Let’s start with a story, it goes like this…
Once upon a time there was an overworked, stressed out modern day person, and that person was you! And that person became a victim of a spiral. The Spiral!
You know what I mean, right? Oh, yes you do. The Spiral is that downward plummet towards depression/anxiety. It’s that sneaky feeling that slowly creeps into your life. It makes you think irrational thoughts that seem reasonable…at the start it’s trying to be subtle:
I should have listened more. I always mess that up.Life is hard.Other people can do this, why can’t I?’
Usually, you recognize these types of thoughts are unhelpful and let them slide, but not today, today you listen to them.
Your stress levels increase and you began to ruminate about the bad, ignoring the good.
Nothing is going right. Everything is going wrong. And The Spiral gives a little giggle, he’s winning so this time, he gives you thoughts that are far more irrational than the previous ones:
‘I’m hopeless.’‘I’m a failure.’Nobody likes me.’‘I can’t do anything right.’
But there are other signs too. The Spiral begins to affect your body. You wake up at 5am, thoughts rushing, worrying about the day, what bills need to be paid, when to pick the kids up from school, what your partner said wrong the night before, how you never seem to have anything under control. The day goes by, you feel pressured, there are deadlines, responsibilities, and youre failing to take care of it all. You dont have time to deal with these bad feelings, people rely on you. And instead of cooking a healthy meal for your family that night, you get takeout, oh and a bottle of wine. You could really use a glass of wine!
Later, you feel bad that you havent cooked a healthy meal, you feel bad that you were home late from work. Youre so tired, and thanks to that bottle of wine (you knew youd need it) you manage to get to sleep. Thank god. Sleep will help. Too bad you had more than two glasses of wine because after three hours of sleep, when the effects of the wine wears off, you wake up.
Your brain latches onto more negative thoughts. Theres a strange anxious hum in your body, your mind wont sleep. It cant sleep. So you get up and watch television, you wonder where your life went, you hate your job, theres not enough passion in your relationship, the house needs cleaning, you wont get enough sleep and itll make you hopeless the next day.
At 3am you finally drift into dreamland until 7am when your brain wakes you up again. Its too late for exercise and youre exhausted, so you have a cup of coffee. That will wake you up. Hours later youre feeling lethargic as the coffee leaves your system
This is how the spiral starts. It begins with worries, stress, external pressures, and in order for a quick comfort, a quick fix, we look outside our normal routine. We stop exercising, we eat more unhealthy food or we dont eat enough nutritious food, we turn to alcohol or other drugs to relieve the bad feelings. This fuels our negative thought patterns. The ones youre already susceptible to because youve had experienced this before. Youve had this before and you should know better.
And when life begins to look horrible, you begin to get crying spells, you feel angry then sad then dejected.
The Spiral no longer has to try to make you feel horrible, because you agree with him.
When you cant remember the last time you felt like exercising, when you dont feel like socialising and need more alone time. When you get caught up in thoughts of the past, feel guilt, shame, rejection, youre spiralling.
You dont have to go down this road. You can beat The Spiral. Do these things right now!
1. Make an appointment with your therapist. Immediately.
2. Exercise. Now! If youre in your home, do some yoga or workout videos. If its daytime, go for a walk. Clear your mind. Get a grasp on that calm, manager you were just a few weeks ago.
3. Be compassionate. Its okay. Things are hard. You can get back on track. Be positive.
4. See a friend. Someone you can talk to. Someone who cares. Someone wholl encourage you to do healthy things for yourself. Keep that person around and make sure they know just how wonderful they are.
5. Stop the caffeine, alcohol, junk food. Im a big believer in holistic therapy. We need to be balanced for our minds to be balanced.
6. If you havent already, take up mindfulness. Dont get caught up in the tidal wave that is the incoming swirl of irrational thoughts. Focus on now. Keep in the now until youre back on track.
No matter how complicated things feel, the solutions can be very simple. Give yourself a fighting chance and take the steps listed above to get back on track. And next time that spiral starts, remember, you can choose not to go there!