I don’t really know what to talk about, perhaps if I type for long enough some eureka moment might strike me much like the sudden urge to pee just as you’re in early morning traffic. I feel like everyday is Groundhog day in my life currently, yes – new month new me pessimistic perspective about something petty. But that’s why you’re reading this right, so we can wallow in self-pity together…..
Hm.. perhaps I’d better change my train of thought……
My brother’s wedding is coming up this Summer and am I a bridesmaid? NOPE :(, and no it’s not because I’m his estranged sibling, it’s because of his control……….oh this is negative too.
I’m planning to work on my fitness again, I’ve been feeling rather out of breath lately carrying bottles of lemonade and crisps from the car to the house. It must be a sign from God that I’m a lazy b*tch. With the all too apparent realisation that I have my assessment coming up in May to become a dance fitness teacher the irony is too much! I seriously do have my practical assessment, and I seriously do have to workouttt!
My friend is also getting married in Summer (not to my brother thankfully, she’s my friend not his!), although she hasn’t been proposed to yet nor is she planning on doing the proposing so looks like I’ll be spending £500 on a trip to London to see Big Ben again and not free food, blistered feet and awkward conversation.(hehe).
So it’s lovely to hear that everyone’s getting married except me. Marriage isn’t everything right, but I guess it helps financially when they’re rich, you divorce, and you know that they haven’t signed a prenup (a saying I hold dear to my hear and chant three times while frothing at the mouth from toothpaste before slamming my head on my lumpy pillow and struggle to fall asleep for two hours. Thanks to endlessly scrolling instagram seething at the superficial lives of the rich and famous which I’ll never seem to have. Consequently I find myself for the last 10 minutes of my insomnia episode browsing the sugar daddy websites only to find them with an unreachable criteria that even money can’t seem to buy – being under 18 and thinner than a stick insect. It’s safe to say I won’t be needing to pucker up for a wet kiss from a frail financier who purposely took his dentures out for the giggles of it all).
So with that being said, I’m proud to be poor, setting back the chocolates at the counter just so I can afford to wipe my a*rse with the double ply roll and not the risky single, is really a blessing in disguise. Sure the cashier gives me evils but nobody wants a chocolate smear where the sun don’t shine let’s be honest about it, so back the tastier type of chocolate goes to the sweets aisle. Being poor also means I make choices on what to buy in the supermarket not based on flavour but on weight of product per penny of money. Like a bloody dealer I’m buying the product that is 2p cheaper so long as it guarantees me but a milligram more product! Sad, I know, blame my mum she was forever doing this throughout my childhood. ‘No Natasha, set that back you’ve got sweets at home.’ *Goes homes, opens drawer – a packet of dry sandy husks awaits, stale from atleast a month ago. ‘No Natasha, set that back get the value pack of bread.’ *Looks at label and weight – an extra kilo worth of salt, sugar and preservatives can be found in this white, mass-manufactured bread loaf, enjoy bouncing off the walls from the sugar rush. I’m not knocking any parent or person in general who does these sorts of things, I do them myself, when money is tight it’s no joke. But I think sometimes the best form of coping mechanism for when times are tough is humour, and especially at my Mum’s expense (no pun intended hehe) for she has endless stories of saving the pennies that all of us in her family tease her about. It’s fun to bond over laughing at other family member’s at the dinner table, no? Which most of the time it’s me if you must know!
Anyhow, I just thought I’d take a moment to complain, and appreciate the fact that my Mum sacrificed my childhood joy of milk chocolate so we’d have 2-ply toilet paper. Love you Mum and your oh so hygienic ways. xox
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”– Confucious
I think we can convince ourselves at times that the word ‘simple’ is synonymous with ‘boring’. And no-one wants a boring life, right? So what do we do, we fill our day with numerous ‘tasks’, be it in the physical sense or simply just in our own heads! We tell ourselves we have to do more, to be more in order to achieve success (in whatever sense this means personally) for us to lead happier lives.
Tell me you too haven’t lay in your bed at night only to start plotting world domination instead of counting sheep. ‘Humans and our neverending quest for intangible happiness’ – sounds like my next bestseller and surefire dinner table conversation starter. For it really is that ‘thing’ we’re all after – happiness. Social media has convinced us to some degree that: the money, power and respect triangle should be sought after, and the daisy-chain makers say the opposite: relationships, simplicity and living in the moment equal a happier and more fulfilling life.
So who’s camp should we sit on? What is happiness to us? And how do we achieve that happiness?
*Try Google because I don’t have the damn answers!!
But what I would like to show you is the following, ‘the wheel of life’ (courtesy of the Federation of Entertainment Unions).
‘It allows you to gain a snapshot of where you are in all aspects of your life.’
When things get overwhelming, and you’re trying your best to juggle numerous elements of your life, perhaps resorting to the following method may grant you some relief and order:
I have given this a go in the past, and seeing the various elements of my life visually represented gives me some sort of clarity. Is this diagram super detailed? No. But it’s a good starting point nonetheless, a springboard for you to figure out what areas of your life perhaps you’d like to work on and which areas you feel comfortable with at the moment.
Sometimes, I feel we can get so in our heads, and feel like there isn’t just eight or ten elements in our life which we are trying to juggle, but twenty or thirty. If that’s the case maybe try drawing out multiple wheels, maybe you’ll find that you can remove some elements completely or mesh some together etc
You may realise that you can prioritise the things which matter most in your life and delegate more time to those and let ad hoc tasks be secondary.
Anyhow, I just thought I’d share this method with you which has given me a bit of a helping hand at times when I feel life is being too hard on me! This quick and easy method allows me to get a ‘bigger-picture’ view and refocus myself. So hopefully it could help you to in yours!
Why is life so hard? It’s as hard as we make it in our own minds!
Words and actions - unmatched.
The truth is shrouded in mystery.
So far back in history,
That I begin to doubt myself.
The effort applied to closing my ears and eyes,
While you reveal a lie, concealing what should,
Why spend more time, more energy,
Entangling yourself in a web of secrecy?
For it's no secret to me - you're no good.
Yet still I give you all that I have.
Love rose-tints even the harshest of words.
It blinds you from the obvious,
Deluding the mind, so that the songs of birds,
Play out in the silence.
The thoughts in my head become mindless.
For you don't value my words, you don't value my worth.
You say I stress you out,
I cause 'problems' when I make my voice heard.
You want a mouth of mine that's kissable 24/7,
Yet says only want you want to hear.
Even but a word out of place and I'm 'childish',
A mind silenced out of personal fear.
While you are free to spit lies every day and every night,
Speak your mind as your heart ceases to beat.
Meanwhile the facade of my smile fades,
As I bare your heartless lies through gritted teeth.
*Being lied to by anyone isn't nice, but there's something to be said about when it's done by someone you love, or atleast someone you thought you loved. A serious lie from them stings the most I feel.
Welcome to the final instalment to my pet chronicles. And I’ve saved my favourite to last, because yes like my parents I do have favourites, and mine are the loveable, huggable cats and dogs!
The cat– ‘Luna’
Here she is in all her feline glory, ready to claw your arm to shreds one minute and beg you for food the next. Who doesn’t love the unpredictable ways of the house cat?
Despite being small statured and an avid sleeper she somehow manages to find time in her day to sustain random injuries! From fighting the neighbourhood cats to getting stood on accidentally by my mum. See below where there’s an obvious size difference in her paw thanks to my mother and her Dr Martens!
It put her out of the rodent-killing business for at least a week.
Despite being eight years old already, we have no doubt she’ll be one of these cats who stick around for like twenty. She’ll be the type to dribble on the sofa cushions and judge silently from the bay window for many years to come I have no doubt.
It’s still sometimes hard for me to admit to the fact that ‘she’ was an equivalent replacement for me when I left for university in the eyes of my sister. A cat! Cats can’t give you a shoulder to cry on or a daily sparring partner! Although strangely enough they can increase your bone density when they sit on you and purr, I hear. And let’s not forget a rise in happy hormones in the brain when you pet them……ok so perhaps she is better company than me afterall! 😦
The Dogs – ‘Guinness & Storm’
The arch nemesis’ of little Luna. There have been many close calls between the two German Shepherds and the cat in recent years. Yet none as close as the time where we mistook the cat for being out in the front garden only to find her fast asleep on the sofa in the living room. The dogs ran in from outside much to our surprise as Storm somehow had learnt how to pull the backdoor handle down to open the door. Luckily my mum who must’ve been trialling out for the nation’s rugby team during her trips to the ‘supermarket’ was able to tackle Guinness to the floor, holding the beefy boy in a headlock while my sister lasooed the 2 year old mastermind that is Storm. Meanwhile I froze in shock before launching the cat out the window seconds later (we live in a bungalow, and although I say launch, no harm was done onto any animals so please don’t send the animal police to my door).
Guinness is three and half years old and named after the drink which revives your soul if you’re ever feeling on the verge of death. And Storm well…it’s pretty self-explanatory one would hope. She’s the feisty one, Guinness is more subdued and goes with the flow, the typical husband-and wife dynamic (the husband would say of course hehe).
If oneday they have puppies I’ll be the proudest sister……um…proudest person in the world. Although my dad treats Guinness like his second son and better than his human daughters I’m still not sure if it feels right to refer to him as my ‘brother’ hahaha.
Anyhow, all of the animals that have been a part of my life have left a lasting impression on me. And for this I am very thankful. Animals bring such joy into our lives, and of course we should give the same to theirs.
If you’re thinking of getting a pet perhaps this quiz might help, maybe you’re more of a tarantula or chameleon type of person?
If you missed my account of ‘Tiger Lily’ the assassin goldfish and my escapee terrapins, check it out here.
And now onto the next poor sods to ever cross my path, the mini-dinosaurs of the world – the birds.
It must be a sad life being a bird trapped in a cage, and an even sadder one if you happen to be my bird trapped in a cage.
‘Bonnie’ and ‘Clyde’, ‘blue’ and ‘grey’, ‘sad’ and ‘sadder’. Something just didn’t feel right owning an animal made to fly the skies on blustery days. They were gifts from my guilty parents who thought the equivalent to a trip to Scotland for my brother with his local football team at age 13 equated to the my sister and I unwillingly having two squawking buzzards thrusted upon us, with the added level of difficulty being that we were actually expected to keep them alive for more than a week. Baring in mind my 12 year old self was barely able to brush my teeth in the morning, this was mission impossible.
To be fair they lasted longer than I had anticipated, ultimately however, mine contracted an undetected mite in the pet shop long before we knew anything about it, sadly. Poor thing plucked its feathers out as if it were in preparation for the roasting tin on Christmas Day. Shame it didn’t get that far *to 25th December ……not the oven …….ahem
One day it was blue and feathery , the next patchy and leathery. There was sadly nothing we could do for him. Really, the pet shop should’ve informed us, but then again, perhaps they didn’t even know themselves. Not long after ‘Clyde’ popped his clogs so too did his partner in crime ‘Bonnie’. I’m not sure if it was heartache or the mite infection that had spread to him aswell because we could see that he was slowly losing his feathers too. It’s sad to think about, so I better change the topic and talk about something far more exhilarating – SNAIL RACING!
Yes, I’m sure you were getting all giddy inside thinking about them too! I used to love snatching snails from my garden only to have them whizz down the makeshift racing courses I drew for them out of a scrap pieces of paper.
And before you start calling it gastropod abuse, I was exercising them and actually……preventing them from being gobbled up by the local gulls if only for a brief moment in time.
I used to love betting against my sister on who’s snails would win, most of the time we got bored as they travelled up the track, time waits for no man, and I wasn’t waiting for the snail to reach the finish line. So most of the time we just got distracted with something else and left the snails to their own devices, who knows perhaps we ate them in our sleep.
Those lucky, or shall I say unlucky winners of the race, which was seldom the case were set free outside again and probably preyed upon by a crow moments after their release. But let’s remain hopeful, they were released and reproduced many times…..there, that sounds better.
And on that happy note, don’t hesitate to check out the final pt lll – the cats vs dogs chronicles. It’s not to be missed! Saving the best til last of course.
Growing up, my house was one animal short of being the 21st century’s answer to Noah’s ark.
From terrapins to budgies, fish to cats and dogs, and even the occasional earthworm and snail, it’s fair to say that my parents were pretty open to the idea of having their house destroyed by their adorable children and cohort of creatures in tow.
As I sit here in absence of a little lapdog to keep me company and bark at the postman, let me introduce you to the little family zoo of my childhood. And spoiler alert – none of them are still with us (so no more sh*t to shovel). And sadly, all have passed away (or escaped like a kid from a cult).
So let’s begin:
Let me start by saying that my parents introduced me to the world of ‘pets’ rather gently, no kid above the age of 8 wants a slimy fish, so that’s exactly what they got me. But not just one no no, there had to be fish no. two AND three. Because I have two other siblings who need to feel ‘cared’ about just as much as I did. Anyway, so three fish are in the bowl:
Fish 1 – My brother’s, it gets killed in a ‘hit-and-swim’ by my torpedo of a goldfish. To be fair the thing was a kamikaze ever since I released it from its carnival plastic bag and into the fishbowl, it was like a dog that’s got the zoomies/ or a bag of the good stuff.
Fish 2. – My sister’s, a pretty little thing, with one of those long swooshy tails, not exactly a goldfish, but we’ll just say it was for simplicity’s sake. Death by amputation of its left fin courtesy of my ravenous one. Without it, her fish couldn’t swim very fast and so it didn’t eat enough and well……you can guess what happened next. ‘Why didn’t you separate them?’ I hear you say, well, much like a game of Cluedo, we didn’t know who the culprit was until the damage had been done. My assassin of a goldfish only needed a week to take the other two out. I knew there was something fishy about the look it had in its lidless eyes let me tell you.
Fish 3 – My baby, favourite little fishy, – dead the following week. How? It jumped out of its bowl and onto the fireplace. My mum and her overly warm hands (shame not heart) scooped it up again and placed it back in it’s tank which wasn’t a great idea because she must’ve electrocuted the damn thing. All night it convulsed with moves reserved only for dads on dance floors of wedding receptions *cringe. A few hours later ‘Tiger Lily’ was floating on the surface of the water like one of BP’s oil spills.
So a bit morbid I know, how about an escape story to cheer things up:
For anyone who doesn’t know, no they are not ‘turtles’ that’s offensive. To call them one of those is to call a diamond a pebble. 😦
Oh who cares, let’s just call them turtles because I really don’t know what the difference is. Anyhow ‘Hedwig’ and ‘Buckbeak’ were their names, if you’re an HP fan then you’ll get the references. And no, they did not bestow upon us the same level of magical awe as the characters they are named after did in the films.
Instead, mine almost gave me MRSA from a claw-scratch, they were loved however, despite avoiding eye contact by staying in their shells any time I said ‘hello’, running in the opposite direction when I tried to feed them and well…basically avoiding me at all costs really.
Eventually I grew tired of their lack of affection! And sent them to a better place – terrapin heaven. Joke – to a nice man in the countryside who has a pond with a giant catfish-looking thing. So I hope the turtles terrapins are alive to this day. And didn’t instead get eaten by Northern Ireland’s answer to the Loch Ness monster. I can’t imagine they’d be that easy to consume with their hard shells and scaly appendages……..
Ok….. I feel a bit overwhelmed now with sadness 😦 I think I’d better stop now before I reveal too much!
Join me next time for budgie shenanigans and snail races ahehe
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius.
Perhaps the best cure to all of our deepest worries in life isn’t in the chapters of the latest self help book, but in the caves of our ancestors.
Wouldn’t life be a whole lot less stressful if we just ran barefoot through the fields and chatted around campfires? Yet instead, we are too busy stuffing the piggy banks for the retirement fund, juggling a baby on our arm, paying off the mortgage, being a good friend/partner/spouse, trying to keep fit, trying to have a hobby, trying to relax…..(my personal fave is being stressed about trying to find time to relax) the list is endless because we live in a world we ourselves have made complex.
Think about it, a major reason for why we become stressed about our jobs is because of money. Many of us do Jobs we have no interest in so that we can pay our bills and feed our families. It’s interesting how money is created from ‘thin air’ but it’s worth is defined in the mind.
Imagine if we gave no value/importance to money anymore, how would the world look then? We would return to our bartering days – ‘I’ll give you this whale tooth for some wheat”, yes of course this still does occur in everyday life on small and large scales but the global economy as a whole does not solely operate in the trade of physical product for psychical product in everyday transactions. You don’t go into your local supermarket and hand over your baby in exchange for a gourmet meal (well……). So we’ve placed a conceptual importance on money. Which nowadays isn’t commonly a physical item in many developed countries, it’s digital, invisible, which adds to this idea of placing so much importance on something which arguably doesn’t really exist.
And because we do this we handcuff ourselves into a system which self-perpetuates our own stress with regards to finances. Where am I going with this, before I waffle on… ah yes, financial stress is one type of stress which we as humans have placed upon ourselves! Let’s all burn our money and run off into the trees holding hands and eating ears of corn……but really though, it is food for thought.
Anyhow back to my point – in our everyday lives we do place stress upon ourselves, which may not all be necessary. Of course there are some stresses which are necessary and some external factors and elements of our lives which are out of our control but if you think for a moment about your own life, perhaps you may think of some elements of your life which could become less stressful if you changed your perspective, attitude, environment….?
In fact regarding environment – According to the research, as many as one in five people who live in a city admit to being constantly stressed, compared to just ten per cent of those who live in the countryside.
Alongside geographical location, could societal differences in attitudes towards potential stress-causing factors be a direct link to stress levels? For example, take the education system. ‘If you don’t do well in your exams, you won’t get a good job.’ I remember hearing my careers teacher at school bark at me, but what if it’s not just your teacher who says that to you, but your parents, your peers, your community……. take South Korea, ‘Korea has one of the best education systems in the developed world, but student suicide rates remain high ‘-Aljazeera. One has to ask why this is, from teacher-student hierarchy and a lack of natural resources putting a reliance on their citizens’ knowledge to grow their economy to tiger moms planting the seed of competitiveness into the minds of their children. South Korea as a society has arguably placed inconceivable pressure on its citizens. So I suppose in this instance, none of us had a choice of where we were born and so what one person may deem as normal stress another may deem it as unnecessary stress. My point here is that global society and the society we live in on a smaller sale – country to country plays a direct role on what factors we deem are stressful and to what extent.
*Disclaimer – I’m not saying we should avoid stress, it’s unavoidable due to the nature of life, but I’m questioning whether we could reduce stress in our lives which may be ‘unnecessary’, caused because perhaps we are being too hard on ourselves, we haven’t looked at things a different way…. these kinds of ideas.
Are there any examples of what be may ‘unnecessary stress’?
While stress is a natural part of being human, many common stressors are not worth our physical and mental energy. Ofc ourse what one person deems stressful another may not, so there is a subjective nature to what is ‘stressful’ but in saying this, I’m sure some of the listed below are commonly agreed upon as being somewhat unnecessary causes of stress.
Replaying stressful situations in your mind -Replaying a stressful situation in your mind over and over again doesn’t do you any good and could actually cause you to relive the stress you’ve already experienced. We’ve all done it, fought someone in the supermarket because they’ve expected us to be the next Olympic hurdler obviously thanks to their trolley barricading the whole aisle. We get home, unpack the groceries and start thinking ‘I should’ve said this….’you think I’m an Olympic…..’ A mild example, but you get the idea, more serious events can find themselves as unwelcomed guests in our minds for days, weeks, months having a detrimental impact on our own well-being. Sometimes it can’t be helped, true, but where we can, in the more trivial examples of the supermarket incident, perhaps it’s best to laugh at it and try our best to move on, as reflection may only lead to unnecessary stress upon ourselves.
‘What if’ thinking – ‘What if I’m not good enough’, ‘what if I make a mistake’, ‘what if they don’t like me’? All catchphrases of the 21st century human. Why can’t it be ‘what if I succeed’, ‘what if I learn’, ‘what if they really like me’? Is it because we don’t want to feel disappointed? So we lower our expectations, stop ourselves before we even try. And that’s the crux of it all, we never try, so we never can give ourselves the chance to succeed. Worst-case scenario thinking leads to nowhere. Having even a pinch of positive thinking can be a catalyst for many successfully developments in one’s life. This should be emphasised more.
Procrastination – One of the biggest reasons why people give up on their goals isn’t because the goal is unattainable but it is because they’ve made the steps taken to reach the goal unrealistic. If you tell yourself you need to climb a mountain in a day and you’ve never even climbed a step before then do you think you’ll be sitting sipping piña coladas at its peak by sunrise or craning your neck looking up at the goal you failed at? The point is, when we don’t make our expectations/steps needed to reach the goal realistic, we get overwhelmed, and when something(s) feel like mammoth tasks then our human brain says ‘this isn’t comfortable let’s do something comfortable’ and that thing tends to be munching on a bag of crisps while watching TV. And then what happens later? We lie in our beds with chronic indigestion and feel guilty and stressed about not attempting to achieve our goals. But what really is the case is that we are being unfair on ourselves, setting smaller more manageable steps to reach the bigger end goals will make the tasks easier to achieve and so help us procrastinate less and therefore not feel as guilty and stressed.
Social Media Sharing – Comparing ourselves to others causes stress, the saying of simply ‘don’t compare yourselves to others’ is like saying ‘don’t blink your eyes’, it’s impossible. We’re programmed to make judgements about our environments, and those in it. Are they trustworthy, are they a threat etc? So I don’t think it’s possible to not compare yourself to others to some degree but perhaps what can change is our opinions of ourselves over time. If you think better of yourself, work on your self-esteem your less likely to think worse of others or yourself.
How do we tackle ‘unnecessary’ stress?
Find a balance – Time management in itself is a skill but one thing to keep in mind is working ‘longer’ does not mean working ‘more efficiently’. Making time to relax and not feeling guilty about doing this is key to reducing stress and may actually benefit your productivity in the long-run as you’re not at risk of burning out as often.
Be kind to yourself – I made a post not so long ago about fun and easy ways to treat yourself, maybe some of these ideas could help you? Many times we are running after other people, being people pleasers that we can forget about looking after ourselves, which over time can impact our mood and general well-being. And furthermore, why would you not want to be kind to yourself?
Journal your emotions – Set aside time to reflect on your day. Write down any thoughts or feelings you’re having. This can be a useful tool to help you better understand your stressors and how you react to stress. Furthermore, you could reflect on the good things that happened in your day no matter how small you thought they were. This can help shake off the storm cloud above your head at times.
Seek help from others – Whether that be a close friend or family member, or a professional, sometimes it’s best to have a chat with someone to let your worries off your chest and clear your mind. And sometimes to simply hear things from a different perspective helps. It’s easy at times to get wrapped up and clouded in our own thoughts, which may be bias or skewed and it takes someone on the outside looking in to help us see things clearly.
So these are just some ideas that may help you, for more advice these resources may be useful to you:
Overall, of course we can’t avoid stress completely in our lives, and on that same note, not all stress is bad, sometimes it can be the fuel that we need to meet deadlines, persist and ultimately succeed. However when stress is unnecessary it can have detrimental impacts on our well-being and so putting some effort in to reel in this type of stress may be a good thing to try once in a while. So let’s give it a go!
Let’s face it, we can be too hard on ourselves sometimes.
Whether it’s through our work, relationships or simply our daily lives, it’s safe to say that we can all be a little too impatient and a little too demanding of ourselves from time to time.
So why not take a moment to go easy on yourself? It’s one thing being ambitious and setting high standards for yourself, but it’s another being unrealistic and self-deprecating.
So take a break from the ‘I should’ve done that better’ narrative in your mind and replace it with ‘I did my best, I’m happy about that’ one instead.
Oh and maybe give one of these a go below too:
Have a Bath
It’s amazing how a hot soak and a few bubbles can make you feel like a new person (and a tinned prune) after 30 minutes. Even if you don’t have a bath, nothing beats a warm shower when you’re feeling a bit off.
In fact studies have shown that a wade in some warm water can aid blood flow, improve immunity and boost your mood (plus more).
DIY Pamper Session
Not solely reserved for teen girls at sleepovers, who doesn’t love slathering on their week-old avocado and mayonnaise concoction across their scalp whilst watching The Simpsons?
Seriously though, there’s nothing better than seeing the sun bounce off your scalp in the bakery window the next day after making your own hair mask. And don’t get me started on the self-made face masks……Haven’t you tried it?
Yes of course you can go buy a hair mask in the shop but it’s not the same, there’s something to be said about creating your own and it actually working. As oppose to slapping on the shop bought goop only for it to leave your hair limp and lank…..sometimes! Just try the diy route….once…please!
Walk & Cafe Combo
A lot of the time when we are ‘walking’ we are actually ‘sprinting’ from one place to the next. So really, the act of walking becomes more stress-inducing than stress-busting.
But we can change this, at least in those moments when we actively choose to go for a walk and aren’t desperately trying to make it to the shops in time before they close.
In one of my previous posts LINK HERE I share my own experiences of nature walks and I can personally say that it does you a world of good being outdoors for a bit of your day, in a casual fashion of course.
And this brings me to my next point, cafe hopping is a great way of visiting different locations in your local area. It gives you a reason to go out and about even if you sometimes don’t feel like it. Who doesn’t want to walk in circles for 30 mins if it means that you’re guaranteed a slice of chocolate cake at the local bakery afterwards hehe.
And even better, bring a friend along for the chit chat and pulled hamstrings as you race each other for the last lemon slice on the shelf. Honestly you’ll feel much better for it (walking outside for a bit, not getting the last lemon slice of course (ok, secretly yes).
Harry Potter and the…….x, y and z…….are always my go to. Maybe you’re more of a Lord of The Rings kind of person or Pirates of The Caribbean??? Anyhow, we both know that nothing beats putting your feet up and jumping into the world of cinema for a good part of the day.
Struggling to think of a movie to watch? Maybe one of these:
Maybe you could challenge yourself to make something new once a month or maybe have a bake-off with your family or friends. It’s a win-win, if they make something better you can eat theirs, if you make something better you can eat yours and hide the rest from them, right?
Baking is a fun way to try new foods and it’s also relaxing…well….. not if your making soufflé I suppose. So maybe it’s best to start with cookies or something haha.
Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. A stroll in the park, a sunbathe in the garden, a trip to the seaside. Yet, we as a society can easily overlook these little pleasures in life at times as we set our sights on the newest phone, the bigger house or the better car. Materialism has blinkered us from, in some respects, the value of simplicity, in nature, for example.
And that’s what I’ve been thankful for in these last two years. Not the fact that the car has 4-wheel drive or my phone has the highest definition camera possible so that every pore in our faces can be seen (and then hidden by filters). But that I have the freedom to go outdoors and enjoy a walk in the park, nearby nature reserve or the coast. In knowing that free things can give me an even better buzz than receiving a new microwave from Amazon. (OK that doesn’t tickle my pickle either, but you see what I’m saying).
Let me preface this by outlining that I’m not the type of person to encourage all of mankind to sit in circles under cherry blossom trees braiding each others hair and singing ‘ Kumbaya’. But there is something to be said about the influence of being outdoors in a natural setting has on our overall well-being. it’s taken the dire situation we’ve all faced these last two years for me to wake up and literally ‘see the wood for the trees’. Perhaps I was in my own ‘concrete jungle bubble’ and never really saw the benefit or furthermore the necessity of being outside frequently. Sure I’d pop out to the nearby park for a picnic with friends but you wouldn’t find me eating trail mix on the forest hike at weekends all that often to be honest. Fast forward two years and it’s changed. I’m not saying I’ve calves of steel now from mountaineering or that i’m one of the ‘gym bunnies’ but….. I do feel different. I feel better.
I feel healthier not just physically but mentally too. Before I’d say to myself ‘I don’t have time to go out at lunch as I’ve got too much work to do.’ Whereas now, I’m like a dog that got the zoomed and I’m practically running the walls to get outside by the time 1pm strikes.
So why am I saying all this? Do I just want to gloat about how good I am at getting my 20,000 (-subtract 15,000) steps in daily? Of course not (yes), it’s just something that I’ve realised which has helped me a lot and which may be beneficial to you too if you feel stressed, fatigued, unhealthy…. This attitude that it is still possible to see the silver lining in the mushroom cloud albeit faintly.
So why not try to take a break from the desk at lunchtime to go outside to the local park? And if already do this or similar, good for your, your brain and body will thank you in the long run no doubt!
Some interesting fact regards being outdoors and well-being:
– A Helpful Healer: Research has shown that patients who spent more time outdoors during their recovery in hospital needed less painkillers, experienced fewer complications and had shorter hospital stays.
–Mood Boosting: In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced.
– Mortality Moderator: In a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, time in front of a screen was associated with a higher risk of death, and that was independent of physical activity!
– Improved Focus: Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we can naturally focus on what we are experiencing out in nature. This also provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.
If you’d thought I’d perished, fear not, for phoenixes rise from the ashes, and I from my bedroom once in a blue moon. What can I say? This sedentary state of mind and body takes its toll. But before I start quoting Confucius and reading palms I’ll adopt a more grounded tone of voice.
So why have I really refrained from writing regularly these days?
The short answer is, well…. I’m not quite sure. Yet, if you take time to look beneath the surface there’s a plethora of complexities working their magic on my blood cortisol levels. From a lack of motivation to feelings of inadequacy, in these last few months I’ve had both the knockbacks and privileges of feeling them all.
If you are taking a break from something you once enjoyed then don’t beat yourself up about it and demand yourself to get back on the horse. Let the horse rest for a while (or just buy a new one).
Digging a little deeper I can say that for a while I didn’t feel the urge to share my constant ramblings with anyone, be it friends, family or the next door neighbour. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts. Writing had lost its appeal for a while. Whether I was too preoccupied with the day job or simply just told myself this, one way or another my relationship with writing was strained.
I think that’s part of the problem, at least in my experience, is that I’ve found that when I do something with the aim of trying to impress someone else that ‘thing’ loses its appeal and so I lose motivation to keep doing ‘it’.
Whereas, when I find something to do which interests me and is for me wholeheartedly, I find that my motivation does not waver in the same way, if at all.
And I think this is something I’ve only really come to realise this year. I don’t want to write to impress others, I want to write to enjoy the process of writing for myself. There’s a poignant difference in this realisation.
Do you do something in particular for the approval of others or do you do it for the fulfillment in yourself?
We spend our lives searching for ‘happiness’, thinking that our external reputations = success = happiness. But what if this is wrong? What if the recipe for happiness is intrinsic-growth = happiness?
Who knows, all I know is that I need a holiday……(where I can bask like a lizard and stress myself out on my sun lounger, pondering pensively within the murky depths of my mind. Just as I’m doing now, lying horizontally with my laptop on my windpipe. The comforts of working from home, eh?)
Overall, I don’t think I’ve given much detail as to why I’d stopped writing for so long, but one thing more important to note is that I didn’t stop permanently, because I would like to get back into it. Starting now.
And if you’re the only sad sod who’s bothered to read it this far then you must be in a far worse state than I am! Hahaha kidding!
Lookout for my next post which will most likely be about…..TBD hehe
Something which has fascinated me for quite some time is this shared feeling many of us have, a feeling of internal friction. A part of us is pulled towards wanting to feel unique and feel like an individual, while the other pushes us to want to fit in and conform.
And so both forces, (as Yoda would say) act in opposite directions, leaving us in this stationary state where we stand shoulder to shoulder with one another in no man’s land. Not knowing whether to put a foot forward or backward, to hold the person’s hand beside us or to stand alone. Being human feels like much more than being flesh and bone, than having a soul. Societal baggage comes along for the ride, an additional freebie that no one is thankful for (well, at least not all of the time).
To give a bit of context: I was listening to a podcast several days ago by a Spanish man who helps others learn the Spanish language through informal story telling (which is great, I think). And within the first 10 minutes of this particular episode he mentioned how your aim when learning a language shouldn’t be about wanting to ‘ sound like a native’ yet instead the focus should be on ensuring that you speak with clarity and that the message of which you are trying to convey is understood. So less about perfecting the accent and more about achieving clear communication.
This was a notable point in my mind, because it’s true, so many advertisements I see about languages always seem to be promoting the measure of success of language acquisition as being equated to sounding perfectly like a native.
But is it really that important to sound like a native? No. Because then you are not sounding like yourself. Your accent + new language = a unique accent that nobody else on the planet could ever have. This is a special thing. We shouldn’t be trying to change our charms.
His words resonated with me on many levels. If everybody aimed to sound the same and look the same we would lose any uniqueness, any quirks. Diluting ourselves is essentially losing ourselves I think.
Anyhow, maybe I should lay off the herbal teas before bedtime……….
With so much negativity festering daily, from scaremongering and sensationalising tabloids spitting doomsday ‘news’ into our turquoise surgical masked faces, to apocalyptic scenes in some of the local supermarkets. I wanted to flip this on its head, and dare I say, try and see some positives to this nightmare we all find ourselves desperate to awaken from.
Is this my feeble attempt to sugarcoat reality or turn a blind eye to the obvious? No, of course not, but sometimes we need to take a minute and reflect on some good in order to continue soldiering through the challenges.
And for that reason, I want to share with you some positives I have jotted down recently regarding the pandemic in an attempt that you too could relate.
Will it plant a cheek-hurting smile on your mug allday? I think not, but perhaps for a millisecond or two, and that’s better than not at all, right?
So here goes:
I am not ignoring the financial hardships, again this point will be for a few not the majority. Many people have lost their livelihoods, or are struggling on furlough, I know this. Which is why I think it is important to remain hopeful that this nightmare will end this year.
Some of us may have been able to save throughout this situation, perhaps you have returned to the parental home and are saving money by paying a decreased rent. Or maybe, for example, because the hospitality industry has been closed at different stages throughout the year you have managed to save money which otherwise would have been spent in restaurants and bars. Because, let’s face it, who would ever want to spend their money enjoying themselves *wink wink.
Perhaps this situation presented you with an opportunity to kickstart your own business. New ideas may have arisen as a direct result of these circumstances perhaps. Or maybe, simply, you’ve had the time to forge a solid business plan, thrown caution to the wind and just given it a go.
Although the novelty definitely wears off, I can say that the support and company of my parents, and vice versa this last year has had more positives than negatives. Of course the pleasantries fade into the abyss by the second week of living under their roof, with their ways of life mimicking that of a stoned three-toed swamp sloth. It’s no lie that I have wanted to take them on in the boxing ring, but overall I think spending time with family is something that should not be underestimated. Having company is definitely something that’s overlooked by us all at times. There’s nothing wrong with living on your own, so long as you can still catch up with friends and family, right? But definitely, in these times I think closeness with people is needed more than ever. Love you Ma and Da (they never read this sh*t)!
Perhaps you are a parent yourself and have found that this situation has given you the opportunity to spend more time at home with your partner and/or children. Maybe you have created more memories as a result. Hopefully happy ones!
As social beings, I think having company and companionship is only ever a good thing. Which is what makes this situation sort of bitter/sweet , after several months you grow to hate your family and crave socialising with your cool friends haha! But deep down family is important in my opinion.
Location Change = Less Stressful City Lifestyle
Ofcourse, this one is location dependent and based on your preferences as an individual. In my situation, I moved out of the city of London and into my parents’ shoebox of a home. Which despite its modest size it still manages to swamp the non-existent space you get in the matchbox city apartments of the UK’s capital, might I just add!
Like any city, there are both pros and cons to the types of lifestyles they offer in them. I do like the atmosphere and amenities on my doorstep but the flipside is, do I miss overcrowding, sprinting off trains like racing greyhounds, or overpriced below-quality accommodation and products? I guess not, atleast not at the moment.
So by being away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city I have been able to take my head out of the sand and say ‘ no, no I do not miss the stress of the commute’ as I travel from my bed to my desk in my pink thermal pyjamas.
My blood pressure has thanked me too.
Learn To Value Health More – Physical & Mental
It’s not that things like getting a haircut and saving the world’s economies are not important (in that order). But I think obviously the core of this crisis is the concern it poses to health on a mass scale.
This risk to our physical health has taken a toll on our mental health, I believe this is fair to say, would you? Both are as important as eachother, yet one is always overlooked. I will leave this to you to decide.
The bottom line is, perhaps this is the time to truly put ‘health’ in its many aspects in the spotlight, and not focus on making more money or building a more impressive reputation. Perhaps the importance should be on looking after ourselves.
And not just in moments when we are physically sick, but in the moments physically well too.
Not just in the moments where we feel physical pain, but in moments of mental pain too.
I think it’s easy to overlook our own well-being and place more priority on widening our wallets. But ultimately what is a million in the bank really about if you are stressed or depressed, or physically unwell as a result of your quest to be rich?
My point is self-care has become a much more apparent thing to me, our mental and physical health is overlooked until a health scare abruptly enters our lives.
We work ourselves into the ground to save money which we won’t see until we are pensioners, or instead, we work ourselves into the ground so that we can retire before we are of pension age.
I have no issue with strong work ethics but a question I asked myself is – what value of money is my health worth?
We should treat ourselves better more often, we can be too hard on ourselves at times.
Why obsess with always chasing the future plans, doesn’t that mean you will never really be enjoying the present?
Take more care of yourself is my bottom line!
If you are feeling down, perhaps do as I did and take a moment to reflect on how much strength you have had in getting through this situation thus far. Perhaps even jot down some positives as I have done above.
Personally, I felt alot better when I did this, and I am sure that you will too.
Has everybody’s motivation to do something productive been pretty much thrown overboard, and chained to a concrete block the size of a small car destined to sink to the bottom of the Mariana Trench never to see the light of day again?
Or is that just me?
As a human being I like to take the easy road, watching TV and eating cake seems like a much more viable option than scratching my head over a 12-paged tax form, or job application, or be it pretty much anything these days.
And has the shame set in? You can answer that yourself.
Infact, even the simplest of tasks have become a strain, signing a birthday card feels like I’m signing away a piece of my own unmotivated flesh. Making dinner feels like I’ve opened the gates of Hell. Sweating profusely over a stove morning, noon and night because you’ve had to substitute for your mum, who is such a fantastic cook that she manages to burn water. I might as well stick my head in the oven for the amount of times I’ve been scraping the overcooked rotisserie chicken off the back of it these days!
You may grimace at my squabbling over life’s little pleasures, while I assure you my face remained motionless on the date on which I conjured this jargon up. Expressionless, as my heart pours these words onto this page like spilled milk on the breakfast table.
At least I’ve been somewhat productive on a microscale, I suppose. Wrapping up overly-expensive gifts for someone you mildly like in your family must stand for something right? Wearing pyjamas on a 5-day streak must be medal-worthy, no? Oh, who asked you anyway!
I’ve found myself recently trying to find the positive in the tiny achievements. Small steps at a time. It’s the only way I’ve been keeping my head out of the sand, out of the clouds and out of the oven I mentioned to you earlier if you’d be so kind to remember.
Let me lay out some examples for you before I become unmotivated to write anymor…….
There are people posting videos of themselves climbing their stairwells enough times they’re making Everest appear like little more than a speed ramp in comparison. And here I am struggling to get up in the morning and ‘head to work’ five footsteps from my bed.
But really, I must admit, and like many others (which is reassuring) and maybe even you, I have failed miserably at meeting any of my ambitions I had set out on an A4 page minutes before the world went into lockdown.
Here are just a few feeble facades which fondly faded away into the abyss of my foggy mind:
‘Learn a new language’ – before lockdown I could say ‘hola’, half a year into lockdown and I’m still just saying…….’hola’.
‘Get fit’ – why do we torture ourselves? Can we just give this gig up. Most of us are simply not fitness freaks fanatics, so let’s stop kidding ourselves, put down the dumbbells and pick up the popcorn.
‘Skill up’ – yes taking on a new course is exciting for about 1 minute. Until the pre-filmed lecturer with his monotone drole puts you to sleep faster than your local anaesthetist.
‘Self care’ – well atleast I now give my hair 100 strokes of a fine-toothed comb everyday. That’s something, right? But try to force me to wear anything other than my miss-matching tracksuit bottoms and farmer’s fleece and we’re having a fight.
You get my drift, some people may look back at lockdown and see the silver lining in the mushroom cloud, several online certifications under their belt, a new haircut, a new zest for life. Meanwhile I’m the runt stuck in yet an even bigger rut. If there was ever a time to learn how to f*cking crochet, it has come and gone! And guess what, I still haven’t taken out those knitting needles, (do you even use needles)!
So what exactly do I spend my time doing these days when I’m not wallowing in self-pity or stuffing my face with fried foods, you ask?
I’m still trying to figure that one out to be quite frank.