasm for getting back into exercise and the diet this week, aided by the fact that school starts again on Tuesday which always seems to make things easier. Fingers crossed.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of reflection as a way to better understand mood and control behavior. I don't get paralyzed when the negative thoughts pour in. I eat. Binge. Maybe I should create a blog for reflecting on those things. Hmmm.... I don't really need a readership, which would make me want to please people. Who needs another reason to try and do that? Anyway, I'm going to think on that one.


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