It’s a Mon afternoon and I’m under my duvet. I’ve achieved the grand sum of attending a meeting and going to the post office today. Seeing someone from my past triggered a bout of the blues and I’ve been feeling low all weekend. I understand that I only feel this way because of the meaning I am taking from the interaction. What I also understand is that my current mental state is a reaction from my animal brain. Until I can get human again and back into my pre frontal cortex, none of the logic or coaching is going to make one bit of difference to how I’m feeling.
I know I need to do something. The longer I lie here allowing my brain to run the negative thoughts, the lower I slip. I have to get up and move. Going to the gym is the last thing I want to do but I know it’s the only thing that will shift my brain set right now. My reptile brain wants to seek comfort and safety by staying under the duvet eating chocolate. That ain’t going to help my mood or my waistline
Do you actually want to feel better or you going to wallow in self pity? I ask myself
I decide I def do want to feel better.
Great! I know exactly what to do when I feel like this
I have a proven strategy that works to shift my brain set
- [ ] Move
- [ ] Breathe
- [ ] Connect
It’s pointless trying to find the solution or do anything creative. I’m in the wrong brain
Right now my primitive reptile brain is running the show. The brain reacts in exactly the same way to perceived social threat as it does to threat to your physical safety. After my recent interaction, I’m feeling judged and not good enough. It’s send me straight into survival mode. My brain doesn’t know any better, it’s on high alert. Switching on my fight or flight reactions. Even though I’m under the duvet and exhausted, my pulse is racing and my mind struggles to focus
I need to get human again. The only way my animal brain will hand back the controls is too convince it that I’m safe
I need connection. Genuine, safe, warm fuzzy connection with people who care about me. I need hugs. Yes hugs actually increase our oxytocin levels (hormone that makes you feel connected)
And I need to move my bloody ass
I know how hard it is to get off the sofa but when you feel like this. My energy levels are non existent. I want to curl up in a ball and stay under duvet
On this occasion I’ve made an arrangement to train with a friend. I want to cancel but I hate letting people down so I drag my ass out of bed and to the gym
I workout with my friends, throwing tyres around and hitting the bags. And that’s it. Once I start to move, the dark cloud begins to lift.
Now I’ve made that initial move to get my energy and positivity back – then I need to plan strategies to stop me slipping back under
Knowing myself that means light training every day, time with friends and self compassion. No putting pressure on myself to achieve
If all I do this week is get through the basics then that’s ok.
If you find yourself struggling with lows at this time of year try my strategy
Move – you don’t have to go to gym and throw tyres around but try something that has repetitive movement pattern. It causes a different part of the brain to focus and takes your attention back to the here and now
Connect – as hard as it might be, talk to someone. Get out and connect with supportive people. Feeling connected will settle the mammal brain, meaning you can become human again. It will also change your focus and take your attention away from the negative thoughts
Breathe – dyaphramic breathing will take your out of the fight or flight branch of your nervous system. When we are anxious we tend to breathe from our chest. This tells the brain we are in danger. Slowing your breathing reassures your brain that everything is safe. It’s one I struggle with when I feel very anxious so I have to do the other 2 steps first. There are lots of apps that help guide your breathing by following cool shapes etc.
This stuff does really work but you have to apply it. Like all habits, keeping your brain healthy and positive requires daily practices. The brain is wired for negativity in order to keep you safe. We have to work extra hard to stay positive, some of us harder than others!
Knowing our triggers and avoiding the punches is another strategy but that’s another blog post.
On this occasion I walked straight into the punch. It happens to the best of us if we’re not paying attention!
To learn more about my boxing strategies for a positive mind check out my next Box to Balance workshop and retreat