Category Archives: self care

Take Your Time…

NB: So sorry that the formatting has gone awry! I don’t know what happened there….at first the content disappeared entirely, so at least, despite the red strike throughs, there is still something (hopefully encouraging) to read! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

🙂

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My dear friends,

Once again I meet you here…lovely to spend some time hanging out, thinking about life, and stuff 😉 And once again I begin another blog post by tentatively acknowledging the fact that it has been a little while since my last post. And that’s ok. And it’s not only ok, but it is an opportunity for us to mutually encourage each other.

Some wonderfully disciplined people, for whom perhaps blogging is an income stream for them (unlike myself, as I do this as a hobby and don’t make any money from it, plus I don’t really know how all of that works yet anyway ~ feel free to enlighten me! 🙂 ) may have regular schedules for creating and uploading content, and that is admirable. However, this blog post is not really about blog posts at all…it is about you….and me.

It is a gentle reminder (just as a bud seldom blossoms overnight)  to Take Your Time….

Take your time and take the pressure off yourself by taking a moment away from your seemingly endless ‘to do’ lists.

Take your time to heal. My heart and mind have required decades to even begin to heal rather than merely cope, and sometimes things feel worse before they get better, so take your time. No one can put a schedule on your healing, on your heart. Don’t block it out, but take your time to gently go through the process you need to as you discover your worth, and find greater awareness of Truth, Love and Peace. 
Take your time to focus on just one thing at a time….your brain will thank you for it! 🙂
Take your time to intentionally be kind to yourself, and to others.
Take your time to acknowledge how far you have already come.
Take your time to ask yourself and explore the deep, searching and difficult questions in your life and seek the Truth that will set you free.
Take your time to grieve, or to comfort those who mourn.
Take your time to pause and really appreciate the good things in your life….someone else may be longing for what you have begun to take for granted.
Take your time to acknowledge that you are not your work. Your work is what you do, but it does not determine or define your worth.
Take your time to take a lunch break. Leave your desk, your computer, and go out in the fresh air for a while.
Take your time to walk in nature, and listen to the natural, more gentle, healing rhythm and pace around you, far from the madding crowds of human existence!
Take your time to be by yourself, and if need be to learn to be comfortable by yourself.
Take your time to evaluate your year so far. Is this the direction you really should be going? Do you need to make a change? Do you need to stay where you are? To grow in contentment of the riches and beauty of your life just now that you only need to open your heart and mind to to more fully discover? When we look for a get-away, are we not really looking for a state of being, rather than in itself a place to be?
Take your time to love, and to accept love.

Take your time to be a friend.
Take your time to live and not merely exist.
Take your time to live out the clichés ~ stop and smell the roses! Listen to the birdsong. ❤
Take your time……to Be.

What else do you need to take your time for? Feel free to share your inspiration in the comments.

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The small things are actually the big things…

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Weren’t we all created to soar? And yet how many of us feel like we have been buffeted by too many a storm, have had our wings clipped, and our hearts broken? Maybe the dreams we once had never took flight, and now we don’t see much point in ever seeking to soar the way we deep inside feel or wish that we were meant to. 

Do you feel like that? The world we live in is replete with things that might dull our sparkle, burst our dreams, and render us unable to soar. Have you experienced this? The unkind words spoken to or about you perhaps not long ago, perhaps decades ago, that just don’t seem to leave you, affect your mental health, your view of yourself as valuable or worthy, your view of how others see you, and the opportunities you let yourself (or don’t) take. Maybe you have been bound and caged by more than just words (not that words themselves aren’t powerful and can be deeply harmful)…perhaps you have suffered abuse, physical harm, neglect, fear, uncertainty, and a whole host of things that I couldn’t perhaps imagine.  

But somehow, you have found yourself here. Right now. Today. Reading this blog. And you feel like you are a failure or are not good enough, that your life hasn’t amounted to very much, and maybe you just need a big friendly virtual hug from a friend you don’t know, but who longs to encourage you. If you are that person, thank you for being here, thank you for reading this, and thank you for being you. Do you know what? I am that person too…and that’s why I’m reaching out to you. I’m not here to preach to you and I’ll mention this only briefly in this particular post, but you can find more in my ‘faith posts’, however, the Only true way to be released from your prison or cage is by the unfailing LOVE of Jesus Christ, and however long that journey might be for you, I hope you one day find rest in His love for you. 

That being said, you might be wondering what the title of this post refers to. The small things are the big things. Friend, we may have been bruised, broken, tossed by tempest, storm and winds of circumstance and change, we may have felt (or even been) caged, imprisoned, oppressed, mistreated, made to feel unlovely, unlovable, unwanted, undesirable, unworthy, and so much less that we actually are. 

But, listen….we are here. Now. And do you know why the small things are the big things? Because every time you get up again after being knocked down, you are doing something incredible. However small you might feel your achievements are, if you have taken the next breath through anxiety, depression, darkness or fear, you have made a great statement – you *are* worthy, you *can* do it, you *will* persevere, and you *are* special. 

If you have continued on despite feeling like you have ‘fallen behind’ your peers, you are exceptional. If you have faced opposition from within and without, if you have not given up, if you got up when you felt like disappearing, if you went outside when you felt like hiding, if you spoke to someone when you felt afraid, if you took care of yourself, your health, and did the next small thing when it was most difficult to do so, whether through depression, anxiety, fear, pain, loss, grief, loneliness or whatever it may be, you did a great BIG thing, and dear friend, if you did it before, you can, you will do it again. So don’t underestimate yourself  or the value of your small achievements…for at the end of the day the small things are actually the big things, and sometimes the small decisions and choices we make are the ones that will change our course and change our lives! Be blessed. xx

Finding a place of calm…and planning a mini-retreat…

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It’s 12.57am, and I can’t sleep. It is not insomnia as such, but more of an underlying anxiety and restless or nervous fear. I know there is nothing to fear. My Great God shelters me under the shadow of His Wing, and covers me with His Almighty protection. However, I have had times over the years of quite troubled sleep, and perhaps these feelings of unease are remnants of that. And yet, my Beautiful God speaks through the darkness to say: “Peace. My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you, do not let your hearts  be troubled and do not be afraid”. 

He calls us to “consider the birds of the air” who do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns” and yet, our “Heavenly Father feeds them”. I hope the picture above brings you some feelings of calm, peace and joy. This afternoon a friend came over for a cup of tea and a chat, and we spoke about solitude, community and retreat. I told her about the walk in which I took these photographs and how it touched my heart to see that these beautiful birds, this little squirrel were so uniquely cared for by God. Having an interest in photography and a passion for capturing beautiful moments of beautiful things, I am able to hone in on the detail and marvel over the intricacy of a bird’s feathers, the ridges on its feet and tiny claws, and just how wonderfully designed the life around me is. 

In a world where there is so much noise, uncertainty and fear, it can be hard to find peace. There is so much that feels tumultuous, uncertain, frightening, terrifying even for those people living in war zones, areas of unrest, famine, drought, violence, and sadly the list goes on and on… We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict, of calm and steady waters, of our circumstances all in alignment when all is well. However, this surface calm is not the true Peace that our souls long for. We need an anchor of Peace for our souls, for we are all at some point in our lives tossed upon restless waters. I searched long and hard for years to find peace, and just as a bubble on a stream, such peace was so fragile, and temporary, certain to burst and vanish with the slightest friction. Temporary peace or calm means that we are forever restless in the ongoing pursuit of calm. The same goes for happiness or joy, of love, of acceptance. However, I have found, or been found by, a Peace that Is enduring, and that is a tangible, real and experienced comfort to my soul at the deepest level. This Peace is the very Person of Jesus Christ Himself. He Is with us.

We are called to “seek peace and pursue it”, and I believe the only real way of doing this is in our pursuit of God, and in our resting in Him. However, there is something to be said about drawing aside from a busy world if and when we can, and to take time out, to pursue quiet surroundings, times of focused reflection and sharing, times for creativity, healing, letting go, rejuvenation, of solitude, and of companionship. 

My friend actually came over today as we are planning a spiritual and creative “staycation retreat”, perhaps for three or four days, as something we can pursue and encourage each other through, together. 

The process itself is quite special, as I have not found it a common thing to find people with whom these things can be shared with. 

And so, as we reach the mid-point of a somewhat wintry feeling April, I continue on with my monthly themes – this month’s being hospitality and planning a creative and spiritual retreat. 

I look forward to bringing you on this journey with me as we venture onwards together into quieter, more relaxing terrain. 

xx

Retaking Control

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve worked twice as hard only to get half as far? That you’ve overcome so much pain and so many obstacles that you should be ‘ok’ by now, or ‘ok enough’, that just when you begin to think that you’re moving from survivor to thriver that you suddenly feel that things are beginning to get on top of you again?

I’ve been there many times. Life can be hard, but we keep getting up and keep on going as much as we can. Sometimes things get overwhelming though, and it takes time to get back on our feet again. I am back on my feet and going strong, or so I thought, but recently I have been struggling again.

This evening I find myself ‘sinking’ a little as depression and traumatic childhood memories, fears and feelings from being bullied and the years of distress and anxiety that followed begin to resurface. It can be difficult. It can feel sad.

I feel like I’ve poured my heart into some recent blog posts, and that these have perhaps been overlooked. I guess all of us are looking for connection and appreciation, and I realise that I have given a lot of good advice in terms of self care, well being, and mental health, that I need to take on board myself right now.

It’s time to retake control. I can’t let myself slip back into feelings of being overwhelmed or any other negative emotion. And I can’t look to people for confidence, courage or comfort, for ultimately that’s not where my strength comes from (Psalm 121).

I am sorry if this has been a muted post, but this is Life As It Happens To Be, and this is a real life, real time, struggling with real issues and real moods, anxiety, PTSD and depression.

Yet, I have come a long way. I’ll simply take a step back and regain my strength, and be on the road from survivor to thriver once again.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

The Tortoise and the Hare – Sunday afternoon random ramblings on mental health and wellbeing…

 

Tortoise-and-hare-014.jpgImage Courtesy of Google Images.

Perhaps one of Aesop’s most well known fables is that of ‘The Tortoise & The Hare’….you know the one I mean, right? If not, Google or Wikipedia will be sure to put you right 😉 However, for the purposes of my illustration, I’ll try to summarise the fable in two or three sentences. Here goes:

So one fine day, a tortoise and a hare decide to have a race against each other (I think the whole thing began with the hare mocking the slow tortoise), the hare clearly having the natural advantage in speed over the oh so slow tortoise. To all intents and purposes this is the hare’s race, and he will win hands (or paws) down; knowing this, the hare speeds off while the tortoise is making miniscule progress, so the hare decides to have a nap. While the hare is napping, the tortoise perseveres and ends up winning the race (hurrah!), leaving us with the moral of the story as, ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Sometimes we just need a good old children’s story, fable or fairy tale to help give some perspective to our stressful adult lives. Perhaps, right now in life you feel like you’re the tortoise while all your peers are speeding off ahead of you. Or, veering completely off the path of Aesop’s fable, perhaps every morning you look in the mirror and feel concerned that your ears are getting bigger, that along with a few more grey hairs you might also be sprouting whiskers, a tail and that your chiselled jaw line is in fact becoming more and more rodent-like as you don your work attire to join all the other rats in your shared race to goodness knows where. Or perhaps you’ve given up altogether on the idea that you’re actually in a race going somewhere, even if you don’t know where that somewhere might be, and feel more affinity with a hamster, and a discontented hamster at that, on a wheel, just scrambling on and on everyday with no real distance covered despite the many steps taken. Round and round you go, wishing that like the hare you could just take a ‘time out’ and have a nap or a sabbatical of sorts from the daily grind, while still inching ahead like the tortoise to ultimately win the race. Whatever will it take to make you feel ‘human’ again?

Firstly, let me assure you that you are not alone, and that much of humanity shares this ‘modern day’ dilemma. I would venture to say that we need to write a new story. One in which we do not feel forced to view life as a race, or a competition. One in which we know that it is ok to take a nap, or to go at a slow and steady pace. It’s ok, people, it’s ok! 🙂

I understand how hard it can be to give ourselves the permission to rest, to take time out, or just to stop and say, ‘enough of this race, already, I just want to go for a gentle stroll in a sunkissed woodland or meadow and hear the birds singing’.

We weren’t designed to be in a constant, unending state of fight or flight. For our mental health and wellbeing it is important to take time out for ourselves EVERY DAY simply to BE. Today, I would encourage you to take a step back and just quieten your heart and your mind and your breathing. Be still. Listen. Pray. Grieve. Whatever it is that you need to do or be in the quietness, take time to experience that. Life is not a race, but it is a journey. We may spend long stretches walking or crawling alone while at other times in our life’s journey we will have encouraging companionship, or even hostile opposition. Where you are right now is alright. I would urge you to commit to your own wellbeing by doing the things that make for peace in your life. The simplest but perhaps one of the most effective places to start is with your breathing. Something so simple has had a profound effect on my wellbeing, as someone who has PTSD, complex trauma, panic attacks, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and severe clinical depression. So I don’t say what I say lightly, I say it because I care and I know it helps. Make it a practice everyday or as often as you can to focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale deeply from your mouth. This helps to regulate your nervous system, calm the fight and flight mechanism and ‘anxiety hormones’ if you will, and still the mind. Like a runner in a race (yep, back to races again…if you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention! 🙂 ) you will need to practice, exercise your breath and your mental strength, and stay in training. This is core work, just as you would strengthen your core physically through exercise, regulating your breathing is essential to your wellbeing.

Keep up this exercise throughout your life, yes, slow and steady 🙂 and supplement it with building mental strength and resilience through the way you regulate your inner ‘self talk’. Be kind, compassionate and encouraging to yourself, but be real with yourself too. Perhaps you may find it helpful when taking time out to keep a notepad and pen beside you so that you can jot down the thoughts or worries that come to mind, and even ideas for projects or solutions or inspiration. Relax, take your time, realise that this is not a race, but it is LIFE, your life, and it is happening now, and sometimes the best way to ‘get ahead’ is just to stop, take time out, rest awhile, lean against a tree and look up at the sky, and simply ‘BE’.

Until next time, take care and be kind to yourself, and to those who are part of your life’s journey in this season.

Much love. xx

 

Simple Self-Care Challenge # 3 (What’s in your Toolkit?)

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Hi Friends,

I hope you are well today. However, even if you’re not doing too well, part 3 of the simple step-by-step self care series is very much for you.

(Parts 1 and 2 can be found here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/simple-step-by-step-self-care-series-simple-self-care-challenge-1/

and here:

https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/simple-self-care-challenge-2/).

Take it at your own pace, and revisit the previous ‘challenges’ as often as you like, just do what works best for you.

What is a Self-Care Toolkit and why do I need one?

Today, as you will have gathered from the title, I’m going to be talking about your ‘Self-Care Toolkit’. So, a good place to start is to discuss what a self-care toolkit is.

Like everyone, I’m sure you have your ups and downs. Some days are very good days, and others, not so much. However, some of us who suffer from and struggle with longer term health challenges such as depression, anxiety, PTSD…..the list goes on and on! the bad days can be very difficult indeed! To limit things from getting so bad that they become overwhelming and we feel that we can’t cope, we need a strategy. Even if you don’t feel that you struggle with these more severe conditions, it is still important that you are aware of how best to take care of yourself.

I find that it is usually when we are having slightly better days that it is a good time to plan ahead for the days when we will struggle.  One way of doing this is to have a ‘toolkit’ for your self-care and wellbeing. The ‘toolkit’ isn’t so much a physical thing as it is a bunch of ideas for you to keep at hand so that when you are struggling  you know what your ‘go to’ helpful things will be.  However, you can also keep a toolkit of physical things too.

So, what goes in the toolkit?

Just as we all have different learning styles, we will also have different approaches to putting together our self-care toolkits. I’ll share some of my ideas of what works for me to give you a starting point from which to develop your own.

I personally find that I can make sense of things better with lists and categories. Therefore, I will group ideas into the following two categories:

  • Emotional and psychological self-care
  • Physical self-care

Emotional and Psychological Self-Care

Depending on your general wellbeing you may wish to incorporate some of the following ideas into your self-care toolkit:

  • Contacts – trusted people whom you can reach out to. These might be close friends or family members, support workers, a psychologist, or even helplines that you can contact. Your resource list of contacts from organisations will depend on where in the world you live, so if you think it will be helpful to you take some time to do a little bit of research online, ask people you know or as health professionals. Make a note of contacts in your self-care journal that you started in week 1.
  • Distractions – can be greatly beneficial when we find ourselves struggling or slipping into a negative mood or unhelpful thought patterns. They bring you back into the present, out of your head, and provide enjoyment and relief that can tide over your ‘bad spell’. Some of the distractions that I like to absorb myself in include: adult colouring in books (there is a plethora to choose from!), art and craft hobbies, writing, photography, music, watching a comedy, doodling, planning ahead in my diary to keep focussed on the future and planning in positive things to look forward to no matter how small they might be, reading, meeting with a friend, going outside, etc. Have a think of what your healthy distractions could be and write them down in your self-care journal 🙂

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care is equally as important as emotional self-care and you will find that a lot of aspects of both overlap with each other. Here are some starting points to consider:

  • Is there anything you need to intentionally avoid in order to stay safe during difficult times? If so, have a contingency plan and where possible make sure you have a couple of trusted people that you can be accountable with.
  • Plan ahead with healthy meal ideas. Nutrition is so important for both physical and mental wellbeing. If you take some time out to write down some healthy meal ideas, then when you feel stuck and unable to think of what to eat (and equally what not to eat), then you will have something written down to refer to. But don’t forget you are allowed to treat yourself every now and then aswell.
  • Drink plenty of water and make healthy snacks a part of your every day routine.
  • Make a note of any medications you require to take should you be likely to forget.
  • Get fresh air and exercise, and where possible spend time in the beauty of nature.
  • Have a bubble bath.
  • Do some self-pampering at home such as making your own ‘foot spa’.
  • Get the right amount of sleep.
  • Practice deep breathing and relaxation.

You may also find it comforting to have a little box of ‘goodies’ of special objects or things that make you feel calm to keep at hand for times when you need that extra boost, or that just make you happier even if you already feel alright.

So, have a think about these suggestions as a starting point, and remember to make them your own. Do what works best for you, and make a note of them in your self-care journal, and I will see you soon for the next ‘challenge’.

In the meantime, stay well.

Much love, x.

 

 

Simple Self-Care Challenge #2

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Picture courtesy of Google Images.

Hi friends, and welcome back to the simple self-care series, or Welcome! for the first time if you are just joining us.

Here is the first post in the series, but if you have a browse through my blog you will find longer articles incorporating themes and aspects to do with self-care, mental health, and much more. My blog is called ‘Life as it happens to be’ which is just that, and really can and will cover just about anything as it happens in my life. But this theme is also a big part of it. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/66574131/posts/1489611501

So for the second challenge in this self-care series, having written down some of the character traits you appreciate about yourself, in this exercise I encourage you to set aside some quiet time for yourself, grab a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or comforting beverage of choice 🙂 , find somewhere quiet and cosy where you can spend some time thinking about what you like about yourself physically this time.

You can approach this in whatever way you feel comfortable with. The reason behind this exercise is to encourage positive ‘self talk’ and viewing ourselves positively. This doesn’t need to be in a prideful way, but simply being grateful for who you are. I know from personal experience that this can be challenging. Gentle hearts often give out so much appreciation and compliments to other people, but are we as good friends to ourselves, or do we constantly condemn, criticise and belittle ourselves with negative self talk?

I could give examples here, but I don’t want to use any ‘trigger’ words that might make this place seem less safe or empowering. You’ll know what goes on in your own mind and how you ‘talk to yourself’, and believe me, you do and that’s normal. 🙂

It might be a struggle to get started on this depending on where you are in terms of self-image and self-esteem.  Here are some suggestions to get you started, and there is no limit to what you want to write down with this exercise. Write down one thing if that’s what you’re comfortable with, or write down one hundred things. It’s your time, your space for self-care, and it’s up to you. Keep it in your little notebook as discussed in the previous post, or blog it if you want to share with others and link to this page if you want to share the journey – totally up to you with what you feel comfortable with. But write it down somewhere for yourself.

Suggestions of what you might appreciate about yourself physically (whether ‘aesthetically’ or ‘functionally’, there are different ways of interpreting this and being kind to yourself):

  • Beautiful eyes.
  • Eyes – sight, a window to experience the world, see wonderful things, learn, read, be creative, etc.
  • Long hair.
  • Nice smile, friendly, positive, encouraging.
  • Hands that can reach out to others, feed, clothe yourself, play the piano, write, draw, paint.

I’m going to stop there, as this is a space for your creativity and self-kindness. You can write a sentence, a paragraph, a story, be creative and design some ‘word art’, write a poem, write a song, but take time to give yourself the compliments you deserve, to build yourself up and strengthen patterns of healthy self talk and a positive ‘self image’, just as you would do for your friends.

Go for it, and enjoy yourself.

Much Love. x