Rest, recovery and reflection

“Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working or grinding in order to be successful. Embrace the concept that rest, recovery and reflection are essential parts of the progress towards a successful and ultimately happy life”
One of the biggest issues that stressed out people have is the need to feel busy in order to feel worthy. We feel that if we aren’t being productive then we are not being valuable. So we work and work and work and stress and work some more to the point of exhaustion.
When you reach that point your body decides that it’s time to rest.
That’s the point of burnout – when your body decides it can’t carry on any more and you become exhausted or sick. And that’s when people end up in my therapy room.
If you have a highly stressful life there is a chance you may burn out but it’s your job to care for yourself beyond anything else.
So stop doing everything for everybody else and do something for yourself
Slow down.
Be gentle on yourself.
Don’t end up in my office.
Ultimately you need to become your own therapist by doing what you know calms you down and what makes you happy and put it into practice.
Other people might not support you and it might upset people who are used to you giving them everything but that’s too bad.
Just remember how worthy you are.

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Friday the Thirteenth

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Friday the 13th…
Scared or not?
There are some people who are so scared of the date that they stay at home to avoid accidents or sudden death.  If you are one of those people, hello! We wish that we were home in our pyjamas too.
So, how can we be scared of a date?
Or a black cat crossing our path, or walking under a ladder, or breaking a mirror or any other superstition that you may have grown up with?
My mother taught me that if I killed a spider, I would lose my money which may explain a lot….
Whether you are superstitious or not, I hope that you are aware of the fact that all of these fears only come true if you allow them to.  The more you think about them and obsess about them, the more likely it is that something happens to you.  Not because you are willing it to but because you are more aware of things potentially going wrong.
Suddenly you have a spate of bad luck and you remember that a cat happened to have run past you a few days ago and that cat might have even been black.
The more you think about it, the more you notice that your luck seems to have changed for the worst.

The truth is that some things are just out of your control.  Things happen – whether for a reason or not.  You go through good things and bad things and you may be prepared for them or not.  And a lot of the time, they have nothing to do with you.  You just happened to be there.  Wrong place, wrong time, wrong man, wrong career choice….
When you realise that you have no control, you can either freak out or sit back and relax.
Okay, maybe not relax but realise that things are out of your hands and you can stress about forcing it back to the way that you want it to be or see where it takes you.
Because it may be a crazy, wild adventure.
Wild enough to even go to work on Friday the 13th!

Surviving that which you never think you will

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People tell you awful and ridiculous things when you are going through a difficult time.
Things like chin up, be strong and my personal favourite – everything is going to be okay.
And you feel like saying, “How the hell do you know that things are going to be okay?” because it feels like it is never going to be okay.
This is what I do know – you don’t have to be okay and you don’t have to be strong.  You are absolutely allowed to fall apart and cry and scream and panic.
You do need to be gentle on yourself and realise that as much as nobody can tell the future, what you are going through is not going to last forever – it just can’t.
This is what you are going through now.
You are going to overcome this but it is not going to happen overnight.  You have the right to be stressed and anxious.
But don’t let that become your story.
Your story is that you will become resilient and you will have a great tale to tell future generations one day – “long time ago, I went through a really difficult time but I survived and I’m here to share my story with you”
I wish that you didn’t have to have that story to tell but it’s yours – embrace it, learn from it, grow from it and become a better person for having gone through it.
You absolutely have this!

Did I hear a yes?

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I found this question while browsing Pinterest (as I do):

“What would you ask for, if you knew the answer would be yes?”

During my midnight meanderings, I thought a lot about this question because initially, I thought the obvious –
“Please buy a new car for me.”
“Can I have money?”
“Will you take me away on a island vacation?”

And while I would love the answers to these questions to be yes, I also thought about what I actually needed.
And the truth is that I don’t need much.
Yes, a life of luxury would be wonderful but what we really need is more love, more appreciation and more care.
I thought about how much a hug would make a difference and how a gesture of thanks would go a long way.
So my question became:
“Please sit and talk to me over a cup of coffee”
“Will you listen to what I have to say?”
“Will you hold my hand when I’m trying to be brave?”
“Would you notice what I do?”

What I know is that if we sit and wait for somebody to  answer yes by guessing what we want, we may wait a long time.  So unless your friend, partner, employer, parent etc. is a mind reader (and I would be quite fearful if they were), you need to put what you need out there.
The fear of somebody saying no makes us never ask.
And if you never ask, you may lose an opportunity.
Maybe they will say yes….
Give it a try.

A new year kind of attitude

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I’ve spoken to so many people who have started the year with a negative attitude
With the feeling that the new year will be exactly the same as the old one because – really? What would change from the 31st of December 2017 to the 1st of January 2018?
Well truthfully nothing!
Which, depressing as it sounds, is why I don’t wait up for new year to celebrate with fireworks and loud music. I wake up on January the first and carry on with my life just the same as I had done the day before.
Because life is what you make of it.
No change in year is going to miraculously change your fortune.
You want 2018 to be great?
Make it great!
The week is dragging… Do something to make it more exciting!
Your job is terrible? Look for a new one or enjoy moments in your job – like packing up at the end of the day and going home or having coffee with your colleagues.

We cannot control what happens to us but we can absolutely control how we react to it and what we do about it. That is why you will find people in really trying circumstances who are really positive and people who seem to have it all that never stop complaining (shame).
Attitude is everything.
So I won’t wish you a happy new year or a successful new year, I wish you continued wisdom, bravery, courage, commitment and self belief.
I wish you confidence, a sense of humour in the hard times and new journeys starting today!
I look forward to continuing to share my journey with you.

Wish upon a star

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Last night I lay down under the stars waiting to see a meteor shower.
I didn’t see much of a shower, rather more of an occasional shooting star across the sky.  Which was wonderful in itself.
Did I make a wish upon a star?
You bet I did!
I wished for more quiet moments like that one and I wished that I could always keep life in perspective – to recognise how small we are in comparison to the greatness of the universe. When we realise this, our problems don’t seem as huge as they were before.
Og Mandino said “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars”
Yet without darkness we will never understand or appreciate the light.


Nobody wants to be in the darkness but if you find yourself there, remember to look for the stars.
They are there if you just look up (and while you’re looking, don’t forget to make a wish)
At this time of the year when things do slow down, take some time just to be quiet, to appreciate the things around you and… to look up at the stars.

A letter of inspiration

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I want you to do this:
When you are not feeling too stressed or sad and not anxious at all, and hopefully feeling pretty good about yourself, I want you to write a letter of encouragement to yourself that goes something like this:

Dear (me, your name, wonderful person….)
You are an amazing, strong survivor.
You might feel bad right now but that is just how you feel right now.  Your emotion does not define the person that you are – the person who is resilient and has been through this pain before.  The person who is going to make it.
This is why you are brilliant………….
This is what you are going to do to be amazing……….
This is why you are special……………
This is what you are thankful for…………

(Add anything else that you would like to say to yourself that is positive and motivational)

You can do this and you will do this!

I know that we live in the digital age but write the letter on a piece of lovely paper (or on a boring piece of paper that has been lovingly decorated or illustrated).
Add a picture of yourself that makes you feel good about yourself.  If that is really pushing it then add a picture of something (or someone) that makes you smile.
Now put it in an envelope (you remember those things that look like the mail icon on your phone) and write a message on the envelope like “open when you are feeling sad” or “a message for an anxious kind of day” and put it in a safe place or stick it into your journal for exactly that kind of day.


Read whenever necessary.
Repeat as often as needed.

Take this moment

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Having control over our lives is what we all want.
Having control is what most of us don’t have.
We fantasize about it, we dream about it, we work hard at getting it back yet it seems that there are always going to be times when control is just something that we don’t have.
It is so difficult to feel that your life is not really yours, that there is some unseen force that is making your life miserable.
And to make it worse, there is always someone around you who seems to have it all sorted out – they drive a better car, have a better job, have more success, their kids are high achievers.  This makes you feel even more miserable.

What if you can let all of that stuff go?
Can you make this moment, this moment right now, the best moment for now?
I’m not saying it is brilliant, but just for now, you have absolute control over the moment.  You can decide how deeply to breathe, you can decide whether you want to walk or run or dance.  You have a choice to smile or to frown, to sing or to stare out of the window.
They may not be big things, but they are yours.
Make the absolute best of this time.  It is the only thing that you can do.
What will happen next?
I don’t know!
Are you going to be okay?
I don’t know!
But I do know this – you have the ability to keep on surviving, to stand tall, to make a difference, to let go of some of your worries, to throw caution to the wind.
You can do all of this if you just take this moment for you.

Stress busting smoothies

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I have been asked numerous times for recipes for the smoothies that I drink – often to the horror of the people who are sitting in my therapy group thinking that I am drinking mud, scooping off the top of a murky swamp or even worse, sipping on blood.

For all smoothies, just throw all the ingredients together into your blender and blend until smooth (hence the word smoothie….)

Mud smoothie
This looks like mud because of the mix of purple and green.  What you should know is that any food that is purple or green is a super nutritious food filled with vitamins and anti-oxidants so this is really good for you.  Plus all the vitamin B is brilliant for your nervous system and will help you to deal better with stress.
1 apple cut into eighths (or big chunks)
1 handful of blueberries (I use frozen blueberries)
1 teaspoon of grated ginger root or a good shake of dried ginger
1 teaspoon of spirulina powder
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1 cup of water

Murky swamp smoothie
Very green – very healthy
1 apple cut into chunks
a few pieces of pineapple
a few pieces of cucumber
a sprig or two of mint if you want
1 teaspoon of spirulina powder, wheat grass powder of a small handful of fresh wheat grass (grow it on your kitchen window sill – it is very satisfying to watch)
1 cup of water or cold green tea

Vampire’s smoothie
Thick and red and blood-like (I’m one day too late for Halloween)
Unbelievable anti-oxidants and superfoods
2 small or 1 big beetroot – peeled and cut
1 carrot – peeled and cut
1 teaspoon of grated ginger (okay I like ginger)
1 cup of water or cold strong rooibos tea
Sprinkle with cinnamon

My son’s version of a healthy smoothie
This is very thick and icy and he says that the effort required to drink it through a straw and the (irritating) noise that he makes when drinking helps him to deal with stress…
1 large heaped teaspoon of the finest cocoa powder
2 flat teaspoons of sugar
A lot of ice (yum, yum)
Cover the ice with milk

My husband’s version of a healthy smoothie
He may have a point here since chocolate is rich is feel good chemicals as we all know
1 cup of milk
a large scoop of chocolate ice cream
drinking chocolate powder
top with grated chocolate once blended

Enjoy!

Taking control

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One of the most difficult things to deal with when life gets really stressful is trying to get ‘control’ back.
By control we mean getting life back to where we feel familiar with what we are doing.  We want things to function the way they have always worked.  And life has a funny (okay really not that funny) way of pushing you way out of your comfort zone which leaves you reeling and fighting to take control back.

But what if you weren’t meant to have control over it in the first place?  As terrible as it sounds, and no matter how much we hate it, when we lose control it is just not worth fighting to get the control back.  You have to find a new way of doing things.
Losing control gives you a new perspective and a different angle on your life.  It gives you a chance to start again.
When it seems that everything is out of control and you feel that you are falling apart tell yourself:

– I take responsibility for myself
– I do not blame others for my problems (not that it isn’t their fault but that you don’t give them power over you)
– I can take control back by changing the way that I do things
– I can make decisions for myself
– My emotions are determined by me

You have no idea how strong you really are or what you are capable of until you go through this.  I really hope that one day you will look back at this stressful time and be really proud of yourself for overcoming this and taking control back in your own unique way.