Just over a year ago I was the person who made a driver stop the bus, get everyone off, and call an ambulance. I was standing by the front, (not holding on), and when the bus suddenly stopped, I smashed my head on the windscreen. Oh, I wish I could have just disappeared at that point! Long story short, instead of going to work, I ended up at the hospital having my eyebrow glued back together.
And why? Because I wasn't paying attention. Because I was too engrossed in my phone, buying nappies for my youngest son. All the while trying to work out how and why I had run out - these things didn't normally happen to me. Was I dropping the ball? What was going on?
I was living very mindlessly. On autopilot. I called it Distracted Living. And if you're wondering whether your lifestyle could be 'distracted' too, here's what it looked like for me.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.
1. You are feeling stressed
I was physically and mentally exhausted all the time. I felt like I was constantly chasing my tail, spreading myself too thin, and not doing anything well. Anxiety, worry, and irrational fears were keeping me up at night. I felt unsettled, snappy, and easily overwhelmed. The signs were all there, but I missed them. I was stressed, and I didn't know it. I thought that what I was experiencing was just part and parcel of being a working mum of three young children. After all, isn't this how everyone else feels all the time? Thankfully, no.
2. Your life is filled with things that don't spark joy
My thinking brain could certainly articulate a million reasons why my life was great. But I felt differently. Deep down, I knew differently. For many years, I had been in a job I didn't love anymore. But I was good at it, and it paid good money. I had worked hard to progress in that career - no point in questioning it, right? Why, then, did I have this niggling feeling that something wasn't right? Why was I feeling so unsettled and unfulfilled? My limiting beliefs were trying to make me bury my head in the sand. They wanted me to carry on being mindless and distracted. But that only leads to the point where you can't do it anymore.
3. You spend most of your day on autopilot
Do you ever find yourself getting to work in the morning and not quite knowing how you got there? And you don't remember much at all about the journey? I was that person. The journey was just a means to an end. An opportunity to go over, in my head, the next few items on the to-do list. I didn't notice the journey. I didn't see things. And now that I do, I also notice how much I didn't see any of it before. I wasn't in the present. I wasn't 'with it'.
4. Your body is desperately trying to get your attention
The fact I was always exhausted wasn't enough of a warning sign for me at first. At 35, I started to notice I was becoming out of breath when rushing up the stairs, for example. Or that I could often feel my heart beating in my chest - fast. Alarmingly fast. Then I started getting migraines, stomach cramps, and frequent colds. My body was screaming for help. It was telling me things had to change. Or else.
5. Your lifestyle is taking its toll on your mind
While my body may have been falling apart before my eyes, (but I was too distracted to see it), what I did notice was that I constantly felt frazzled. So much so that I had started to struggle to make decisions. I had started to feel confused. My priorities were all out of whack too. So badly that on the day after we got back from a 3-week family holiday, I became so obsessed with unpacking and sorting the house out (before even having my breakfast) that I fell on the stairs and broke my leg. Because I had been missing all the signs, something clearly had to happen to stop me in my tracks. A complicated surgery later, I was unable to walk for three and half months. And to drive for five months. But as painful as the whole experience was (physically), nothing hurt more than knowing that my state of mind had caused my fall and my injury.
It took something a bit drastic for me to change my ways. To help me to leave Distracted Living behind.
But it's the best thing I've ever done. And I hope that if you're feeling this way, you'll give mindful, intentional living a go too.