Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My sweet 86 year-old neighbor is going to have hip replacement surgery next month. Yesterday she told me that one of the instructions is for her to bring regular ‘street’ clothes to wear while she’s in the hospital. We both mentioned how being dressed, rather than staying in pajamas or a gown, is psychologically healthy. I take that to mean it’s good for a person’s mental health.

Later, as I was thinking of our conversation, I remembered the days way back when, when it was difficult for me to do almost anything – when anxiety and depression ruled my life.
There was so much – “I just don’t wanna.” Or, “I don’t feel like it.” Or, “I don’t feel up to it”, meaning I thought the effort was too great for me to handle.

Thankfully, I learned to make firm decisions and ‘command’ my muscles to move. My motivational statement at the time went like this: “I’m doing this for my Mental Health.”

Stage One Practice:
At first it was usually the mundane things such as getting dressed and making myself presentable. Why should I do my hair, get out of my bed clothes?? I’m not going anywhere today.
A firm decision + the motivator: "I’m doing this for my Mental Health" got me moving.

Stage Two Practice:
Actually going out and bearing more discomfort (taking along my mental fitness tools) plus my: "I’m doing this for my Mental Health" aided me in first walking farther away from my home, then driving longer distances, going for a haircut, sitting through an entire church service or movie, and so many, many, many more activities.

Stage Three Practice
Past the stage of doing the thing I “feared and care not to do” and into not really something I feared to do, but something that would fall into the category of “I’d rather be doing something else”. It could also be an “Oh, this can wait” obligation such as balancing the checkbook, cutting the grass, etc.

I’ve learned that often it takes less time and energy to complete whatever it is, than the time and energy spent in putting it off. How so? The nagging “should” thoughts when I delay doing what should be done are bothersome. distracting, annoying. They’re uncomfortable! Kept up long enough, they will cause tension. So, for me, I command the muscles and DO.
Even now sometimes I still use “I’m doing this for my Mental Health”. Interesting, now it’s kind of fun.

Then again, sometimes there’s more effort in –

“I WILL save this for tomorrow”.
And… that’s another topic, for another day.

Warm Regards,

© 2009 Rose VanSickle All rights reserved