Tag Archives: Mental Health

Are you Liked?

Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.

Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.

So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.

Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.

Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.

But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.

How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.

It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.

However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?

Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.

I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.

You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.

And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.

 

Trains of thought ….

You may have read my previous two posts about my recent travel adventures on the Jacobite Steam Train through northern Scotland. However, this post is about different types of trains: trains of thought.

I did not choose this topic at random, but because I am struggling right now, and I like the freedom of being ‘real’ with you on this platform (pardon the pun 😉 ).

You see, for the past few years I have been receiving treatment for Post Traumatic Stress, Complex Trauma (trauma that is severe and repeated), Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Severe Clinical Depression – what a colourful array of conditions and symptoms! I have been suffering for many, many, many years prior to getting help, however.

Despite my conditions, I function at a high level. I work full time (although my workplace know of my conditions and are supportive to me), I have obtained two first class degrees, I love photography, and other creative outlets, have a strong faith and seek to encourage other people in my friendships. These are all real and genuine parts of me, they are not masks, however, underneath my pleasant and often smiling demeanour is a lot of pain, and emotional and mental distress. In case you are wondering a lot of this stems from bullying about my appearance as a child, racial hate crimes, physical, mental, verbal and emotional ‘bullying’ (abuse) at young and formative stages of my life, as well as various stressful situations in adulthood.

I try hard, but sometimes my brain and body go into ‘meltdown’, and I am harassed by nightmares, chronic pain, flashbacks, distress, confusion, low moods and painful memories and reminders of abusive words hurled at me that I absorbed as being true about myself.

But I have chosen not to be defeated by these things, although recovery is a long road. In my pain and despair, prior to seeking professional help, I would try to ‘fix’ things or figure them out and it would lead me down very unhelpful trains of thought such as obsessively reading about stories of adults who were bullied as children and that sort of thing. It ultimately didn’t pull me out of my pain and trauma.

Since then, I have been focusing on more positive distractions and techniques to ground me in the present…I’m still at a vulnerable stage of my recovery so reprocessing these experiences needs to be built on a more stable foundation of grounding and staying emotionally safe and well. I have been doing pretty well with these – I have been pouring a lot of my time and attention into healthier pursuits such as doing my best at work, exercising, going for walks, eating more healthily, not isolating myself from friends and family but working on my relationships with others, taking time for ‘self care’, pursuing my hobbies of photography, creative writing, arts and crafts, adult colouring, and now blogging !, and building myself up in my faith and in prayer.

However, not all journeys are smooth and straightforward, and this train has run into some trouble and parts of it have broken down and are in need of servicing. I have been feeling more overwhelmed by, I guess a ‘flare up’ of the traumatic symptoms, and at the moment I’m struggling again.

Today I found myself face to face once more with some of these troubling memories and emotions and feelings and physical sensations that brought back a lot of negativity in my perceptions of myself as I was when I experienced these things, and I found myself beginning to follow old trains of thought – I was so close to going online to read about and watch videos about bulling, but I know that that will ultimately be harmful to me.

So I chose a new train of thought, I chose to continue on a more healthy journey, and I came here to blog instead.

But this blog isn’t all about me. It’s about you, about us, and about community and building each other up, being encouragers and supporting each other on our individual and shared journeys.

If you struggle with your mental health, know that you are not alone. Be aware of the train of thought you choose to pursue, and if you are on the wrong train, get off at the nearest station and switch tracks.

How do you do this? Start building up your ability to choose positive thoughts. Perhaps you can focus on a healthy hobby, or write down a list of affirmations and positive statements about yourself. Take your attention away from the thoughts that distress you and instead focus on something beautiful like the clouds moving across the sky, the sound of birdsong, the gentle lapping of waves, the laughter of someone you love, the sweet scent of flowers or perfume, the taste of your favourite food. Build a ‘narrative’ for yourself, filled with positive things. Use your imagination, and keep choosing the Imagination Stations of positivity rather than staying on a train of thought that will only lead you through a long dark tunnel.

What helps you? Do you have anything helpful that you can share that might benefit the rest of us? If so please feel free to comment and discuss. We’re all passengers together in this journey of life, so let’s make sure we help each other choose the right train! 🙂

I shall leave you with an inspiring quote to ponder:

“whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).

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

 

Life as it happens to be…some reflections & plans….& future blog topics…

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Passing the yearly mid-point

Hi friends. 2nd July 2017. Can you believe we’re now more than half way through this year? I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I have a good feeling about it, which is quite a change from the anxious feelings I’ve had in previous years. This year I have been more mindful of making the most of my moments and not feeling so ‘dictated to’ by the clock or the calendar or the idea of ‘milestones’ that ought to have been reached by now. I do sometimes like to consider time in ‘manageable portions’ (don’t we all?), to take time to reflect, especially around the new year, and to plan ahead for the year to come. Perhaps you are similar, or maybe you prefer to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I think to some extent we all like a bit of both, to varying degrees. We need both stability and spontaneity in our lives. There is something about a ‘half way point’ that is a natural demarcation that can call us to reflect, or ‘pause and ponder’ and think about our life’s direction, our achievements, goals and plans for the future.

Perspectives

Sometimes passing a ‘half way point’ can make people feel nervous, unsettled, fearful, anxious or as if they have failed if they haven’t been able to achieve or get to where they had hoped or planned. I understand that. However, if you are in that place, I would encourage you to take a step back from the lens that you have been looking through and enjoy that wide expansive horizon before you.

Life is made up of different seasons, and unlike the predictability of the movement of nature’s seasons year after year from Spring to Summer to Autumn/Fall onto Winter, our lives are not like that. At twenty we cannot look across to the lives of twenty five year olds and find a uniformity in their circumstances that we can look to as a guarantee for the shape of our future. Nor can we do so at any age or stage of life. Yes, there may be certain things that hold a degree of certainty such as infancy, school years, college / university, graduation, employment, and so on. However, even then, we all have different starting points and obstacles and opportunities whether they be in the form of our health, family background, upbringing, socio economic status, limitations, abilities, temperament or whatever else they may be. We may be encouraged or hindered by the families we are born into, or by the company we keep or are compelled into by life’s circumstances. We may suffer abuse, neglect, trauma, unfair treatment, disadvantage or we may find ourselves blessed with favourable circumstances and a mostly happy or even carefree life. Perhaps the seemingly ‘predictable’ patterns of earlier years become more tangled, complex and uncertain as the years go by. Which is a good reason to refrain from harsh judgement of ourselves or others, and to avoid the ‘comparison trap’. Everyone has a story, and a ‘cross to bear’ as it were, and most times we are not really aware of what others around us are really going through however their lives may seem on the surface.

Finding Peace

Perhaps a simple prayer to ponder when life feels uncertain is the ‘Serenity Prayer’, which is simple yet full of wisdom:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

I personally love this prayer. It draws me away from being overly concerned with what is going on around me or from comparing my life to anyone else’s. It reminds me that like you, I have a Creator Who has made me who I am for a reason, and that if I want certainty and hope in my life I need only to look to Him for He Is True and Unchanging, unlike much of our experience of life in this world. And it reminds me that I am not powerless. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances, and although there are certain things that are beyond my control, still there is much that I can change. And so can you.

Who you are, and where you are now

All that being said, I’d like to remind you, yes *you*, special you reading this now, are Unique, Irreplaceable, ‘Fearfully & Wonderfully Made’ (Psalm 139) and are Special and Important just for who you are. You are not an accident, it is not by chance that you are here, right now, even reading this for perhaps you need to hear a word of encouragement. You are you for a reason, and you are here right now for a reason too.

So be kind to yourself. Know that life is not all about status or achievement or relationships or milestones achieved. It is enough that you are you. Truly. I believe that there is only One Who can love you in the way you need to be loved for you to know and experience this, and I hope that you will find your way to Him, the Lord Jesus.

However, no matter what your thoughts or beliefs, still you are important, a unique individual who deserves respect and care, and that my friend, begins with you. With how you view yourself, how you ‘talk to’ yourself, and how you treat yourself and others.

Where you are now may be a place of contentment, and if so I am pleased for you and hope that you enjoy and are blessed in this time of your life. However, where you are right now in life, may not be so great. In which case, remember from the Serenity Prayer above, that you are not powerless. You can make a change today, even if a small one, and you can keep going. This is the season of life that you are in, and inevitably with all seasons, it is transient and will change. So make the changes that you can and should, and seek to be at peace with the things that you cannot change.

So, What’s Your Plan?

Ok, ok, I’m a bit of a self-confessed ‘geek’. I like stationery. I like making lists and plans. I like seeing things written down, and I like colour coding! It’s not a crime, is it? 🙂

Over the past few years, lists and plans have been small yet very helpful tools for me to aid me through some very difficult times. As mentioned previously I have complex trauma / PTSD, severe clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The past few years have been very tough health wise, yet this year has been pretty good, productive and one in which I am getting on top of my health challenges, which I hope is an encouragement to any of you out there who are struggling in any way. We can build resilience in ourselves and we can make tangible changes for the better.

So do you have a list or a plan? If so, what’s in your plan? And how has it helped you? If you think that sharing these insights with us might help someone else, then you are more than welcome to leave a comment or a link to a relevant blog post.

Here’s What’s in My Plan…

At the start of the year, I took some time to be a geek and to make up some lists 🙂 It has helped me to ‘stay on track’ as it were, and to measure my progress in areas of my life that are important to me.

I’ve never shared anything like this publicly before, however, I would like to do so now in the hope that it might help, encourage, or be a useful starting point for some of you to consider what is important to you in your lives, and how to live more fully in the days and years to come.

So here goes, ‘it is what it is’, it’s not ‘perfect’, but it was my starting point for this year. I’ll be brave and share it with you lovely people.

I categorised my life into 14 priority ‘life areas’, which I will list below, unchanged from when I wrote them in a notebook in January of this year. Further to this I made further more specific ‘sub goals’ or actions to more practically guide me in maintaining and enhancing these 14 life areas. These have been organic and involve a lot of scribbling, doodling, brainstorming and note-making, therefore I won’t share these as that would just get a bit too ‘crazy’ and unwieldy for a blog post 🙂 Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks! I also made a simple ‘accountability tracker’ for each month of the year which worked well for the first few months but may continue to change as I change.

2017 Life Areas:

  1. Relationship with God / Faith
  2. Relationship with Family
  3. Friendships
  4. Work / Career
  5. Finances
  6. Health & Wellbeing / Mental Health / Nutrition
  7. Homekeeping / Hospitality
  8. Travel
  9. Hobbies & Recreation
  10. Self Development / Lifelong Learning
  11. Life Skills
  12. Future Unknowns / Hopes
  13. Helping Other People / Outreach / Volunteering / Charity, etc.
  14. Lifelong / Long-term Goal ~ Writing.

 

‘Life As It Happens To Be’ ~ The Birth of An Unexpected Blog & The Timing of Things

As you can see from the above list, a blog could quite reasonably fit into a couple of categories (such as 9 & 14). However, I never listed it specifically in the above list, nor in any of my ‘sub lists’ (ok, already, I told you I’m a self-confessed list making ‘geek’. The world needs us! 🙂 🙂 ).

My ‘blog baby’ therefore came as an unexpected surprise. A couple of years ago I created my own website on Wix, which I was an am very happy with. It is quite different in appearance from this blog, yet contains many similar themes. However, it never really did ‘go anywhere’. There wasn’t really the same scope to connect with other bloggers as there is here, and so it kind of drifted into the background of my life, and it no longer took much place in the day to day things of my life. In May of this year, I think, someone suggested that I try blogging on Word Press. And so on 28th May 2017, just over a month ago, I did just that, I began this blog, and now here I am, and here we are. I am so glad I did.

Perhaps my previous website was a preparation for this new adventure. Although this blog wasn’t on my list of pursuits this year, it has really taken a special place in my life, even though I have barely been blogging for long. I love this creative and somewhat philosophical outlet. I love connecting with you all, and gaining an insight into your lives and adventures and experiences and learning from what you have written, photographed and shared. I often find myself thinking about things to blog about, and find that it is becoming a beautiful experience that I definitely wish to continue.

I am grateful for those of you who have joined me on this shared journey. I hope you will continue with me, but even if our paths were only meant to cross for a short time before they diverge, I am glad for this time and this season with you. I really hope that some of the things I’ve shared have been an encouragement to you. I may not have met you face to face, but I do care, and as I am moving past some difficult years into something new, I hope that together we can discover more of what it means to be ‘Living Fully’, right here, right now.

The Future? Well, I don’t know too much about that, but I do have plans for some new Blog Posts! 🙂

I’m intrigued to know whether any of you are ‘regular’ readers. If so, then thank you, I appreciate you. I also would like to know what interests you, and what I can write more of to encourage you, for I do have the heart of an encourager, and you, unseen internet friend, matter to me ❤ 🙂

In the meantime, let me share some of the things that you can expect to see more of on my blog in the near future (hopefully!):

I intend to continue my regular posts such as daily photos, daily prompts, self-care series and posts about mental health. In addition to what I’m already posting, you can look out for:

  • A continuation of my ‘self-care’ series.
  • Future LUSH product reviews.
  • A July ‘Subscription Box’ review.
  • Travel: in less than a week, I am going for a short adventure / journey on an old steam train in northern Scotland which I hope to feature in a blog post shortly afterwards.
  • More on Books! Literature reviews and posts on the books I am currently reading.
  • Future travel plans.
  • As mentioned above, more on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Faith journeys.
  • Creative writing.
  • A colouring book review: a friend has recently gifted me with a new adult colouring book, ‘Images of Hope’, which I have started working on and will look forward to sharing with you.

So there you have it, some things to look forward to, and I hope you are enjoying journeying on this adventure with me.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

Notebook image, courtesy of Google Images. All other content (c) is my own.

 

 

 

 

What colour is your mood? Daily Prompt – ‘Sunny’

Daily prompt – ‘sunny’

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Holly Golightly (‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’) called them ‘the mean reds’, a state progressively worse than what some jazz musicians and common parlance have termed ‘the blues’. Winston Churchill branded ‘it’, that terrible and impenetrable fog of depression, ‘The Black Dog’. And perhaps we ourselves find ourselves oscillating between colours on the spectrum of wellbeing.

Sunny’ is not a term commonly associated with depression. For me, it evokes inspiring images of wide open fields, blue skies, sunshine, meadows of brightly arrayed flowers, children running, laughing and playing, and key to it all….happiness.

Having a ‘sunny disposition’ connotes cheerfulness, wellbeing, and happiness. It is not the face of depression. Or is it?

Depression is not merely feeling sad. It is not something you can simply ‘pull yourself out of’. It is a real illness, as real as having a broken leg, only not as visible, and it can cause persistent distress over long periods of time.

Although a caricature of depression may involve dark clouds, lightning bolts, lashing rain, sad faces and general miserableness, which can in many cases describe the low moods and despair that some sufferers of depression may feel, it is not an accurate picture of the ‘face’ of depression.

What do I mean? I have a medical condition, among others, known as clinical depression. I was diagnosed only within the last two years, but I knew or suspected for decades that I suffered from something like this, particularly since and perhaps mainly triggered by being badly bullied at a formative time in my childhood, when I ceased to want to exist. At times the pain has been unbearable and I have not been able to hide it. However, as something that is a persistent condition, it somehow becomes ‘normal’, and since as adults we have to keep going and keep doing and keep living our lives and going about our business, we can sometimes ‘forget’ the seriousness of such conditions in ourselves and others. You do often seek to ‘just get on with it’, sometimes at your own risk. And getting on with it can mean putting on a smile, having a cheerful face and a ‘sunny disposition’ such that the invisible illness that you carry around with you is unseen and undetected.

The ‘face of depression’ therefore, at times, could in fact be a big smile, sunshine and blue skies, quite unlike the dismal ‘gloom and doom’ picture painted above. However, that makes it no less serious. Statistics show that in the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness such as depression at some point in their lives, and in the US, depression is said to affect more than 15 million American adults. That means that more than likely, either you or someone you know, or know of, carries this ‘Black Dog’, and suffers from the ‘Mean Reds’, perhaps while showing you only a bright sunny smile on the surface.

So, knowing this, what can you do?

If you have been suffering and struggling for a long time, and trying to just put on a brave face, yet suspect you may have depression, please reach out for help. There are many mental health charities, and obviously talking to your doctor is a good first step. Depression is a very treatable illness. It isn’t easy. I know, I have it. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, in silence, or hiding behind your sunny mask all the time. A friend once told me, very helpfully, that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if I had a broken leg, nor try to ‘fix’ it myself (which is what I had been doing with my emotional and psychological issues, to no avail), so why should anyone feel ashamed to seek help for an equally legitimate medical condition, where the suffering is often profound and long lasting, perhaps caused by brain activity, trauma or genetics among many other factors.

If you are concerned about a friend, but are not sure because they always ‘seem happy’, carefully ask them how they are.

And if you can’t keep your sunny disposition and happy face in place today, don’t worry, it’s ok. And you’re not alone. It may seem bleak just now, but there is hope, and like me, I trust you will have brighter days ahead. x

 

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

 

Guest Post – Mindfump

Thanks to Mindfump for allowing me to reblog his article on mental health issues.  Check out his blog at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/66574131/posts/1505927683 and if you need further encouragement on similar issues of mental health, self care, health, fitness and wellbeing, you can find some helpful posts on my blog under the relevant tabs / menus at the top of my page.