Coping with January Blues and Thoughts on Being a Warrior…

What do you do on ‘blue days’?

 

Girl, there is much to be happy about’! This I tell myself so often, as do my trusted gurus, my loved ones, my friends. BUT, there are those blue days that creep up on me; the times when the lurking ‘misery’ monster creeps out from the shadows and wraps its shapeless form around me until it turns into a cloak I can’t shake off. This is not helped by the putting away of the Christmas decorations for another year, nor the fact that the Carols have all been sung and the fairy lights have dimmed.

I often write about how to deal with anxiety and indeed, I have written a handbook about anxiety and how to move forward from it.* I should know by now how to deal with the days when the ‘misery monster’ pays a visit, and yes there are coping mechanisms that work very well. In these times of what can only be described as ‘technology and information overload’ though, I think many of us have days when we feel bombarded with too much of everything, both good and bad, and those are the days when things can get out of perspective.

So what can we do to assuage the wistful feelings that often accompany this time of year?

 My Facebook feed gives me a constant stream of inspiring and uplifting quotes and feel-good stories. Most of them I like and occasionally I will read something heart-stoppingly good. But because there is so much out there to tap into now I question whether I have forgotten how to read with fresh eyes. And maybe it’s the same with other things?  Deep down, most of us know what is good for us, but we don’t always abide by what we know. I’m always talking about the positive effects of being outdoors and enjoying the world around us, and yet yesterday I took a long walk in nearby fields but realised when I got home that I hadn’t taken in my beautiful surroundings at all. I hadn’t admired the beauty of the winter landscape, or noticed the drifts of tiny green shoots that  indicate that the snowdrops will be out before long. Instead, I had been focusing on minor problems that probably weren’t even problems at all.

I know too, that I should eat well. I know the importance of a healthy and well-balanced diet, and getting the right amount of sleep and exercise. I take my vitamins and drink the water. But it’s easier to give in to the chocolate bar calling to me from the cupboard on ‘sad’ days. Hmm….I must switch on my Himalayan Salt lamp.  The warm glow really does feel and look beneficial.

Should we stay in our pyjamas and spend a day on the sofa covered in a soft, warm duvet with a good book or some box sets, or do we try and get on with things? A day on the sofa may be welcome occasionally and there’s nothing wrong with it, ( I like the sound of it actually, and I even have a onesie now), but I guess it’s about waking up to what is around us and really seeing what is there. We can develop the philosopher in us by reading, learning, reflecting and analysing but that’s not the whole picture. I thought yesterday about the term ‘warrior’ which seems to be used a lot at the moment. To be a warrior one needs to be brave, fearless, and be tuned in to surviving at all costs. A warrior bends in the wind but doesn’t break and a warrior doesn’t go against his better judgement. A warrior looks after his tribe; something important to most of us. If we don’t try to embrace our inner warrior we can become victims, blaming our past or our upbringing for what is making us unhappy or restless, instead of facing the world and taking responsibility for ourselves and our past. Don’t get me wrong. It is not always easy to be a warrior. It certainly doesn’t come easily to me. But on sad days especially, I am going to remember I have a warrior in me who can throw off that ‘misery monster’s cloak’. That warrior is going to stand up and be counted and see obstacles as opportunities.

Talking of being a warrior, I would say that warriors actually go easy on New Year’s Resolutions – whilst always striving to be the best they can be, they know that so many things we wish for are unrealistic. Over the years I have wanted to change things; be more shapely, be a wildly successful author, have a children’s TV series, stand up for issues I care about, worry less…etc..BUT I realise I am me, I not perfect and I come with weaknesses ( back to the chocolate). All the really matters though, is that I love and am lucky to BE loved. That is where everything begins and ends.

 I am a cheerful person really. Actually quite humorous. I like doing fun things, I can tell jokes and I can double up with laughter at times. I am a deep thinking person but humour is important to me and I don’t like to think I take myself too seriously 😑  So, dear reader, I apologise for any gloominess, but at the same time, if you are gloomy too, don’t forget to go out and look for the early signs of spring, which is just around the corner. And hang in there, especially if times are tough. Onwards warriors!

* Best Foot Forward – Moving on From Anxiety by Lyn Halvorsen available on http://www.amazon.co.uk or contact me at lmhalvo@aol.com

A2D66743-A91C-4C08-A36A-53AE17CE3588

img018

I love this jaunty rabbit with a spring in his step – he never fails to cheer me up!

 

 

 

 

2018 – Make it Easy on Yourself…

Look at most magazine and news articles this time of year and many of them refer to our New Year’s Resolutions; perhaps urging us to set new goals, sweep aside the excesses of last year and stride forth with new and renewed vigour. We are advised to cleanse our bodies and our minds and look to a new and exciting future. Perhaps we are then inspired to sit down and write a long list of all the things we would like to achieve in 2018. This is all good and well-intentioned and in principle I have no argument with it. What I would say though, is that it can all be too much in one go and the longer the list the more likely we are to fail.

Reflect. Revise. Renew.

Sometimes breaking those resolutions before the month of January is out is enough to send us into a downward spiral and is counterproductive. I would like to urge you to be gentle with yourself this time of year; go easy on yourself and take time to focus on what is really best for you.

January is both a new month and the start to a new year, and while that should fill us with renewed enthusiasm, that enthusiasm can take a while to kick in! Dark mornings don’t help –when you feel as though you are getting up in the middle of the night and the daylight hours are very short it is hard to be upbeat. But it is possible to reframe the gloomy, dark morning; perhaps think of the darker hours as a time of preparation for the lighter days that will follow. When we look around a garden or the countryside this time of year it appears bare and dull, and yet underneath the soil the plants and bulbs are busy preparing themselves to unfold in the spring. Gardens are slowly testing the waters; a few buds tentatively unfurling as if checking to see if the world is ready for them. So maybe we should follow the example from Mother Nature. Rather than be tempted to rush headlong into the New Year perhaps we should take a more gradual approach.

9302C9E3-F4C5-44B8-96DD-6EEE80D909B9

It is good to first reflect on what has been before and ask ourselves a few questions:

What did I do to contribute to my successes?
What did I do to contribute to any disappointments?
What can I do differently this year?
Most of all: what do I fondly remember that made me happy?

If you had a successful year last year, well done! Look at all you did to bring that success, but be sure that success is taking you where you want to go and making you happy. Even though your year was successful, would you do anything differently?

It is easy to dwell too much on past mistakes; however a bit of reflection can help us decide what we want to change in the future. If we reflect, we can forgive ourselves or others for past hurts and then focus on the path ahead. Most people, I think, try their best on any given day and being hard on ourselves and heaping on unachievable demands isn’t helpful. Any disappointments can be looked at positively; if we can learn from these disappointments and avoid them in the future then our character will become stronger.

What happened last year to make you happy? Make those happy memories your ‘go to’ place in your mind when you have a bad day. When we feel happy, everything falls into place and is as it should be. Happiness is not measured differently whether we are rich or poor, by what we have or don’t have. It is more likely to be measured by a loving hug or a simple gift of a bunch of snowdrops on a frosty day.

FC98DAD8-0375-4FAD-94CD-D25FED5583AA
Once we have cleared our body, heart and mind of weight we then give ourselves new energy and will be more able to stick to a new and healthier diet. With that we will also have a healthier mental outlook. But again, go easy on yourself. You do your best and if you really want your life to be different, tackle it one project at a time! When we feel ready, we can make careful choices and commitments we can keep, like pursuing optimal health, following someone or something which inspires us or contributing to a good cause in a significant manner.

We can work at creating a desired future, worthy of our time and energy.
Reflect. Revise. Renew. Be Happy!

AB57F995-C6E9-4DAF-9460-BDD36AE55216

A favourite pathway – the lamps still glowing on an early morning walk……