Tag Archives: Mental Health

The small things are actually the big things…

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Weren’t we all created to soar? And yet how many of us feel like we have been buffeted by too many a storm, have had our wings clipped, and our hearts broken? Maybe the dreams we once had never took flight, and now we don’t see much point in ever seeking to soar the way we deep inside feel or wish that we were meant to. 

Do you feel like that? The world we live in is replete with things that might dull our sparkle, burst our dreams, and render us unable to soar. Have you experienced this? The unkind words spoken to or about you perhaps not long ago, perhaps decades ago, that just don’t seem to leave you, affect your mental health, your view of yourself as valuable or worthy, your view of how others see you, and the opportunities you let yourself (or don’t) take. Maybe you have been bound and caged by more than just words (not that words themselves aren’t powerful and can be deeply harmful)…perhaps you have suffered abuse, physical harm, neglect, fear, uncertainty, and a whole host of things that I couldn’t perhaps imagine.  

But somehow, you have found yourself here. Right now. Today. Reading this blog. And you feel like you are a failure or are not good enough, that your life hasn’t amounted to very much, and maybe you just need a big friendly virtual hug from a friend you don’t know, but who longs to encourage you. If you are that person, thank you for being here, thank you for reading this, and thank you for being you. Do you know what? I am that person too…and that’s why I’m reaching out to you. I’m not here to preach to you and I’ll mention this only briefly in this particular post, but you can find more in my ‘faith posts’, however, the Only true way to be released from your prison or cage is by the unfailing LOVE of Jesus Christ, and however long that journey might be for you, I hope you one day find rest in His love for you. 

That being said, you might be wondering what the title of this post refers to. The small things are the big things. Friend, we may have been bruised, broken, tossed by tempest, storm and winds of circumstance and change, we may have felt (or even been) caged, imprisoned, oppressed, mistreated, made to feel unlovely, unlovable, unwanted, undesirable, unworthy, and so much less that we actually are. 

But, listen….we are here. Now. And do you know why the small things are the big things? Because every time you get up again after being knocked down, you are doing something incredible. However small you might feel your achievements are, if you have taken the next breath through anxiety, depression, darkness or fear, you have made a great statement – you *are* worthy, you *can* do it, you *will* persevere, and you *are* special. 

If you have continued on despite feeling like you have ‘fallen behind’ your peers, you are exceptional. If you have faced opposition from within and without, if you have not given up, if you got up when you felt like disappearing, if you went outside when you felt like hiding, if you spoke to someone when you felt afraid, if you took care of yourself, your health, and did the next small thing when it was most difficult to do so, whether through depression, anxiety, fear, pain, loss, grief, loneliness or whatever it may be, you did a great BIG thing, and dear friend, if you did it before, you can, you will do it again. So don’t underestimate yourself  or the value of your small achievements…for at the end of the day the small things are actually the big things, and sometimes the small decisions and choices we make are the ones that will change our course and change our lives! Be blessed. xx

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Are you stressed out & drowning in clutter? Believe in yourself and make a change…

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As promised, dear friends, here are the first of a few ‘before & after’ pictures from my big 2018 declutter, reorganisation & spring clean! 

One of the main reasons I am posting this series, other than to help me keep track of my progress, is because I believe from experience that the way we live and use our space can have a huge impact upon our mental health, well being, stress levels and as a result, our quality of life. 

I also want to encourage you, if you are struggling, that I wasn’t born tidy or organised, and from the pictures above you can see that it has taken considerable effort to overcome the challenges of disorganisation, clutter (and depression!), and to create a much happier, peaceful and enjoyable environment for myself and hopefully others.  I also want to encourage you that if you want to make a change, but are currently feeling overwhelmed, not to worry, you’re not alone, and it can be done. 

I’m sure that even looking at the before and after pictures, let alone being in the space, evokes an emotional and psychological reaction in you…the first picture no doubt represents somewhere that you probably wouldn’t want to be, whereas the second, ‘after’ picture is quite peaceful, ordered, inviting and aesthetically pleasing. 

So where do you start? Let me suggest a few helpful hints and tips on your journey…(and for more, check out my previous blog posts in this home & lifestyle series that you can find from my main menu).

  • Know what you are dealing with, and break things down into smaller more manageable tasks. What I mean by this is that you will absolutely, definitely feel overwhelmed and daunted and perhaps even confused if you say to yourself, ‘I need to sort out / tidy / clean / declutter my house / flat’ etc if you don’t have any idea of how you are going to do this or where to start. Even if you feel like your entire living space is chaotic and that you can’t do it, believe me (and the pictures for proof!) that you can. Start with a pen and a notepad, and jot down the key areas or rooms of your home or flat. For me, this would be: the hallway, hall cupboard, my bedroom, small en suite bathroom, spare room (or dumping ground as it was for a long time), main bathroom, open plan living, kitchen, dining area. These can be broken down further, but that will be once you have focused your attention on a particular area. I find it helpful, even if I am doing different tasks simultaneously, to work as much as possible either by room by room and / or by theme.

 

  • Once you have chosen where to start, say for example, the bedroom, think about the  items you use there, what you need, and your daily routine. Then think about how you will create a place for each type of thing. For example, storage of clothes, toiletries, bed linen, etc. Name places, even in your mind, but writing it down initially helps, and be disciplined in how you think about storage.

 

  • Next, when faced with a mess like that above, you will need to lighten your load and begin to declutter, bin, recycle, give away and sort the items that you do have. I found it very helpful to keep myself from getting overwhelmed to set aside some time and to look upon this stage as a game or a puzzle to solve. For example, I would perhaps get a big bin bag and start by identifying and throwing away all of the things I could see that could go straight into the bin. I did the same with items to be recycled and sorted them into papers and plastics. I also went by item type, and created a single (yes, just one!) identifiable storage space in my home that I could either immediately start putting things away in or where I would be able to once I had done more work of creating that space. For example, an easy step was to begin to identify the many plastic bags, take them out of the room, fold them and put them in one single place that I could go to when I needed a plastic bag. I did the same with other bags, and types of items such as scarves, etc. With clothes, towels, etc, I got them all out of the way and put them to one side, after which I washed and dried them and sorted them: some would go to charity, some for storage for the appropriate season, and others would be the clothes that I need for current use.

 

  • Sometimes you will need to purchase additional items to help you  create a system. For example storage organisers, boxes, etc to create order. I have a small / medium sized wardrobe in my room with sliding doors. This can be tricky to make the most of the space available and I know that some people with these cupboards prefer to take off the sliding doors for easier access. I personally like the idea of being able to close the doors as who can guarantee that they’ll always keep their new system tidy?! I found that a lot of space was being wasted because there are no shelves or drawers inside, and any clothes that can’t go on the hangers tend to find themselves heaped in a pile at the bottom of the cupboard. So working from the inside out, I created additional storage space by buying this easy to assemble item as shown above and have organised my clothes and accessories so that the hanger space and the ‘free space’ is utilised. I have taken care to not pack the space full of stuff, which was made easier by getting rid of things when decluttering as well as creating storage space under the bed, by purchasing a very affordable ottoman to go at the end of the bed, and storage bags for underneath the bed, all with a specific purpose for particular types of items.

 

  • You will find that certain types of items just don’t belong in the room that they are in and that you will need to create an appropriate space for in the ‘correct’ room at a later date. You can begin by finding a temporary space to gather items of that type so that they don’t stay in the room that they’re not supposed to be in.

 

  • The whole process can be time consuming, depending on how deeply you are in your clutter, and can sometimes feel laborious, or overwhelming. However, you can do it! A wonderful place to start is with your imagination and inspiration. Daydream about your ideal room, and how you are going to make it that way. Having a strategy will enable you to accomplish so much more and much more quickly, as you work to a plan and don’t get caught up in the emotional baggage of how you got to this state in the first place. Perhaps you only need some ‘fine tuning’ in which case, as I develop my own, I will post guidance and tips on a daily / weekly / monthly / yearly ‘maintenance schedule’. Make sure that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. If you read over my previous posts you will find advice on the importance of having a space that you are happy to go to, even the tiniest ‘cosy corner’ so that you can take breaks, enjoy ‘now’ and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.

It is a process, but if you turn your process into a puzzle to be solved rather than a chore to be endured, you might find that you enjoy it a whole lot more, and create the home of your dreams….right where you are!!! All the very best with your homemaking journey, friends. xx

 

Daily Prompt ~ ‘Restart’.

Daily Prompt: Restart

You think it is not possible, because your mind has crowded out the possibilities.

How familiar have you grown to the familiar, the known?

Deeply etched tracks threaten to derail you.

Your engines are failing as the station ahead signals ‘Burnout’ and ‘Breakdown’.

As you hurtle past, a helpless commuter of your own life, weary, older than your frown, you catch the glimpse of an enthusiastic wave from the little hand of one transfixed, mesmerised, inspired, standing at the station platform.

Sunlight flashes in your eyes, a spark, a memory, of the familiar, the seen before

The scene before.

Who was that curious soul, young, knowing, familiar, unknown.

Was it, Is it YOU?

A sudden halt,

The threatening shudder

Of breakdown

Engine failure

Failure

You think.

Yet, in the blink of an eye,

The train rewinds,

The child at the station, inspired,

Redirects the tracks,

Points you in the direction of new thoughts,

New horizons

Destinations with

New names

Like

‘Adventure’

‘Possibilities’

‘Dreams’

‘Opportunities’

‘Positive Thoughts’

‘Enchantment’

‘Wonder’

‘Timeless’

‘Beauty’

‘Inspiration’

‘Fun’.

Effortlessly,

The train slips onto new tracks,

You are the driver and not the passenger

Of your life.

A sharp inhale, anticipation of the adventure,

You put your hand to the control,

Look up into the bright cloudless sky,

Put your Trust and Hope in that which is Greater,

Far Greater than those old, lost forgotten thoughts,

You envisage your destination,

Restart,

And begin life!

At Home…A Change is as Good as a Rest…

There are some phrases or proverbs that creep into common usage, that on the surface seem fairly self-explanatory, but given a bit of thought require a little more reflection to fully understand.

To me, “A change is as good as a rest” is one such phrase. A cursory review would suggest that a change that brings about positive effects or consequences is as beneficial to one’s wellbeing, as some good old refreshing ‘time out’. Some variations of the phrase state that “A change is as good as a holiday”, suggesting that the ‘change’ in question is not as significant as leaving one’s usual surroundings but that the change can be simpler, and yet have similar benefits to ‘getting away from it all’. Conversely, some interpret the change itself in the original phrase to be just such an escape or adventure away from the everyday routines and norms of one’s life.

But what does this mean in terms of life at home? *Your life* at home. As you can guess, this post is the latest instalment in my ‘Home & Lifestyle’ series, where I am exploring decluttering and reorganising in particular, and charting my progress along the way, in the hopes to both keep myself motivated,  but also to hopefully encourage and inspire some of you if you are undertaking similar projects. 

So if you would like to recap on the journey so far, please dip into my previous posts, or click on the ‘Home & Lifestyle’ tab in my main menu to catch up on what you may have missed. 

Let me start with reminding you of my ‘before and after’ pictures of my bedroom. Well, it’s more accurate to say ‘during and after’ pics, as the first picture reveals the results of me having pulled everything out in order to sort through it all and declutter and reorganise. 

https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/welcome-to-februarys-theme-home-lifestyle-from-clutter-to-calm-lets-climb-this-mountain-together/

Now that you’ve reminded yourself of those pics, or have taken a look at that post, here are another few pictures for you to peruse while keeping in mind our initial discussion on change and rest: 

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Sometimes we get so overwhelmed if we have let our living conditions get a little ‘out of control’, such that we easily give up on the projects we once started in the hope of making a change in our lives. I know that at points I have felt overwhelmed, and have sometimes lapsed into simply managing and moving about the clutter and disarray rather than once and for all getting to the bottom of it. But this time, I mean business. And I am putting in the hard graft to really get to the bottom of it, even if it takes a bit of time. 

What I mean by this is going through everything – yes, *everything* I have, from the biggest piece of furniture to the bits of paper and paperclips randomly discarded in what has become the ‘junk room’ of my home, and sort through everything I have and either dispose of the item or store it responsibly. 

In order to succeed in creating a system, it is important to first take stock of what you have, get rid of what you don’t need (recycle, donate, and / or bin), categorise what you are keeping, and make one specific place for each ‘type’ of item. 

These small yet cumulative changes are as good as, but more likely far better than a rest, or a getting away from your life. Why? Because creating order, a calm environment and knowing where each item or at least each ‘type’ of item in your home is all adds up in the long run to ultimately add to your peace of mind, health, wellbeing and sense of calm. 

I began implementing such changes little at a time a while ago. Simple things. Like having one specific place to hang my keys meant that this has reduced the anxiety and panic of not being able to find them in the morning before I’m leaving for work, or whenever I need to go out anywhere. Having an orderly environment gives me more time to rest, and focus on the things I enjoy rather than all the things I need to get done, have lost track of, or am getting overwhelmed by. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, by your current surroundings, or by this post, then know that these little changes all add up. I am still very much in the midst of the process of decluttering and reorganising my home, and although there is a long way to go, I am more than half way there, and feeling the benefits already. I am more relaxed and I enjoy being here. I don’t get so stressed about finding things because I know where things are. And I seldom lose my keys anymore when such a little thing could be such a great source of stress previously. 

So when you make these changes for yourself at home, know that these changes *are* as good as a rest – as they add up you will have more time to rest….at home, and enjoy the wellbeing of being somewhere that you have made gradual changes to, to be somewhere that you love to be. 

xx

*Pause for Thought*: What are the changes you are making in order to make your everyday life a little more restful? Would love to hear from you, so please feel free to share in the comments below! 🙂

Anxiety & Self-Care ….why it’s ok to say ‘No’, even when you want to say ‘Yes’…

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It’s 2.15am. I’m in bed, but clearly, I’m not sleeping. It’s just one of those nights when I’ve been ‘triggered’ and my anxiety issues have resurfaced. Things are so much better than they used to be. I used to not be able to sleep or settle down until maybe 3 or 4am, and even then I would be fearful, stressed and sometimes struggling with nightmares. My system was in overdrive, and fight, flight or freeze was all that it knew. 

Thankfully I’ve worked so hard and have reaped some benefits from my disciplined changes along the difficult journey of recovery and self care. But I need to remind myself that it is a journey, a process, and one that others often don’t understand because things might seem ok or even good for a time, which is why it is important for me to learn to communicate and honour my own needs for wellbeing and to feel ok to say ‘no’ even when I or other people want me to, or think that I ‘should’ say ‘yes’. 

It’s not an easy thing to do. So often we put the needs of others before our own, and I have done this many a time, and in the long run we are neither helping ourselves or them. For if we burnout or break down how can we be strong for anyone else? 

I think it’s the ‘little things’ that are beginning to get to me, and to cause those stress reactions to ‘flare up’, the cortisol, the adrenaline and so forth leading to heightened anxiety, sleeplessness, worry, fear, racing thoughts trying to figure things out and  ‘keep everyone happy’. 

And maybe, just maybe, if you’re reading this, you too can relate, and are maybe even looking for some reassuring advice or guidance. And maybe you’ve come to the right place, where you can hear the thoughts of someone who has lived through and survived the horrible experiences of panic attacks, being sick at work, crying in public and feeling like my brain was exploding in its own kaleidoscopic nightmare. 

If you’ve been there and have as a result been exploring ways and means to not only manage your symptoms and conditions better, but to also build ‘self care’ into your life, or if you’re still going through what feels like the worst of it just now, then firstly, know that you are not alone, and you can be an overcomer, don’t ever give up. 

But if you have come through the worst of it, and are managing or maintaining things at the moment, then perhaps you are aware of those subtle ‘tell tale’ warning signs and ‘triggers’ that alert you to the fact that things might be getting off kilter a bit, and that you might be allowing external (and / or internal) demands to encroach upon your well being and send you down that slippery slope once again. It is important to have that self awareness, because no one else can really know what we are experiencing. And sometimes because they don’t know, we feel the need to have to please everyone, all of the time, even to the detriment of our own health. 

The people at work don’t necessarily know about other parts of my life, just as the people outside of my work aren’t aware of the stresses I might face day to day as part of a normal workplace environment. And so they may not be aware of how cumulative factors can cause their seemingly good, reasonable and perfectly acceptable request or requests to add to the subtle or not so subtle build up of stress. 

As you can see, earlier last month I was out and about – I got back into my work routine, did some photography on snowy days, went to various music events, socialised and began my ‘home projects’.  Additionally, I kept appointments with my doctor who is helping me work through managing my symptoms etc, and eventually leading up to ‘going it alone’ more with less intervention. All positive things, but not necessarily smooth sailing. 

I find blogging a good way to make sense of things and find my calm and balance in some ways. I also have found a new church that I love to go to, after a few years of not having anywhere like that. I’m still new there, but I feel more connected with God and His people, and it is a good environment to be built up spiritually and to show and receive love, and to reach out and help others. However, the process for me of getting there can be stressful. The requests to attend colleagues birthday events, to see friends and family and to keep on top of work commitments while having started my ‘decluttering project’ can begin to trigger those stresses. So I need to give myself permission to say ‘no’ sometimes. To look after myself so that I can be better at being there for others, as well as honouring God with what He has given to me, and realising that my wellbeing and self care is important. Often other people aren’t aware of what you’re experiencing, and if you let them know maybe they’d be pretty understanding and help to ease your sense of obligation when you feel that you’re beginning to struggle. I don’t know if I’ll say no, or yes, or a combination of the two, but I know that I need to consider my responses carefully, and that that’s ok. 

I hope you are doing ok, and that you remember to take care of yourself and take ‘time out’ and say ‘no’ if you need to. After all it was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’, so maybe one less load to carry will help you to stay well and healthy and stronger in the long run. 

And now to try to get some sleep. Much love. xx

 

Welcome to February’s Theme: ‘Home & Lifestyle’ :) ….From Clutter to Calm….Let’s Climb this Mountain Together!

Welcome back, friends. 

If you haven’t already read my earlier post on ‘January 2018 in Review’, you can find it here: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129815114/posts/2562 

So following on from that, welcome to February’s Home & Lifestyle Theme. 

I don’t know about you, but as much as I strive to keep things clean, tidy and under control in my home, things can sometimes get a bit out of hand, and that ‘temporary storing place’ becomes a semi-permanent dumping ground that establishes itself as the dreaded ‘junk room’! Seriously, how does that even happen? 😉 

I love beautiful aesthetics, I love colour, and things to be pretty and cosy. However, managing my first ever home of my own over the past five and a bit years has been a learning curve, for various reasons. If you are a regular reader, or if you have visited my blog previously, you may be aware that I have had some difficult years overcoming Post Traumatic Stress, Severe Clinical Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder…so at times it has been a massive accomplishment for me to manage to do even the simplest of things like washing a cup or feeding myself properly. Thankfully, by the Grace of my Loving God, I have persevered, sought professional medical help and treatment for the Post Traumatic Stress, etc, and been plodding on every day to improve the quality of my life from merely surviving to beginning to experience some stability and my own little pockets of happiness and self care. 

I don’t know where you are on your journey, your experience of life, or your current living situation. Perhaps you do not have a ‘permanent’ home, maybe you live within the confines of someone else’s space, possibly you even live in a mansion, a caravan or a ‘tiny house’ purposely built for a more minimalistic lifestyle. I’m not sure, but I certainly would be intrigued and interested to hear from you in the comments.

However, whatever our situations, we all have the common experience of having to manage and maintain our little patch on the earth. And this can be a struggle at times for those of us who are gradual learners in the fine art of organisation. And yet, I’m sure all of us, even those of you who claim to simply love your organised chaos and peculiar methods of madness in maintaining your systems that may be all but undecipherable to others 😉 …I’m sure we all find a greater calm emotionally and mentally when we are in a calming environment. Perhaps more so than we should do, for, as in another previous post, ‘Enjoy Your Mess, Enjoy Your Tidy’ it is important to seek to be calm whatever state or stage we are in, and to see things through realistic, yet positive filters. 

There is something about a place of order and peace where there is a place for everything and everything is in its proper place that allows our minds to contemplate and focus on the things we enjoy, be that listening to music, reading a book, spending time with friends or family and focusing on them rather than being distracted by the clutter of stuff we need to attend to, crafting or colouring or making models, writing your blog or reading someone else’s, or whatever that thing may be. 

And despite our best efforts to relax while we know that the dishes are piled up in the sink, or when there is clutter right beside us, it is a lot more challenging to quieten down that ‘little voice’ that nags us to sort things out – so that even in our ‘down time’ where we are supposed to be relaxing, our minds are still busy being affected to some extent by our cluttered or clutter free surroundings either boosting or diminishing our moods and the things we think about ourselves, whether rightly or wrongly. 

So knowing that we are really all in this together, with so much to learn from each other, and be encouraged in our shared learning and motivation, let’s embark upon this journey. I have already made a bit of a start, and will show you before and after pictures of the room that I worked on, but will also share with you the seemingly monumental challenge of tackling the ‘junk room’ that is still very much needing attended to.  I will talk you through the steps I took, and would love to hear your feedback and learn from some of you ‘pro organisers’ out there, for goodness knows, I need the encouragement to keep going with the task I have started!! 🙂 

So for the moment, here is a glimpse into what the next post may contain. Be calm, know that you are blessed, and all the best if you are embarking upon your own home and lifestyle projects too. xx

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Nature’s constant and silent lesson to accept the season of life that you are in…

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Today after work, I took down my Christmas tree. I know, it’s January 23rd, and for some of you that’s a ridiculously long time to keep the tree up. Aside from the fact that the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ can’t be confined within one single day, and should be celebrated in our hearts all year around, I also happen to live in a 10th floor flat / apartment, and therefore enjoy a relative degree of anonymity and don’t have to worry about what my neighbours think, as they can’t see into my living room! And furthermore, I have felt the need and desire to hold on to the cosiness of the Christmas and festive season for as long as I can due to the fact that it’s mid-January and in my part of the world we’ve been experiencing snow days and the kind of weather that makes you want to hibernate, but alas, work beckons and necessitates leaving the house. So to have a cosy Christmassy space has been a comfort to me, as I hide away from the wind and the rain. I am someone who keeps my fairy lights up all year round, the soft yellow-white ones that add a little touch of comfort to the atmosphere of my home…

However, today was the day to take the Christmas tree down, pack it away in its box and begin to take the decorations down too. I found myself feeling a little ‘blue’ as it were, because although January, a new month, season and year has begun, the dark days and nights have not yet lifted, which makes it harder to say goodbye to the lights and colours and enchantment of Christmastime. 

I am fortunate enough to now live in a city where every January there is a musical festival running from around 19th January to 4th February, with several live music events, many of which are free to attend, attracting talent not only from home, but also internationally. It is a real cultural ‘pick me up’ during the dark and damp start of the year that we often experience. As I put my tree away I had some music playing in the background to remind me of this, by way of encouragement. I also reminded myself of the One Constant Source in Life, that Is God. And I found myself contemplating the lessons that nature, with unswerving regularity teaches us with every passing season and year of life: to accept the season of life that we are in. When I think about it, I realise that with the changing of seasons comes a blossoming, and flourishing like the leaves on a tree, that then wither and perish (you may relate to my reference here), giving way once more to new life, to seasons of waiting, of growth and of blossoming and fading as the cycle continues. There is struggle in nature, but not the same ‘fight’ that we humans often inflict upon ourselves. There is a silent, constant acceptance of this natural change, as one season fades or bursts vibrantly into the next, inhabiting its space in time for what it is…something that too, in its time, will pass and change once more. 

And this is a lesson for me, for us, as well. One that it seems, every few months, we need reminded of, perhaps because we are so slow to learn. Life has seasons of joy and sorrow, and although we may enjoy one season more than another, we must let things unfold and take their course by accepting the season that we are in. Perhaps you are grieving, and your only comfort is that this too will pass. Or maybe you have experienced a wonderful season and want desperately to hold on to it for fear of change or disappointment or boredom, or the unknown. Let it open up and bloom into the fullness of life for such a time as this. And make it your priority to learn how to be rooted and built up, standing firm in season, accepting and being present in the life you are living now, knowing that things will inevitably change, but making the most of each precious moment, learning your deep lessons, and creating precious memories along the way…