Tag Archives: Challenges

Winter Survival Guide (33) ~Appreciate How Far You’ve Come.

I posted earlier about the importance of maintaining a healthy perspective, especially when we might be facing some gloomy wintery days.

Similarly, it’s important to take time every now and then to appreciate just how far we’ve come. Only you know your own personal life journey and how far you have come. The same goes for me. We might share aspects or details of our lives, but no other mere human being can enter into our experience with us. They might comfort us, walk beside us for a while, or encourage us, but no one (except Jesus) can feel exactly what we feel.

How far have you come? Not just this year, but through the bigger challenges of your life? How far have you come in terms of your mental and emotional health? In terms of your confidence socially? In terms of the challenges and hardships and traumas you may have overcome? How far have you come in terms of your education, your learning and in terms of your skills? How far have you come in your character – growing in kindness, patience and love? How far have you come to overcome personal pain and to help other people? How far have you come from simply surviving? How far have you come in health challenges? How far have you come in learning and growing in skills and abilities, talents and in your employment, and how far have you come in passing on some of this learning?

We have all come further than we appreciate or give ourselves the acknowledgement that we often need to keep on going even stronger.

What will you appreciate about how far you have come in your life journey today? x

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‘Lunch Bites’ – Bite-sized inspiration on your lunch break…

You may have heard or seen the quote that encourages us to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle”. As I continue on my journey through life, I realise more and more the truth of this. It can be easy, especially if the hardships we faced have seemed more intense, unfair and challenging than those around us, to believe that other people are cruising along in their lives and don’t need any help. It can be far too easy to think that ‘so and so’ or ‘such and such’ has such a ‘perfect’ life of blissful ease, where everything goes right for them. We are drawn to look at the surface of things, to see only what we think we see rather than what is actually there.

Can you think of anyone you know now, as a friend, who has shared their struggles and difficulties and pain in life with you, but whom you once thought of as having it all together, before you came to know them? Most of the people I am friends with now and who know well can fit this description, and I can too. I used to put certain people on a ‘pedestal’ because they seemed to really be ‘good at life’ in a way that I was not. My pain and struggles were obvious to me, as yours will be to you, but the reality of things is that no one can live in this world for too long without having to face something that they would rather not. Many of those smiles you see are hiding something beneath the surface, some of the people whose lives seem amazing are harbouring deep hurt and insecurity. Remember that things are not always as they seem.

With that being said, I’d encourage you as a little ‘lunchtime inspiration’ to choose today to let your kindness shine. I’m sure you do so anyway, but sometimes a little reminder can go a long way to us being more intentional about things. Everyone gets hurt in this world. Every one. So use your lunchtime to show some kindness, no matter how small that act of kindness might seem to you, to someone in your life, or someone you come across that you may not know that could do with the blessing of kindness. When we begin to think of how to be kind, we begin to see that there are opportunities everywhere…from the gift to someone of sharing your smile, to a hug, an encouraging text, email or phone call, taking time to listen, to have that conversation, to help out someone with their work or just be a friend, to buy someone lunch, to give food to someone who is homeless, to telling your loved one that you love them, to be intentionally kind to the people we tend to take for granted….the list is endless. So use your lunchtimes wisely. And let your beautiful kindness shine forth to a world that is in much need of compassion. xx

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Healthy Morning Tip #3 ~ Give the day a chance…

Sometimes mornings can be hard. We know what we want our ideal morning routine to be like, but maybe we’ve had a bad sleep, have chronic health problems, wake up in physical pain or simply just “get out on the wrong side of the bed” as the saying goes.

It can be too easy to let our not so great morning experience dictate the rest of the day for us. We might think the day is over before it’s started and already be wishing for another new day, or be thinking about getting everything over and done with and curling up in bed.

But with that outlook, have we given our day a chance? Think of your day as a story, a narrative, a novel in miniature even, and you as the protagonist – the hero or heroine of your story. So, the opening scene happens to be a bit gloomy, but that simply builds suspense and anticipation, for the hero / heroine to find that determination and courageously write a new story for themselves. Look up, have faith, and put your best foot forward, even if your first steps were a bit of a stumble into the day….the day isn’t over yet, give it a chance, who knows, the conclusion of the day’s story might be pretty wonderful indeed! 🙂 

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It’s a brand NEW month….so what’s stopping you?

Happy 1st of June peeps! 🙂 I hope the month is going well for you so far, and if not, that you are finding the resilience, hope, strength and support you need to persevere. 

I’m excited to share with you something I did today that I haven’t done in years, many, many, many, many years! And even when I did it before it was on rare and sporadic occasions. I went *outside* to do some exercise. 

This might be matter of fact to some or maybe even a lot of you. You literally and figuratively take it in your stride to perhaps go out jogging, running, or whatever other sport or exercise you might do. But not so with me. 

I grew up feeling very insecure, shy, fearful and intimidated by people, most likely largely influenced by my early experiences of bullying in school. In school I was kind of average when it came to sports, I definitely wasn’t ‘good’ as there were some very sporty and athletic people who had their little sporty and equally academic clique. I was academic, but not sporty, and not at all self assured. I had anxiety and panic attacks in public places, and even now as an adult I have been working hard to overcome these. 

I don’t know about you but taking part in sport in school was highly stressful for me. There is a lot of comparison and ranking and being picked last or not being good enough and being bossed about by gym teachers no matter how scared, nervous or frightened or out of your depth you might feel. There were things I enjoyed, not competitively but from time to time I’d actually enjoy a little bit of hockey, netball, rounders (is that even a sport? at least it’s exercise) and I absolutely loved riding my bike (another thing I haven’t done since childhood) and the hurdles out in the playing field as I was good at that and felt for some brief moments like I was ‘flying’….and that I had accomplished something. But overall, on the whole, I kind of hated sport, PE, gym class and felt that the kind of exercise presented to us was something I was pretty much ‘allergic’ to. It was just something that was forced upon us, some people were naturally great at it, and others like me were average and struggled and muddled along, feeling self conscious, not good enough and like we were not in our natural habitat! I’m sure this is a very common experience. 

As a teenager and an adult I’ve been only to one gym, a small one, and that only lasted about a year. I’ve done exercises at home, and I love and feel very much at ease going out for walks in nature. But as an adult I had the idea and impression that I was pretty much ‘allergic to exercise’! It was not an appealing thought to me. 

However, I realised that I needed to start more regular exercise to help me overcome the depression (and it has helped massively), stay fit and healthy, keep my heart strong, and feel good about myself. For the past couple of years I have been exercising regularly at home doing workouts from various videos online on YouTube. One in particular that I love is Leslie Sansone’s walk exercises as they ease you into exercising and help you to build up gradually overtime, so that was ideal for me. Yet, the thought of going to a gym for an anxious, self conscious person who doesn’t like busy or noisy places where there are a lot of people has been pretty much something that I don’t want to do. And that’s ok. I feel comfortable at home, I can do things at my own pace, and I can have encouraging people guide me, even if that is through video. I have grown to love my little routines at home and miss exercising if I don’t do it. It has helped to lift my mood and keep me positive which is in stark contrast to the worst times of depression. 

I think part of the reason I enjoy it so much is that there are no other people, no one judging, comparing, showing off or intimidating, no fears of what other people might think or not looking ok in this sports wear, or whatever it might be. I am just free to simply work on my health and fitness at my own pace from the comfort of my own home with encouraging input from people who can’t see me and don’t know me but are still a positive influence. 

So, the thought of going outside to exercise was very intimidating to me. It didn’t really appeal to me, especially the thought of doing so in front of other people. But today, and I’m not sure why, I decided, why not just go and give it a go. Start small. Walking, jogging, running. Ok, so sportswear is not your natural clothing choice, but that’s ok, put your headphones in, listen to some encouraging music, and give it a go….be brave. 

And I did give it a go, and I was brave. And I did not have one single anxiety or panic attack. 

I walked for a bit, down by the riverside where many walkers, joggers, cyclists go as well as couples, families, people just going for a stroll. I admit I was self conscious. So I walked, and walked until there were less people around, and I set myself a modest target to jog to. And then I walked, and jogged and walked until I got to a less busy place where although there were people about, it was somewhere I felt I could just ‘get on with it’. So I went from walking to jogging to running to sprinting. And then I did some HIIT – high intensity interval training. And I did it all for an hour in total, including a walk ‘cool down’ which allowed me to walk past people on my way home and not try to have to jog or run. 

It was a start. And there were some really enjoyable ‘bursts’ where I ran past people and past my self consciousness. Minor victories, perhaps, but don’t you think sometimes the smallest steps, like that first step out the front door, can turn out to be the biggest?

It was a big step to me, but I did it because I decided to not make it such a big deal. ‘Why not?’ Exactly, ‘why not?’ So what is on your mind, my friend, that you like the idea of giving a go, but are feeling afraid or anxious or nervous about? What is the person like that you’d like to be in the future, and what are the steps that you’d have to take to get there? Why not you? Why not today? What’s stopping you? 

Yes, that smallest first step in that new direction can often feel like the biggest…but I know you can do it. Is there anything new or out of your comfort zone that you’d like to try this month? Maybe the biggest first small step is getting out of your head and sharing it with others. What’s stopping you? xx

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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

 

Fitness, focus and forming new habits.

Life as it happens to be today has included getting in a couple of workout routines.

Now, let me clarify…amongst my friends and people I know, there are a lot of very sporty, healthy and fit people. Their pursuits range from swimming, skiing, snowboarding, long distance running, rock-climbing, weight training, hillwalking, playing football (‘soccer’), canoeing, assault courses, working out at the gym and cycling! They do sponsored events….for fun!  The point I wish to clarify, is that I am not one of these people. I like walking. I like cycling, but in a leisurely way, and it would help if I had a bike, which I haven’t had for years. I also very much like the idea of being a cool pole vaulting, rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding chic – but as much as I like the idea of it, my body doesn’t seem quite to have a natural inclination towards sports and fitness in the competitive sense. Ok, I hated gym class in school – not so much because I didn’t like the exercise – I loved the hurdles, because I could do that well, and I felt as if I was flying. But because my fitness and stamina was pretty average, and with sports in school there is quite a competitive edge, or there can be, and average doesn’t really stand for much. There are also all of the ‘cliques’ that go along with that kind of world. Well, my school days are long behind me now, but I do wonder if perhaps my inclinations towards sport and exercise as an adult have been influenced by the certain dread felt in those younger days?!

Now that I have the freedom to be my own person in the adult world, I find that fitness is a very personal thing, and a personal journey. And it really doesn’t matter where you are starting from. What matters is that you have decided to take better care of your body and physical health, which in turn has a positive impact upon your mental health. I went to the gym for a while several years ago, but I don’t go now. Growing up I’ve always been quite ‘petite’ in my frame, but as the years progress I find that I can no longer take that for granted, and I will have to work at it to keep in shape and stay as healthy as I want to be.

For me, one of the things that keeps me motivated is breaking big goals down into smaller more manageable pieces, and making lists! I’m a big ‘list-maker’, me. I find that that helps me to focus. And while I don’t go to the gym, as perhaps I have the ‘self-conscious bug’, I have set myself tasks and goals that I try to keep a track of.

I do walk a lot, however, and I have also started skipping (‘jump rope’) and keeping a track of how many I can manage over time. I love being able to exercise at home without all of the social fears and anxieties that go along with being in a gym environment and the natural self consciousness and comparison traps that result. I love the fact that there are so many health and fitness videos on YouTube and I have started to do some simple weight training and cardio amongst other things. I am not well versed in the world of fitness, but I’m making a start and keeping going.

Of course, there are days and weeks when I don’t actually manage to get anything in. And I think that’s ok. What works for me is to have a goal, write it down, break it up into smaller steps, have a way of encouraging myself and tracking my progress. So the fact that I might metaphorically slip off the treadmill from time to time isn’t such a big deal, the main thing is I got on to start with and will keep going and if I slip up here and there, I’ll simply get back on and aim to keep going, without external pressure.

I know we all work differently, and some people find the external pressure a driving force and a catalyst for change. I don’t think I’m one of those people, but I’m sure there is still so much more for me to learn about myself and maybe if I stepped further out of my comfort zone I would find that that actually helps.

I know someone who wasn’t particularly fit, but took up running and participating in marathons and now does them with alarming regularity! 🙂 Initially he trained on a treadmill in the gym but thought that he didn’t like running outside or with other people (the marathons being the exception), but later joined a running group and is loving the mutual encouragement and meeting people at his own stage and fitness level when previously his mind had been closed off to the idea. So …who knows…we learn and we change and new opportunities can take us to new places.

I believe that the process of habit formation, for me at least, is most effective by incremental gains. Small and consistent changes building up over time. Some people like to throw themselves into things, and take on big challenges, and find that they do great that way.

You might be a ‘super fit’ person, someone somewhere in the middle like me, or someone who feels very unfit and wants to make a change. I think an important thing is to be kind to yourself. To know that who you are right now is wonderful and although there are changes you want to make in your life, you are no more or less deserving than the next person of having a healthy life. Start from where you are, find out what works best for you, and encourage yourself and other people.

And don’t worry if you’ve slipped off that treadmill….you can always get back up on it again, or leave the gym and take a walk in the park. Whatever works for you…find it, start it and keep going. You can do it! 🙂

And if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear what works for you, so please feel free to comment below! 🙂