It’s Friday of Mental Health Awareness week and all week I have been tied up in knots thinking “I must write a blog entry this week.”
I have finally got myself to a position where I have been able to give myself sufficient headspace to get even a kernel of an idea. The lack of room in my head is not down to anyone but me. So what I decided to do is to write about why I haven’t had the headroom and what I have done about it.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness week is #bodypositive and what I want to write about fits quite neatly with that.
Some of you will know (probably most) that we go through our lives with “scripts” running in the background influencing how we treat ourselves. Now I am not a techie but as with computers, a lot of these scripts have been set up very early on in our lives and some have been learnt later in life. Some are created by our surroundings, some by the people who brought us up, our friends, our experiences. Some of those scripts will drive positive behaviours / thoughts and some do not. The ones we learn very early on can be the ones that are the hardest to crack as we have had them all our lives. For more information about scripts have a look here… http://archive.jsonline.com/features/advice/subconscious-mental-scripts-can-keep-us-in-self-defeating-patterns-b99659103z1-367032701.html
“I have lots of scripts running all the time!”
For example, I have the script that drives me to achieve everything pretty much yesterday. That manifests in me sometimes freaking out if I haven’t got my to-do list done. Who wrote the to-do list? Me. Rationally, it doesn’t matter whether it all gets done as I own the list. But my long standing script tells me that I am failing if I don’t get it all done. And sometimes that script shouts so loud I can’t hear or get room in my head for anything else.
The good news is that we can all interrupt and rewrite the scripts we don’t find positive in lots of different ways… I have managed to interrupt that “to-do” script and I’m writing this now – hurrah!
I have a (now very occasional) script telling me that I needed to lose more weight. This was at its worst point a few years ago when I had a BMI approaching underweight. I had a constant internal battle going on and a pretty shabby attitude to my body. It took me a good while to appreciate what my body can do when it is healthy and to realise I needed to stop that script from running in my head. In fact it took me having to recover from an operation to fully appreciate what I have. Just even being here on this planet let alone functioning healthily. It still comes back from time to time, but I know it’s there and I tackle it head on.
Everyone is different and each script is different so some, none or one of the list below might work.
The main thing to remember though is that the first step in interrupting or rewriting the script is to recognise that you have one.
Ways to try and interrupt and rewrite a script
- Exercise – this is what I tend to find most useful as I find it takes me away (physically, mentally and emotionally) and I have to focus fully on what my body is doing. It’s doubly effective if you can exercise outside. As I said in my first post, exercise was a significant contributing influence on my recovery from depression. https://witnesstheblog.fitness.blog/
- Talking to someone – could be a friend, family member or a stranger. Often a conversation can make the script stutter and you can nip it in the bud before it even gets going.
- Talk to yourself (aka have a word with yourself) – if it helps imagine a friend told you that they were feeling the same way as you. What would you say? Say the same back to yourself.
- Internal (or even external) mantras – find something positive that counteracts a negative script. Such as “I am enough as I am” or “I can do this”.
- Visualise – something that’s bothering you in a more positive light. Or visualise all the people who are in your cheering section and who support you no matter what happens.
- Meditation – you don’t need to sit crossed legged to meditate. Just deep breaths and focusing on the middle distance while you clear your mind can be sufficient to get some room in your head. I do recommend the Insight Timer app for those that like to use Guided meditation – it has literally thousands of meditations to choose from plus a timer to use and it’s all free. https://insighttimer.com/
- Change of scene – moving from the scene of the script and focusing your attention on your new surroundings can stop those scripts from running as this takes you out of your inner world.
- Sleep/ rest – good quality sleep and rest is paramount for healthy mind and body. My scripts whirr more loudly when I am tired or don’t rest sufficiently.
- Remove script triggers – if certain things set your script off and it’s impacting you very negatively then do your best to eliminate or limit them until such time as you can rewrite them yourself. You may need help from a qualified therapist to help you – I did.
What’s in store?
Remember everyone has scripts and some affect us positively. We wouldn’t be who we are without them. But if your scripts are negatively affecting your wellbeing then it might be time to rewrite your script.
And who knows what story the new scripts could weave for you next?
I am not a qualified therapist or counsellor. The thoughts shared in this blog are from my own experience and do not replace the advice of a Medical or Health professional which will be tailored to your needs.
Please seek help if in doubt – here is a list of useful resources and contacts:
NHS Choices– www.nhs.uk– Find out more about the counselling services offered within the NHS- what it is used for and how you can access it.
Living Life to the Full– www.llttf.com– Website from the NHS
General Mental Health Resources:
The Mental Health Foundation – www.mentalhealth.org.uk – UK mental health research, policy and service improvement charity.
Be Mindful– bemindful.co.uk – A website dedicated to mindfullness from the Mental Health Foundation
Breathing Space – www.breathingspace.scot – You can call 0800 838587 open 6pm-2am Monday – Thursday and from 6pm Fri – Monday 6am.
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org – call 116 123, email email@example.com or text: 07725 90 90 90 – 24 hours a day.
Action for Happiness– www.actionforhappiness.org– A place for people to share knowledge, experience and research to encourage practical action that can support better mental health and wellbeing. The patron of the organisation is the Dalai Lama.
Anxiety UK – www.anxietyuk.org.uk – national charity for those affected by anxiety disorders.
Anxiety Alliance– www.anxietyalliance.org.uk– Supporting those affected by anxiety disorders including General Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Helpline and email support available.