Tag Archives: well being

Self Care In A Pandemic (60): With What’s In Front Of You…

You can change the world.

Sometimes we can take for granted what is right in front of us. Yet, let me say it again: With what’s in front of you…you can change the world.

I’m sure we can all see ways in which the world needs changing for the better.

One of the things that will make a positive difference to you in the pandemic is having a sense of purpose. Whether or not you have a paid job, you still have purpose. I remember a time when I had graduated from my Masters in university and it was time for me to get a job. My department asked me to consider doing a PhD, but at the time and with a variety of circumstances, it wasn’t the right route for me to take. And having left the predictable lane of academia, I was suddenly in the world of being ‘between things’ and having no idea of how I would practically get to where I wanted to go. I had Faith, I had dreams, but I also had the anxiety of not knowing how to navigate an adult world and not knowing how to get my ‘foot in the door’ in order to gain employment. I spent a lot of time applying for jobs, I spent a year volunteering doing unpaid work in order to build skills and confidence, I did temp work, and it took about three and a half years for me to get a long term full time job, which I’m very grateful to still be in.

Why do I say this? Because some of you may be equating your purpose with your income stream or lack thereof. You are not your job, and you are not your bank balance. Your worth is far beyond anything or label that the world can put upon you. I believe that Jesus Christ showed you how much you are worth to God when He died for you at the Cross to pay the price for your sin and to take your deserved punishment so that by believing in and trusting in Him for forgiveness you can be bought back to God. You are Priceless. You are worth the Death of God’s Only Son. Let that sink in.

Therefore, to get back to my initial point, you do have a purpose as you navigate your way through this pandemic, and it is not limited to whether you have a job or not. Your purpose is important to the world and for your well being but your worth is not defined by your purpose either. Your worth is in the intrinsic value of you as a human being. And that can’t be changed, added to or taken away.

So, let me ask you, what’s in front of you?

The idea of finding purpose in our days can seem existential and out of reach if we let it. However, if we break things down into their most practical components then we can begin to get somewhere and be in a position to make a positive difference in the world, or at least in our world and immediate surroundings.

I’m sure right now you can tell me that what is physically in front of you is a computer screen, a tablet or a phone, or some electronic device of sorts from which you are reading this blog.

What are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it for good in this world? How can you find ways to encourage other people, share kindness, spread positivity, uplift others, express your creativity and live out some aspect of your purpose in life today? There are so many ways. Instead of ‘doom scrolling’ through the news or social media feeds, think of ways in which you can use your devices for good in the world.

Can you learn, educate, inspire? Can you share a kind message? Can being an inspiration and an encouragement to other people be part of your purpose today?

What else is in front of you? These things may not be literally in front of you right now, but may be in your room, in your home, or somewhere accessible to you or in your garden.

Let me list some of the things that are around and ‘in front of me’.

I have pens, pencils, art supplies. I have paper, colouring books, a calendar. I have books, I have a Bible, I have Scripture verses on my walls.

Can I use these to inspire purpose in my life today? Of course! What can I do with them? I can colour, I can draw, I can create. I can learn new skills, I can build up my relationship with God, I can pray for other people, I can meditate on the Truth and share this with other people. I can create a gift for someone else, I can write a letter, I can bring colour into the world, I can do so many things.

I also have a mobile phone on my desk. I can send an encouraging text to a friend or check if someone is doing ok. I can live out the purpose of kindness today.

What are some of the other things that might be around us or ‘in front of’ us? Some of us are blessed to have things that are so much more precious than things – we may have people around us. Can we live out the purpose of kindness and love in how we relate to other people? Can we try to make changes where we may have fallen short before?

What if what is in front of you is a pile of dishes, or a messy home? Can you live out your day with the purpose of being a home keeper and creating a peaceful environment?

Do you have other things around you or in your life in some way? Do you have money to spare that you can donate to someone in need and live purposefully that way? Do you have ingredients in your kitchen cupboards with which you can try out something new and live purposefully and creatively?

You have far more than you are aware.

Maybe all that you feel you have is the view from your window, if indeed you have one. Yet you have your mind. And your mind when challenged will discover, find, create a purpose for you today, even if it seems at first it is just to survive, that in itself may be a grand purpose for you.

Maybe your purpose is to use your resources to seek help, to get strong, to work on your mental and emotional health, to become resilient.

Maybe it is to engage in self development, to read books, or to create, learn and maybe even teach.

Do you have children in your life? Are you living out your purpose in giving them the best chance that you can today? And just take it one day at a time and be awake and alive to the moments you are living through together for children have an incredible way of helping adults to see the life in the moments right now.

How can your inspire yourself and how can you inspire me to find and live out your purpose in this pandemic, today, and after that one day at a time? For be sure my friend, it is there, and it is right in front of you, if you will just look with curiosity, hope, faith and thoughtfulness.

Peace. x

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Self Care In A Pandemic (4). Consider Your Thoughts…

It’s autumn / fall season once again, and right now I have a beautiful view of auburn, orange, red, gold and green leafy trees. I am delighted, now that I am out of the city once more, to be able to watch squirrels scamper in my parents’ garden, to see magpies and a garden fox and to hear birdsong. In the city where I usually live, there are plenty of parks and green spaces, but in order to get to them I have to walk through the city, cross traffic and share the space once there with other people. In this pandemic year, it is a welcome relief to have some quiet space, to simply be able to look out the window and see trees and birds without having to go anywhere to enjoy such a peaceful autumnal scene. I find that watching the leaves gently shiver and the branches sway in the breeze calms my mind somewhat.

Yet, we may face seasons in our lives when our surroundings are not conducive to rest, whether because of other people, circumstances, stressors or events. Further still, we may also experience times where regardless of whether our external environments are peaceful or problematic, our own psychological processes cause us pain.

I am well versed with such struggles. I know that a troubled mind is not necessarily calmed by peaceful surroundings, and I also know that in difficult circumstances we may find a resilience to overcome the odds and challenges that we may not have realised, despite the suffering that may bring us to such a realisation.

Whatever situation you find yourself in presently, it is important to consider your thoughts. I have written many articles on this previously so if you are interested please browse my blog if you need encouragement with your thoughts, mental health and well being.

This year has been a lot to process. If like me you’ve ever experienced times of ‘burn out’, you’ll know the awful feelings of stress, anxiety and heightened fight-flight-freeze responses that living in a reactive state to your circumstances can bring.

When we’re always on the go, always wound up, battling racing thoughts and constantly on survival mode, then our bodies react with stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and this can take a toll on our long term physical, mental, psychological and emotional health if left unchecked.

That’s why it is so important to have a way to process your thoughts and experiences in a healthy way.

To do this, you need to try to carve out time and space for yourself where you are not simply absorbing information (as we explored in my previous post), and where you can be still and allow your mind to try to make sense of whatever is going on with you.

It can be hard to know where to start, which is why I will explore this topic further in subsequent posts, but a good starting point is to begin with an awareness of the importance to give your mind space and time away from the noise in order to rest, reflect, process and organise as well as to heal from stress, traumas and such like.

Maybe you can start by thinking about whether this is important to you, and if not, why not? If you are not taking care of your mind, then perhaps you should be because your mind matters – you matter.

Set aside some time today, even if just a minute to begin with, to quieten your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and to become aware of what is bothering you or causing you stress or anxiety, or to simply enjoy the peace of the moment you are in.

I will follow this post up with one on the benefits of journaling as a way of processing your thoughts, so for the meantime, remind yourself of the importance of looking after your mind and your mental health as a crucial part of self care in the pandemic, and together we will explore more practical steps as to how to take this forwards.

Stay safe, friends, and be kind to yourself. x

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

For Children and Parents. “A Happiness Box”. — Victory Over Bullying – Help and Support for You

Sometimes when we are sad and confused it can be difficult to know what to do to feel better. It is a good idea to have something to cheer us up when we don’t feel so good. Why don’t you ask a grown up to help you create a “Happiness Box”. You could decorate a […]

via For Children and Parents. “A Happiness Box”. — Victory Over Bullying – Help and Support for You

Happy First of the Month – what is your perspective?

Well, it’s the 1st of August already, friends. At this time of the year, having well and truly crossed the half-way point, someone is bound to say “I can’t believe it’s August already! Where has the time gone?” Can anyone relate? Maybe you’ve been the one to say it to others.

I often find that as the year draws on, as summer reaches its height and then begin to fade, and we face the inevitability of the approach of autumn and winter and the end of the year, that a subtle negativity can creep up on some people (or perhaps not so subtle!), and with it an underlying current of anxiety, stress and maybe a little fear.

The passing of the seasons reminds us of the passing of time, and inevitably life.  And even if we are in the bloom of youth, and have much ahead of us to look forward to, there can be a tendency having reached the mid-point of the year to lament the things we haven’t done that we wanted to do, to feel directionless or that we have wasted time or drifted along, or to have a fear of the future, the passing of time and the need to ‘wake up’ a bit in our lives especially with regards to how we spend our time.

It can be easy to overlook our accomplishments, the fact that we have got up and shown up everyday (or most days), and have made it this far. Some people are naturally positive and don’t feel this way so much. However, if you are someone who struggles with having passed the mid-year point and need some encouragement, then read on my friend.

A simple shift in perspective can really help our outlooks for the better. Instead of seeing half the year as ‘gone’, look at this as the brand new start to a new month and new opportunities, and the chance to put your all into your life this month. We all approach life differently. I was chatting with a friend the other day who doesn’t like to plan things too much, but prefers spontaneity. We were talking in particular about using our time after work. I like to be ‘free’ within the structure of a plan. It helps me not to fritter away my time, and to focus and having spent time reflecting upon what is important to me in life, and aligns to my core values, then it’s a helpful way for me to ensure I do the things that are of most value to me. Eventually, this becomes part and parcel of the fabric of my life (such as the things I do in morning or evening ‘routines’), but for the things I find harder to ‘fit in’, I find that being intentional about them, even with a loosely structured plan, helps me. But perhaps you are more like my friend, and would find that constraining. However you approach things, use the 1st day of this brand new month to reflect on all the potentials and possibilities ahead of you, and strive to live deeply and more fully without dwelling anxiously on what you haven’t yet done.

Look out to the horizon, and dream big, then set sail and let your dreams take you there. Be blessed and stay hopeful. x

two women in boat looking at ocean
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Learning to be in tune with ourselves…

It’s a challenging one, isn’t it? At least it can be. We have ideas of how we’d like our lives to be, we see images of that ideal we think we should be working toward. And yet…sometimes we really are just muddling through and trying to deal with each daily challenge as it comes to us. Maybe you’ve experienced burn out. And if you have, maybe you’re more conscious of the need for self care and learning to look after yourself and being attentive not only to the needs of others but also to your own, even if this way of thinking takes some getting used to.

But even if you’re someone who never has and maybe fortunately you never will experience burnout as such, you are still faced with that ‘low level’ just beneath the surface feeling that things are running away from you, getting out of order, are not quite right. And in this case I’m not talking about when something major is happening in your life, but when things are mostly fine, ‘normal’, moving along as they should in the ordinary ways of life. 

But maybe you notice that you’re not feeling just ‘quite right’. It’s not that you feel bad, it’s just that you don’t feel so good. Tiredness creeps up, you’re managing the expectations of others, your boss rewards your efforts for a job well done by piling up even more work on your desk because afterall, you’re the one who will do it well and without much fuss. You offered to do a favour for someone in need, but they maybe seem to take it for granted, and while you would normally love to be a ‘cheerful giver’ with the expectations of nothing in return, you notice that you begin to get frustrated, your attitude isn’t quite what it should be, and your energy levels are low. There are demands on your time, you seem to be saying yes to everyone else which means saying no to yourself as you just don’t have the time, energy or emotional capacity to manage everything. 

Most of us just push on through. But if we’re not careful, things begin to build up within us, and we know we’re not quite ok, but we don’t know how to ‘shake off’ those feelings. Sometimes just stopping and acknowledging that we need to check in with ourselves as we would with a friend, or even a child, to make sure they’re ok, is the best place to start even if we don’t actually know ‘what’s wrong’ or how to resolve things. 

Slowing down, learning to tune in to our own hearts and minds, and committing to strengthening and encouraging ourselves before we take on the next commitment that is about to be given to us whether we are ready for it or not, is so important. 

Maybe we don’t know what the next step to feeling more like our best self should be but stopping for a moment to be still awhile, is a good place to start…

person holding head facing body of water
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woman sitting by lake
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