Staying Mentally Well When Life Gets Tough
This post is long. I have broken it down by using subtitles, if you are looking to get right into content jump to “Mindset Shift for Mental Wellness.” Thank you for your support and love!
Our thoughts effect everything in our lives. When things are going well in our lives it is relatively easy to manage our thoughts. However, when life throws you a curve ball, it can be a challenge to keep your mind healthy.
I have been dealing with intestinal issues since thanksgiving. Throughout this time, these digestive issues have been very debilitating. Between going to the emergency room, getting all sorts of tests done and having to go on different prescribed diets, this illness has become a big part of my life.
I am currently on the GAPS Intro diet, as prescribed by my doctor and I must tell you it has been very hard for me to keep up the positive attitude. There are many components to this situation that have challenged me mentally.
If you do not know the GAPS Intro diet, it is broken up into six stages. The first stage is based on broths, and soups made of boiled vegetables and meats. As my symptoms subside, I am able to add certain foods back in, slowly, like extremely slowly.
The first challenge for me was to get around the idea of consuming animals and animal products again. I have been vegetarian for 7 years and vegan for 5 of those 7. I truly believe in animal rights, and that we do not need to eat animals to be healthy. I know my story is not much different than others, and I was hesitant to share this, but it has been very painful for me to start eating the bodies of animals again. However, I do trust my doctor and I also truly believe that I need to be well in order to make a difference in this world. By following this prescribed diet, I am doing my best to get well enough again so I do not have to rely on animal products for nourishment.
Another challenge is that this GAPS Intro diet is heavy laden with fats and protein. My body does a lot better with a good dose of carbohydrate and it has told me so throughout this process. As I teach the wonders of intuitive eating and how listening to your body can change your life, I struggle with this extreme exhaustion that I am feeling because of this diet.
That leads me to the biggest issue I am dealing with right now.
I am extremely exhausted, like all the time.
I have grown accustom to living my life at a certain intensity and expect a lot from myself. With this brain fog and extreme exhaustion, it has put a damper on my plans. When I do my Thought Inventory in the morning, my thoughts mostly center around being tired and wishing I wasn’t.
I have also lost weight, as you can imagine from this diet, because of this, I have been battling my eating disordered demons regularly. I have been doing some deep exploration of how I feel about my weight loss and my thoughts that are attached to the circumstance of my weight.
Throughout all of this, I have been doing a lot of coaching on myself to continue to have healthy thoughts even though my body is not healthy at the moment.
Mindset Shift for Mental Wellness:
So how can we manage our thoughts to be sure we are healthy mentally?
The first thing to remember when something happens that we label as “bad” is that this circumstance is not a problem until we have a thought about it (Check out Brooke Castillo’s Podcast). So we must own our “problem” AKA our thoughts about the circumstance.
So my having digestive issues is not a problem until I have a thought about it, and let me tell you, I have had many. For example, not everyone I have told, have had the same response I have. Some think it is a big problem and others do not think it is a problem at all. So the problem lays within my thinking about the problem.
When I have negative thoughts about my illness, the question is, are those thoughts serving me? The answer is no. They are just additional attendees to my pity party.
So then I ask myself, “OK, my circumstance is that I have an illness, of some kind, but how do I want to deal with it, what feeling will best serve me through this circumstance?”
For me, I want to feel love towards myself and compassion for my body as we are both struggling to get better. I don’t want to feel frustration, annoyance or lifelessness.
Another important question to ask myself is who do I want to be as I go through this process of healing? What kind of woman? What kind of wife? What kind of patient? Do I want to be frustrated with my doctor because we cannot seem to understand what is going on with my body? Do I want to be iterated and short with my husband? The answer is a resounding NO.
I want to be able to acknowledge my feelings, of frustration and exhaustion but come from a place of self-love and compassion for myself and the process I am going through. If I were to just be frustrated that this has happen to me, I would just be arguing with reality, which is a battle that I will always lose. This has happened and there is nothing I can do about it, other than accept and move forward with taking care of myself.
When the negative thoughts do come up, I can take note of the thoughts I am having like “I am so tired” and explore how these thoughts are effecting my feelings. Since I am having the thought, “I am so tired” I am feeling tired, lazy, and exhausted. With those emotions, I am acting lazy and tired, like I don’t want to do anything other than wallow in my self-pity, which is making me the victim in my own story. Playing the victim takes away your power, I know when I have those self-pitying thoughts, I feel powerless, rather than what I want to be feeling which is power-FULL.
No matter what you are going through and how bad it feels, your mindset will change how you experience the circumstance. It is important to go through and check in with your thoughts and see how they affect your feelings and therefore your actions (Thought Inventory). As you can see, I have a lot of work to do with my own thinking and it is a battle everyday. Somedays are easier than others but I know it is my choice to feel the way I do because I DO have control over my thoughts. I might not have control over my circumstances or other people or my past, but I do have complete control over myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my actions and ultimately, my results.
Much Love, compassion, and wellness,