We've had a lot of change in the past few weeks, changes we never dreamed we would see in our lifetimes. Last week it was all a bit novel and weird, this week, I think the realities are hitting home more.
You might be noticing your feelings more these days, not surprising when there are a lot of feelings to be felt at this time, and, we have more time on our hands to notice them, and fewer options to distract ourselves from them.
We tend not to want to, or allow ourselves to feel our feelings, we say things to ourselves like:
This is now wallowing, it's just allowing. When we stuff down feelings, they tend to come out whether we like it or not. We might snap at a partner (there's no escaping them these days! :)), or we might snap more at ourselves, or we may start reaching for the extra cookie or glass of wine.
On the other hand, we can allow the feelings some air time, name them, offer ourselves some compassion (imagine how you would reassure a frightened child), remind ourselves of the strengths we have to face the uncertainties of current life. This way we can face our fears, and remind ourselves that we have what it takes to get through this strange time.
Stay safe, stay well.
*apologies for the lateness of the weekly minute this week, I was finished writing it Monday and my website crashed, deleting it all. Then I had to go feel some feelings... ;)
The effects of the Covid-19 situation are being felt by all, and there's not much we can be sure of at the moment. That in itself is a challenge, we humans tend to feel uncomfortable in the face of uncertainty.
It would seem that things will be this way for a while, and our best bet is to take good care of ourselves until life returns to 'normal'. Instead of fighting against what is, or getting stressed, we can learn to accept, and turn toward the difficult, and not allow an already challenging time to defeat us.
This week's Weekly Minute is a meditation which teaches us to be with difficult thoughts, emotions, and sensations in an easier and more calm way.
As with all mindfulness practices, it's the doing that helps, so see if you can challenge yourself to revise this meditation daily, knowing that each day, you're building your tolerance to be with the uncomfortable.
The Guest House
Fact: The Weather is Bad (For everyone but the ducks)
Thoughts about the fact: Oh my God if I see one more day of rain I'll go crazy. I'm sick of the cold, the wet, the weekend storms, the grey. I can't go anywhere, I can't do anything, this has gone on so long I can't remember summer, no wonder I'm so porky I can't get out to do any exercise. I was supposed to have the garden prepared by now and it'll be too late by the time this stops, it'll be ruined for the year now.............
Thoughts about the fact: Wow the queues into Tesco this morning, everyone is out buying up stuff, should I be out buying up stuff? Where would I put it, this house is so small, imagine being quarantined in here I'll climb the walls! What if we all get it, will we turn on each other for supplies? I hear they're shunning people who recovered from it in China, what if that happened to me? What would I do if all my friends and family shunned me?.........
The mind can run wild (and often does) when we are faced with adversity. There's the fact of the thing, and then the thousand thoughts we have about the fact.
We are programmed as humans to problem-solve, and this part of our brain kicks into action when a problem arises, this is generally a good thing. However, when we are faced with a problem we don't have much control over, many of the thoughts we have about it are pointless.
We can only do what we can do (remember your umbrella in the rain, wash your hands properly to avoid Coronavirus etc.), then, we should try as much as we can to let other thoughts go. Worrying increases our vulnerability to stress, and can have an impact on the body. To be at your best so you can effectively face life's challenges, let worry go, that means, choosing to disengage from worry thoughts.
"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another" - William James
In the movies change is often depicted as happening in a big transformative event, where someone has a revelation that changes their life forever, and they live happily ever after.
The reality is quite different. Change is more likely to be a collection of small decisions, made over and over again.
What change will you make today?
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” - Karen Lamb
Relationships can be really complicated, no matter if we are talking about a family member, a partner, a friend, or a colleague. When someone does us wrong, or we have a disagreement, we can get caught up in rumination over who is right (me, obviously), and who is wrong (them of course!).
Sometimes we can spend hours, if not days going over and over what happened, this can have a negative effect on our mood, and our stress levels.
Instead of going over old hurts, engaging in debate in our minds over right and wrong, try instead to ask: "How does thinking about this make me feel?" - If the answer is along the lines of "worked up", "stressed out", or "depressed", see if you can let it go. It's stealing your sense of peace, and nothing is important enough to do that.
This doesn't mean excusing or condoning bad behaviour, if someone is treating you badly then by all means do something about it. But if you find yourself engaged in an inner battle with someone in your own head, the only person who is hurting is you, so let it go. It's an act of self-compassion.
"Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." - Unknown.
Have you ever thought about how the information you take in is affecting your mental health?
I'm noticing more and more people mention how the state of the world is getting them down, making them feel anxious and hopeless, and I've noticed the same within myself. I notice when I limit my news intake to once a day, instead of each bulletin, I feel happier and more relaxed.
If we think about what we know about nutrition - we know that the body benefits from nutritional foods, and suffers under processed foods. Can we think of the mind in the same way? If we feed it a diet of fear and horror, that becomes our reality, unless we bring balance.
I'm not advising people to bury their heads in the sand, it's important to know what's happening in the world around you. However, we need to balance the bad with good.
There are some good news sites out there that are worth a look, such as the Good News Network, and Positive News. Other ideas would be to watch a comedy, or read a novel.
If you want to go a step further, you could take some action to make change such as volunteering with an organisation that captures your heart, writing a letter to your TD about an issue that matters to you, or make a donation to a charity. Taking action combats the feelings of helplessness we can sometimes feel in response to bad news.
Bring awareness to your mental diet this week, and see how it makes you feel.
“One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers.”
Today is the third Monday of the New Year, and some say it's the most depressing day of the year. Most of us are still skint from Christmas until the paycheck comes in, lamenting the death of our New Year's resolutions, and dreaming of sunshine and warmth to take away the winter chill.
Some say there's no such thing as Blue Monday, and I don't want to debate it's reality today, instead, I wanted to share what I like about the idea.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
This week in The Weekly Minute, two guided grounding practices, so the winds of life (and outside!!) don't blow us away.
It's important to have a grounding practice so we feel stable and rooted within ourselves. As we know, life can be full of surprises, and change is inevitable, but if you feel grounded, you'll be more able to face challenges without falling.
Think of a tree, they grow so tall and sturdy because they have strong roots under the earth.
Practice these a few times this week, so you get familiar with them, and they are in your toolbox, ready for when you reach for them.
“Flying starts from the ground. The more grounded you are, the higher you fly.”
The best gift you can give yourself or anyone else this Christmas is to be present.
When we are present, the mind can't wander into the past or the future, where worries and regrets live. Staying in the here and now allows us to connect with our lives and those in them as they are, and we often realise that life is better than we think.
This Christmas, try as best you can to stay in your senses, and not so much in your head. Set a reminder on your phone to prompt you to reconnect with what is actually happening: what you can see, hear, feel, and (not forgetting the dinner) smell. :)
You can also use the breath to come out of your head and into the body. If there's anxiety present, make the exhale a little longer than the inhale.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
My niece was wearing a sweater with this slogan on it: "When nothing goes right... go left."
I loved it, it's good advice. BUT, how do we actually do that? What does "going left" actually look like? Slogans like this, and inspirational quotes we see online are great, but how we use them to actually make our lives better?
Here are a few practical ideas for "turning left" when nothing seems to be going right:
Whichever method(s) you choose, the most important thing is to remember to take that step to the left, and ignore all the reasons your mind might have to not take that step!
"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching." - Mahatma Gandhi
The Weekly Minute is a blog I write each week with the aim of providing proven tools to help promote positive mental health.
The collection of short, practical mindfulness and therapy tools for self-reflection and self-improvement, can equip people to take their mental well-being into their own hands, and improve their quality of life.
The Weekly Minute is posted here every Monday, or you can sign up to get it delivered to your inbox via the link below.
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