This is not easy

Just thought I’d pop up today to point out the obvious – Christmas is not going to be as planned and whether you’re directly affected by the changes announced yesterday or not, the news we’re now hearing is not easy to receive.

At the end of a year when we’re all feeling lonely, tired and mentally exhausted and many of us heartbroken after the loss of loved ones or fearful for loved ones who are unwell, we’ve just been told things are worse than ever out there. We’re being told to stay home as much as possible and we’re being told that, at a time when we would usually be seeing as many family members and friends as humanely possible, we should be seeing very few, in some cases none at all.

So, I don’t know who needs to hear it, but this is not easy. Cut yourself some slack.

Firstly, today put ‘watch upbeat, cheerful film’ on your to-do list. Writing a to-do list is a very helpful way of taking control back and of giving yourself something to work towards, something you can pat yourself on the back for having achieved at the end of the day. Today, try and put stuff on the to-do list that you actually want to do. Add ‘read a book’ to your to-do list so that you can reward yourself for just having done that. On days like today, anything you choose to do other than sitting staring at the wall is an achievement – It’s not easy to do the things you enjoy when you’re feeling blue.

Get outside today. Whether you want to or not, once you’re out and about you’ll feel so much better. Remember that you are not trapped in your home. You are allowed to walk about, run about, exercise outside as much as you want to and being outside is so good for your mental health. Take advantage of the freedom you do have.

Reach out to loved ones and friends today. Let them know you’re there (to all my family and friends reading, please please pick up the phone if you need). Also go to family members and friends today, even if you don’t feel like talking. A phone call can solve a multitude of things, even if you go into a conversation not exactly sure what you want or need to get out of it. I know from experience that rambling onto a willing person over the phone can allow you to let go of emotions you weren’t even sure how to process by yourself.

All of that said, if you feel like doing nothing at all do that instead and do not feel guilty for it either. Watch a film, don’t watch a film. Read a book, don’t read a book. Get outside, don’t get outside. Do whatever you need to today to make yourself feel better. This is far from easy, but you’re not alone.

116 123 Samaritans

03444 775 774 Anxiety UK

0808 200 0247 Refuge

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Mind over matter

Recently, my beautiful cousin wrote a blog on mindfulness. (It’s well worth a read and the link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included the link to a mindfulness meditation video which helped me heaps.) And I mention it because even more recently I discovered just how practicing mindfulness can help. In the spirit of being honest, when I first read my cousin’s post I underestimated mindfulness. I didn’t think it was for me. I thought meditation was a thing I’d struggle with in many ways. Then, one down day last week left me feeling particularly shaken.

I truly believed that I’d hit the bottom. Considering how well things were going, I can’t quite believe how pessimistic I felt. I was tired of being anxious and I wanted to give up. I felt hopeless and I was convinced that every day of the rest of my life, I’d be miserable. I’ve felt all of this before, but this time the thoughts were scarier and more consuming. Perhaps all of the anxiety I’d been feeling over the last couple of weeks had been smothered in a way, by all the good stuff I was feeling and this was it bursting out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing and rationally, I knew I should be so calm and happy.

In the end, I rang The Samaritans and they stayed on the phone until I was out the other side. I didn’t call them because I believed I might kill myself. I called them because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling rationally and I didn’t want to panic family and friends. I felt like if I didn’t get it out of my had by talking about it to someone, I would be giving the feelings more power over me and they would become too much for me to handle. The Samaritans were amazing and if you ever need them, you can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123. 24 hours was all it took before I was practising mindfulness on my bedroom floor for the first time and feeling like I could go on.

I hadn’t truly felt like I was in control again since the phone call. A half hour after they’d convinced me to try putting the phone down and getting on with my day, I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling helpless and I’d just call The Samaritans every day for the rest of my life so that they could get me through it.

Laying flat on my back, on the floor, listening to a mindfulness video, I discovered the power of being in the moment and coming to the realisation that we have power over our minds, not the other way ’round. It honestly took ten minutes of being mindful for me to believe in myself again. Since then, I feel stronger than ever. I only wish I’d believed enough to try it sooner.

What’s also amazing is that once I’d been mindful I finally felt I could tell people around me how I’d felt. I told Dave, I told my brother, I took control back and I moved onwards and upwards.

Right now, I’m sat on an actual sofa (because we have one actual sofa now) and I’m looking at our beautiful living room (that now has house plants in it, including a wonderful cactus called Patrick) and I’m smiling hugely even though it’s all grey and gloomy outside. These last two weeks have been far from miserable. Believe it or not despite my emotional all over the place-ness, they’ve been great.

I’ve applied for lots of jobs and despite having heard nothing yet, am still feeling determined. They’re not all in schools. I’m applying for all kinds of things, because saving money for my masters feels like the priority now.

I’ve started writing my first ever song and I’ve been keeping up the piano practice.

I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it… It made my heart sing.

I bought a foot stool and can now reach the top of my new wardrobe.

I’m getting to know the new area. I’ve been ’round to the local shops and been into town a few times now and it feels more like home every day.

We’ve had more wonderful friends over to visit. Two brought flowers with them. One brought Christmas crackers along because why not? One brought yorkshire puddings and helped us to make our first flat Roast which came out really well! (I feel more lucky every day to have the friends I do.)

Dave and I have been out for dinner and been to the cinema, been record shopping together and we’ve started working through the list of films we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and without setting off anyone’s cheese allergies I have to honestly say how lovely it is to be in the same place and actually be able to spend time together and do actual couple things. So yeah, he hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but watch this space I guess.

One film we watched was ‘Hidden Figures’, which I have to give a special mention to before I go. It is simply phenomenal. I cannot believe that I did not already know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and I’m so glad I do now. The film is eye-opening, uplifting and inspirational. Watch it whenever you get the chance.

My cousin’s blog post:

http://speakingtheunspokenword.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/be-mindful-about-your-mind.html

The Mindfulness video I used:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao