Self Care In A Pandemic (34): Theme Your Months…

Well friends, we’re well and truly at the last leg of 2020, and what a year it has been! While things may not miraculously improve (or perhaps they will?) in 2021, we can take steps to helping our mental wellbeing and outlook as we approach a new year.

It is understandable if many of you are feeling fearful, anxious, apprehensive or deflated as we approach a new year. After all, so many of us had high hopes for the perfect sounding ‘2020’ at the start of the year, and at the end of last year, expecting visionary things and grand new beginnings for the start of a new decade. While some individuals have done really well this year, on the whole, the world has taken a bit of a beating with this pandemic. It can leave us feeling in a negative mindset as we move forwards.

One thing that sometimes helps me, in fact it often helps me, is to ‘theme my months’. It gives me a sense of focus, purpose and direction for each month and helps me with setting targeted and manageable goals.

While I don’t envisage any time soon any of my months to be themed with ‘travel’, there are things that can help me focus on the positives in my own life and set goals accordingly and keep moving forwards, even with everything else going on around us in the world.

With life being so uncertain in terms of what we will and won’t be able to do in 2021, I think if I do decide to theme my months, or some of them at least, then I will focus on personal projects that I can do from home. I even managed to do this for some of the time during lockdown this year, including a ‘May theme’ of ‘Summer holiday’ where I decorated my room to look like a beach house (I must have posted pictures earlier on if you want to see if you can find them) and listened to holiday music, and even went on ‘virtual walks’ in different parts of the world via You Tube.

What are some of the themes that you or I could set for ourselves in 2021 that could help us to keep positive, focused and moving forwards?

I thought I’d have a bit of a brainstorm here, but your own list might be something completely different:

Potential Monthly Themes for 2021:

– Self Care

-Connecting with Friend and Family

-Reading

-Music

-Writing

-Personal Projects

-Cooking

-Learning Something New

-Staycation – learning about new countries without leaving home!

-Exercise or fitness

-Charity / Random Acts of Kindness

-Developing existing skills

-Mental wellbeing

-My True Identity

-Overcoming obstacles or personal issues

-Helping others

-Mentoring or being mentored

-Photography

-Art

-Singing / Dance

-Crafts

-Learning how to use a new piece of technology that you haven’t used before.

-Encouraging other people

-Rest and reflection

-Gratitude / Thanksgiving

-Going outside for a walk everyday or most days (if you are permitted to do so).

-Health and wellbeing.

-Decluttering / tidying

-Home reorganisation

-Home or garden projects

-Learn a new creative venture

-Blog everyday

-Films

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but perhaps you have some of your own that are totally different to mine. I’d love to hear what they are if you feel like sharing. In the meantime, don’t be discouraged by everything going on in the world. Take a moment to think of the positive things that you can begin to build into your life going forwards as we approach 2021, even as we head into the unknown. We will adapt and change as we go but we will seek to do so with love, hope, faith, joy and peace.

Take care and stay safe my friends. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (33): Your Own Good Advice…

What is the particular thing that you are struggling with today? It’s wonderful if you are having a peaceful, restful day and aren’t faced with troubles, but perhaps you have a problem to solve, or you will do so in the days ahead.

Are you struggling with problems specific to the pandemic, or ongoing issues that you faced before?

In this world, we all face trouble or struggles of some kind or another, no one is immune to them, even if it seems or even if it is the case that some people have it ‘easier’ than others.

Are you struggling with mental health challenges, health issues, job or finance troubles or family problems? Do you face loneliness, boredom, or a lack of a sense of purpose? Are you fearful about the future, or facing grief or loss of some sort, or are you missing friends and family and the ‘way things used to be’? Are you mentally and emotionally fatigued because of all the bad news in the world or simply facing household tasks that you wish would do themselves? Are you worried about your children, your spouse, your lack of human connections, or not sure what to do next with your life? Is the weather getting you down?

Whatever your challenges in life today, while I could encourage you and provide advice and guidance, reassurance or support in the words that I write, instead I challenge you to take a step back.

Take a deep breath, define your problem or issue in words, and perhaps write it down.

Take another deep breath. Now, make a choice to reorient yourself with finding a solution, rather than being brought low by the problem. Of course, it is ok to feel down, to feel low, and life is full of things that crush us such as abuse, mental illness, grief and loss, and it is important to fully face these human emotions and experiences. But if you are ready, and if it is time for you, then look up and consider what you would say to someone else who needed help or advice with the very thing you are facing.

Sometimes we look to others for advice, when all along, there is something we can learn from ourselves if we’d listen. Ultimately, the True Source of wisdom is The One True and Living God, our Creator.

Yet, sometimes we can help ourselves by considering what we would say to someone else.

What if the thing you are struggling with today was the problem of a friend? Imagine that they or a stranger were to come to you for advice on this same issue. What would you tell them? How would you treat them? What compassion would you give them and what wisdom would you share?

Take a deep breath and look once more at the problem you started with and now look at the answer you gave to your ‘friend’. Consider that this might be the next step for you to take in moving forwards, and take that one small step and keep on going.

What did you discover from yourself today? x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (32): Demarcating Change…

There is something beautiful about the festive season, despite everything else going on. We find comfort in the cosiness of fairy lights and warm colours during the long nights. We collectively get busy decorating and then hopefully carve out space in our ‘new’ surroundings to slow down, enjoy, rest and reflect.

I realise that sadly, not everyone has the chance to do so, and this year perhaps even more people are struggling during this season.

However, we have now passed the shortest day and the light levels for many of us are beginning to be just a bit brighter, for just a bit longer. Nature demarcates the changes of seasons. It was not so long ago that I wrote of the vibrancy of the autumn colours in my parents’ garden and posted pictures of bright red Japanese Acer leaves. Yesterday, here, we had a very brief snow shower that soon gave way to rain, and now today the day is dry once more.

We write as the seasons change, and something in our hearts tells us that we must change with them. There is no standing still for long in life even when we reach a season of ‘Pause’ as some of us may have done in the pandemic.

Christmas Day, the day celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ, has passed, but the reality of this significance is eternal. Boxing Day has passed, New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay in Scotland) is not yet upon us, nor is New Year’s day, ushering in the anticipated ‘new’ of 2021 that we wait upon with baited breath. What changes, good or bad, will this next year bring?

As many of us spend our time at home during the pandemic, with increasing restrictions post-Christmas day, at least in the UK, due to rising case numbers of coronavirus, and added pressure upon the NHS, some people find their days just merging into a ‘blur’ of time, especially during the Christmas and holiday season.

Yet, as the seasons change, how do we demarcate change for ourselves, in our day to day lives?

A mental shift, and an external change:

I personally like to leave the Christmas tree up for as long as possible, at least until after New Year’s day, even though I know some people like to take their tree down on 27th December or as soon as possible. Especially this year, when we are at home, and the world is an unsettled place, it is nice to have that sense of cosiness and homeliness if we can.

Yet, I find myself preparing mentally for the new, and perhaps you do too.

Small external changes:

Perhaps we begin making mental changes with the changes we make to our surroundings. It might be replacing Christmas decorations with new décor, or rearranging things a little. Maybe it is taking out a new notebook or using different stationery, or putting away Christmas jumpers and wearing something different if not new. Some of these small shifts externally, gradually if you like, or all at once if that’s your preferred style, can help us usher in a change of mindset as we approach the new, and unknown.

While things change, I take comfort in the Eternal God Who does not change, and His Word that stands firm forever.

One shift I am making is putting away my Christmas adult colouring books and taking out new ones that were gifted to me this Christmas, one which is meditative pictures of the Psalms with nature illustrations, and another of famous travel destinations to colour, while I can’t physically go anywhere far just now.

My mind is anticipating the new, and the new may be the learning, growing and thinking that I will do right where I am.

The pandemic marches on, as do efforts to combat it, to stand against it, while doctors, nurses, scientists, and public health workers, shop staff, frontline and council workers all do their bit, and as each of us in our jobs, our families, or personal lives and decisions do our bit.

Let’s not grow weary or discouraged, but let’s keep moving forwards together, with hope and seeking to make wise decisions so that we live our lives in the best way possible with what is available to us, and in a way that will uplift and help others.

Stay safe, and let’s keep moving forwards together, one small change at a time. x

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