Saturday, November 21, 2009

Scheduling Wellness Activities

I am often inspired by other bloggers. The idea for this blog came when I read Harriet M. Welch's blogpost "Quicksand and a Mandala". In the post she talk how difficult it is for her to just sit and meditate. She goes on to describe an intricate art project that allowed her to meditate in a more activity based way: by focusing intently on a beautiful and intricate art project. She describes herself as a "Kinesthetic Meditator". Upon reading those words I had an ah-ha moment: Activities calm me, help me stop my negative brain chatter and help me build wellness into my life.

My other blog "Vicarious Therapy" is often really focused on thoughts, ideas and feelings. I decided I needed to emphasize how important it is for me to remain active, to somehow gently "force" myself to keep DOING, even when, or maybe especially when, I am feeling severely depressed.

My psychiatrist has been helping me create and incorporate into my everyday life, what he calls a "benevolent structure". The idea is to develop, schedule and maintain a set of activities I love to do, or that help me feel a sense of accomplishment; activities that gently help me remain engaged in life, that help me feel involved in the world around me, and that provide me with a sense of belonging and a sense that I can contribute to this world. The idea is that by scheduling these activities I will have the structure I need to help myself do things even when I am feeling really unwell.

This benevolent structure does help me remain engaged. I am often severely depressed I have a very difficult time getting myself to do things. The things I schedule, I do. The schedule: my singing lessons, my choir, my dog walks, my meetings with friends etc., acts as a catalyst that grabs my hand and gets me to do things even when the voice inside me is saying, "I'm too tired, too depressed, or to exhausted to go to "X" activity.

I guess the best way to describe my benevolent structure is this way: My benevolent structure (the schedule of activities I have created for myself) is like a personal contract to myself. In the contract I have agreed that despite having negative thoughts, or feelings of depression, or anxiety, about activities want to, and like to do, I will not cancel, or avoid the activities. I will do the activities I schedule.

It may not be easy, in fact two things that provide me with the most joy: my singing lessons and my teaching art classes, are tasks I actively dread going to every single week. They are also two activities in my benevolent structure that bring the most joy to me while I am actively engaged in singing and teaching. This is not an easy path to follow, but I am hoping that over time I will relearn to be excited and happy about doing the things I love to do.

I hope this blog can become a compendium of things that bring me joy and things that help me heal. I hope in writing and reinforcing the positive activities I embrace in my life I will eventually reprogram some of my negative behaviours and thoughts into a plan for a lifetime of wellness. I hope too that I can inspire others as others have inspired me.

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