One of My Favorite Skills

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A few years ago, when I was enrolled in classes intensively studying Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I learned a skill that became one of my very favorites. I put together an iTunes playlist soon after I enrolled in those DBT classes and this one skill seemed to be the easiest skill to find represented in the songs I had in my iTunes library at the time. Later, I found the coloring page above and used colored pencils to add vibrant colors to the page so I could have a bright reminder for using this skill. The DBT skill essentially taught me to do what the picture above is recommending.

Stand tall when you feel small. Or another way of saying it is, fake it until you make it. The specific instructions in Dialectical Behavior Therapy involved doing something that elicits the opposite emotion to what emotion you’re currently feeling. So, if you feel like going back to bed and hiding under the covers all day, instead get up and do something productive! I use this skill regularly. I love that if I’m starting to feel irritated and I don’t feel like doing something that’s good for me, I can use this skill to drastically change my mood.

You don’t have to have studied Dialectical Behavior Therapy to benefit from doing this to help you get yourself out of a mood rut. I have found that it’s helpful when interacting with my small daughter to recommend to her when she’s feeling gloomy that she do something different that she enjoys and she’ll feel less gloomy. It works!

I feel so grateful to have skills to help me manage my moods. I don’t often have mood fluctuations these days, and it’s so nice to have skills like this in my self-care repertoire. Try it. Stand tall when you’re feeling small!

Ridiculous Breakfast Smiley Face

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I don’t know about you, but there are days when I wake up feeling great and happy, and there are other days where I wake up feeling just about the opposite. As I live each day, managing my various physical and mental health conditions, I am learning ways I can help myself feel better on days that don’t start out feeling great, or days that begin with feeling happy but take a wrong turn later and then don’t feel good.

These days I find that the littlest things can sometimes make the biggest difference in the way my moods flow from day to day. The photo you see above was a breakfast I ate sometime last year (before my physical health needs required me to eat a low-carb diet) on a day that I wasn’t feeling so great in the morning. I arranged my breakfast that way on the plate to help alter my sour mood. My breakfast looked so ridiculously happy that I had to smile along with it.

I have been studying Dialectical Behavior Therapy for quite a few years now, and as you read my blog posts I’m sure you’ll notice that I tend to mention things I have learned in DBT study that are helping me manage my mental illness symptoms, and my life in general. One of those skills that I find helpful every time I use it is a skill in which you improve the current moment by adding some fun to what you’re doing. So, that’s what I did by arranging my breakfast that day last year into a ridiculous breakfast smiley face.

I could have gone about eating my breakfast in a lousy mood, and I bet my day would have been less pleasant than it turned out to be. By choosing to arrange my breakfast on the plate in a silly smiling face I improved that moment, and I cheered myself up. It didn’t take much time at all to choose to do that, but it made a difference. I remember giggling while I took that photo, and I also remember thinking how great it was that doing such a simple thing cheered me up and made eating breakfast a much more pleasant experience.

It’s the little things. I find, so often in my life, it’s the little things that I do which make a really big difference in whether I thrive or suffer while managing the health conditions I have. I love that I can make choices to help myself feel better and have a higher quality of life, even though my conditions and symptoms are what they are.

Today I intend to improve as many of the moments I will experience as I can. I appreciate so much that I can use this skill to enhance my days. Today I have some fairly mundane tasks to attend to for work, and other areas of my life. But, I don’t have to approach them as though they will be soul-sucking and dreary. I’m looking forward to seeing how I choose to improve my moments today.

We all write a page of our own life stories each day we live. I plan to make today a good chapter in my life story, even if everything that happens isn’t exactly what I would have chosen. I hope that you who are reading this post also write a good page in your life story today. Let’s all improve as many of our moments in our stories as we can!

 

 

 

© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.

Every Day Realities of Freaky Friday

This blog is part of my website, whatplaysmaycome.com and as such it is linked to that main site. However, unlike the blog you would find should you visit my main site, this blog is not about playwriting. In this blog I intend to focus on the very personal journey my mother and I are taking together as we live with our life roles permanently reversed.


Being my mother’s caregiver as she lives the rest of her life with Alzheimer’s Disease has effectively made the mother and daughter body swap plot of the old film Freaky Friday our every day reality. In many ways, I have become her mother, and she has become my daughter. These days I have put my creative writing projects on the back burner while I focus on making this final chapter of my mother’s life as pleasant, as fulfilling, and as full of happy memories for me, as it can possibly be.


In addition to being a playwright and a caregiver, I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Due to my heightened sensitivity it can be particularly excruciating having to watch my mother slowly disappearing before my eyes a little more each and every day. Alzheimer’s Disease is a truly horrifying illness. Being an HSP caregiver makes the realities of Alzheimer’s Disease even more unpleasant to me as they would be to a person who is less emotionally sensitive.


Before I began working as my mother’s caregiver here in my home I managed my highly sensitive nature by meditating regularly, eating six small meals per day, exercising regularly doing Zumba dance workouts, monitoring and managing my intense emotions through the application of the skills I learned in three years of intensive online Dialectical Behavior Modification Therapy (DBT) classes, and I also utilized talents I have in writing, singing, and in the visual arts, to help me maintain a life worth living in this often insensitive world.


In this blog I hope to be able to share the stories that my mother and I are living together as I help her make her way along treacherous and tragic road that is Alzheimer’s Disease. I hope to ease her journey, and mine, through the mindful seeking of silver linings, creativity, and the use of my DBT skills. And I hope, that through sharing our journey here I may be able to help someone else’s journey through a similar life story with their loved one a little bit easier.


An important element of self-care for Highly Sensitive People, and for anyone living the emotionally and physically exhausting life of an Alzheimer’s caregiver, is maintaining a regular sleep routine. So, with that as a goal, I will end this post here and return to my bed.

Thank you for reading!