Remember to refill your own cup -Day 66 and 67 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

selfcare is not selfich.jpgSelf-care is knowing that you cannot pour from an empty jug. Take care of yourself first,  so that you can then give more freely to others.

I have given so much of myself this week and I am exhausted. I absolutely love sharing my story, it feeds my soul in the most wonderful way. To know that I’ve moved or inspired someone, to know that by my sharing someone has learned something new, is the greatest gift in the world.

However, if I do not take the time to replenish my energy, to take care of my own needs, then this can easily move from something that benefits me to something that harms me.

This is why self-care is never selfish. We can only ever give to others if our own cup is already full.

I am off to stay with my partner for a few days, to relax, recharge and to put off saying yes to anything else for at least a week!

 

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Avoiding Dwelling On Feelings – Day 65 of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

dont dwell on it move onSelf-care is acknowledging a problematic feeling but not dwelling on it

This morning I received the news that my lower surgery date has to be changed from 17th July to 8th August due to some issues with the surgeon.

I am of course upset, but dwelling on it won’t change it, it’ll just make me feel worse. It has taken me many years to get the balance right between acknowledging feelings and avoiding dwelling on them.

Positive thinking is often misinterpreted, as meaning, we should push bad feelings away, but this is not the case at all. Thinking positively isn’t about denying your emotions, this is just as damaging as dwelling on them. It is instead about changing our perspective on how we view those problematic feelings.

Our feelings need to be validated. For example, it is understandable that I am upset about my surgery delay and it is ok to feel those emotions. When we acknowledge feelings and allow ourselves to just let them be, they will then pass naturally. What causes us problems is moving from emotions to thoughts. For example by playing it over and over in our mind, ruminating over the injustice, the inconvenience etc. This is when we move from the acknowledgement of feelings  into dwelling on feelings

Remember to feel it, allow it and move on.

 

Finding What Works For You -Day 64 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

THE RIGHT WAY IS YOUR WAY.jpgSelf-care means knowing that what works for you is right for you

Yesterday was a big day, I travelled to London to take part in a filming event with Pan Macmillan Book Break for Pride Month. It was an honour to be asked to take part, I had an enjoyable evening, and I met some lovely people. However, going, to new places, meeting new people and speaking on camera causes me a tremendous amount of anxiety. I have woken up feeling utterly exhausted. This is my usual response to a high anxiety event. It takes a lot of mental effort to calm my thoughts and my breathing, and this inevitably leaves me thoroughly wiped out for a day. Today I need to make some changes so that I can have a quiet, restful day.  Ironically, this is making me smile, as it is confirming that my choice to begin the path of becoming a self-employed freelance writer is the right one.

This might sound odd to anyone who doesn’t experience mental health challenges. Why put myself through all of that if I know it will make me crash like this? The answer is because I love what I do and I refuse to let my mental health get in the way of me leading a productive and fulfilling life. I have a massive passion for recovery and change and for empowering people. For so long I have desperately been trying to fit my square peg self into societies perfectly round hole so that I can work in this field. All that did was make me feel like a failure when I inevitably couldn’t manage it.

Having the realization that I could carve my own way forward has been a revelation. I am only in the early stages of self-employment but I get inner confirmation that this is the right path every day. Like today, I can barely move, I’m in bed, but I’m working. Im writing, I’m networking, I’m creating.

I can do things like yesterdays filming, that cause me to have an anxiety crash because  I know I can find the time and space I need after the event to take care of myself. If I was working, in the usual sense of the word, I would have no choice but to take a sick day. That would constantly put me in the mindset of being ill and would, of course, hold me back in my career progress. In being self-employed, I don’t have to declare myself ill or take a sick day, I just rearrange my day to work around my self-care needs and it won’t halt my career progression.

Self-care is liberating ourselves from other peoples definitions of ‘the right way’. There is no right way to do things, only what works best for you.

Be Proud Of Yourself – Day 61 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

its ok to be proud of yourselfSelf-care is allowing yourself to be proud of your achievements

I struggle to accept compliments, although I have learnt not to be self-deprecating in the way I reply, I still struggle to just say thank you without then following up with something along the lines of, “Well, of course, its nothing special….”

I think this is a hangover to my formative years. I was put down often and never felt good enough. I learnt, in turn, to put myself down and downplay my achievements. Somehow, I saw this as a positive quality, that it made me humble, as I felt to mention my qualities and abilities made me arrogant.

Over the last few years, since vlogging and blogging, I have received so many wonderful comments about how much I help people, that I have a talent for speaking, and so forth. I have begun to not only say thank you without any qualifying remarks, but I have also learnt to say these things about myself, out loud, to other people.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and singing your own praises. In fact, it is vital. If you downplay your abilities, you, in turn, downplay your opportunities. Being able to champion my own strengths and skills, has opened new doors and new possibilities, especially in growing my youtube channel and embarking on a new career path into freelance writing.

I value humility highly, arrogance is an ugly trait. However, this is a delicate balance. Be humble, but remember that being humble doesn’t mean you have to think less of yourself.

 

 

Being OK With Not Being OK -Day 60 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

its ok to not be okSelf-care is knowing its OK to not be OK

 

Allowing myself to not be OK is never easy for me. This is especially true when l have good things in my life, like now with my new partner. I think to myself, “why am l sad? Things are good!” But just because you are sad about one thing doesn’t mean everything else in your life can’t bring you happy feelings. It’s not black and white. I am very sad about mum, and that will be the case regardless of all the other lovely stuff in my life.

I think I also worry that, being in the early days of a new relationship, I don’t want him to see me low. I worry that it might put a downer on our time together. This was one of the reasons for not wanting to introduce my new partner to my mum. I knew that with mum having dementia, she wouldn’t really be able to comprehend my happiness. This on its own was upsetting but I also worried that having my partner with me at mums, would make me completely fall apart and I also didn’t want him to see that.

I am so glad I share in the way that I do, on here and on YouTube, as it gives me the chance to reflect on these things. When I uploaded my recent vlog about my dilemma about whether to take my partner to see my mum, I had some really kind and helpful comments. In the end I realised that seeing me upset is seeing the authentic me and that is what I want in a relationship. I also realised that I would be more upset if mum passed away having not met my partner. The sadness of that would far outweigh the sadness of her meeting him but not comprehending who he is.

As it turns out, it was a lovely meeting. Mum was quite out of it, she has been for a few weeks, but we got a few words from her. On asking her what she thought of my partner she replied, “He’ll do.”

We laughed a lot in that hour and both myself and my partner shared some damp-eyed gazes at each other. The meeting certainly wasn’t what it would have been pre-dementia days but it was special in its own way.

I was OK with not being OK, and it was OK.

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Using Gentle Determination -Day 59 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

easy does it but do itSelf-care is gently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone

While it is essential to look after yourself when you have mental health problems, it is also important to continue to challenge yourself. It can be tempting to say,“well I won’t try to do that, because if it fails, it might knock me off balance”. Unfortunately, this can also often be the message we receive from our friends and family. This, of course, comes from a place of concern, they too worry that a set back could negatively affect our mental health. However, not rising to a challenge can be just as detrimental to our mental health as we deny ourselves opportunities for growth, confidence building, and improved self-esteem.

I have recently taken a considerable risk, in changing my career path to freelance writing. In doing so, I risk failure, and I inevitably put myself in the way of criticism and rejection. I can understand peoples concern for me, their worry is valid. I must, in turn, be mindful of my own concern for myself. However, I must not let this stop me, but rather remind me to be realistic and balanced as I move forward.

This, of course, is true for anyone embarking on a new direction. Sucess comes in allowing oneself to try whilst being aware of the obstacles you may face, and having some strategies in place to take care of yourself whilst you walk boldly into the challenge.

 

Learning To Let Go- Day 57 And 58 Of #365daysofselfcare

This blog is part of the #365daysofselfcarechallenge

LET go of the things you cannot control.jpgSelf-care is learning to let go of the things you cannot control

When I began my recovery from mental illness and addiction, letting go was not an easy lesson for me However, I was helped to realise that my constant need to control everything was the cause of my pain, not the the thing itself. Learning this was a revelation that completely changed my perspective on control and letting go.

My life is in a huge period of change and is suddenly full of things I cannot control. Some of these things are positive, some negative, but in all life changing situations I currently find myself in, I have very little control of the actual outcome. I have a new relationship, a second party in my life to consider, my mum is slowly leaving us via the cruel hand of dementia, and I am at the beginning of a new career as a writer.

On top of this, I have been given a date for surgery.  This should be my final stage, if all goes well. However, I have had many issues so there is a chance I will need further surgery if my last fix didn’t succeed. This has now been made even more complicated by the fact that I have an under-active thyroid, discovered only a couple of months ago. I found out last week that without my thyroid levels being stable, I will not be able to have surgery.  I have had to cancel events this week, in order to get blood tests and run around liaising and emailing between my GP and Consultant. Its frustrating because I am cancelling events that I might not need to cancel if surgery doesn’t go ahead. If it doesn’t, on top of the disappointment at not being able to have surgery it will be hard not to be annoyed at missing a holiday with my best friend and a music festival.

This frustration however, is a complete waste of my energy and is not going to help improve anything. These events are simply out of my control. My energy is much better spent in controlling the things I can, like reorganising things so that I can get the necessary tests done. Letting go of what I can’t control, gives me the ability to better manage the things that are in my control, and allows me to be kinder to myself.