Yesterday I was given a bit of advice to take it slow, to look after myself - I made my excuses for why I was buzzing along on hyper drive.. but I listened.. I felt ashamed and stupid for being pulled up on it, but I took note of the good words and intentions and tried to take it on board.
It's easy to keep getting lost in keeping busy. But busy times and busy minds don't help in the long run, as you just keep putting off the inevitable thinking time, by filling your days with stuff. Stuff that is often worthwhile, but ultimately stops you dealing with the problems you are running towards or away from. The tunnel vision of working and training for distant adventures and challenges can be both a help and an invisibility blanket.
Today I left the bike at home and tried to take the train and have a rest day.. it kind of worked. I got the DLR, arrived at Canning Town, stood on the Jubilee line platform with what felt like a million people, let 3 packed trains leave the platform without me, then went back upstairs to the DLR and headed into the City above ground and at a slower pace, to the end of the line.
I walked from Tower Gateway to Temple along the roads and the river until the tube would become quieter, less hassle and less likely to make me feel like an anchovy stuck in a tin; salty, spikey and trapped. I like walking by the river. There's still quite a lot of industrial work going on along the Thames, plenty to get lost looking into, passers by to wonder about their journeys, runners and cyclists clocking up their miles on their way to work.
As part of the daily commuter peloton, my bike rides are my chance to pretend I'm still a Goonie, setting me free for 60 minutes each way, idealising that I am without responsibility for a short time. Jumping off the odd paving stone, sprinting from the lights and roaming with the pack of high viz highway men and women, all on our way to our desks in the various corners of the city.
Once I arrive at my destination, its back to logical Soph, sensible desk dweller and keyboard pusher. I knew Pops was out tonight, so I stayed at my desk till 7pm then headed towards home. A slow walk back to Tower Gateway and a chance to take in the city, watch the people and have a long think about why I was running so hard lately, where I was headed and what I was still running from. Ultimately its my 'Get Out of Jail Free' card to switch off the thoughts that go round and round day and night, to tire myself out, to let me get some sleep.
I've not slept well these past weeks and have increased my exercise to 7-8 hours per week, as I get ready for Paris in April. I've been thinking back to earlier this year and the tools that Mind gave me to cope with grey days. I had a course of CBT and I really benefitted from the sessions. Though the talking therapy sessions have ended, the most useful tool I was given was a weekly calendar, not to plan with, but to track what I was up to. This document became a great way to teach me how to balance my time, stay focused and keep doing the things that were helpful, to identify and ditch the bits that were not. It's really simple - you have 6 sessions over the day. You write down in each session; Where you are, What you were doing, Who you were with and How you feel.
When the darker days are around you its easy to forget the times in the week when you had a good giggle or a cry, some fun times or the things that triggered your feelings. Its a simple tool, but this planner helps me put back a sense of order, perspective and eventually to learn to ditch the things that make the dull days worse. Though I am in a much better place these days, I'm still finding it difficult to get passed days when my head is full of thoughts and the anxiety is taking over again.
My aim? To try to do more of the things that build the happy, to help me 'be' and stop me reaching for things that help me 'hide'. It's worth trying it out for a couple of weeks, then look back at what you've been up too.. how much has been hidden in work, or in exercise.. Time to take advice and listen to yourself and other positive influencers.
Once the boundaries are reset, you can find some time to rest, then work as hard as you play xx
For an example planner, see below