Habitual Mood

Many small things

Things have been overwhelming lately. I'm tired of being unwell, and the task of getting better feels beyond me.

Yesterday I was thinking about Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, a book about writing, which I read many years ago. The lesson that has stuck with me - even if I have often failed to heed it - is that one way of approaching a large problem is to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Instead of sitting down and declaring "I am going to write a novel!", then staring at the blank page for half an hour before going off to play with the cat, you sit down and write a paragraph. Then tomorrow you write another paragraph, then another, and eventually you have many paragraphs out of which you might construct something novel-shaped.

I am trying to apply this principle to the seemingly insurmountable problem of my mental health. If it feels overwhelming and hopeless, what is the smallest thing I can do towards feeling better? For instance, I am finding it very difficult to exercise, as being away from the house causes anxiety. When I do go out, I feel like I have to "make the most of it" by pushing myself to stay out for a certain time, or by walking a certain distance. The result is usually that I feel terrible during the walk, and it further entrenches the idea that going out = bad. So I avoid going out, which compounds the problem. Brains: who'd have one?

So what's the smallest thing I can do that will help with this problem? In my mood tracking app I have set up the goal of taking at least one short walk (up to fifteen minutes) each day. It might be down to the corner, it might be around the block. I don't even need to put shoes and socks on - it's summer here, so I can wear my slip-ons. It's one small, not especially onerous, thing I can do, right now, to help myself.

#mental health #personal