Trapped and Anxious

So I am currently on day 6 of having Covid and still testing positive. I am therefore unable to be free to go about my daily life. At first I was too exhausted to care but now I am better and the sun is shining I am finding I am becoming consumed by my thoughts.

My anxiety levels have reached an all time high and the techniques I would usually apply to try to reduce them either don’t help or I can’t engage with them.

What to do? Well… what about a barefoot walk? It will get me out to enjoy the sunshine and away from my thoughts. Hopefully a grounding experience?

Reflexology in motion

The result? I feel much better now. More grounded and my mind is calmer and slower. It’s hard to be consumed by thoughts and easy to be in the moment when you are walking on cold sharp stones! Another tool for the self help toolbox.

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What if…?

Our internal dialogue can dramatically influence our mood and mental health. Yet it happens so subtly we often fail to recognise what is happening and before we know it we are experiencing anxiety over something that isn’t actually real.

An example to illustrate my point would be the following scenario. One September, pre Covid, we booked a family holiday to Spain for the New Year. After the initial excitement I started to think “what if we experience terrible turbulence through the flight?” this progressed to “what if the plane loses cabin pressure and we have to drop to 10000 feet in seconds? I will be so scared.”

These “what if” thoughts continued so that by December I was dreading the holiday. On Boxing Day I packed with a feeling of dread and was counting down the hours thinking “tomorrow at this point I will be on that plane.” Not really the way to start a holiday but my “what ifs” had become so real to me they were consuming my thoughts and affecting how I viewed the holiday. The biggest factor that I was conveniently forgetting was that none of it was real.

The actual reality was that the day we were due to fly my daughter needed an emergency appointment at the doctors where she was not deemed fit to fly because of a severe ear infection. Just like that the flight I had been dreading for months didn’t even happen. I never did get on that flight and so none of the above happened.

None of it was real, just like any question you ask yourself that starts with “what if” isn’t real either. Next time you catch yourself thinking through a negative scenario immediately counteract if with a positive “what if” question.

When I was starting my business I was thinking “what if I give up my job and nobody books in for treatments”, “what if I don’t get any returning clients”. It was enough to stop me before I had even started. Luckily I had learnt from the holiday experience and for every negative I had a positive. “What if every client rebooks”, “what if I have clients everyday”. Doing this helped me realise that nobody knows what will happen. So rather than holding ourselves back and letting the fear control us, at the very least we can look at the positive “what ifs” as well. It will help keep our apprehension in check and allow us to have a more balanced perspective on life.

In reality I have had rebookings, not from every client but from many and I have clients most days. Am I pleased I ignored my negative dialogue and took the plunge? Yes of course.

How could changing your dialogue change your outlook on life?

The beauty of the Earth Element

The giant pine tree grows from a tiny sprout. The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet.

Lao TZU

Walk in nature, be aware of the beauty around you and the earth beneath your feet. Concentrating on the sensation on your feet of walking on different surfaces will take you away from your thoughts and keep you present and grounded.

How to beat “Blue Monday”

The third Monday in January is said to be the most depressing day of the year.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Why is this the case?

It is claimed by psychologists that by this time in January people are feeling disgruntled because the cost of Christmas is catching up with them. All those gifts that were purchased on credit card now need paying off; the mornings are still dark, the evenings are still drawing in early and many of us have fallen off the wagon regarding our good intentions and new year’s resolutions.

How can we combat this?

First of all it is important to recognise that it is natural to have feelings of disappointment at certain points in our life. These sentiments can be turned into a positive if we respond to them by examining what we are disappointed about. Asking ourselves if this emotion is a temporary experience and therefore acknowledging that “this too shall pass”, can be helpful for keeping a perspective on our lives. Having days where we might feel a bit flat living in the mundane help us appreciate the days when we are doing something uplifting and a bit different. If we realise our dissatisfaction is more than a fleeting emotion then we can ask ourselves if we need to take action to alleviate it. What steps can we take to do this? By taking a more proactive step to address our feelings can be empowering and uplifting in itself.

In order to do this effectively it is important to make sure we are emotionally, physically and mentally balanced. The way we talk to ourselves is important. Shed the guilt. It is ok to feel blue. It is ok to no longer be following your resolutions. There is always tomorrow, a new day and a fresh start. Take the pressure off today. If you feel like taking it easy (and you are not at work) then do so. If you can’t take it easy due to commitments make sure you do something for you as soon you are able to do so.

Instead of focusing on perceived failures and things you should have done, take time everyday doing something that you enjoy that releases endorphins and makes you feel happy. This is the best way to beat the blues. If you have had a hard day at work sing along to your favourite song in the car on the way home, listen to a comedy and laugh. Phone a friend and connect with them. Engaging with another person through having a laugh and a light hearted conversation can be a great distraction and release endorphins. Dance round the kitchen whilst making dinner, meditate, have a bath and enjoy the luxury of the warm water relaxing your muscles and washing away your stresses of the day. Have a regular massage or beauty treatment to feel good and reward yourself for being you. Walk in nature and look for the evidence that Spring is on its way and warmer days are approaching.

So instead of focusing on the negatives, what are you going to do today to hold Blue Monday at bay? I am going to phone a friend.

New Year, New You

New year’s resolution anyone?

We’ve waved goodbye to 2021 and now face 2022 with the best intentions to become a new and better version of ourselves. We’ve made our resolutions and today is the day we are ready to put them into action. A great start to a new year. What could possibly go wrong?

Well…

Most resolutions are actually negative in nature when you really study them. I was deciding what I should focus on this year and came up with the usual list of; lose weight, worry less and be happier. On closer inspection I realised I was really telling myself I am a fat, miserable worry wart! Not a great way to view myself!

As well as this negative view, I would also be setting myself up for failure. How would these resolutions be achieved? They are unstructured and unwieldy being an idea rather than a plan of action. Therefore, as well as focusing in on my perceived failings, dispiriting in itself, I am also setting myself up for failure because there is no outline for how to achieve this. Not a very positive start to the New Year.

I decided to reconsider my resolutions and try something new. This year, I will be grateful for something in my life everyday. This is a simple, straightforward and easy to achieve resolution with a more positive approach to a new year, new me.

Being thankful for what we have can improve our mental health. It moves our focus from our dissatisfactions towards the positives in our life. The more grateful we feel the less we focus on what we perceive to be wrong in our lives. We get a more balanced perspective. This can make us feel happier which in turn can improve our mental and physical health.

In addition, if I don’t achieve this one day there’s always the next. The pressure on new year’s resolutions implies that once you have slipped in your ambition, usually by the end of January, that’s it until the next new year!How demoralising? The reality is that new year is no different to a new day. We don’t have to wait until December 31st to reinvent ourselves.

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most”

Buddha

The wise words of Buddha sums this up perfectly and gives us the opportunity to keep revisiting our best intentions if we feel they have slipped.

So it’s a new year, with a new start and today I am feeling grateful for the beauty and magic of the sea.

What are you feeling grateful for?

Experiences for Christmas?

It’s getting to the time of year when the shops are crammed with Christmas paraphernalia, people are booking their Christmas parties and plans for the big day are being made.

This year is particularly significant because it would appear that it will be the first one where we are “free” again. The constraints of COVID-19 have been lifted and we can spend time with family, friends and loved ones.

However, hopefully we are a little bit older and a lot wiser after our experiences during Lockdowns, bubbles and social distancing. Hopefully we have realised what’s really important in life. Is it necessary to spend money for the sake of it on a gift that will be shoved in a cupboard to be up cycled for a birthday later in the year? Or is it better to give gifts that are personal and thoughtful?

Vouchers for experiences are becoming increasingly popular due to the lasting pleasure they can give. After being separated from loved ones last year a great way to show care and appreciation was to give vouchers. The recipient then had the excitement of choosing what experience to have, the pleasure of looking forward to it and then the endorphin release as they experienced it.

An added bonus is the vouchers often support local businesses that were there for us when times were tough and they are more friendly to the environment than the copious amounts of single use plastic most gifts are boxed in.

So this year, are you going to show you care for your loved ones as well as local business and the environment? I do hope so.

An example of some experiences a voucher can buy.

Back to Nature

Do you ever stop to enjoy the gifts of nature? During a recent trip to Wales I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the simple things in life.

We had a very rainy week, but once I got over thinking about how good the weather was in Spain, I started to appreciate the beauty of nature.

During a break in the showers a simple walk reminded me of all the things we take for granted.

What do you notice in your surroundings when you take time to stop and appreciate?

How do you balance your body and mind?

Now that lockdown seems a dim and distant memory to most people it would appear that the tempo of our lives has once again increased. In the first lockdown there was little we could do but go for our once a day walk. This daily “at one with nature experience” was a “be in the moment” time of the day that definitely helped with the anxieties of living in a global pandemic. Now, with freedom on our hands once again, how often are we embracing and appreciating the little things in life and spending time in nature?

Since lockdown release I have been aware of rushing around, a lack of time for self-care and an increasing difficulty with winding down at night. Despite all my promises through lockdown to keep life simpler, I have gone back to my old ways. Seemingly on a mission to cram as much as is humanly possible into one day, without doing anything wholesome for my body and mind.

Last week I decided that everyday I would spend time in my day consciously balancing my body and mind. On Monday, I spent time in the garden and weeded an overgrown border. It felt great to be moving and stretching my body instead of hunching over a screen. It also felt rewarding to have achieved instant success.

On Tuesday I did a Pilates class and, whilst it was challenging- I certainly knew where my tummy muscles were on Wednesday, it felt good stretching my body. It was a new concept to be spending my time concentrating on keeping my shoulders down and feet flexed. There was no room for distracting thoughts, my mind was getting a rest!

On Wednesday I went for a beautiful evening walk. Instead of looking down at where I was walking and thinking back over the day, I looked around me. My vigilance was rewarded by seeing two hares, a curlew hiding in the grasses and a bird of prey swooping overhead. If I hadn’t been on a conscious mission to balance my body and mind the chances are I would have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts and missed them. An even bigger bonus was that I slept well that night.

On Thursday I had coffee and a catch-up with a friend which was relaxing and good to have a light hearted laugh. On Friday I had a massage as a change to giving relaxing treatments. It felt very luxurious. In a similar vein on Saturday I did a facial on myself and was amazed at the instant improvement in the appearance of my skin. Today I have put on a foot mask and curled up with a good book.

So, has spending time each day balancing my body and mind been beneficial? I have had a week that has seemed calmer and less rushed, even though at times it has been as busy as ever. I have been less irritated, feel like I have laughed more and definitely slept better.

There’s certainly a need to balance body and mind daily. What rebalancing activities would you suggest?

What exactly is Reflexology?

Do you take care of your feet?

In an average lifetime, if a person lives until they are 80, our feet enable us to walk 110000 miles. A huge undertaking but how often do we consider our feet? We just take them for granted. Our cars, on the other hand, are serviced every year or every 12000 miles, whichever is soonest!

In modern life we are using our brains and thinking of a million things every day. There is often an imbalance between the amount of times we are in our bodies compared to the amount of times we are in our heads. When working, particularly from home, we are often so engrossed in our work and therefore don’t notice if we are experiencing discomfort in our bodies from poor posture. As this happens five days a week for a prolonged period of time we are left holding tension in our bodies which makes it even harder to balance body and mind

I recently had a break in beautiful Scotland staying by the sea. It was easier to be in the moment with the sound of the waves on the pebbled shore as a constant companion. I had been reading about “tap shek” a common form of reflexology in China involving walking barefoot on cobbled pathways. As the beach was stony I decided to embrace the practice and do it every day.

Tap Shek Scottish beach style

Reflexology increases the blood circulation around the body, which in turn stimulates the circulatory, nervous and immune systems, it can help lower blood pressure and is immensely relaxing. It is also grounding because your focus is removed from your head to your feet. It is a valuable self-care treatment.

After three days “tap shek”, I noticed I was less tense in my body. I was sleeping better, felt generally calmer and more in the moment. Now, on an evening I am trying to keep up the “tap shek” concept by pressing the pressure points on my feet before going to bed. An option for other people would be to book regular reflexology treatments with me.

£25 per session: 1 hour including initial consultation, a foot soak, exfoliation and reflexology.

Block book 6 treatments for £135 saving 10% of the total cost.