Tag Archives: Advice

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

 

Life Lessons from the Common Cold!

As I type, life as it happens to be today has me experiencing symptoms of the common cold – sore throat, cough, fever, fatigue, etc.

The thing I find about blogging about and reflecting on my life, just as it happens to be, is that within the everyday, seemingly ordinary and mundane things of life (like having a bad cold!)  there can be little treasures of lessons and blessings.

So, here is what having the cold is teaching me today! 🙂

  1. Sometimes in life, you’ve just got to wait it out!

Nobody likes feeling unwell (and if they do, then that is rather strange). And it is unlikely that anyone particularly enjoys having a cough, cold, fever, tiredness, fatigue, and so forth. However, these things are facts of life that come and go with the seasons.

In life, we can find ourselves wanting to be in a different state to that which we are currently experiencing. For instance, you might be experiencing delays, setbacks, illness or disappointment. You may be unemployed and waiting for something to work out for you. You may be struggling with any number of things in life that have you experiencing a state you would rather not be in, but sometimes you’ve just got to ‘wait it out’. Let the season or situation of life take its course, just as you would when you’ve got a bad cold, and do your best to stay well, recover, and take the actions you need to in order to improve your situation.

2.  Take time to rest and build up strength!

When facing a cold, depending on our attitude, we may take a defiant stance – “I’m not going to let this defeat me. This isn’t going to stop me from doing all the things I normally do. I’ll show this cold who’s boss, and I’ll just plough on through it.”

Sometimes that might work. However, most medical advice would say that the best way to enable your body to ‘fight back’ and to replenish itself is to give it the chance to rest. Get plenty of rest and sleep, don’t push yourself farther than you need to go, take a break and it’s likely you’ll recover quicker.

Similarly, in life more generally, we need to make sure we take the time to rest and rejuvenate, even in the day to day routine of life if not taking specific, longer set aside time out. Taking the time to rest can help us achieve a better balance between work and leisure, it can help us to be more aware of our own thoughts and feelings, better manage your emotions, relate better to other people, be more productive longer term, live more fully and avoid the build up of unnecessary stress that can lead to burnout. I’ve definitely been a victim of not getting enough rest, and sometimes it is difficult depending on our circumstances to do just that. However, there are ways of building ‘R&R’ into our days and for our longer term health and wellbeing and fulfilment in life it is definitely worth thinking about and implementing steps towards this.

3. Self-care is important

When you’re feeling under the weather, what do you normally do, or what advice would other people give you?

Perhaps that would include: get plenty of rest, take the appropriate medicine, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, don’t overdo it, and basically just look after yourself.

In life, it’s important that we take care of ourselves more generally too. Maybe it’s worth thinking about how you can look after yourself a bit better, or how you can maintain your self-care if it is already something that you do intentionally as it is.

4. Things will change

You won’t have a cold forever, things will take their course, you’ll hopefully feel better, get back to strength and keep going with the next things in life.

Likely, things will improve. However, whatever your situation in life is right now, it is guaranteed that it will change. And your adaptability to change and seeing the positives even in situations that don’t seem good, has a lot to do with your perception and attitude.

Whatever the case, things will change, and there are plenty of things that you can do to make things better and improve whatever situation you are in.  Life goes on, so make the most of your better days, and don’t despair over your ‘not so good’ days, this too will pass.

And now, taking my own advice from steps 1, 2 and 3, I’m off to bed! 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂