Relax

Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.

One of my favourite phrases. I can relate to it on many levels.

People start with good intentions when they try to soothe you with their words. However, sometimes, we just need another person to agree that our spiral of panic is valid, and then offer us a helping hand up from the wreckage when the time is right. Whilst in full-on stress mode there’s no room for reason or logical thought, the priority is solely trying to alleviate the stress-out in whichever way which works best for you. Only then can you think clearly once more.

Stress can creep up, particularly as we move into the festive period. Identifying and acknowledging your stress is key. When you recognise that you’re about to hit a full-on stress spiral – it’s time to act. So here’s my top relaxation tips. Maybe one will work for you too;

  1. Take a shower. More specifically, a 20 minute long toasty-hot shower. Stress manifests as both a mental and physical drain. A shower can counter-act this burden in 3 key ways; the heat and steam lessens the strain on your body, the water droplets hide your tears, and the repetitive sensation of the water bouncing off your body takes your focus away from the issue troubling you. Basically showers are miracle workers.
  2. Go for a walk. I would always insist that I walked to my school exams, no matter how heavy the rain got. Even now I still like to walk off my stresses. It might be as simple as walking to the coffee machine and making a cuppa before I reply to that tricky email or taking a wander to the corner shop. It makes sense – walking increases endorphins, which gives you a happy boost. Perfect.
  3. Bach’s Rescue Remedy. Now this one might be a placebo effect. But for me, it does the job. I’ve been using the drops since my teenage years, though nowadays there’s sprays, melts, chewing gums and pastilles. I associate the taste (and mild burning sensation!) with self soothing. This in turn gets me through the worst of the panic.
  4. Have a hot drink (with no distractions). It’s amazing how many problems can seem less arduous after a cup of tea and a nice biscuit. Make it a double layered biscuit, or if you’re feeling particularly flash, perhaps even a hot chocolate with marshmallows for extra comfort points.
  5. Complete a mundane task. Something that doesn’t require thinking. This might be colouring in, knitting, doing the washing up – anything that’s available to you at the time. Knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one…
  6. If all else fails, hug it out. Grab a loved one, pet or cushion and squeeeeeze tight.

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Lessons

As I watched our doggo bound about on his walk this afternoon; loving life, always happy, I realised that there’s many lessons which we can learn from our four legged friends.

Here’s my top 10 list of life lessons learnt from dogs:

  1. Make time to show the ones you love that you care. It doesn’t always need to be as slobbery as a dog’s kiss though. Everyone likes to feel wanted.
  2. Try, try and try again. Determination (particularly when there’s food involved) is a key characteristic found in almost every dog. If we could muster half this determination as humans, we’d succeed far more often.
  3. The same goes for enthusiasm… tackling every task with eagerness and passion brings joy to every day.
  4. Loyalty is rewarded. Whether that’s in friendship or just points on a supermarket store card. Sticking to your commitments avoids letting people down.
  5. Explore the world. This might be the next field over, or the Australian outback. Travelling and exploring broadens your horizons.
  6. Choose your battles carefully. Confront that bigger dog/angry boss/hungry boyfriend at your peril. Sometimes it’s good to know when to leave people be.
  7. Don’t underestimate the power of praise. Sometimes a quick “thank you, you’ve done a great job” can really help cheer someone up. It’s nice to be nice.
  8. Exercise regularly – healthy body, healthy mind.
  9. Play more. Humans tend to forget the power of play as they grow older. It develops creativity and innovative thoughts, so really more value should be placed on it.
  10. Also, make time to relax and nap. It’s a dog’s life after all.

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Proud

Proud;

1. Feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities or possessions, or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

2. Having or showing a high or excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance.

The two meanings of proud seem mutually incompatible. How can it be that the descriptive word for such a positive act (achieving self satisfaction) can also be the same word used for something so negative (describing arrogance)?

The unwritten rule in British society is that you’re generally OK to celebrate your achievements – but in strict moderation. There’s a fine line between a socially acceptable level of celebration and simply showing off. I wonder whether here in the UK the acceptable level of pride is far less than in other parts of the world. Our tipping point on the bragging/celebrating success scale seems unusually reserved.

We’re taught from an early age to play down our successes. “Don’t boast, it isn’t polite”, “Jessica won’t like you if you show off”. Feeling a sense of pride in our achievements isn’t part of our culture.

So, when applying for a job, writing a CV or generally carrying out any task which involves bigging ourselves up we struggle massively. We’ve lost the ability to outline our key successes and paint ourselves in the most positive of lights. It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives.

Maybe it’s time to turn things around. It’s time to be more positive. Maybe we could all be a bit more Heather Small and ask ourselves “what have I done today to make myself feel proud?”…

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