But I haven't always been. Two weeks ago, I was pretty stressed out and anxious, only I didn't know it. That might seem funny, but anxiety is a funny thing-it often manifests itself as physical illness and so can be hard to identify. I have struggled with severe anxiety all my life and I still have trouble identifying what is anxiety and what is physical illness. Sometimes anxiety manifests itself as the symptoms of low blood sugar-faintness, irritability, feeling like one needs to eat, shakiness, etc. That's what had been happening to me over the past several weeks, only not when I had been exercising and I had been eating regularly. Fortunately, my therapist was able to help me see that these were symptoms of anxiety and once I knew that I was able to do something about it.
I have many coping skills for anxiety, but one that I have really been trying to work into each and every day is the practice of mindfulness, more specifically the concept of "One-Mindfully." According to the website DBT Self-Help:
Mindfulness has to do with the quality of awareness that we bring to what we are doing and experiencing, to being in the here and now. It has to do with learning to focus on being in the present, to focusing our attention on what we are doing and what is happening in the present. We have to learn to control our attention. Many of us are distracted by images, thoughts and feelings of the past, perhaps dissociating, worrying about the future, negative moods and anxieties about the present. It's hard to put these thing away and concentrate on the task at hand.
"One-Mindfully" is when one mindfully concentrates at one task at a time. It's the opposite of multi-tasking. And I believe, it is the antidote to much of the holiday stress that is flying around this time of year. The more things we try to do at a time, the more stressed out we become AND the
efficiency and proficiency goes down quite dramatically too. It's a myth that multi-tasking is such a good thing.
When I concentrate on one thing at a time, I can feel my body relax and my breath start to deepen. My thoughts begin to slow down and smiling does not seem like such a foreign concept. By the end of the task, I feel renewed and re-energized, as if I had sat down for thirty minutes in front of my light box.
You can do any task mindfully and in fact, it has been proven that your productivity will actually go up if you just focus on one task at a time. I especially like to cook mindfully. The smells. The sounds. The steam from a good soup or pasta dish-immersing myself fully into the moment takes me far away from the stress of the "real world" and re-energizes and restores my soul.
I'm going to share this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker of Apple Pumpkin Soup a little differently tha I normally do-interspersed in the directions are two videos I took of the soup bubbling and boiling, see if you can watch them mindfully. As you are watching the videos, imagine that you are standing at the stove, tending the pot-what does it smell like? Does the steam hit your face? Can you hear it bubble?
I wish that I had made the videos longer, but this was my first time really experimenting with the video on my camera. Tell me what you think in the comments! (Also, I have now started a Hope Is Real facebook page, which you can follow by clicking on the link on the right.)