Tag Archives: media

Self Care In A Pandemic (3). Bad News, Good News, and Role Models…

Hands up, or nod knowingly to yourself, if today you turned on the TV and watched the news, scrolled through your phone, listened to, read or watched something about the pandemic today that made you feel even a little lower in your mood than before you absorbed that information.

If we could somehow see each other in our respective little parts of the world, I’m pretty sure there would be a lot of nods and hand-raises happening right now, am I right?

If not, well done, we applaud you.

I remember at the start of the year when the Coronavirus had not yet reached pandemic status, and gradually news stories were gaining attention, first about the outbreaks where they originated. Sadly, slowly but surely, it wasn’t just something impacting one part of the world, but with the free flow of people, began to send shock waves from one country to the next. I remember in January or February I met up with a couple of friends for coffee / tea (as we do in the UK, lol), and I asked my friends if they were still thinking of going on the holidays that they had planned later in the year to France and Italy in April and May respectively. I was concerned for them traveling when cases had started moving across Europe, but they were still in the mindset of going ahead, or waiting to see what would transpire. Needless to say, travel plans were cancelled as a hard lockdown was imposed in the UK from 23rd March 2020.

From then, almost everybody was glued to their screens or devices to try to figure out what was going on, how things would impact our lives, and what was to happen next. I remember when the first case hit our country, and it was still commonly thought that only older people or those with underlying health conditions would be particularly affected by the Coronavirus. One case. It is hard to believe how that has sky rocketed into tens of thousands here, and hundreds of thousands across the world.

It is understandable that when everything was so new, we were absorbing news and information about the pandemic almost constantly. At this moment in time, in the UK at least, restrictions seem to constantly be changing and developing with changing circumstances and therefore a regular diet of news and information about the pandemic seems to be a must.

It’s probably not too dissimilar for you, wherever in the world you might be. Added to this, 2020 has bombarded us with a whole host of troubling insights into the world we are living in, on what perhaps seems like a more intense scale than a few months previously, even though the terrible things happening in the world have been going on for centuries. Is it just me, or does it feel like we keep hearing bad news on the news in 2020? Aren’t we all hopeful for change? Or trying to be hopeful?

With the constant stream of bad news, of mind blowing facts and figures about the Coronavirus and many other issues of the day, it can be very easy to lose sight of the fact that there are good things happening in the world, and in our own lives.

As such, self care in the pandemic includes moderating our intake of news so that we can maintain a healthy and necessary balance. While it is important to stay informed of the rules, regulations, and even new legislation in our countries and regions regarding the pandemic and the accompanying public health restrictions, it is also important to not soak up so much information that it paralyzes us from positivity.

It’s so important to try to set yourself some healthy boundaries with watching, listening to and reading the news, especially this year, especially if you already struggle with mental health issues. It’s a learning curve for all of us on how to keep informed, maintain a compassionate and wise outlook, avoid personal triggers and stay positive and productive with everything that has been going on. But it is so necessary for our wellbeing and for our ability to be there not only for ourselves but for other people too.

Do you recognise yourself in any of this? Do you feel like you have been soaking in too much of the bad news and not giving yourself adequate means or time to process it, and is it all dragging you down? If so, be mindful and practical in how you are going to set boundaries for the information you allow into your life on a day to day basis. Maybe instead of looking at the news throughout the day, choose a set time to stay informed so that you have the rest of the day and night to make sense of it, process the information and do other more productive and positive things that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

Seek and pursue other types of information too, that you will find positive, uplifting, encouraging, inspiring, or simply entertaining (we can’t get enough of those cute puppy videos, can we? 🙂 ). Maybe you could become a source of good news stories for other people. Seek out positive vibes and news and share them with your ‘tribe’ of friends and family and maybe even co-workers. We all need a break from the clouds and rain and negativity of this pandemic.

As well as news, consider including other sources of information into your life, whether that be reading for leisure, spending time learning something new, taking in the sights and sounds of nature and being quiet as you soak in and absorb the beauty of this autumn season and the seasons to follow. Make, create, encourage, write, and look for positive things to fill your mind with too.

In addition to this, know that you are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’. There are so many people who have gone before us, and so many contemporaries in our midst that can be those ‘role models’ that our hearts and minds crave right now. People who have overcome the odds whether that be difficult circumstances, prejudice, lack of opportunity, trauma, abuse, or people who have made a change for the better in society for which we enjoy the benefits today, people who have discovered the seemingly undiscoverable for humanity, who have invented, who have thought beyond the perceived limitations of circumstances and shone in their lifetimes.

Think of the people around you who perhaps quietly, humbly and with good humour and a positive attitude make a change for the better in their day to day lives, or who do the simplest of tasks that most of us would look down upon, without grumbling or complaining.

There are so many people we can look up to as role models, people who can inspire, encourage, help us to think positively even in the darkest of times, who remind us of the power and love that is greater than this world, the resilience of the human spirit, the Grace of God, the tenacity to overcome the odds. Perhaps you and I are or can be role models ourselves to someone, whether intentionally or not, as we pursue these positive habits, seeking to maintain a healthy balance of the input we allow into our minds and lives, and seeking to believe beyond the limits of our present circumstances.

Be brave, friends, stay strong, be blessed. x

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Winter Survival Guide (28) ~ Acceptance.

adult beautiful christmas cold
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Your life is unique, wonderful and perhaps at times ‘kaleidoscopic’. Like a snowflake, each of our lives are intricate, distinct and although in many ways similar, each is completely original and incomparable. We see the design, the pattern, the variety if we would but look at the snowflake up close. Our fingerprints are one of a kind, and like no other, even those of identical twins are completely unique and distinct from one another. The design, the form, the pattern and uniqueness of our DNA is another stamp of our uniqueness. You are one of a kind, irreplaceable, incomparable, uniquely, wonderfully, beautifully you, not to be compared with any other, and not to be replicated. One of a kind. That’s you.

So why, friends, do we too often feel that our unique and incomparable selves have to lead ‘picture perfect lives’ according to someone else’s or society’s designs?

We see the greeting cards in the shops at certain times of the year, and we watch the films that tell us how things ‘ought to be’ if our lives were our own ideal replicas of those portrayed to us in the media, airbrushed as they are.

How many Christmas and holiday films begin with two lonely hearts each seeking their own ways in life, making it through the holiday season and muddling through somehow, facing heartache only to finally find each other, fall in love, be whisked off into the romance of the season and live ‘happily ever after’, or at least until the end of the film?

How many pictures, postcards and greeting cards have designs on the front showing happy families gathered together, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying the glow of a warm fire, under the dazzling beauty of twinkling lights adorning a picture perfect Christmas tree? Everyone is happy, no one has fallen out with anyone else, there are no family feuds, rifts, or even fights over the remote control and arguments over who gets to choose which film to watch.

There are no pictures of single mothers struggling to decide how to manage their finances while at the same time providing a special experience for their children so that they don’t feel like they are missing out.

Where are the greeting cards that feature you, and me, in our unique, incomparable, kaleidoscopic, often broken yet beautiful lives?

Maybe you do have somewhat of a picture perfect greeting card life at the moment. You know you will have happy family times together, you have your ‘true love’ by your side, you have enough money to enjoy the season without worry, you’ll see your friends and enjoy good times together, you may even have a beautiful Christmas tree, and enjoy some snowy scenes while you stay wrapped up warm, cosy and loved inside.

But even if you do, it’s likely that it has not always been that way for you, and even if it has, there are no guarantees that your life will be ‘picture perfect’ in the future. And even if it is ‘picture perfect’ on the outside, I can almost guarantee that you, as unique as you are, also share in the common human frailties of stress, worry, anxiety, and self doubt.

Truth be told, none of our lives fit any of the designs that society often airbrushes and presents to us. You are unique, and so too is your life. So don’t fall prey to the ‘comparison trap’. Don’t feel like you are missing out on life simply because it is so far from ‘perfect’ for you right now, this year, even if what you are going through is really, really tough. There are lessons for you in even the darkest of seasons, and I know that I have had to go through some dark seasons I rather would not have, but we sometimes make them harder for ourselves by not embracing the uniqueness of our lives, our circumstances, the opportunities to rise up against the challenges, get stronger, grow and not keep wishing that we had what someone else had, or that our lives looked different.

It’s great to aspire to better things, to be a kinder person, with the kind of character you would want your children to have. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life circumstances either. But the thing is, the way your life is right now, is the way it is right now, and you have to start from a place of acceptance rather than wishing it away. Whether you are in a happy or sad season of life this winter time, live your life, not someone else’s idea of what your life should be, or your idea of what you wish it could be. You are here right now, and you have to make the most of what you are working with right now. Learn the lessons, embrace them, grow from them, and move forward. Be uniquely, wonderfully you, live your unique, wonderful and messy life, and don’t complain or grumble about where you find yourself, because you can’t make things better by dong that. Accept what is, and have faith in something Better, and do what you can as you take the next steps to live your best, unique, wonderful life – which is a gift, one of its kind, unique, and given to you. x

 

The Final Edit … who will have the last say in your life?

When I was a little girl, and then as I grew into a teenager, I dreamed of what I would like to be when I grew up. My dreams in terms of my occupation were along the lines of wanting to be an artist, a cartoonist / animator, a writer and illustrator, a journalist, reporter, and an advocate for children’s rights, human rights, animal rights and social justice. For a long time in secondary school I saw myself as becoming a journalist, because of my love of writing, of discovering and sharing such discoveries with the world. My passion for writing never diminished, and I spent my teenage years writing short stories, and doing stints of work experience with a local newspaper, as well as volunteering for NGOs such as the British Red Cross, working on an international message and tracing scheme, race equality charities, Amnesty International and doing projects on the death penalty, Greenpeace and so forth. My mum always saw me as a future news reader, which I can’t quite understand why given that I was an incredibly shy teenager, and not really able to speak up for myself. But I could write! And I could analyse facts, and discover new angles and ways of seeing things. Creativity and analysis are two sides of the same picture that makes me who I am, but whereas I could live with a less analytical aspect to my life, I would probably shrivel up and wither away without being able to express myself creatively. At school we had ‘mock interviews’ with a guidance counsellor  / teacher. During my interview, the teacher / ‘interviewer’ asked me what I wanted to be and do in the future. Without hesitation I told her I wanted to be a writer and a journalist. She shot me down, which to be honest, is pretty awful given that she didn’t really know me. She said I could definitely be a writer, but there was no way I would be a journalist because my personality wasn’t bold or confident enough, or something to that effect. At the time it was a real desire for me to go into the field of journalism, and without a second thought the teacher brazenly dismissed my dreams for my future. I forgive her, I understand some people trying to provide youngsters with a good old fashioned dose of realism, but some people I think are in the teaching profession without really having the skills to help nurture young minds and lives. Suffice to say, I didn’t become a journalist. I guess I didn’t really want to in the end, but that was my choice. I went on to study English Literature and Politics in University, aged 17, and then proceeded to study Gender Studies, Human Rights and International Development. I’ve since dipped into online courses in psychology, children’s studies, and continue to pursue my passion for writing. I write fiction, I write blogs, I’ve written about human trafficking as part of my studies, and as part of my job, I’ve written about issues to do with violence against women, equality, racism, disability hate crime, and a variety of more ‘businessy’, corporate, legal and policy type matters, all the while, learning new things as I go. I have also had times in my job where I have had to write more ‘tedious’ and templated things, such as complaint responses and things that I have just had to do, because I was tasked to do it. I suppose in any and every career we face tasks that we like and dislike, things that make us feel more like our true selves, and other things that make us just want to pack up and go home for the day, or better still, leave the country altogether and go on holiday until we can come back to something better!

Yes, I’ve been there, I’m sure we all have. But today, as I sit and write, I think that the little girl I once was would be pleased with where I am today and what I am doing. I think this day may very well be part of her dream. To sit somewhere quiet, with the sun shining in through the windows, and a view of trees, and to be editing a company newsletter, and preparing the articles for the final version. I am working with my friend and colleague who is a designer, and I am doing the ‘wordy’ part of the editing, while he deals with the pictures and images. It is a new task for me at work, because previously we worked more in the confines of our own teams, which meant I was dealing with, at least for the past while, more corporate work, which is fine, but not exactly creatively stimulating. I have a new collaborative project coming up too, which I have been preparing for, I won’t write too much about it at this point, but think audio, internal communications, entertainment….and yes, perhaps something with a journalistic streak to it! This past week at work I have been collating information, writing reports, analysing, and also editing a newsletter, planning a creative project, which will involve interviewing, possibly audio presenting and taking forward with colleagues new internal communications strategies.  So, despite it all, despite my several health challenges and struggles over the years, despite this not being quite journalism (which was after all the dream of a teenage me, and not the adult me), I find myself in a happy day, doing things that I love, despite life’s ups and downs, and despite messages to the contrary.

On days like these, especially after times of trials, we really ought to reflect on and appreciate them.

And for all of you out there whose teachers, parents, peers, colleagues, bosses, relatives, or so called ‘friends’ told you that you could ‘never be’ what you dreamed of being, or that you didn’t have what it takes, or weren’t good enough or not being realistic, or whatever negative thing they said about you….by all means hear them out, take on any helpful advice, but take it with a pinch of salt, continue to be who you are born to be, and remember that they don’t have the final edit of your life. 🙂 Be blessed. x

creative smartphone desk notebook
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