“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
Using breathing to calm yourself before bed, or throughout the day to keep on top of anxiety can be incredibly useful:
I find both of these breathing pacing videos particularly useful, but make sure you have the sound turned on so that you can get used to doing it without watching so that you can fall asleep.
Headspace is also a brilliant app to begin meditating and calming yourself at night, which is very accessible. Meditation and mindfulness are vital to manage anaxiery and stress. Here is an interview regarding Headspace by Russell Brand:
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lives or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
When Breath Becomes Air; What Makes Life Worth Living in the Face of Death by Paul Kalanithi is a beautiful and inspirational read that I would recommend to everyone. It can powerfully change one’s perception and approach to one’s mortality, being diagnosed with or being surrounded by anothers’ terminal illness. It courageously looks at what you do when life is suddenly turned upside down and how your whole identity has to shift. It explores what it means to have a child as your own life fades away and what makes life worth living in the face of death.
“Although these last few years have been wrenching and difficult – sometimes almost impossible – they have also been the most beautiful and profound of my life, requiring the daily act of holding life and death, joy and pain in balance and exploring new depths of gratitude and love…Paul faced each stage of his illness with grace-not with bravado or misguided faith that he would “overcome” or “beat” cancer but with an authenticity that allowed him to grieve the loss of the future he had planned and forge a new one…He let himself be open and vulnerable, let himself be comforted. Even when terminally ill, Paul was fully alive; despite physical collapse he remained vigorous, open, full of hope not for an unlikely cure but for days that were full of purpose and meaning” (p.219).
“I’m still taking part in the life we created together. “Bereavement is not the truncation of married love” C.S. Lewis wrote, “but one of its regular phases-like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too.” Caring for our daughter, nurturing relationships with family, publishing this book, pursuing meaningful work, visiting Paul’s grave, grieving and honouring him, persisting…my love goes on-lives on-in a way I’d never expected” (p.224 – Lucy Kalanithi)
“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving” (p.115)
A great article on learning how to live alongside depression, which I think can be generalised to mental health issues more generally, as well as psychosomatic illnesses. It demonstrates the small choices in ones lifestyle that can be pivotal in preventing a spiral into depression for example – something that so often is seen to arrive completely out of the blue, which one has little control over. It requires someone to be highly attuned to their body, signals that things are slipping, their triggers, as well as what makes them better. They have to be determined to counteract the beginnings of depression, anxiety, ME, chronic pain for example, to stop it escalating into something more severe and harder to manage and pull oneself back from. This is done by finding ways that keep you calm, lift your mood and give you the best chance of riding it out. I like the jam jar conceptualisation of this and think it’s a useful tool for anyone to do to ensure that they are balancing their days.