This last month has been eventful to say the least. The unabated drama and fallout of the US elections, the uptick in COVID-19 spread, the incessant flood of negative news on every platform, and the resultant wave of anxiety all around, were just too much. Do I stay slavishly plugged to it all and risk losing my sanity? Or, do I intentionally unplug and find peace in the solitude of my own quiet moments? Those two options tugged at my consciousness, actively competing for dominance and supremacy. In spite of what I posted in my blog posts over the last few months about mindfulness, intention, being in the present, living in the now, I found myself slipping back into old habits. Once again, I got so caught up in all the external distractions, that I lost my focus for a while and got the blues. I felt depressed. But this time would be different somehow. This time, I listened to my own advice.
One of the things I have noticed about myself, is how easily distracted I am. The issue with restive (uneasy, impatient or restless) minds like me, is that they constantly seek stimulation and involvement. Staying quiet for too long is anathema. It is detested and shunned. Routine activities often result in boredom, unfulfillment, frustration, then disconnection from it all. For that reason, the media (social and news) offered me that temporary escape during this period of social isolation. The hype of the elections was hypnotic at best - slowly entrapping me in its psychological web of skewed reality. Truth be told, whoever the winner was, life does and will continue as before. When that wasn't enough, the emotional onslaught of the omnipresent media reports of COVID death and illness kept me entranced during the intermission of a nasty election screenplay. Before I knew it, I had no mental clarity and no desire to write. I had no motivation. I felt like hibernating all winter long like a bear - locked away in the den of my own making. I knew this feeling all too well. I had to quickly take action and put a plan in place. I had to do something and I had to do it now.
So I decided to quit. Yes I quit! Not my job, lol. But I quit the senseless entertainment. We are what we consume. Garbage in, garbage out - natural law? I have since chosen to leave the news cycle alone by sticking to a cut-off point. No more beyond 8pm. I read and/or listen to my favorite music until bedtime. I resumed my usual 4am workout at the gym. Nothing invigorates my mind like the dopamine rush of an intense hour of weight lifting. Exercise is cathartic. I also reconnected with family during Thanksgiving. It is always quite refreshing to spend time with those who know me, understand me, and love me best. Much more gratifying, is when the feeling's all mutual - happiness is the only natural result. Healthy relationships do help to remind me that I am not alone, especially now when we are encouraged to be socially and physically distant. It's the support system that becomes a lifeline when nothing else seems to makes sense.
I quit the mindlessness of the daily after-work routine. It became so easy to coast through each hour without actively participating in anything meaningful. Having no plans, no intention behind any action, passively drifting from one thing to the next, can be quite addictive. But ignoring my goals and self-care is not only self-destructive, it is self-defeating. It's shocking to see how much gains can be wiped out when one does not pay attention. During these last few weeks, I began to lose the mental clarity I previously enjoyed. I am therefore reminded that a mind that is ever conscious of the present, is a mind that is actively on guard and carefully observes anything that threatens its delicate equilibrium and peace. Many do notice, however, that once this balance is upended, old addictive habits resurface or new ones present themselves. Some have resorted to heavy drinking, binge eating, impulsive shopping, reconnecting with toxic persons who feed their ego, and the list goes on ad infinitum. We are all guilty of some guilty pleasure from time to time. I know first-hand. But when these habits are the go to elixir for numbing of the senses or avoiding the present issues, then our refusal to be accountable will only reinforce the habit, ensuring that an addiction ensues. The cycle of meaningless addiction can be depressing but there's always hope. There is always a way out.
So choose the things that are positive. Be intentional with what you consume, be it physically, emotionally, or mentally. Spend time actively working towards your goals. Get clear on your present situation(s) and carefully craft an action plan -short term and long term, to move yourself forward no matter how long it takes. Get still and meditate on the things that bring your joy. And be grateful for the good things you've got. See your 'mistakes' as life-lessons that serve to teach you wisdom and share that wisdom with those around who need it. Be compassionate with those less fortunate and be thankful for every minute. Life may be tough at times, and for some, most times. But never be afraid to say that you need help. Ask for it. Your life is worth saving. You are worth it! Love yourself, respect yourself, and be kind to yourself. Show up for yourself - just be present. This way, you'll say goodbye to the blues for a long, long time.