You get up in the morning with a dull headache.
You had plans to conquer the world today. Well, it happened to me last Saturday morning. My Saturdays are designated to either indoor house chores or outdoor garden work. This particular Saturday I had a list of outdoor tasks to be checked off and I had envisioned myself jumping out of bed like a jackrabbit and running.
Instead, I woke up to my alarm clock at 6 am (normally I naturally wake up before 6 am, well rested). Right away I knew something was off. “Oh well” I thought and went downstairs to make my cup of coffee with the thought of “when I get moving, it will be better”.
Nope. That wasn’t happening. Headache remained.
Begrudgingly I plowed ahead with the day. After my morning shower, and still not feeling better, I made myself some breakfast. I thought that perhaps I didn’t eat enough the day before and I was hungry. I ate some healthy brain food and carried on. I realized soon after that it wasn’t lack of food, as it made no difference.
It was hard to avoid thinking about my head! It hurt…plus I felt my waist was strapped to an anvil. For those of you that suffer with migraines, I have a whole new empathy for you. This was not fun.
Mid-morning as I was shovelling soil out of my compost bin into a wheelbarrow – I started to feel sorry for myself. I was questioning, “Should I nap?” (I NEVER nap – not even when I had small babies in the house.) “Lost productivity time” I thought, “carry on soldier” my intuition was telling me. So, I listened.
My mind wouldn’t stop thinking. Why do I have a headache? What did I do the day before? I did take note that the previous evening I seemed energized more than usual. Normally around 9:30 pm the melatonin is increasing, and the cortisol is decreasing (the two neuronal hormones that should act in a see-saw-like-manner). I like to read in bed but usually can only get 10 minutes of reading in before ‘game over’ happens. This particular night, I was at the 45-minute mark when I thought, “Hmm, this is odd, oh well”. I had the gut instinct to put the book down and shut off the light, and I did eventually fall asleep without too much effort.
As I continued to shovel and feel even more sorry for myself, the next thought that popped into my head was “Joey!!” Joey is my 15-year-old son. “I bet he used my espresso machine and filled the bean bin with caffeinated beans!” See, typically, I make myself a decaf espresso after dinner. Yesterday I happened to have made myself a double decaf Americano after dinner. Thoughts started to race further about “I can’t live with my teenagers during this whole Covid thing anymore!!! They are driving me insane.”
Well, as it happens the headache went away in 30 minutes after that. Did Joey fill the bin with caffeinated beans and wouldn’t admit to it when I drilled him on it later that day? Possibly (knowing the wrath of mom), or maybe I wasn’t properly fueled, and it took a bit of time to hit the system? Possibly. My point is, I may never know…BUT… I am aware.
Awareness is the key point here. Being aware of your behaviours and thoughts, along with reflection is what we all need more of. We need to pay attention and focus more. It is hard to do this when ‘life is so busy’. I am happy I followed my ‘gut feeling’ and kept on going. I had a very productive day, although I would have preferred to not have such a slow ‘out of the gate’ performance. However, it all got done and was followed by a beautiful rain.
“The mind always wants to know THE WHY, and it won’t stop until you are satisfied with the answer.”
What was interesting was the cascade of thoughts that went through my brain. The mind always wants to know THE WHY, and it won’t stop until you are satisfied with the answer. I want you to instead feel that perhaps just taking note is more important than knowing the why. The answer will come to you eventually. Staying present and focusing on what IS good about your day is much, much more important.
As I shoveled with thoughts of pity entering my head, I realized I needed to see the positive. It was a beautiful crisp morning. Perfect for yard work. No bugs, with a nice breeze going through the backyard. The compost was nice. My back is stronger than it used to be, and there were no aches or pains to speak of. I could go on and on, but what I want to bring to your attention is that we all have ‘bad days’, but we also have the choice of how we perceive these ‘bad days’.
No matter what happens in life we HAVE A CHOICE OF THE THOUGHTS THAT come into our heads. Do we want that thought or not? Does it make me feel good to have this thought or not? Is this thought the truth? (e.g. Joey. Did he use caffeinated beans?) Who knows and who cares…? I am still alive. My work was done. Setting my thoughts (mindset) first thing in the morning wrote the story.
I went from self-blame (not eating enough and reading too long), to blaming another person, to God knows what else I was trying to trace this headache to… who cares? Stay focused and present on what is ahead of you – give gratitude to what you do have around you – and carry on, young grasshopper… life is good. Do you have clothes on your back? Food in your cupboard? And a roof to protect you from the rain? Truly a beautiful rain it was.
Check, check, and check. Yep, life is good.
One final note: What I described above is completely different than depression. Depression is not having a bad day, it is much more than that. Let’s save that for next week, shall we?