What does it really mean to 'Look after yourself' and 'be your own best friend'?
Most of us are great at listening to others and giving advice, being supportive, and being there. This is great so long as you also afford yourself the same care and attention. Think to yourself in situations that may be difficult or overwhelming 'what would I say to my best friend' - we tend to be kinder to others, and give solutions with practical advice. It is not always easy, so seek the counsel of someone who you trust, or a supportive organisation. You do not have to do things alone.
You can sometimes take too much on board for other people, whether personally or at work, so that there is no time for YOU, or take on other's concerns and problems, so that you avoid dealing with your own. This of course can not be sustained and things can unravel around you in many ways, or the very people you are trying to help expect more from you or blame you if things do not go how they want - sound familiar?
It really is OK to help others, so long as you set some parameters and don't allow the other person to take advantage of you, or not accept responsibility for their own problem or concern and the outcome.
We are responsible for ourselves, unless we are a young child or have a health condition that compromises our decision making. We are accountable too for our actions and the outcome, whether the outcome was intended or not. (There are many complex reasons as to why this may be, this is not for me to go into at this point in this blog.)
So back to looking after ourselves: It is not selfish to give yourself time to do the things you enjoy and that make you happy, or to just take 'time out'. Looking after your health and well being both mentally and physically not only helps you in so many ways, it means you are better able to deal with and help others and you are more likely to set realistic expectations for yourself and others around you.
Another very important aspect of being your own best friend is feeling confident enough to say NO, to people and situations that do not serve you in a good way.
Giving to others or to a good cause is always beneficial for your well being and can give a sense of fulfilment so long as you are not saying Yes to tasks and people that you can not really cope with or really afford to give time to, as you will then possibly be setting yourself up for letting people down. Taking on something challenging is not a bad thing, so long as it really is your choice, you have looked at it realistically and feel it is something you want to do and achieve, and does ultimately serve you positively.
Time out for You is really important, whether reading a book, watching a film, going for a walk on the beach or in the country, spending time with good friends and family, playing tennis or golf, going to the gym, being a big kid with kids, laughter, baking a cake...the list is endless. What have you not spent time doing recently that you do love to do?
Also taking time out to just be Quiet with ourselves. Mindfulness has been a big buzz word, it has proven benefits for stress and anxiety to name but two, and is about being in the moment, and gently accepting yourself and your thoughts as they are, not trying to clear your mind or solve things - just allowing, letting your thoughts just wash in and out like waves on the shore - and listening to your heartbeat. Meditation takes things to another level, and again has proven benefits to physical and mental health.
This is only a snapshot of how to look after YOU. You are very important. :)
She woke up from a poor sleep, with dread in her stomach like a heavy stone. Her heart started racing, her breath became a shallow panting, she tried to slow her breathing and take deeper breaths but her chest felt tight. She knew it was ridiculous, she felt ridiculous; but maybe something really bad was going to happen today.
She got herself up, her jaw ached, she had been grinding her teeth again, and her head was foggy. ‘Maybe it was better to go back to bed?’ She had said she would help her sister out today. She knew her sister just felt she was putting it all on.
She dragged herself around to get ready, her limbs heavy, her heart heavy, she felt on the verge of tears and wished she didn't have to go. She managed to leave the house, she looked at her car, but just knew she felt too anxious to drive, what if she couldn’t concentrate and knocked someone over, a child maybe? Her heart skipped a beat at the thought.
She walked to the bus stop, the traffic was noisy it all buzzed around her fuggy head. She realised she was holding her breath and tired to breathe…breathe…Her heart was still pounding in her chest. She felt sick and hoped the bus was not packed and that she could sit on her own.
A group of school children nosily invaded the bus stop, shouting, laughing and jostling each other. She stepped back. She felt really sick now. Her hands were clammy, her heart pounding faster than ever, she might actually be having a heart attack. No she wasn’t…breathe…breathe…
What if she got trapped on the bus by all the school children and couldn’t get off at her stop. What if the bus driver got distracted by the noise and crashed. The bus pulling up to the bus stop startled her. All the school children piled on and a few other people, she approached the door and looked at the driver, he looked back expectantly for a moment, she froze, her feet stuck to the pavement, he shrugged at her. The doors closed and the bus departed. She watched the bus go, shaking uncontrollably, feeling bad. She walked back home.
Her phone bleeped a text message. With shaky hands she pulled her phone from her bag; A text from her sister:- ‘Thanks for letting me down again' Her still racing heart pounded loudly in her head. She closed her eyes to the world, feeling frightened and very alone. She knew it was going to be a bad day.
If you are a sufferer of anxiety and panic disorder you may recognise elements of the story above.
The important thing to know is that the symptoms of anxiety are a natural reaction to what we perceive as danger, known as the ‘fight fright flight response’ and can do a lot to protect us.
It is when anxiety gets out of control and starts to affect your life that it is considered a concern.
When you are a ‘sufferer’ of anxiety the symptoms described can happen for no reason we can rationalise, or to a situation that is in the future which we fear will be a threat to us, or go badly in some way. As with any ‘disorder’ there are varying degrees and each person and situation is different. Anxiety can affect anyone, at any age.
However the good news for every sufferer of anxiety is that firstly you are not alone and secondly a lot can be done to relieve you of the symptoms and help you to be back in control of you and your responses to situations and people.
If you live in Kent / South East and would like a free initial consultation then please email or ring me
here is some advice - things you can do right now:
• Talk to someone you trust, don’t keep it to yourself –if you are at school - maybe talk to a teacher you feel may help you, most schools now do have ‘pastoral care’ a person or persons that are there to assist with your well being. Talk to a friend, your parents, an aunt or uncle.
Remember there is childline with very supportive people trained to deal with you and your needs 0800 1111. There are many very helpful websites listed below – that will also help parents with children suffering with anxiety
• For an adult, the advice is very much the same – don’t be alone, talk to someone you trust about how you feel, your GP or a helpline. There are many things that can be done to help with anxiety
• There are many different talking therapies like CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) - giving you tools to deal with situations and your feelings in a way that serves you better. Maybe a counsellor, or psychotherapy.
The service I offer includes Hypnotherapy, NLP and coaching techniques, which helps boost your self esteem and confidence.
Other things you can try that are very effective is
• Exercise – proven to lift mood and general well-being there are so many things to try, the list is endless. To start with you may just want to go walking with a friend or take a dog for a walk (even if you borrow one, and help someone out).
• Mindfulness / relaxation / Yoga / using your wonderful imagination and visualising
• Get outdoors and into nature – the connection with nature is remarkably therapeutic – the woods, a beach, a walk by a river or being a tourist in your own town and local area.
• Switch off the TV and connect with people, your family and friends–
• Take up a positive hobby or training - Become part of a group whether through interest, hobby, sport or volunteering
• Cut down the time spent ‘gaming’ on the computer and mobile devices, particularly at night as the affect on sleep can be profound
• Get enough quality sleep
• Get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at a sensible set time.
• Write down each night three things at least you plan to do the next day, so you wake up with purpose
• Practice gratitude – each night write down three good things from the day
• Eat as healthily as you can
• Help others – volunteer for a charity or help with the organisation of an event. Help someone locally, help a neighbour - when we help others our mood is lifted.
• Get a pet, even a very small one
• Write down how you feel, let it all out without worrying about spelling or grammar – then shred it
HERE ARE SOME STATISTICS
You are not alone – there are many things that can help; each website I have listed has a lot of advice
The National Statistics office when measuring national well-being in 2015 found that 20% of population rated their anxiety at the highest of levels at the end of 2014.
The Health and Safety Executive reported that 9.9 million working days were lost in 2014 / 15 due to anxiety, stress and depression.
Out of 43% of working days in 2014/15 were lost due to ill health 35% was stress related.
The Mental Health Foundation www.mentalhealth.or.uk reported that in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety – I would add that there would be many more people who also suffered but did not seek help and sadly it is mostly men, younger men in particular that do not seek help.
On a deep level, I get pure joy from helping and enabling people to empower themselves, seeing the moment a penny drops for them!
For them to recognise their abilities and strengths, and to ‘unlock’ their true inner self, realising their passions and potential, breaking down defences – sometimes large defences, and then opening up to acceptance and forgiveness of themselves and others, gaining self confidence, self worth and self belief.
Opening up to LOVE and self love, being loved, giving love, allowing vulnerability and dispelling fears.
Seeing people realise the possibilities available to them, knowing that they do have choices and can develop resilience to all situations.
Knowing that failing at something is not failure.
Overcoming fear to at least try something new, releasing themselves and make changes to long held onto self limiting beliefs, and habits. Learning that every experience good or bad, can enable them to grow profoundly on every level.
To think ‘what if….it’s brilliant?’ not ‘what if it goes wrong?’
Time moves on regardless of whether we stay still or not, to stagnate is not our inherent nature as humans, and deadens our soul.
Personal growth - is personal and different for all of us, and needs to be at our own pace. To grow expands our minds and sets us free onto the path of happiness and love, which we all deserve.
We each of us are on our own path, our own journey – towards our own destiny if you like.
Is there rhyme or reason to any of it? Some say yes, some no.
Some say ‘fate’ - who knows?
Who is right who is wrong?
It is your own personal journey.
Sometimes an experience teaches us something, a lesson is learnt and we grow. Sometimes the lesson is obvious to us, sometimes the life experience can be harsh and hurtful, even soul destroying, other times the lesson is not at all obvious, at least not at the time, we may even have the same experience again and again by unconsciously making the same types of choices.
All I know is: our world turns and life moves forward constantly, and we can choose to move forward too. We can choose our own path, and we can switch to another path at any time, if we want.
We can sometimes walk alone or with others.
It is how our choices make us feel deep inside that is important, that we do not make choices through hatred, neediness or greed, that we live in the moment, for each new day, to the best of our ability.
Developing a self awareness and having a connection to the essence of ourselves, and what makes us – us.
And that we connect with and love the people in our lives who enrich our world.
Why do I write this? What qualifies me?
I write from the heart and I feel this way because…I know that transformation is possible, that to make an amazing leap is really scary, but that once you do, you will never look back.
I’ve been there in the darkest places of my mind, in the darkest of circumstances, hating myself and the world and everyone in it. Making poor or self sabotaging choices, hurting others (not purposefully, like the majority of us) or trying to please, or ‘rescue’ people and situations, instead of myself.
Reacting to situations, circumstance and people in a less than a positive way, usually compounding the situation further and of course blaming others, and having unrealistic expectations of myself and others. Sometimes too low an expectation, and other times much too high an expectation, setting up no other choice but to fail. Basically not being very self aware or aware of others and being a ‘victim’ of circumstance.
I know the amazing, though also scary, pure joy of awakening to oneself, to the possibilities within and without, to the opportunities that exist. How to close doors and open new ones, how to say No and how to say Yes to life, and enjoy all the many wonderful things it has to offer.
Learning to let go: not just of people or circumstances that are negative or destructive, but also the gentle letting go of those you love. There are also times when despite your love for someone or something, you have to love yourself more.
(Encouraging others, supporting and helping others is different to trying to mould, influence or manipulate a person or situation into what suits you).
Once you accept yourself, love yourself, change what you can, and accept what and who you can’t change, by learning to change your view and deciding whether the situation, or person it is of value to you.
Knowing that you and you alone make all your choices good and bad, and are responsible for how you think, act and react towards every situation or person in your life. That each good or bad decision, thought or act gives out ripples, sometimes very far reaching and can have a profound affect in a positive or negative way on your life and the lives of others – the law of cause and effect.
Also that your past, or a past event or person does not define you, most especially if negative.
Being grateful for all that is in your life, the people and animals, appreciating the small things we can sometimes take for granted, what you can do, not focusing on what you can’t or what isn’t. Remembering that your life is there for you to create, not someone else, then you will live a more fulfilling, peaceful, positive, happy, joyous life, full of all you desire and love.
Not to say it is an easy road, making the first step towards change can be hard, changing your mind-set can be hard, persevering can be so hard and things, people or circumstances will test you, and that you will cease to be a ‘human’ full of complex emotions will not change.
‘To err is human ‘
However, each step - however small, counts, and with acceptance, confidence and self love, you will embrace all experiences as a learning / growing opportunity, building resilience, adjusting expectation and choosing how you react to and deal with people and situations, learning to bounce back, then move forward.
Be your own best friend, be forgiving of yourself and others, mindful and compassionate, living a full life without fear.
It is so very worth it.
You are worth it.
a little bit more...
We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Many years ago, this quote resonated for me.
Have you ever really looked at the stars?
They are amazing! If you can go to an area without light pollution, do. They literally blow you away, with how many there are, their intensity and brightness and that they are always there.
In our age of the internet you can find beautiful photographs or live feeds of the stars shown in relation to our wonderful world. The vast expanse of the universe, it is incredible, and for me, at the same time as feeling so very small, I also felt a part of something big, amazing and incredible.
That we are here at all, a tiny spec in the universe, is awe inspiring.
Going back to Oscar Wilde’s quote – you can choose to see the stars, or not, you can choose to see the best in yourself and others or not, you can choose your outlook on life, you can choose all that you do and don’t do.
We all have our inner essence, what feeds our soul in a healthy positive way, and we can all choose our beliefs, also choose whether or not to challenge ourselves and ingrained beliefs we have clung onto, for a myriad of reasons, that do not serve us in a healthy way.
Quite often it is knowing that you do have a choice, and then how to make the changes you want.
Are you prepared for the transformation?
You - but even better.
The best You that You can be.
‘Confidence is an inside job’
The mind is everything, what you think you become. Buddha