nef stands for “the new economics foundation” an organisation which has produced a great set of postcards to promote it’s initiative “Five Ways to Wellbeing” Continue reading
A plucking good time
It’s Good Friday and I don’t have to go to work. After a pretty hectic and stressful few weeks, this is music to my ears and I am determined to make the best of the extended 4-day weekend. I need to relax and top up my fuel tank as it’s hovering dangerously close to “empty” and I don’t want to risk the negative effect on my mood by running on the red light too long.
But what to do?
I would like to get out into the garden, not least because I have £100 of National Garden Tokens to spend, but it is far too cold and the ground is solid. It’s not sensible to plant a new border when the forecast is for no change to the cold snap in the near future so an indoor activity is called for……..
I spot my guitar hiding between the wardrobe and the chest of drawers. I haven’t played my guitar for a good two years, maybe longer, but I am tempted. The cover has a layer of dust which needs to be brushed off first but once unzipped I can see that the guitar is pristine albeit a little out of tune. It didn’t take me long to tune it and start plucking away. I’m not a great one for singing along to my amateur strummings but love messing around with chords and arpeggio plucking patterns ready to play for someone else to sing to.
I managed to play for an hour before sore finger pads became too painful on the steel strings and had to give up but now that the guitar is out of hiding I am sure it will become a more regular pastime again.
Now where’s my clarinet?????
No, I’m not going crazy but, prompted by a trusted friend of mine who just happens to practise reflexology, crystal healing and all those wonderful new-agey things that I love I have been breathing in the colours of the rainbow all week and have to admit that I like it. All you need is an open mind and a belief that inhaling colours can stimulate, relax, rebuild and cleanse.
As a highly sensitive person (HSP) colour inhalation makes sense and when my world becomes too hectic and unbalanced I sit and practise my deep breathing as usual only now it is enhanced by inhaling the most beautiful shades of blue-violet-purple which are purported to induce relaxation, promote sleep and relieve anxiety. It works for me but I have to be mindful that I don’t miss my station or fall asleep at my desk.
After just a week I think that heaven must be indigo. Peaceful, safe and calm.
Alternatively, if you need a kick up the backside or some intellectual stimulation you could always try red, orange and yellow/gold. Shades of green and turquoise are said to be healing and cleansing, reducing pain and accelerating the healing process balancing body, mind and spirit. Even if you are sceptical about the physical, mental and emotional effectiveness of colour inhalation, it just feels nice. It’s win win so give it a try next time you have a few minutes to chill out.
Out of kilter…
All at sea; at sixes and sevens. That’s me at the moment. But if I look hard enough through the present turmoil there is blue sky waiting to dissipate the grey clouds of self-doubt and underlying sadness. Like a promising and expectant early morning summer sky it may start off a little hazy at first but doesn’t that mean it will be all the more clear and bright when the powerful and long awaited rays of hope finally burn through?
I believe so. And I believe it will be worth waiting for.
I love lists
Lists are good. I couldn’t survive without my “To Do” list at work, my shopping list or my holiday packing list. So why are they so helpful?
1. Free up valuable mind-space so we can focus and get on with the things that matter.
2. Help us to stay on track and avoid becoming distracted by things that are less important.
3. Allow us the satisfaction and pleasure of crossing items off the list when complete giving a tangible sense of achievement.
4. Help us to feel more in control and realistically aware of the challenge facing us.
5. Help us to remember the important and urgent things that need doing and enable us to prioritise effectively.
6. Act as an aide-memoir should we run out of things to do.
7. Provide a written record of what we have done during the day/week. Many tasks are forgotten and a record shows how productive you have been even on days when you think you haven’t done much.
An Imaginary Balloon Ride
Visualisation is a technique that not only helps sports people succeed but if done creatively can help to alleviate stress and encourage relaxation.
Over the past few months I have listened to some guided meditations which have been excellent; soothing, relaxing and calming. Others however can really grate on you and are not soothing, relaxing or calming at all. We all have the power to think creatively and to control our thoughts so that they focus on positive outcomes rather than negative ones. You can record your own favourite images to listen to later, first writing them down then reading them out loud, slowly, clearly and softly. If you don’t like the sound of your own voice, ask a friend to record it for you.
Here is a visualisation which I came across recently when reading Mike George’s book ” Learn to relax” and which you can enhance with your own images. Once recorded, get comfortable, close your eyes and listen.
An imaginary balloon ride
1. You are walking along a country lane. The sun beats down on your head and shoulders. To your left is a beautiful forest; to your right, a field into which you turn. Ahead of you is a hot-air balloon ready for flight.
2. You approach the balloon and step into the basket. the balloon begins to rise very slowly. as you look down, you can see a village, a lake, some mountains. When you look at the sky, you see a bird glide past you. there is absolutely no noise. Silently you rise higher and higher.
3. Beneath you everything becomes a swirl of blue and green. You can see no borders or boundaries, just one world as you have never fully realised before. As you understand this, the balloon begins its descent.
4. The details gradually return into view and the balloon comes to rest in the middle of the field. You step out of the basket, walk down the path through the village to the lake that you could see from the air. the water on the lake is still and calm. Just how you feel yourself.
Coasting in neutral
I am a person of extremes. I feel things deeply and I get excited about the most mundane of things. If something or someone annoys me, everyone gets to know about it. There are no half-measures and what you see it what you get. Tough if it’s you I don’t like.
I’m in a strange and unfamiliar place at the moment. It is not unpleasant or disturbing. It is not exciting or emotional either. And that is what is so strange. I am coasting along in neutral.
I am ambivalent to many things and people who cross my path. Problems and issues pass over me like a stream over a pebble and I have no strong feelings about anything I do. I just do it.
Maybe most people live like this and go through the motions whilst life passes them by? I’m not sure but it is not native territory for me and it’s weird. I’m hoping that after this week I will be able to go away with a clear mind and think about where I am and what I do next. Why am I stripped of emotion for many things yet overcome with emotion for others? Am I having a mid-life “crisis” or have I just exhausted my options and don’t know where to turn next? I’m not sure but I don’t like it.
I’d rather be me even though it clearly has disadvantages. Opinionated, energetic, interested, loud, inventive, determined and raring to go in top gear.
Coasting along in neutral is not me.
Not me at all.
Interesting……The phrase hedgehog’s dilemma refers to the notion that:
(1) The closer two beings come to one another in a relationship, the more likely it might be for them to inflict psychological pain on each other
(2) Yet if they remain apart, they each might feel the roughly-equivalent (psychological) pain of loneliness.
This notion comes from the conjecture that hedgehogs, with sharp spines on their backs, might hurt each other if they get too close. It is a character trait believed to be possessed by some individuals, in real life as well as in works of fiction, sometimes causing anti-social behaviours, often allegedly caused by an unpleasant past experience of intimate relationships. A person who suffers from the hedgehog’s dilemma will usually avoid becoming too close or involved with someone, due to fear of another similar, possibly painful, experience, such as they had experienced in the past.
So next time someone accuses you of being “prickly” perhaps you too have the hedgehog’s dilemma?
Doing things differently (3) Foods that may help you sleep
I have struggled with insomnia for many years now and, having a demanding full time job, I need my sleep. 4 hours is just not enough. I am prescribed Amitryptyline which works for me and I only have to take a small dose to guarantee 7-8 hours of quality rest. But rather than resort to medication, there are some simple things you can consider which may help. Your diet is one of them. Tryptophan [an amino acid that has a sedative – like effect] and magnesium seem to be common to most of the following foods which are recommended for insomniacs.
Almonds: They contain tryptophan and magnesium which is a muscle relaxant.
Chamomile tea: apparently helps promote sleep. Ordinary or green tea is also fine as long as it is de-caffeinated.
Bananas: An excellent source of magnesium and potassium. They also contain tryptophan.
Yoghurt, milk and cheese also contain tryptophan. Calcium also works to help relieve stress.
Oatmeal-porridge oats or museli : A warm bowl of oat-based cereal is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium, all important nutrients that support sleep. Avoid adding sugar as this may counteract the sleepy benefits.
Potatoes-Eating a small baked potato or mashed or roasted potatoes will clear your body of acids that can block the effects of tryptophan.
Cherries-are one of the only food sources of melatonin, an antioxidant that helps the body sleep and is found in fresh, dried, or frozen cherries . Try eating a bowl of cherries one hour before bed.
Foods to avoid: Coffee and tea (caffeinated), alcohol and heavy or spicy foods.
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Doing things differently-part 1
Here we go then-having decided to improve my mental and physical health and fitness what am I going to do differently to ensure a good start?
My first challenge will be to drink more water. This should be the easiest and cheapest way of improving my health immediately. I have never been great at drinking water and have suffered from symptoms of dehydration over the years not least overeating having mistaken thirst for hunger. There is no excuse. We have water machines at work supplying both still and sparkling water at the touch of a button. We were even given our own water bottle a couple of years ago to encourage people to drink more. Moreover, water on tap is perfectly drinkable and if filtered, there is no need to spend a fortune on the bottled stuff.
So how much water should we be drinking? 8 glasses a day? 2 litres a day? Whilst looking for guidance on the net, I found a water calculator which advises you how much water to drink based on your body weight-a neat tool but I’m not confessing here how much I should be drinking!
In addition to the well-known physical advantages of being properly hydrated there are mental health benefits to. Early signs of dehydration include fatigue, poor concentration, and fogginess. Further dehydration may lead to depressive symptoms including moodiness, apathy and sleep disturbances, anxiety, tension and overeating. I’m hoping that by drinking more water my symptoms will abate.
So from today I’m going to do myself a big favour and start drinking more water. Hopefully not only will my physical health benefit but my mental health will too.
I will let you know.
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