Over christmas I was closing down my old journal which spanned two years. Reading through it was enlightening to say the least. I have a relatively peaceful life with good friends and family, a job which I would describe as my vocation and enough money to live comfortably. Like most people however, I encounter difficulties which sometimes wipe me out and make me sad and fearful. I was pleased to find an entry in my journal which I had written as a letter to myself after I had recovered well from a particularly heart breaking situation.
The letter to myself reminded me that, whilst in the middle of the crisis I felt that I would surely never recover, I did recover. I then listed all the things that I did to aid the recovery to be referred to in the future should the need arise. It is good to make this list while you are clear-headed and feeling positive because when you are feeling despair you might not be able to motivate yourself to come up with solutions, but you can easily refer to your list, pick a helpful activity and do you best to take part. I would call this list your “wellbeing tool kit”.
Take some time to think back through any challenging events in your life that might have taken you to your knees for a while. Now in your journal, on your iPhone or just on a pice of paper make a list of the activities, people and things which brought a smile to your face and lightened your heart just enough to see you through. What helped you to gain perspective? What gave you the boost to push through to a better place?
Here are a few of the things on my list:
1. Dancing with my niece.
Children are free of burdens and are so disinhibited that being around them, and engaging in childlike play never fails to lift my spirits.
2. Walking in nature with friends.
We call it “walking therapy”. Just half an hour out in the fresh air, exercising whilst we moan, gossip, laugh and cry always leaves us feeling like at least a tiny part of the problem has been solved.
To me yoga is a cure-all. If your tired it revitalises you, if your wired it calms you down. If you are fragile you can take it easy or even just sit on your mat and breath. It will always leave you feeling better than when you started.
I used to be lost in my stressfull thoughts most of the time before I discovered mindfulness. Now I’m still lost in thought but not as much. Mindfulness practice provides me with a balcony view over my thoughts. This allows me the space to recognise that they are “just thoughts” not facts!
The picture above is me on a beach at sunset. During time away on holidays and short breaks I can clear my mind and be peaceful. If you can’t afford a holiday then plan a small at home retreat. A day of “nothingness” to just relax and unwind. Eat some nourishing food and read a good book.
Motivational reads are perfect for challenging times. See the “on my bookshelf” page for some ideas.
When times are hard surround yourself with your support team. Those friends that listen, make you laugh, give you the home truths and leave you alone when you need it. I look to people who inspire me and people who have been through difficult times and recovered to be stronger than ever. These are the friends from who we can learn and grow.
8. Nourishing the body
Taking care of the body is so important during stressful and upsetting times. adequate sleep and a good nutritious diet will push you through to a better place much more quickly than self neglect. Even if you’re feeling low and de-motivated try to care for your body as you would take care of a little child, with lots of love and kindness.