Lately, I’ve been so focused and aware of my body and what it’s going through that it’s ALL I think about some days, can you relate? Some good thoughts and some bad, but either way, dwelling on my current state of being was not helping anything and only making me more frustrated.
Sometimes when we are focused on healing, getting better, or just hyper-focused on anything, it begins to consume us. It consumes every thought and action. As I try to heal my gut, move my joints, and stretch my body, I find myself only thinking about what I am supposed to be doing to get better. My primary thoughts are about what foods won’t make my stomach upset, what stretches I should be doing for my arthritis, am I doing enough? I become so worried and focused on getting better for the future that I forget about right now. I forget that I am living in this very moment. Life is happening whether I’m consciously living it or not.
The other day I was out on a boat all day and it opened my eyes to how there is a whole world out there. Life is going on around me and I sometimes miss out on it because of where I choose to focus my thoughts. That day was spent not thinking about anything but the gorgeous weather and how at peace I felt. I wasn’t worried about my body stiffening or my distended, aching stomach. I was actually living in the moment. I was enjoying the company of my friends, laughing and smiling and floating. I was distracted all day without a thought about my disease and illnesses. I came home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated (and a little bit sunburned) and it got me thinking that we can’t become so obsessed and focused on healing or getting better that we let the present pass us by. You will never have today again, never be in the same exact place with the same people, never have the sun shine in your kitchen the same exact way, never enjoy a coffee that is quite the same as this one. In addition to healing and bettering ourselves (which are still super important), we can also spend this season of life LIVING.
That’s the thing with chronic illnesses or everyday struggles, we will face these thoughts, worries, and problems for the rest of our lives, but I don’t want to let them become my life-do you? You don’t have to let these things take over your life. Yes, they require our attention often, but I’m learning that distracting ourselves from them sometimes is just what we need most. I encourage you to take a step back from your hard work and healing determination and distract yourself a bit-it may be just what you need! Here are some of my favorite ways to distract yourself and your mind from the stress and let yourself live in the present.
- Go out for coffee (or tea or a smoothie). Sometimes just getting out of the house is just what you need to get out of your head. Even if it’s a trip to a coffee shop alone, it gives you time to look around and take note of the world around you. I always feel a little less overwhelmed and less focused on all my worries when I get out and about, plus coffee makes my soul SO happy.
- Call a friend. I find that whenever I have scheduled plans or calls with friends and don’t feel like I want to go and be social, that is exactly what I SHOULD do. Talking to someone else can help clear your mind and redirect your focus. Laughter is good for every part of your health. It’ll give you some time to think about things other than your worries!
- Read a book. As much as I used to hate reading, it distracts me SO WELL. If I have a book with a great plot, I can be lost in that fantasy world for hours and when I come back to reality, I feel so great for having “gotten away” when I really just picked up a book. So simple that we often overlook it!
- Journal. Now, this is coming from someone who absolutely sucks at daily journaling. I’ve given it a go a multitude of times but have never been able to stick with it, HOWEVER, just picking up a notebook here and there and writing my thoughts helps me to clear my mind and free up some space for every other part of my life. Again, your life isn’t all about healing and prepping for a better future self!
- Draw, doodle or paint. I’m someone who loves to draw out quotes and sayings and hang them on my wall. I find that the act of drawing is SO therapeutic and distracting. I get lost in what I’m doing that I don’t dwell on the fact that I shouldn’t have eaten that handful of cherries earlier because it’s bad for my stomach. And a bonus is I often feel inspired after reading and writing so many uplifting quotes and pictures!
- Watch a movie. Yes, you’re allowed to watch a movie with no guilt of wasting time. You can sit and enjoy it and think ONLY about the movie. Let your mind wander away from your worrying and stressful thoughts and into that of The Proposal (one of my fav movies).
- Go for a walk. Yep, everyone says it but that’s because it works! Get out and get some fresh air. Look around you, put in some earbuds and listen to a podcast (not health/healing related!) or some music and just let yourself live in the moment. Don’t think about anything else but the beauty around you and let your neighbor’s lawn mower distract you!
- Bake something. Baking always keeps my mind occupied with how many cups of this and how many tablespoons of that. I don’t have the time to think about whether I’ve completed enough of my stretches for physical therapy or whether or not I should be taking more supplements. I’m just living in the moment and enjoying the yummy aromas of my kitchen.
I guess I’m just trying to say that life is so much MORE than your illness or worries. You can enjoy today while still healing and becoming a better you. Distraction isn’t inhibiting your growth; it’s fueling it by giving your mind a freakin’ break! Live and enjoy today because as cliché as it is, we are only guaranteed this very moment. We don’t know what the next may bring so I recommend we all spend a little more of today embracing this beautiful thing called life.