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Day 210: Changing the Channel

Day 210.  I have been on this self-improvement journey for seven months today!

And I plan on continuing.  I am quite proud of my discipline!  I have been going to the gym 5 to 6 days a week. On the days that I don't make it to the gym, I do extra walking and calisthenics.

I do not eat gluten.  I usually stop eating by 7:00 p.m.  Occasionally I allow myself a small meal when I get home, which is often after 9:00 p.m.  But I eat consciously. No more mindless munching on a bowl of buttered popcorn.(How in the world did I break that habit?)

Last night when I got home, I had a bowl of pinto beans, topped with beets, sauerkraut and olives.  It was surprisingly satisfying!

I still have many things to work on.  One of them is worry. I tend to have a one track mind when it comes to anxiety.

Yesterday, after my workout at the gym, I was getting ready to go teach piano. But I kept thinking about the most recent mass shooting in San Bernardino.  I am a fast reader. I have read massive accounts online about the story. I have listened to talk radio.  I have researched ISIS, and Islam.

My mind started to spin as I walked.  Trying to make sense of it all. Mostly trying to understand how someone could justify killing innocent people in the name of God.  I got angry again. And then I started to worry about the people who would be profiled because of their religion or race. And I started feeling guilty about being judgmental. My mind started spinning out of control. My pulse was racing. I could hardly breathe!

I thought, maybe I could listen to the news as I walked. I don't know why I thought this would calm me. But I think in my anxious state, my mind needed something to focus on. I reached into my purse for my cell phone. But, AACCK! I had forgotten my headphones at home!

I thought about running back to get them. But that would make me late. I actually considered stopping and buying another set, but scolded myself.  This has become another addiction for me.  Almost as strong as my food addiction.  This electronic information addiction.

 I had just made a vow to stay off of Facebook for the rest of the day. I get pulled in. And then I lose track of time.  The same goes for talk radio, believe it or not. I don't have a "smart phone". Thank goodness!  I just have an old flip phone. So I just use it for, well talking!  But it does have a built in radio.  I can keep up with the news while I walk.

One thing I do notice about my journey here is that I do not relax much.  When I am sitting or reclining, I am reading my kindle, on my computer or listening to talk radio. When I am at my piano, I am practicing for a concert.

The first leisurely activity I took part in recently was game night last night with my son, daughter and son-in-law.  The laughter was wonderful. I slept soundly last night. And when I woke up I had less pain.

So I am adding family time to my daily list!

But to backtrack to my leaving of the headphones, is that instead of panicking and spending needless money or stressing out, I "changed the channel". I told myself, "You don't have headphones, so the radio is out. Change the channel!"

So I did! I started thinking about the students I would teach that day.  I thought in detail of the lesson plan for the day, some games and started planning their upcoming recital in my head.

It worked!  I calmed down and focused. Then when anxious thoughts crept in, I "changed the channel" again.

I designated several channels to turn to, when negative obsessive thoughts invaded:

1. Piano Students
2. Piano music for upcoming performances (I try to "play" my pieces in my head. Yes, I am weird!)
3. Family. I imagine pleasant moments with family.  Especially random, funny incidents.
4. God.  This stopped me. Because God actually is the whole radio. I mean, I can talk to Him about every subject, even the negative stuff.  I may have to make a chart out of this.  Good stuff here!
5. Budget.  I can plan my budget. However, this often gives me anxiety. I will have to put this way down near the bottom. Or just turn it over to God when I get too stressed out!
6. Commuting. I like to plan my bus route in my head.  It has helped me more punctual, which is challenging when you depend on public transportation!
7. Food. Yes, I have a food channel in my brain. But this is where I plan my next meals and consider options if I am hungry and don't have a meal packed.


I could go on!  I think I will make a brain channel chart.  It sounds kind of crazy, but it really helped me get past a near panic attack today.

 Aside from the anxiety,  I am wanting to increase the exercise. I am looking forward to the New Year's Eve run.  So I need to start training harder.

I was also noticing that I was feeling dehydrated yesterday when I was teaching group piano classes. I usually bring a thermos of hot tea and/or bottled water, but I wanted to travel light.  But I didn't have much time in between classes to run down the hall for a drink (of water, lol).

So more water!

Ironically, when I got to the music center where I teach, I found my headphones tucked in my sweater pocket.

I would not have thought of switching brain channels if I had discovered them earlier. Coincidence or not, I am so glad this played out this way.

I may have to create a brain playlist!

Happy Saturday! :)

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