Tag Archives: Mind

Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

Someone recently told me that looking after our mental wellbeing is a bit like piecing together a jigsaw. No one thing, or ‘piece’ can solve the puzzle, but overtime, having a range of different pieces can all help add up to our overall wellbeing, and I guess in some cases prevent crisis.

I know that mental health can be such a difficult thing, having gone through complex PTSD, depression, and ongoing anxiety. So, know that I’m not trying to simplify the complex nature of being a human and the difficulties you might be facing in life.

However, what could some of these jigsaw puzzle pieces be? For me, at the moment, I’m recovering from some health issues that mean I’ve only been able recently to go out for short walks again – this was something I’d do regularly to help my mental health. I’ve spent much of the time being isolated, and this has been hard because our subconscious mind chatters away and is not always very helpful, especially as with anxiety the amygdala likes to throw up negatives, be they ‘memories’, feelings, impressions, images, words, all sorts of stuff. It’s not fun, as some of you might now. Let me reassure you, you’re not alone.

So, my jigsaw puzzle pieces might consist of connecting to people on the phone or by email, getting that bit of fresh air when I can (oh, how blessed I am to walk again), eating well, getting rest, watching something positive, being kind to myself, playing my violin when I have the strength, writing an encouraging blog post, maintaining my work and not overdoing tasks that might make me tired.

At the moment, that feels a bit limited – I’m not able to do all the things I used to and the lack of social connection affects me. However, for the past few years since the pandemic started, I’ve held to a verse in Scripture, in the Psalms – ‘This is the day that The LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it’. As humans, we find it very easy to live inside our heads, worrying about the future, ruminating about the past or getting confused by our subconscious minds. No matter what trauma we might have gone through, or are going through, there is still something in this day, in this moment that we can focus on and give thanks for, and that can help our brains focus on the good, which in turn helps with our mental health. We can realise that we still have breath, the gift of life. That we have bodies and minds, whatever they might be going through, they still ‘work’ to a degree. Today, I am grateful that I had a safe and warm place to sleep, food to eat, clothes to wear, the health to get up and do things for myself, the ability to walk again and go for a walk by the riverside even though it was a bit windy and rainy, the chance to watch my church online even though I can’t be in community with people at the moment, the chance to choose my thinking and retrain my mind, and work on focusing on the positives, clothes to wear, and being able to feel and look nice after having been unwell, people to reach out to to encourage, the Living Word to read. Knowing that in Jesus I am saved and secure and never alone.

I am aware that mental health is precarious, and that mine can be too. But this is just one little jigsaw puzzle piece that I share with you today, whatever your brain and mind might be doing or ‘telling’ you. Lift up your eyes, focus on something you can be thankful for, know that one puzzle piece won’t solve the whole puzzle but it can help alleviate your distress a little today. Today the sermon online was about the Peace that Jesus Christ gives to us, one that the world cannot give, and I am thankful that He has rescued me and lifted me from pain and darkness and self, and forgiven me and given me a future and hope in Him. Yes, I still struggle, but I can say that He Is my Peace, and He will hold me fast.

Perhaps that is our greatest need – to be known and loved and taken care of…eternally. I hope you find that you can have some comfort today, whatever puzzle pieces you are working with, and I hope you know that you are not alone. Many people are silently going through similar to what you are and ‘putting on a brave face’….but perhaps you need to reach out and tell someone, and that is a brave step in itself. I hope my ramblings might bring some comfort and help to someone out there. Peace. x

Hang in there (mental health post)

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you have ups and downs with your mental health. The mind can be a tricky place. And not just the mind, but the brain itself. Realising there is a physical and biological aspect to mental health helps take away some of the stigma when we might feel like we ‘shouldn’t’ be struggling or suffering in our minds when we ‘ought to’ have control over our own thoughts. I’ve had this ‘argument’ with myself, but often our brains can do things we don’t want them to, especially in times of stress.

Thinking over my life, yes there have been times of stress, of trauma and mental overload and confusion, but there have also been great times and wonderful days feeling well, travelling (see my travel posts 🙂 ) even with anxiety, going out with friends, helping other people, serving in church, walks in the park, being part of community, and being liked, admired, respected by other people and achieving various goals. There have been days enjoying soaking up the beauty of being alive, of nature and connecting with God. Wondrous moments. Yet there are also days like today where I know I’m not 100% ok. I’d been pushing through anxiety and troubling thoughts to do various more positive things recently like going to work a couple of days in the office post-pandemic restrictions, going for walks and chats with friends, attending church and meeting new friends there and being able to help out, meeting up with good friends again. Some of those days have had the backdrop of anxiety but they still allowed me enjoyment. For the past month and a bit I’ve been recovering from Covid and post-Covid fatigue and it is impacting my mental health and brain health. I look at photographs to remind myself that my life is a beautiful life with a lot of blessings despite the times of stress or difficulties that I’ve experienced in various seasons. Yet my mind / brain can forget these things and bring up all sorts of ‘automatic negative thoughts’ – I think I’ve written about these ‘ANTS’ in previous blog posts – perhaps I’ll do a search to see if even I can find something helpful. When we’re ill and fatigued things can get a bit more difficult mentally especially if we’ve struggled in the past.

So why have I written the above? It’s to remind you that if you are in a dark or confusing moment that those are not the only moments you’ve had in life. This too will pass. You are a special, beautiful, worthy human being no matter what your brain is telling you, no matter what anyone else or any experience has told you. Our minds can be tricky and disorganised places and it can be difficult to pull ourselves up and out of the experiences of our own thoughts. Try to recall a time when you were in a better place or try to distract yourself by thinking on something good, true, lovely. Sometimes something as simple as watching a nature video can help, or talking to a friend or family member. It can be hard when we feel stuck to take that small step that cognitively seems huge to us, but just try a little at a time.

If you are in crisis, remember that it will pass. Don’t act on any troublesome thoughts but try to sit with those difficult feelings and if you can reach out to someone, even a helpline. Look at something that is positive rather than trying to ‘make sense of’ your confusing thoughts, although there may be a place for that when you are feeling better. Try to eat well, rest well and connect with people in some way. If you are able, go for a walk – I’m not able to go for a walk at the moment with the way my health is, but I often find that this helps to ‘clear my head’. I’m blessed to know that I have a loving Heavenly Father, and a Saviour Jesus Christ, and I know I’m never alone and can reach out to God any time, and am indwelt by His Spirit. This is a real comfort to me, as is turning to His Word and being reminded in Scripture that we can cry out to God, and that so many people experienced times of distress and that God rescued them from it. Even psalm 22 prophesies the intense distress that Jesus Christ would face on the Cross hundreds of years before the event. He knows, and He understands.

Despite the past seasons of darkness or trial, my life overall is a beautiful life, yet at times my mind tends to overwhelm me with unhelpful thoughts. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to last forever. No matter how bad your life might feel right now, there is hope. Ultimately, I would point you to Jesus Who has taken away my deep pain and Who forgives us and gives us a brand new life, gradually changing, cleansing, freeing us from within. There is hope for another day. Know that there are hundreds if not millions or more people across the globe right now whose brains are also struggling with the world we’re living in. Perhaps because of experiences, perhaps because of Covid, or ‘just because’….just because we’re human. It can be easy to look at others and think they’re doing great, and maybe they are but we can’t see beneath the surface or understand what’s really going on in someone’s mind. Most people would look at me and not have any idea that my brain can cause me distress but then I might look at them and assume the same. Wherever you are, just hang in there. Please. Know that it isn’t the end, there is light in the darkness and the thoughts tumbling upon you will clear. Thoughts are not reality but they can lead us in directions that can either help or harm us, so take a moment to consider dwelling on a different thought. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it this can be difficult to do so an external input or distraction can help – this might be something you watch or read or talking to someone who can be a kind and supportive voice – or perhaps reading this blog post might, I sincerely hope, give someone a bit of perspective to hang on in there.

Don’t give up, dear friends, you’re not alone. Yes, our minds can cause us distress, but they can also be places of hope and of inspiration, faith, love and joy. That might feel like a million miles away from us at the moment but we can start with one thought at a time. For me, writing this blog post has helped engage another part of my brain, my mind, my thinking to steer me to a more helpful course, to seek to help someone else rather than getting lost in the automatic thoughts that my brain seems to throw at me from time to time, especially when feeling unwell physically. What might help you when you’re struggling? I’ve written in previous posts about having a ‘toolbox’ for mental health and self care, perhaps this is something we can have in reserve – strategies that are helpful – that we can go to and remind ourselves of on those more difficult days.

I hope that you’ve founds something helpful in this. Praying for you. Hang in there. Those thoughts, like clouds, will clear, and once again we’ll have brighter days. ❤

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Mental help

At times we can feel like we’re the only person feeling the way we are or we may be frustrated that we are feeling and thinking in ways that we know aren’t helping us, but we don’t know the way out, and that can make it feel all the more frustrating.

In this moment, I’m thankful that I have the gift and outlet of the blog to reach out to someone feeling the way I am just now. It can be hard to be human, no doubt. It can be difficult and confusing to have brains that don’t always serve us well and thoughts and feelings that can be confusing.

You are not your thoughts:

Something that has helped me to hear is that ‘you are not your thoughts’, and that the ‘stuff in your head’ is just ‘stuff in your head’. It can be difficult to separate ourselves out from what’s going on seemingly inside us, but regardless of what your mind is telling you, you are unique, valuable, treasured and worthy. You are the only one of you – one of one, not one in a million, and you are not your thoughts. I believe that each one of us are worth dying for, worth the blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that’s how precious and valuable our lives are, but even if you don’t believe that in this moment, know that you are unique and valuable.

Brain overload:

Our brains have had to process so much in our lifetimes and in the past few years globally. The amygdala and its fight / flight response can trick us into feeling that we are constantly under threat and we can lose perspective of who we are, our worth and what is actually real about our lives. Maybe we use ‘coping mechanisms’ to help us through. If you’re going through this, even when you’re trying to rest, know that you are not what’s happening in your brain and you’re not alone – you’re certainly not the only person experiencing mental, emotional or physical distress and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you – you’re human, and these experiences are part of the human condition.

Finding an outlet:

It can be easy to listen to and follow up on the thoughts that come into our minds, even if they are not helpful to us or are confusing. We can feel bad about ourselves for doing so and that can make it worse. But we don’t need to follow every thought that pops into our minds, they’re not real, and we don’t need to go down every rabbit hole.

Finding an outlet can be helpful to distract us, and I know that can be difficult at times especially if coupled with low mood. But we can start small, telling ourselves that ‘this too will pass’, affirming that we are not our thoughts, that thoughts aren’t real, and that we are valuable no matter what anyone else has said or what our own minds tell us. We are unique, valuable and one of a kind, anything contrary to that is a lie.

Eating well can fuel our bodies and our minds, as can finding positive and true things to think upon such as watching or contemplating something in nature and being careful of the media we take in or the thoughts we dwell on. Reading something helpful or studying can activate certain areas in our brain that are more ‘rational’, and reaching out to talk to someone can also help as can doing something creative even if for a little while.

You are not alone:

It can be a hard battle to fight to try to untangle ourselves from the many messages we’ve taken in or the chemical reactions going on in our brains involuntarily, but you are definitely not alone friend, so please don’t give up. Even if you find a little relief from your distress for a moment it will help you to think a bit more clearly and perhaps you can find a regular healthy outlet that can help you to build up more positive thought patterns, resilience and connections in your mind.

One thought at a time.

I also take comfort in my faith in knowing that on another level I’m not alone and never will be alone. Jesus said, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls…’ He knows us on every level and will never cast aside anyone who comes to Him.

And you’re not alone in your human experience as there are millions of other people going through mental health issues throughout the world. Take heart and don’t give up. Do something kind for your mind today. ❤ x

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Anxiety busters

Anxiety can be a big deal. I know, I’ve lived it and continue to deal with overcoming its challenges. Our brains and bodies and nervous systems can cause all sorts of havoc and experiencing anxiety can be very distressing not only because of the physical sensations but also because of the intrusive and scary thoughts and memories that we can have, especially if they are coupled with other things like trauma or depression. When we are in the midst of this it can be very difficult to separate what we are experiencing from the reality that we are not our thoughts and that what our brains are doing are not real experiences in the moment. That’s not to say that we are not experiencing them, it’s just they are not in the real world. Thoughts are powerful but at the end of the day they are just thoughts and with time and effort we can replace them with Truth.

Our fight / flight / freeze mechanism can keep us in that heightened state of stress and anxiety and troublesome brain activity. So practically what can we do to alleviate some of these symptoms which many of us are facing on an almost daily and nightly basis?

  1. Monotasking

Sometimes it can help to slow down and focus on just one thing at a time to calm down that frantic sense of the many things we need to do that can leave us immobilised. I find that if I am struggling then if I set a five or ten minute timer on my phone I can focus on a task at hand for a few minutes and get ‘out of my head’ a bit more because I have a goal at hand to achieve. That doesn’t mean troublesome thoughts don’t exist but I’m not merely sitting with them and getting lost in them or overwhelmed by them. I’d have still have done my dishes or made something to eat in the meantime, or accomplished whatever small goal I might have, and then be able to take a break and go on to the next thing.

2. Eating well

Speaking of something to eat, it’s important to fuel up our brains and bodies but when we are running on high levels of stress it can be hard to get past the anxiety and depression to be able to take care of ourselves and focus on eating well. Planning in advance during the times when you do feel a bit better or asking someone for advice in this area can help because nutrition will help build us up and provide the energy that our brains need to operate better.

3. Breathing

Deep breathing can help calm the nervous system and get us out of fight / flight mode when thoughts automatically pop up causing us distress to think that there are things we need to fight or flee from. If we can calm our bodies to be in a state of rest and digest rather than fight and flight then we can be better placed to calm that anxiety and get on with our day more productively and healthily. This can take time and practice but it is good to know that something so simple as breathing can help with our wellbeing. Breathe in deeply through the nose, and exhale for a longer count through the mouth, and repeat as often as required to calm the nervous system.

4. Talk to a friend / get support

Anxiety and distressing thoughts can be overwhelming, especially if we feel like we are going crazy or don’t realise that these are ‘normal’ symptoms. Sometimes we need the reassurance that we are not alone, that we are not going to act on these scary thoughts (some of which for heightened anxiety include suicidal or harming thoughts) and we can diffuse what we are going through by chatting to a friend, or a counsellor. Spending time with people, making connections can all help to keep us grounded in the moment that we are in and out of our heads. It also helps to know you’re not the only one going through what you are and that there isn’t something wrong with you for experiencing anxiety and stressful thoughts.

5. Exercise, rest and time outside / in nature

It really helps the mind to keep the body moving, especially if this can involve getting fresh air and exercise outside or going for a walk in nature. There is something calming about the pace of nature and if we can engage our senses to notice the things going on around us in the here and now that can help us get outside of our own heads. That doesn’t necessarily mean distressing thoughts or feelings will automatically go away but they will be alleviated in the moment. Rest and listening to our bodies is also important so make sure you get good sleep as well, and if need be have a nap during the day.

6. Things you can’t control

Our brains are processing so much and especially with the things going on in the world right now it can feel hard to ‘switch off’. We might find ourselves worrying about so many things outside of our control that we can’t do anything about whether in our own lives, those of our friends and families or at the world at large. We can try to make a conscious choice during our waking hours to engage with what we can control rather than worrying about what we can’t. I know it sounds easier said than done, but at least we can try.

7. Creativity

Whether it be cooking, gardening, colouring, drawing, dancing, playing an instrument, or reading or writing a blog or a book, creativity can really help to keep us grounded and engage our hands and our minds in a productive way. So too can learning something new. It might help ease some of that stress even if we start small at first.

8. Faith and the Reality of God

The other week I was trying things to help alleviate anxiety and stress – deep breathing, I started adult colouring again, and for the first time perhaps in years I tuned in to a Ted Talk. The remarkable thing was that that very Sunday at church my pastor talked about all of these things as ways and means people turn to in order to help with stress and anxiety and seeking wisdom (including the ‘art of decluttering’) in how to live and get through these stressful days. It really did make me take notice, as sometimes you know God Is speaking specifically to you. However, he went on to discuss the importance of seeking our wisdom in the True Source of hope and wisdom for life, and the only True source of real Peace – Jesus Christ. We need to ask for the Spirit’s help to reveal the reality of these things to us, we need a saving relationship with the Living God, and that reality is only found in Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that while I may try various things to ‘help me through’ He Is The One Who has saved my soul, Who will hold me fast through this life and bring me safely to Him after death, and Who Is with me each and every day on earth. I have something better than mere ‘tools and techniques’ to get me through, I have a Living Saviour Who loved me and gave Himself for me and Who will be with me in every anxious moment, helping me to look to Him and find Peace. ❤

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Mind your mind….

Believe it or not, your thoughts can influence the course of your life. We need to be aware and mindful of what is going on in our minds and how we are letting things affect us. It can be a jumble in there, but the Truth can make us free, if we know it and apply it.

You might not realise it, but we are also in a spiritual battle, and there is a lot going on that can influence our minds and our thinking. From the lies we are told about ourselves in childhood that shape our sense of self and identity, to the information that we have to process as adults in a changing and challenging world.

Everyday, we allow thoughts to affect us, and it can lead to needing professional help at times, or to affecting our moods.

What is going on in your mind today? What thoughts are you allowing to influence and affect you? Is something from the past creeping into your mind today that either you need to work on or that you need to shut the door on?

Are you able to be present today, are you able to know your identity and worth?

Take your thoughts captive. Don’t let them take you captive. Be blessed. x

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Ruminator, Rescued or Rescuer….

We all have ‘niggling’ thoughts from time to time. Some of us have had to overcome more traumatic thoughts or episodes in our lives, when thoughts really got ‘stuck’ because we couldn’t process an event or circumstance in our life, especially if we were children at the time.

However, no matter what age you are or were when this thought got ‘stuck’, particularly something negative in your mind that you feel you need to ‘figure out’ or ‘fix’, there are some common patterns.

Sometimes we need to work out traumas and go through a difficult and painful process of talking through things, making sense of something so that we can see it in a new light and process through to get to a better place so that we are not consumed by it. But what if having gone through such a process, or perhaps not necessarily needing to if it wasn’t particularly severe, we still have negative thoughts, feelings or memories popping into our minds? There are definitely times when we need to seek out help for mental health and do the hard work that goes along with that. But at other times we may just be allowing ourselves to indulge in old thought patterns of rumination. For example ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ and getting stuck in someone else’s negative words or opinions about you or the way they treated you that was unkind or unfair.

Having worked through the past, do we fall back into ruminating over it to no end? Do we allow ourselves to remain as a victim (and I know with deep sympathy from experience that there are times when we have been victimised and need to work through that pain and hurt and that’s ok), or do we allow ourselves to move on to being in a sense ‘rescued’, getting help, and then taking that big mental shift in seeing a new identity where we can be strong even in allowing the negative things that we all in different ways experience in our lives in this world to be used for good – do we allow ourselves to move from rescued to rescuer?

Where are you today? Are you allowing negative thoughts from the past to overtake your present moments? Or even looking to the ‘good old days’ and lamenting where you are now instead? Take these thoughts and turn them for good. If you were hurt, seek ways in which you can heal and then eventually reach out to help someone else who might be hurting now. Put this into practice and allow a gradual mental shift from victim to survivor to overcomer to thriver and victor. I believe in our core soul this healing, deep healing is only every fully possible in Jesus Christ, His Love Is a balm, and His suffering can bring victory over evil. Yet no matter where you are in your thinking or beliefs or what you are going through, don’t let your thoughts crush you. Take them, use them and change the track of your mind one thought at time. Seek to know the Truth that will make you free. x

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Mental health – quick tips (1) – look up and out.

You will find so many different posts and articles throughout my blog regarding help for mental health. I realise that sometimes we need a fresh reminder, and on difficult days something ‘short and sweet’ can help when we don’t want to read too much.

So, I’ve decided to start a new series, with quick tips.

Tip number 1 is if you are struggling with your thoughts and feelings, take a few moments away from your computer, your phone, the news, etc, and if you can, step outside in nature. Look up, notice the textures of things around you like leaves or trees, sense the air on your skin, and immerse your senses in what is around you. If you can’t go anywhere, perhaps you can look out of a window, and take some time to observe what you can see or hear.

If you don’t have much of a view, then maybe there is some other way that you can find to ‘look up and out’….to look away from your difficult thoughts and feelings – can you look to help someone else, or to do something creative, or to pray, even if for a few moments at a time? It may not solve all of your problems at once, but it may give you those few minutes of ‘respite’ that your brain and heart need right now.

So, take it easy, step away from your worries, and look up and out. x

Take care. x

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SELF CARE IN A PANDEMIC (80): Accept The Process…

Today I am in my own flat again having had to come back here for work reasons. I am blessed to know that soon enough I’ll be back with my family, God-willing.

The sun is shining and I have a beautiful view. I’ve eaten breakfast and have had a shower and a bath and have got ready and am cosy on my couch watching the world go by from my 10th floor window.

I know that I’m not alone in being among others for whom enjoying the things around us isn’t as straightforward as it might outwardly seem. Sometimes our minds and our subconscious can be a difficult place to contend with. We might be feeling constant anxiety and unease and be battling with difficult thoughts as we try to make it through the day.

If that’s how you feel, know that you’re not alone. It can sometimes seem that the people around us are doing just fine but truth be told we all go through different phases of mental wellbeing or otherwise and some have a more challenging time than others.

I just want you to know that you’re not alone. Sometimes we just have to accept the process that we’re in and take the next steps to make progress. Being in a pandemic might be highlighting issues that are already there or it might be creating new issues in some of our brains and minds. It’s important for you to know that you’re not the only one facing mental health challenges if you are going through something.

You are not alone. Other people are experiencing things just like you are in your mind, only you can’t see it. That’s ok.

There is help out there so please look for it or ask someone.

Get sleep, eat well, keep in contact, distract yourself and have a routine.

Be aware of your waking thoughts and reframe them.

Look for the positives in today and be gentle with yourself. This too will pass.

Remind yourself that you are important.

Do something ‘outside of your head’.

Be brave.

Much love to you all. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (74): Give Your Brain Some Direction…

Have you ever watched the film ‘Castaway’ with Tom Hanks when his character is stranded on a desert island, after a plane crash and being washed up on shore?

It’s a psychologically intriguing film and I think on some level we can all find some sense of human connection with various themes in the film. Like all good plots, from my point of view, there is a transformation story within it and as viewers we can see the physical and psychological changes that take place, firstly in the shock of the situation to someone who is totally out of their element, then to their resourcefulness and resilience in survival and then after being rescued and coming back to ‘civilization’ the strange disconnect and having to relearn what it is to be part of a community and in a totally different environment from that desert island.

I’m not saying that we’re in a situation similar to that by any means, but many of us have had to go through things in our lives that have tested or continue to test our mental, emotional and psychological resilience and adaptability. Some among us, myself included have had to overcome and are still overcoming remnants of complex PTSD pre-pandemic time. I know that some of my readers also are overcoming different challenges that may involve mental health and recovery from something or other. The thing is, living in this world will at some point challenge our mental and emotional resilience, and where we find we haven’t established it yet (say for example if we go through something as a child or young person) then we are put to the test as to discover and build that resilience from perhaps a very low point. But we can do it.

In the pandemic we have a variety of psychological challenges, and I’ve explored some of these in previous posts. There is a lot going on and I don’t want to trigger anyone reading this by going into details repeating some of the many things that we’ve collectively been faced with the past year particularly because there are some among you for whom that might feel too close to home.

But what about the situation of being in an extended lockdown (as we are in the UK)? That in itself has mental challenges for us. I’ve explored the importance of some semblance of routines and habits to give ourselves structure to our days even if we like to break free from those structures at times. Perhaps we can relate to some of the emotions that Tom Hanks’s character faced such as shock, loneliness, isolation, even delusional or troubled thinking from lack of human connection (when his closest companion was a blood stained basketball named ‘Wilson’ with a bloodstained handprint that he connected to as being Wilson’s face).

Our brains need somewhere to go, and when we physically can’t go anywhere, we need to keep adapting and finding ways to become increasingly resilient so that we don’t sink under the pressure of mental health challenges.

Think of the ways you have so far adapted to and grown from your experiences of an extended lockdown if you have faced or are facing one. Are there things that were overwhelming to you at the start that you now take in your stride? One aspect of this, whether for good or bad I don’t know, may be a sense of not being so affected by the daily case numbers that we are presented with. Initially we were all, or most of us were, shocked and worried by these but now we can almost ‘tune out’. We focus on our own situations and adapt and some among us are able to reach out beyond our situations to help others and we can’t forget to be grateful for the many front line workers who continue to do this through all sorts of tests and trials and pressures.

Thank you frontline workers.

So, in an extended period of lockdown, your brain needs somewhere to go. We have the small steps that we can all be taking, but what about a bigger direction? Is there a project that you can get stuck into, something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time that you didn’t seem to have the time for? Maybe something you wanted to do when you finally retired if you’re not there already? I know a lot of people at work who would be of the mindset pre-pandemic that ‘if only they had the time’ to do such and such. Well folks, now we do have the time.

Give yourself a bigger challenge to steadily work away at bit by bit. Maybe you’re not into that and it’s fine, but do you have a novel you want to be working on, a model to build, a business to set up? Do you want to become a mentor to someone but need to learn the skills? Perhaps now is the time to set yourself a slightly bigger challenge and give your brain somewhere a bit more ambitious to go. Maybe you want to set up a charity to help those less fortunate, or to advocate for others with mental health issues, or to be a supportive voice and presence to others who are suffering even if that presence is online and via technology.

Maybe your blog has places to go and you need to put your mind to it. I started this blog when I was in a tough spot mentally myself and I both wanted to do something to help myself and to help others. I find some solace and strength in knowing that my words can be used to help and encourage other people who might need help with mental health issues generally and over and above that to reach out to more people through this pandemic.

It’s a small blog, I haven’t earned any money from it, although if you want to help me with getting more people viewing my blog and finding help from it and thereby encouraging and helping me, please do share it. It’s a small beginning but it gives my mind a purpose bigger than myself to focus on and is also an avenue for me to gently share my faith for those who will read even if we walk different paths.

If we are simply getting up one day at a time to try to manage that bit at a time well, that’s ok and it’s also good and commendable, but it is just one phase of this journey. We can’t stay in a state of shock or disbelief, and we haven’t. We’ve all collectively moved on from that in many resourceful ways. But sometimes our courage can wax and wane and we can lose momentum and feel like we don’t know how to keep on going. We can keep on going. We will.

I also still have mental health challenges. Things come and go in my mind and I need to remind myself of Who my God Is, and also that He has equipped me with a resilient brain and that I can handle many things and not get discouraged by them. But our minds do need somewhere to go so that they don’t simply ruminate, go inwards or become negative and so that we don’t get lost in ourselves. We need vision.

That’s a big statement because I believe the biggest vision for our lives should be our Creator. However, on a lesser scale we also need vision to help us get through our days and to do so purposefully and that’s why having a long term or bigger project can be helpful.

I understand and agree that this is not for everyone and that’s fine, but I do feel that we need to look beyond where we’re currently at if we want to move forwards, make progress and not get lost inside our heads.

What do you all think? How can we encourage each other? Do you have any goals that you are pursuing over and above the tasks you have been focusing on to help get you through each day? The small tasks are crucial so don’t ever think that they’re not enough or not important enough. But for some of us our minds need to go further so that they don’t go inwards and perhaps like me you are also one of those people.

Are you giving your brain some direction and purpose in this pandemic and if so would you be so gracious as to share some of your inspiration with us so that as a community we can help and encourage each other to keep going on stronger?

Take care friends, stay safe, be curious, be inspired and seek to inspire. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (72): Psychologically Crossing Over In The Pandemic….There Is Another Side….

Have hope.

Dear friends, have hope.

Perhaps life, the pandemic, your experiences have put you in a psychological box and kept you ‘stuck’ within what you think is the realm of possibility.

However, as someone coming through on the other side of complex PTSD, I am living proof that there can be psychological crossing points in our life, where after we have suffered, and pressed through, we can come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

What challenges are you facing today? Particularly what psychological bridges do you need to cross? Will you take that journey? Will you believe that you can cross over to the other side? It may be tough going at times and it may be psychologically gruelling but you are strong enough and if you persevere you may find a brighter day ahead, new avenues of thought and freedom.

If you are at a psychological bridge in your mind, know that persevering, pushing through, keeping on going through the strain and the pain will lead you to somewhere new and you will not be the same. We can’t go through such psychological shifts and remain unchanged even if it takes time for us to see that change and even if on the surface it seems that nothing has changed at all.

If you are in lockdown, it may on the surface seem like you are repeating the same habitual patterns over and over again, day after day. You wake up, you go through whatever morning routine you go through, you eat, work, play, sleep and repeat and your days on the surface vary little from one day to the next. But what makes you different from other people who do the same or similar things and stay ‘stuck’ mentally? Maybe on the surface not much has changed, but are you being transformed by the renewing of your mind? Are you allowing your mindset change and in doing so you change the way you see, experience and appreciate the things around you, things that would otherwise seem ‘ordinary’, ‘mundane’ and ‘commonplace’?

A lot of life is spent in normal times in our fast paced societies running away from things, running to the next thing, filling up our minds with information, distractions, escapism. In lockdown perhaps we’ve spent time with escapism and distraction and while at times these can have a helpful place, such as if we need for our own mental health to distract ourselves, living like that is unsustainable. Moreover, we’ll get bored of it after a while. We can’t live life if we’re always running away from it, or from ourselves. Maybe you’ve been there pre-pandemic times. Maybe your and my constant ‘running’ or escapism has led to breakdowns or burnouts or psychological fatigue at various points.

What if we were to cross some psychological bridges as we make our way slowly and carefully through this pandemic? Perhaps in less time than we anticipate it our societies will be back to more of what we were used to as ‘normal’ and staying at home will seem like a distant memory in time. Maybe then we will long for the extended periods at home that we are having to go through now. So, will we use this time well? Will we take time instead of being dissatisfied to cultivate gratitude? Will we learn and train our minds to be thankful and to see the beauty and the life in the everyday?

Will we cross other psychological bridges that we have needed to for so long now? Don’t waste this time that you have right now, your mind may lead you to some new destinations where you can see your life with greater depth, clarity and gratitude. Cross that bridge. Begin today. x

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