In this week’s blog, I’m thinking about how, when confronting a problem or a difficult situation, many of us face it with worry or negative thoughts. This is a well-trodden path and is really familiar, so we keep doing it.
On the outside, it looks like the situation is being faced, when in reality on the inside it isn’t being dealt with effectively. And that is when it feels like ‘failing’.
Changing mindset here can really help, as the best way to deal with a situation is to start by calming the mind. Only a calm mind can find the answers to problems.
As humans, we need to understand that every problem has an answer, and that when our minds are relaxed, we can rely on ourselves to find the answer that is already there.
Are you trying to start something new or change your behaviour in some way? If so, you’ll know about the effort involved, and how much energy, enthusiasm and will power are needed. When we try to change our behaviour, particularly our health-related behaviour, it’s really important to have the right type of support.
This is where your ‘tribe’ can help: having people on your side who can help with new health-related behaviour, who support and encourage you, who help you reach your goals, and who won’t pull you backwards.
Perhaps you’re trying to do less of something, or more of something. Some people around you might try to get you to go back to your old ways:
“Just one glass of wine won’t hurt…”
“Don’t bother going for a walk, it’s so dull.”
“Why are you always trying to learn new stuff? What’s the point?”
If this is the case, think about what sort of support you would like instead: who is going to support you and remind you why you wanted to change in the first place?
Who is going to congratulate you when you reach your goals? Who is going to listen when you are finding it tough? They don’t have to be with you physically, just in spirit – and perhaps at the end of a phone or video call when needed.
Surround yourself with people who want you to stick it out. They are your tribe and they will ultimately help you achieve what you set out to do.
Do you like to multi-task? For many people, including myself, the ability to multi-task is like a badge of honour, as if I’m saying, “Look how many things I can juggle at once! Aren’t I impressive and capable?” But increasingly, I’m finding that I don’t do any of these tasks particularly well. I can flit between several different things and think I’m doing something pretty special, when really, I’m not doing anything very effectively. It all becomes a bit tiresome.
Have you come across the phrase ‘single-tasking’, when only one thing is done at any time? By focusing on just the one job, it can be done efficiently; and increasingly, I’m finding that I enjoy it more too. I can relax out of the whirlwind of being ever-so-busy and lean into the singular task in hand. It’s a great feeling to corral my thoughts and actions into one task, staying focused and in the flow. It takes a bit of practice, but like all skills worth having, I need to put the time in. So, from now on, it’s one thing at a time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation, and how often it can become dependent on other people’s input – yet how difficult that can be now, what with the distancing and lack of normal rhythms for many people. I believe it’s important to have a cheerleader in your life. Someone who encourages you, motivates you and celebrates your wins. Someone who helps you pick yourself up again after set-backs, who reminds you of your worth when you’re feeling down, and who genuinely values you and what you do.
Then I thought, what if we were our own cheerleaders? We could have this cheerleading presence with us all the time, and we don’t have to rely on someone else to be there, in person or not. This seems to me like a winning formula! How about trying it out? Rather than waiting for someone else to lead the cheering for you, take the DIY approach. If that feels too tricky, practise on a willing volunteer before you embark on being your own cheerleader. Let me know how you get on.
I’m going with a nature theme this week, mainly because I’m in awe of it all at the moment. Having spent more time of late staring at the trees in my garden, I’ve been struck by how wonderful they are.
The thing that occurred to me the most, though, is how gentle trees are – and how this gentleness isn’t about a lack of strength, but more a sense that they don’t disturb; they don’t push yet they know their power; and they can provide shelter for many others. I’m now considering being more tree!
For me, it’s a Wednesday – bin day, that is. And it's not just physical rubbish (or recycling and garden waste, obviously!) that I try to throw out: I also mean putting out the rubbish from our minds and lifestyles. If you’re looking for something new to try, how about a weekly clear-out of old stuff, timeworn ways of thinking and tired or unhelpful thoughts and feelings?
Just as you wouldn’t retrieve something from a rubbish bin and reinstate it long after it had been collected, try not to pick up old thoughts and feelings again. Once you’ve put the bins out, keep them out. This way, you’ll have much more space for clear thinking and easier feelings.
Despite doing it as one of my jobs, I am not particularly motivated when it comes to exercise. Lying down and doing nothing always seems more appealing.
At the moment, I’m seeing so many social media posts about parents feeling like they are failing their children because they let them watch lots of TV or spend hours on the iPad, or because their home-school experience isn’t top notch, particularly while they are trying to work and trying to navigate such unusual times. That feeling of not doing things ‘right’ is just a feeling. I doubt anyone is trying to do their worst during all of this.
I have a very wise friend, Julia, of Oxford Family Hypnotherapy, who has lots of lovely nuggets of advice. She told me about the power of three little things and I wanted to share them with you.
Putting my spin on it, I thought it might be handy to give you an idea of the opposite of these to make the point.
Active: not only am I doing my online classes and a daily walk, I’m also hauling out all my old equipment and getting back on the mini trampoline, taking up skipping again, lifting free weights and failing miserably with the hula hoop!
Creative: writing all my ideas down in one of my many notebooks and keeping up with my bullet journal. I’m writing health education lesson plans and designing a new fitted wardrobe.
Calm: two things here. Firstly, cleaning: I’m not much of a fan but some vigorous scrubbing, fast-paced wiping, pottering and tidying help me feel better. Secondly, and to actually stop and relax, I’m using the Insight Timer app. And napping helps me too.
Connected: daily phone calls, messages, and e-mails; and Zoom has been a new addition to the arsenal for keeping in touch.
Positive: sunshine and fresh air, watching at least one funny thing every day, making things (crucial items like a cotton bag for the onions!), and having a break from travelling all add to my sense of positivity.
How about you? Share what works!
What to say this week…? I’ve been thinking about planning. For someone who loves to plan well in advance, taking each day as it comes at the moment is unusual and unsettling… but not insurmountable. It takes a different mindset. And I’m reminded of times in the past when things were uncertain and uncomfortable and most things worked out in the end. It will take time. Planning is still possible – just on a shorter timescale. And being reactive rather than proactive might be the way to go at present.
It’s Sport Relief week already here in the UK and I’m gearing up for Saturday’s Fitness Fling. My colleague Katie and I run this event every year: we both love what we do and want to raise money at the same time, and this year we’re supporting Sport Relief. Over four hours, we teach eight different exercise classes and invite people to come along to as many sessions as they like – to have a ‘fling’ with fitness.
You are very welcome to join us on Saturday 14th March, 9am to 1pm, at Caversham Heath Golf Course, Mapledurham, Reading RG4 7UT (free parking on site). We ask for a minimum donation of £10 to attend for as long as you like. No need to book – just turn up and join in!
If you can’t make it, you can still support us by clicking on this link and giving money that way: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fitness-fling. Thank you!
Here’s a run-down of what the Fling looks like:
9.00: Tabata HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
9.30: Old-school aerobics
10.00: Grid set (whole body and balance)
10.30: LIIT (low-intensity interval training)
11.00: Giant 30 (for strength and CV fitness)
11.30: Dance mix
12.00: Tone up (for strength)
12.30: Fusion (Yoga/Pilates) and cool down
See you there! Bring your family and friends too.
So often, I hear people complain about how the ‘nanny state’ is at work, telling people what to do and what not to do (don’t eat too much salt, exercise more, or drink less alcohol). And my response is always the same: we often ignore the things we don’t want to hear or think about, yet if we aren’t ever informed about how to be healthier, we might have even more to grumble about…
It’s a fine line to strike and sometimes doesn’t work for everyone. And while it remains our responsibility to take care of ourselves, sometimes it’s useful to be reminded of why, how and what we can do to make the best of things.
Mostly, I write this blog because I have something that I think is vaguely useful to share with others. Occasionally, I write it as a stern reminder to myself. This week is one of those times: I am really struggling to rest enough. It’s a common problem for many people, so nothing special about my case there. Yet for someone whose livelihood is based on well-being and health, it feels a bit disingenuous.
At times like this, I return to this quote from The Book of Life:
"It can feel like an insult to our rational, adult dignity to think that our sense of gloom might in the end stem, centrally, from exhaustion. We’d sooner identify ourselves as up against an existential or socio-cultural crisis than see ourselves as sleep-deprived."
I will consider this my severe talking-to!
If you’re really busy, it can be difficult to find time to exercise, so how about fitting it in to everyday things? Here are my favourite ideas:
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
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