The entire holiday weekend had several highlights but it was also looooooaaaaded with triggers as holidays often are for a lot of us. By Sunday night I was headed for trouble and by Monday, mid-morning I was….what they say…”a heated mess? A mess where heat is applied to it so that what once was a little messy is now very messy?” (name that line). Look the reality is that shit happens to all of us, usually at inconvenient times. I think of overcoming PTSD as a project which takes up a lot of time and energy. But even when you are involved with a project involving lots of past shit, shit can and does go down real time too. It’s the nature of living that we can’t schedule our shit to suit us best. This is because most of the shitty life events are outside of our control.
And that can make us feel (and also be) completely out of control too. An out of control person in a crisis situation? Well, look nobody wants to be that that person or be around that person or even know that person. You want a freaking pilot who is IN CONTROL when the plane starts having mechanical difficulties y’know? Not some freaking idiot who is shrieking about how modern planes are supposed to be able to fly themselves. It’s just not an optimal thing. I try hard not to be that person.
Yet there was no other way to describe me by Monday aternoon. I was Out Of Control and it was Not Optimal. And then as I scrubbed the walls and baseboards with soapy water, (the only productive thing I could focus on for any length of time whilst trying not to hyperventilate), it occcurred to me that because of the holiday weekend, I had completely slacked off on the careful daily habits I have cultivated over the course of my PTSD-ending Project. And while I couldn’t control the triggers and I couldn’t control the shitty realities that had cropped up, I really can control whether or not I do my “Daily Disciplines” as I like to call them. And guess what else? They totally help me to become a competent pilot in the shitstorms of life.
I can also tell you that when my mornings are in control, I feel pretty confident in my ability to keep my shit more or less together for the forseeable future..like, I feel pretty solid about the day ahead, come what may. Before I had these disciplines in place I felt really scared all the time. I couldn’t count on getting through the day if it got too hard. That’s not a cool way to live..and happily it’s not how I live anymore. So long as I keep up with my disciplines. That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s worth buckling down for a little bit isn’t it? For me it is. For me it SO IS. So here I am to share with you what gets me and keeps me on the right track. Maybe all of these work for you too, maybe only one of them looks like something you’d like to try, or adapt to try. Disclaimer: daily disciplines are for everyone, if you have a mental health crisis in addition to this sort of thing you need to be working with care providers (which I do).
Here’s what I’m going to ask you not to do. Not because it annoys me but because I want you to reframe the way you think about your life and its problems. If you are inclined to write to me and tell me how you guess you are just stuck with a sucktastic life because you can’t do these things for xyz million different reasons then remember: I’m not asking you to do these specific things. I’m asking you to figure what disciplines you could employ to help you take control of your responses to what life hurls your way. So instead of putting energy into explaining why these things wouldn’t work for you, go ahead and put it into figuring out what will work for you! Deal? Deal! I’m bossy cos I love you. Without further ado:
Kirsty’s Daily Disciplines.
1. Wake up early.
What?? No! I hate myself for typing those words. I am not an early bird. I don’t understand people who love the early morning, I go to bed too late…blahblahblahblah. I need an alarm to get me up every single day. And it’s dark and it’s cold and I’m sleep deprived because I do like to stay up too late. And if I had to get out of bed early without some sort of accountability it’s almost certain that I wouldn’t. Because I am nothing against the power of a warm comforter and a soft pillow. Which is why I have organized my life to have people expecting me and waiting for me and even paying me to get up early. The sad truth is that successful people are almost always early risers. Dammit. Anyway, sunrises are really pretty and when my beautiful friend Stacey died in her 30’s amongst
the words of advice she left were, “get up to see more sunrises”. I like to think of her when I do.
2. Drink a big bottle of water first thing. Life hack. When you are brushing your teeth every night, fill up a bottle of water, put it on your night stand. Upon awakening…drank. People. Dehydration. Is. So. Bad. It’s bad for your body, it’s bad for your brain, it’s bad for your mood, it’s bad for your looks, your weight control, it’s bad for your breath it’s bad. If in doubt, drink more water. FYI: Coffee is not water, milk is not water, soda is not water, juice is not water. Water is water. Herbal tea without caffeine is a closer substitute than the above things. Water is not just good it’s really critical for healthy functioning and so many things are going to start working better for you if you just buckle down and drink the right amount of water. Just Do It. Drinking room temp or warm water first thing in the morning is really good for your digestive system. If I don’t drink about 20 oz first thing, there’s a good chance I’m going to keep on the path of dehydration all day which will lead to bad eating choices, headaches, digestive issues and a super terrible mood. And that’s just short term. If I do drink it first thing I just function better and I keep hydrated as the day goes on. Good things beget more good things. If you hate water trick yourself into liking or at least in drinking it: imagine you are in the desert and the water is the oasis you have been dreaming of all this time and glug glug glug… or use a straw or buy a bottle you love (this battered Swell bottle is my constant companion, keeps things hot or cold for ages and it is really really sturdy. (I know because once I used it as a javelin off of my top balcony and it landed on my stone path and it’s still being awesome). Anyway WATER. Drink more. Drink early and often. Life will get better for you. I promise.
3. Do yoga. Yoga is a brilliant way to wake your mind and body up because it involves stretching, breath awareness and focus on the present. I can’t possibly go into how many ways yoga is beneficial, you have the internet, look it up! Literally everyone can do a little bit of SOME KIND OF yoga every day. There are so many different poses and adaptations within those poses. I like the little ritual of playing “Here Comes The Sun” to kick off my practice every day. I can’t help but smile and feel comforted when I hear it. Even if you can only do one song’s worth of yoga, you did it. It’s so much better than nothing at all. I chose this of my many yoga pics to share because I’m throwing down in jeans, with my jacket and my sunglasses off to the side on the way out of the door. Yoga doesn’t require lulelemon pants and a fancy studio or a “yoga body”. Just strike some poses where and whenever you can. They add up. A few sun salutations are an excellent way to get some truly beneficial stretches in and start your day off perfectly.
4. Meditate. Over the summer I practiced the very basics of basic zen meditation but with the school year being so much more busy and the weather not being as conducive and inviting to long practices outside in lotus position I turned to apps for help and variety. Head Space and Simple Habits both have very generous free trials to get you on your way (Simple Habits is currently 50% off for the yearly subscription), and they show how easy and accessible meditation really is. It takes no skill whatsoever. Exciting news! YES YOU CAN MEDITATE. Trust me, if I can do it, literally anyone can. It’s not about emptying your mind of thought and being some kind of levitating genius. Allow me to reiterate: Even I can do this. And I have the attention span of a gnat on crack ok? Meditation is not what you think it is, it really is a very simple process and what’s more all the people you think are so amazing and calm and chill and accomplished probably do some form of meditation or another…try it out..it’s powerful stuff, yo. I’m by no means a pro or an example to live by but when I found myself in profound distress on Monday I discovered my brain automatically switching over to some of the skills I have recently learned through meditation so…yes. It works.
5.Write in a journal. I write 3 pages in an A4 Moleskine journal with a lovely flowy pen every morning. Doesn’t that sound so artistic and delicious? Ah, I love Beautiful rituals! Someone taught me this “morning pages” concept about a year ago. And it’s such a cherished, satisfying ceremony for me. But then, I like to write, and I write quickly. If you don’t you could maybe try to start with 5 things you are grateful for. Or write 2 intentions or top priorities for your day. Since I’ve got 3 pages to fill, I manage to cover thoughts that are floating around, gratitude and intentions most days. But really, just the act of taking a pen and ink and putting your thoughts to page is the goal..at least for me
6. Make my bed. I choose to ignore that study about how it’s better not to make your bed, but if you don’t, there is nothing to stop you from smoothing your sheets, fluffing your pillow and pulling your covers back neatly so that you have an inviting place to return to at the end of the day. Creating order in the sacred space of our room (I do consider our bedroom a sacred little sanctuary and I try to keep it beautiful and tidy because of that) is a very self nurturing and controlled way to start your day before you walk out into the chaos of the world. It’s such a small but deliberate act of discipline which will signals to me that I am in charge of my day and that I’m capable of creating order out of chaos. It’s a little thing that can make a really big
7. Have a nutritious easy to prepare/eat breakfast. I give so much credit to my husband for preparing overnight oats for me since this spring or early summer. He’s perfected the recipe for me over time and it includes so many amazingly
healthy things while still being perfectly palatable and delicious. If I skip my oats and coffeeeeeeee, things fall apart predictably around 3pm every day. As I mentioned above, I am incredibly easily distracted, so having something pre-prepared, appetising, healthy and comforting to eat which will keep my blood sugar stable for many hours is a total game changer for me and probably for the rest of my family who don’t have to deal with my irritability at 4pm when I realise I haven’t eaten all day and suddenly am foraging for all the carbs, writing rants on facebook IN ALL CAPS and being super bitchy to all the people.
Well that’s it for now. I actually have like 10 things but I’m out of time and the 7 seemed like a cool way to leverage off someone else’s success so you get 7 😉 Tell me what your habits for being the competent pilot of your life are! I wanna knoooooowwww! Maybe I wanna copy them! Anything here you like that you think you might incorporate? Tell me that too. Tellllll meeeeeee!!!
You guys remember when I used to do Works for Me Wednesday?? Well it’s Wednesday..these work for me! Ha! Nostalgia!