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How Did I Get Out of My Head?
- How Did This Start?
- Therapist Suggestions
- How Does My Body Feel?
- Eating Meditation
- Sunlight, Cats and Grass
How Did This Start?
In my last post, “Out of My Head” I told everyone that I was going to take a week off to get out of my head. The reason I decided to try this was because a comment my therapist made was really bothering me. I could not set my mind at ease not matter how hard I tried, because I do not know what else to do with my life. I decided to e-mail my therapist, not expecting a response (she was going out of town). This is what I wrote to her:
“I hope things are starting out well for you this week. I have a question for you. I know it was not your intention, and I am glad you said it, but the comments about how much time I spend doing ‘healing’ work and ‘in my head’ have really been bothering me the last couple of days.
Of course it is because I agree, but I do not know what else I should be doing. I am not ready to leave the safety I have created and not sure how to get out of my head in the time being? (until I am ready to leave the safety I have created).
I am wondering because I would like to try to live out of my head…but it seems all my hobbies are about learning. For example guitar, painting, digital art, photography, knitting, etc. So my question is, do these types of hobbies count as at least a start for living out of my head? I have had some interest in getting into things again…
Of course your answer will not lead me into or out of these hobbies, just wondering if it relates.”
She was kind enough to respond with the suggestions I summarized below. She also assured me that there was no NEED to change anything at the present moment, or any need to leave the safety that I have only recently created. She also said that if I was uncomfortable with any of the suggestions, to wait until we next met.
I suggest the same for any of you reading. Be kind to yourself if you do decide to take these suggestions, and make sure they are right for you first. Also remember not to judge yourself as you do them, like my therapist also pointed out.
Side note: She also poiout in a follow up email that my hobbies are good for ‘getting out of my head’ as well, but not when I am still in the learning stage (true for all I listed). They will be relaxing for me once they have become more automatic., however I am this way with crocheting which I just have a lot of practice with, but not with any of the hobbies I mentioned in the e-mail above.
My therapist e-mailed me the following suggestions to help me get out of my head.
1. Sensory Experience
Select a sensory experience that doesn’t trigger you and just spend some time noticing it, such as:
- Run your fingers over a piece of sand paper, -OR-
- Drop a little lemon juice on your tongue
When your mind wonders she instructed to bring it back with questions about how you are presently feeling. I turned this into the morning ritual with my cats described later.
2. How Do You Feel
Set an alarm for random times during the day and take a few second to notice how you feel emotionally at that time, using the “How Do You Feel Today?” handout that she had given me (click link for a post on this). For some reason I have a real mental block about this simple exercise, so I did not do it. I have never done it yet. It has something to do with an injured, little girl part of me.
Now you might be wondering exactly how I did over the last week and how successful I was at it. Well, here is a summary of how it went and examples of how I got ‘out of my head’ just a little. Feel free to steal these ideas, and please, modify them to fit your needs, interests, and personality.
How Does My Body Feel?
I took moments to check in with how my body felt multiple times throughout the week. I did this by stopping for a minute and asking myself, “How does my body feel right now?” and noticing any pain, any sensations, or any pressure anywhere in my muscles and body. I describe this technique more thoroughly under ‘Body Awareness” in the post “Breathing Exercises, Meditation and Visualization for PTSD“.
I especially did this while I was walking, which I actually ended up finding somewhat disturbing. I discovered that 4 out of 5 days I walked my whole body was very numb and I also had many other sensations that I described in my post, “Diagnosing DID/PTSD and Body Sensations*” all week long. But the one I am talking about here is bullet point #4, “I feel like I am in a very thick skin, and cannot feel anything properly, like my nerves have retreated and made everything dull.” I guess I still spent a lot of the week partially disconnected.
I also took time to notice and really enjoy my food for the first few minutes of at least one meal a day, when I remembered. I described this exercise in the post “Breathing Exercises, Meditation and Visualization for PTSD” under ‘Meditations’, ‘My favorite meditations’.
This one always works out well for me, but is hard to remember to do. I find that I really enjoy the food that I cook, as I take time to prepare my food how I like. It usually turns out well and is very flavorful.
I also have been eating my mixed fruit salad again since it is the spring/summer season. Fruit salad lends really well to this exercise because there is a lot to notice. I choose my fruits in a salad for a variety of colors to get a wide range of different vitamins. For example, pineapple, apples, red grapes, blueberries, strawberries and cantaloupe this week. There is a variety of textures, colors, flavors and smells to notice and enjoy. This makes this exercise a lot more fun and interesting.
Sunlight, Cats and Grass
I spent a few minutes each morning outside with my cats when I let them out. I have been trying to do this daily the last few months anyway, just to get 5-15 minutes of non-SPF protected sunlight, to boost vitamin D and serotonin levels.
However, this week I took at least a minute to just feel the sunlight on my skin, to notice the way my cats fur felt as I pet them, and how their fur warms up or cools down depending on the temperature and weather outside. I also took a moment to notice how my bare feet felt on the concrete as I walked outside my home, and how it felt on the grass once I sit down to watch my cats.
The last thing I did was to put off reading my new books for a week, to give my brain a little rest from abuse learning (PTSD Sourcebook and Safe Passage to Healing). I also did not write for the blog until yesterday, Sunday (06/15).
Please feel free to let me know how you feel about these suggestions and please offer your own! It would be really great to know what you do to get out of your head.