Eating: During my times of severe depression, I found that I either ‘forgot’ to eat meals, was too tired or low to manage to eat, or on the other side of the scale would comfort eat. It can be really hard to take care of ourselves when we are struggling with our mental and emotional health, and how we treat our bodies inevitably has a huge impact upon our energy levels, our moods, mental health and ability to cope day to day.
Therefore my ‘quick tip’ is that you write down / plan some quick, easy, healthy and nutritious ‘go to’ meals and stock up so that you can prepare something for yourself to ensure that your body and mind is getting enough fuel to help you survive and cope with what you are going through. You can ask someone for help in advising you according to your specific needs – but even if it is something as simple as baked beans on toast, soup and bread, a baked potato with fillings, pasta, rice and veg, nuts, a sandwich, etc. these are all pretty easy and quick to put together – make sure you are eating well and regularly and your mind and body will thank you for it, and it will help you have the resources to power through this rough patch.
The colder, wintry weather brings with it challenges for our skin, especially those of us with pre-existing skin conditions and / or sensitive skin. Stay prepared and have a good moisturiser and lip balm at the ready to keep your skin healthy and soothe the abrasions and cracks that the harsher weather can cause, and stay hydrated with water to help your skin replenish and renew itself.
Think of the kindest thing you could say to someone you love or care about – next time you look in the mirror, say it to yourself; it may be difficult to start with because many of us are used to abusing ourselves in our thoughts and ‘self talk’, but over time we may be able to have a much healthier and loving self-perception.
Birthdays, Laughter, and Hopes for an Unknown Future:
Yesterday I celebrated a belated birthday with two lovely female friends. A beautiful, crisp autumnal day, bright with hope and promise, in the midst of change and old things fading away, was spent catching up over lunch, wandering around quirky shops, trying on winter jumpers and cardigans, and then one of my friends and I continued on to enjoy the beauty of autumn in the park, as we said a fond farewell to our other friend as she headed home. Life was alive, as it were, all around us. Children chased squirrels, dogs delightedly frolicked in the autumn leaves, an old lady sat quietly on a park bench, couples embraced, and laughter lightened the air in the playpark. Squirrels scampered, ducks quacked and splashed in the pond, and cameras clicked as people took it all in, and took time to capture the moments. And as we slowly traversed riverside walks, where the ground was strewn with golden leaves, and dappled with sunlight, my friend and I embraced the opportunity to linger a bit and to chat about the deeper things of life, and of our experiences. A moment shared in the passing of time, and the joy of a golden autumn afternoon. We reflected upon changes in our lives and also hopes of things we wanted to do together and in some newly forming friendships. We talked about faith, about creative projects, pottery, painting, art and photography, about friendship, about God and the deeper things of life. We had only intended to walk through the park briefly before parting ways to go to our own homes, but we walked around the park once more just to linger in conversation and each others company, and to help each other gain understanding of certain things. The blessedness of friendship.
Earlier, at lunch, the three of us had laughed – the kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes, makes you clutch your belly and be completely happy in the moment, forgetting your cares and worries. We laughed because we were talking about age and time passing and as we chatted about stories we had heard about people in their 80s, 90s and early 100s who had taken to adventures such as hand gliding, diving, and doing all sorts of other adrenaline stoking activities, we imagined ourselves in the future as old, old ladies, not letting age hold us back but telling ourselves that the sky is the limit as the three of us jump out of a plane in a sky dive! We thought about how we might lighted our loads on the way down by throwing out our walking sticks, zimmer frames, glasses and false teeth, while at the bottom our future children and grandchildren would be aghast at our crazy and carefree antics! We were not mocking old age, but just delighting in the crazy things we might get up to in the future, when we no longer cared about what other people thought, as we resolutely refused to allow age to hold us back. It was lovely to think of the three of us, still friends well into old age, a long, long time from now, and it brought joy to our souls to share the laughter in that moment of a life well lived.
Time Passes, Leaves Fall, Seasons Change.
When I was a teenager, there was a fun and upbeat song by a teen band that was about friendship and how we can plant seeds of friendships, but we don’t really know which ones will grow and which ones will last and stand the tests of time. I had a friend at the time who I think also liked the song, we had known each other since we were about 4 or 5 years old, and when I was 9 I had to move to another town quite far away, which meant new schools, and not seeing each other every day. We tried to keep in touch, and we did well at that for a while, but as the years went by we changed and the friendship of our childhood and early teen years became more of a memory. We really thought we’d be friends into old age, and we did reconnect online in more recent years, but the thing is sadly we won’t be friends into old age. Not because we no longer cared, not because we had drifted too far from the possibility, but sadly because my friend died.
I won’t go into details of that, but it is a reminder that we don’t know which seeds will grow, which will last or how things will turn out. Our friendships are precious though and should be cherished for what they are in the moments.
Change Comes in Different Ways
Aside from the tragedies of life, like the death of a friend who we thought would be around forever, other changes can be positive, can bring growth and hope. Yet some changes can be challenging, and come about not because of death but because seasons move on and time passes. Circumstances change, people get married, have families of their own, and in some cases a strong foundation of friendship can mean that those friendships last through differing seasons where we no longer have so much circumstantially in common – I am blessed to have quite a few of these, and it is a choice, to continue to ‘give and take’, to listen and learn and love. I have friends who live thousands of miles away now, in totally different parts of the world, but our friendships continue and are blessed as we value each other. I have friends who are married, have children and are in stages of lives that haven’t happened for me yet, but that I wait and hope for, but our friendships stand strong, they might waver from time to time, but because we have a bond that goes deeper than circumstance, we continue to ‘do life’ together, and that is such a blessing in this ‘throwaway’ society.
A Sure Foundation
Sometimes we don’t fully know why change happens. Sometimes people move on, and that’s ok. God, in Christ Jesus is the foundation for my relationships. And when things are challenging, I know I always have a True Friend Who Is always Faithful who will guide and direct me to be the kind of friend and person He wants me to be, through all the changing seasons of life, through times when people are challenging, or through times of hurt.
I am learning about the freedom in Christ to let things go, to allow Him to be Lord, and to allow Him to know and be content in not knowing why things don’t always go smoothly in human relationships. People may treat us in ways that don’t make sense, that seem unkind, but He knows the reasons and the details. It is a challenge to love, but He gives that love, we can’t do it on our own.
In Christ we are called to be part of a Body, a Family, to have equal concern for each other. When the blood flows and the Body is working together healthily, it is a beautiful thing, but when there is a fracture, a tear, a clot, a disease or a break, then we need to allow the Healer to heal, and nobody said this would be an easy or comfortable process.
My responsibility in all of my relationships, is foremost to honour and be faithful to my God. Jesus Christ challenges me to be the person He wants me to be, and as much of a challenge as that is, especially in a world filled with broken people, myself included, He gives me the grace, the means and the power to be changed and to become that person. I remind myself, when faced with the challenges of broken people in a broken world that His Arms were opened wide on the Cross, embracing us in love, forgiving us, pouring love, grace and peace upon us. I cannot fold my arms and heart to other people when He has given everything, this amazing love for me.
However, just as God gives us choice, whether or not to respond to His invitation of forgiveness and love, or whether to walk away and continue in our rebellion, sin and apathy, we need to realise that the people around us are also making choices. Choices to love, or to be s
elfish, choices to build each other up and look to each others interests, or to look only to our own, choices to communicate or to be silent, to embrace or to walk away.
God gives us the freedom to choose, but also find freedom in letting things go into His Hands, His perfect wisdom and understanding, and into His Love. We can give things to Him without fear, and we can know that He is in control.
What matters to me, and what He Is teaching me, is that He Is my Truest Love, my most Faithful Friend, the most important relationship in my life – and He commands me, Love my neighbour as myself – if I love Him, then I need to choose to love other people in a way that honours Him, even when that is difficult, when they are difficult, or unkind. I want to love Him, and not to hurt The One Who has loved me and given everything for me. That is what matters.
But learning what that means is a step by step process, allowing Him to hold my hand and walk me through it. I can’t take responsibility for anyone else’s actions or inactions, but I can love the Lord my God, with all my heart, and all my soul and all my mind and all my strength, and by His grace and power and love working in me, I can choose to allow Him to show me how to love my neighbour too.
And as the autumn leaves fall around me, I too can let things go, let them go into His Hands, choose to listen to Him and obey Him, and embrace the love and light that He has for me as I live to honour Him.
Investing in what matters.
Sometimes people don’t want our company and we can’t force or control that, but we can pray for them, let them go if that’s what they wish for love and friendship cannot be forced or imposed upon someone, and we can put our hearts and our efforts into those relationships and friendships that are right in front of us, where there is reciprocity and faithfulness. I am so blessed to have such friendships where both choose allow Christ to Be the Centre, and even in my friendships with people who don’t believe in God or aren’t Christian brothers or sisters, to continue to love each other, invest in the friendship, in understanding, and these are such blessed and fulfilling gifts in my life.
I look around me as the seasons change, as certain things fall away, and I thank God for the beautiful gifts of love and friendship in my life that stand the test of time, for those that don’t I give thanks for the good times, I pray for those for whom the seasons of friendship have passed, and I embrace the opportunity to invest in the beautiful friendships I have now, and the new ones that are budding and beginning to bloom and blossom in my life in this new season with God at the centre of it all, and look forward to seeing who I will do that OAP skydive with, as we embrace laughter, love, joy and faithfulness together! 🙂 . x
Jesus Christ Is the Same, yesterday, today and forever. His Steadfast Love will never change. 🙂 x
I’ve started a new blog to provide free help, support and advice for children who are being bullied. I also hope to provide help for adults like myself overcoming the effects of childhood bullying, and advice for parents, friends and carers.
My new blog is one day old, so please be patient while I get things going. It is so important that our children and young people get the help they need, and if you know a young person who can benefit, please look at this along with them or share the link. There are so many bad influences online that I have created a safe place for children and adults to find healing, encouragement and help. It means so much if this helps even one person. Please share the encouragement. Thank you.
Everyone needs compassion. And that includes you, and me. Sometimes we face the cruellest words and unkindest treatment from our own selves. Self compassion can be a hard practice to learn, but it is also worth the time, and can be transformative to your outlook on life, your perception and feelings towards yourself, your mental and emotional health, your physical wellbeing and your relationships with other people as well as your confidence to make a positive difference in the world.
It can be hard to know where to start with being kind to ourselves, so here is a simple exercise, that although simple in concept can be challenging to some of the more ingrained negative thoughts and attitudes we hold towards ourselves. Give it a go….it can’t do any harm, and may in fact do you a lot of good. Be blessed. x
Self-Compassion Exercise – fill in the blanks:
Today I am grateful for_______________________
I recognise that I struggle with __________________________ , yet it took me courage to __________________________, and I am proud of myself for this.
I often compliment other people, and I recognise that as human beings we all are unique yet equal in worth. So, just as I compliment and show kindness to others, I will do so to myself. This is something I’d like to compliment myself on today________________________.
I realise I can be negative towards myself, especially in my ‘self talk’, whereas I am more encouraging to other people. I might not have done brilliantly at _____________________
but as an encouragement to myself, I’d like to say that _____________________________.
Something I like about myself is ___________________________________.
Something nice that other people say about me is________________________.
I recognise that I have the positive quality of____________________________,
and I’d therefore like to make a positive contribution to the world I live in and the people around me by__________________________________________________.
I am worthy of love, and I appreciate myself. I will be kind to others and myself. One way I will do this today is__________________________________________________.
It’s summer time, and while many people are going on adventures near and far, you may find that you aren’t in a position to get away somewhere for whatever reason. But sometimes what we really need is just some time out of the normal busy routine of working life to take a break and recharge. I haven’t had the chance to travel abroad this year so far, and although I love to travel, I also see time spent closer to home as valuable. I have the next week off work, and am enjoying the chance to ‘destress’, live at a slower pace, reconnect with God, and invest in those relationships that are important with people I no longer see as regularly as I once did. And this in itself is its own form of rejuvenation. I find that mid-year, and we’ve now passed the mid point of 2019, is a good time to stop and reflect on not only our achievements, or areas for improvement, but also how closely we are living to our priorities and what is most meaningful to us. Too often, we feel we need to ‘tick the biggest boxes’ whereas perhaps the slow and steady changes and investments of our time, energy, heart and mind are what matter most in the long run.
So if you do find yourself at home this summer, make the most of it. Maybe you have time off, or maybe you could take a day here or there to extend a weekend, and take some time to rest and reflect and envision where you want to go from here.
I have enjoyed the time to catch up on my sleep, to pray and spend time with God and in His Word, to see a close friend and meet her first baby for the first time, to simply sit in the sun, to exercise, to eat healthily, to play my violin and take photographs, to fellowship at church, and I hope in the next few days to visit family, and then some good friends so I guess those aren’t quite ‘vacations’ as such, but mini trips to visit loved ones. I know that all too soon I’ll be back at work, which is why it’s important to make the most of looking after myself and doing things that are meaningful in the interim, but without the stress and pressure that regular life lived ‘according to the clock’ often entails.
Another thing you could do if you can’t get away is to plan a ‘staycation’…maybe rent out a place for a change of scene for a day/night and have a mini retreat. Take time to listen to understand your thoughts and know that the time you have right here and now is precious. xx
It’s a challenging one, isn’t it? At least it can be. We have ideas of how we’d like our lives to be, we see images of that ideal we think we should be working toward. And yet…sometimes we really are just muddling through and trying to deal with each daily challenge as it comes to us. Maybe you’ve experienced burn out. And if you have, maybe you’re more conscious of the need for self care and learning to look after yourself and being attentive not only to the needs of others but also to your own, even if this way of thinking takes some getting used to.
But even if you’re someone who never has and maybe fortunately you never will experience burnout as such, you are still faced with that ‘low level’ just beneath the surface feeling that things are running away from you, getting out of order, are not quite right. And in this case I’m not talking about when something major is happening in your life, but when things are mostly fine, ‘normal’, moving along as they should in the ordinary ways of life.
But maybe you notice that you’re not feeling just ‘quite right’. It’s not that you feel bad, it’s just that you don’t feel so good. Tiredness creeps up, you’re managing the expectations of others, your boss rewards your efforts for a job well done by piling up even more work on your desk because afterall, you’re the one who will do it well and without much fuss. You offered to do a favour for someone in need, but they maybe seem to take it for granted, and while you would normally love to be a ‘cheerful giver’ with the expectations of nothing in return, you notice that you begin to get frustrated, your attitude isn’t quite what it should be, and your energy levels are low. There are demands on your time, you seem to be saying yes to everyone else which means saying no to yourself as you just don’t have the time, energy or emotional capacity to manage everything.
Most of us just push on through. But if we’re not careful, things begin to build up within us, and we know we’re not quite ok, but we don’t know how to ‘shake off’ those feelings. Sometimes just stopping and acknowledging that we need to check in with ourselves as we would with a friend, or even a child, to make sure they’re ok, is the best place to start even if we don’t actually know ‘what’s wrong’ or how to resolve things.
Slowing down, learning to tune in to our own hearts and minds, and committing to strengthening and encouraging ourselves before we take on the next commitment that is about to be given to us whether we are ready for it or not, is so important.
Maybe we don’t know what the next step to feeling more like our best self should be but stopping for a moment to be still awhile, is a good place to start…
Do you have a tendency to rush through your lunch breaks? Do you eat and drink ‘on the go’, and ‘wolf down’ your food while rushing to the next thing? Or do you spend most if not all of your lunch breaks at your desk, and rarely actually get up and go for a walk or take a break in which you can actually slow down, stop, think….enjoy?
Maybe you work in a fast paced environment, where everything around you is ‘rush, rush, rush’. But do you honestly think that rushing all the time is actually more productive, time saving, and better in the long term? Could small steps everyday help to improve your wellbeing and avoid burnout…..and indigestion?! Or if you’re not really at risk of that, perhaps they could just help you to live better and enjoy your life more?
I don’t think all the rushing for rushing’s sake actually does save time. It simply ‘ramps up’ our nervous system and fight / flight response, but for what?
Maybe you have somewhere very important to be, very quickly, but I presume for most of us this is an occasional occurrence rather than our daily situation. So take a break, put down your work, and enjoy your lunch. Be grateful, enjoy the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Breathe deeply, eat more slowly, and when you do go back to work you will hopefully feel better, more refreshed and relaxed, and energized for the rest of the day.
Slow and steady wins the race….it tastes better too! 🙂