Friday, 3 May 2013

I can see clearly now the rain is gone

Staying positive is a really hard thing to do, I think with all the media that's thrown our way it's so easy to get down and only see the negatives in life. It's hard to pull yourself out of that cycle but when you do, oh does it feel wonderful.

I started 2013 wanting to work on my positivity, I have trouble staying optimistic and little things can really get me into a seemingly endless sadness to the point of not wanting to do anything but lie in bed staring at the walls. I realised how much of life I'm just throwing away and therefore I decided I wanted to take 2013 as a new year and start finding and counting my blessings. Some days are obviously easier than others, as the classic Coldplay song goes 'No-one said it was easy, no-one ever said it would be so hard".

I want to share with you some of the little things that have helped me start embracing life as fully as I can again.

Count your blessings. 
Every few days (I don't make it a thing I have to do everyday because then it seems like a chore) I write down the things that have made me smile, laugh or made me happy. Some of these are special days spent with loved ones, other days are just being thankful that I have people who care and love me. Anything can go into this growing list, from making a really tasty sandwich to seeing the first flowers bloom in the garden. I use this book when I feel sad, it's full of little memories now that I can fall back on when things get too much. Having a written record is great for this, you could even do one on your computer if that suits you but I love seeing my handwriting and the act of writing these things out.

Get a hobby. 
In the last few months I've got back into sewing, something I hadn't done since I was a little girl, and now I have several creative projects lined up to do. Finding something you enjoy helps keep you motivated but also is a great stress or anxiety outlet. I was so overwhelmed one afternoon that I grabbed my scissors and material and ended up making a new cushion cover by the end of the evening and I felt so much better for it. I also find baking is a huge anxiety release, when things got really stressful at university I would whip up a batch of cupcakes and sometimes it helped release that stress - and gave me something yummy at the end! I personally find the hobbies that have a physical 'object' at the end of each session are the best for me. I also find working with my hands helps distract any anxiety symtoms such as hyperventilating and has also had positive effects on my neurological conditions symtoms. n days when I either feel too unwell to leave my bed I find reading is also a good outlet. I've loved reading since I knew what a book was, and my family have always referred to me as a bookworm. I find being able to drift into another reality therapeutic as a very simple hobby. Other examples could be photography (which would also help get you out the house), knitting, creative writing, playing or learning a new instrument or origami.

Try to exercise more.
So we're always hearing how good exercise is for staying healthy and increasing/maintaining fitness but guess what it has another advantage! During exercise our body releases endorphins and lifts our mood, anyone who works out regularly can testify to the exhilarated mood after a good work out. Obviously this doesn't mean you need to go forking out for gym memberships and the such, even having a walk has the same effects on the body. I personally do, almost daily, my neuro-physio excersises, a mix of yoga and tai-chi I've adapted to my health conditions and last week I started the 30 day squat challenge. I also enjoy swimming, but due to my health constraints I have to be with someone and have to be feeling well enough to do it. I know when you're really down finding the energy to do exercise cna make you feel more exhausted but doing just a little of something really has positive effects on the physical and psychological aspects of our bodies.

Meditation and breathing techniques. 
I've added this even though I find it so hard to switch my mind off, after years of trying I still can't master it! But I know it's been really helpful for others, and even slowing down our minds for five minutes can have those uplifting effects. Look online for tips on breathing techniques (which are amazing during anxiety attacks!) and meditation. From what I've heard and read it is something that takes some mastering so I still try when my mind starts making quantum leaps!

Try not to compare yourself to others. 
I for one know how difficult this is but it's integral to being positive about your life. Instead of seeing what everyone else has achieved write a list of everything you have achieved. Even the littlest things like getting through a tough period and still standing is worthy of this. We're all individuals and comparing ourselves to everyone else just makes us miserable. It's another thing that would probably help keeping a written record of to remind ones self on bad days.

These are just five suggestions but there are so many more out there. I would suggest that if a low mood or anxiety is directly affecting your daily life then it would be a good idea to speak to someone you can trust like a doctor, teacher or relative even just to chat. Sometimes we need someone who we don't know just to listen and give us a bit of a helping hand and there's no shame in that. Working towards a more positive lifestyle and attitude towards life may not be the easiest thing to do but it's worth it. I'll post any other tips and ideas to help when I can think of some more but I think these are the ones that in general have helped the most.


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