365 Ways to Beat Stress

I’ve been reading a book called 365 Ways to Beat Stress by Adam Gordon and while all 365 hints, tips and meditations are worthwhile there were a few that jumped out enough to write this blog. The books isn’t out yet but you can buy it here and the blog review will be on my sister site For the Love of Books on release day.

Keep Something Absurd or Incongruous on your Desk

Our bank of desks at work is full of crazy things that catch people’s eye as they walk past. It started last Christmas when the retail store John Lewis started selling robin ornaments for Xmas which were then given paper kimonos when we drew Japan in the World Cup sweepstake. Currently we have a tree decorated with mini carrots which are the emblem of supermarket Lidl for 2018’s Christmas campaign. For me, on my desk, are the spiders that everyone insists are octopuses (octopii?) which I made for craft club. I’ve a post coming tomorrow on craft club so I’ll say no more for now.

absurd

Swings and Merry Go Rounds

This reminded something from when I was around 18 or 19. I think it was in Manchester’s Hyde Park but don’t hold me to that. I remember all of us, new adults, laying on the merry go round, firstly staring at the sky as it spun and spun then closing our eyes. Sinning around with eyes closed felt like we were going in the opposite direction to what we really were. I also remember taking lots of photos as we spun and had some amazing (if I say so myself) pictures of the sky. Sadly my life got very chaotic for a while after that and I no longer have them but it’s a memory I cherish especially on a summers day.

swings 1swings 2

Practise Origami

As part of the craft club I’ve been learning a type of origami called tea bag paper folding. Teabag folding is a paper craft art for embellishing greeting cards using small square pieces of paper (e.g., a tea bag wrapper) bearing symmetrical designs folded in such a way that they interlock and produce a three-dimensional version of the underlying design. I’ve had a couple of goes now and while I still need more practise it definitely keeps you in the now and is very calming.

Lastly Balancing Female Hormones Naturally and Learn Sign Language. I sent pictures of these to my friend. While I appear to be going through early menopause in the manner of my aunt (little to no symptoms) rather than my mum (psychosis) my friend has a terrible time every month. She’s also signed up to learn sign language in January. I love the fact that it is seen as a calming, stress busting activity.

There are so many more things in this book I either do or want to do. I found it a timely reminder to stop every now and then and live rather than just exist.

 

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Let’s Go Fly A Kite

I’m reading a book at the minute called I’ll Meet You At The Lost & Found and the initial few chapters are about self-love and not living your life for the acceptance of others but to value and respect yourself first and it got me thinking about employment. I’ve spent the last year on a development course at work where we’ve looked at what we want out of our lives and careers. I’ve one more module left but after 10 months I’ve been around in a circle with the result being I’m no wiser than I started (or so I thought up to an hour ago). 

I work in the corporate arm of the civil service. Afters years of working on the front-line it’s a very different atmosphere and there’s constant chatter about developing, building competencies and ‘getting the next grade’. This started from my first day on the job and seems to be the measure against everything. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve done a piece of work for someone to say well done, that’ll be good for your competencies. And I definitely fell into the idea of wanting to please others rather than myself as I got caught up in this probably to the detriment of what I might really want to do. And when I think about promotions it does feel like I’d be doing so to both please others and because they think it’s the right thing to do not me. 

As part of the course I have given thought to other types of work. I’m 18 months away from graduating with a degree and the plan is to follow that up with teacher training. However again a lot of that is based on wanting to please others by having an acceptable job type. When I’ve looked into the post degree study, the need to gain classroom experience, the continuous development rather than be energised I just felt old and demotivated. If it’s what I really wanted then surely I would be the opposite. I’ve actually spent a few weeks doing a 3 day training course as part of my job and by the end of day 2 have been exhausted. I don’t think I have the energy or desire to do it 5 days a week continuously. 

And this brings me back to the idea of a tea shop, crystal therapy business or something to do with crafting. Or all 3 combined. Talking about this DOES enthuse me. I’ve reams of research and done an awful lot of planning. I even started to put things into place to do something but am hampered until the debt repayment plan is cleared. Even better, these are things that I want to do regardless of other people’s opinions or wage drop or it not being a career everyone else wants. I can get very excited talking about tea, coffee and feeding people cheese & ham toasties no matter how strange that may seem to others. 

So where does it leave me? Well it leaves me with 18 months to fill. 18 months to graduation and the end of my debt plan. 18 months to being able to truly make decisions that best suit me. Until that time I’m going to talk about the career ideas that do fill me with joy and unless it’s a job that makes my heart sing I’ll be avoid any promotion activity. Then in 18 months I can start work on the last part of my working life to make sure when I retire I can say I’ve really given myself some self-love when it comes to earning money.

Finally I’m a big believer in synchronicity and following my inner thoughts (apart from work!) and was trying to think how to title this blog when the song Let’s Go Fly a Kite popped into my head. Banks puts his work above all else until he loses his job after a visit to the bank by his children. After which he realises that feeding the birds or flying his kite is a wonderful thing to do regardless of what his (former) employers think. Let’s all go fly some kites 🙂

Reflections

This has definitely been a year of two halves. I started the year part way through a daily blogging challenge, I had cut out about 80% of sugar and was trying to get in 10,000 footsteps per day in lieu of any other exercise and combined I managed to achieve quite a lot. Then I had some health issues, I wasn’t keen on the job I was doing and was demotivated there, my finance struggles seemed to worsen and looking back since around August I seem to have lost the plot with everything. Blogs have been sporadic and I definitely haven’t achieved my footsteps. In some ways the footsteps wasn’t an issue as I’d joined a gym and was doing 3 half hour sessions per week. However I pretty much sucked back in that 80% of sugar.

I’d got to the point where I’d lost 27lbs – 1lb off of 2 stone in UK measurements. Partly I think I sabotaged myself a bit but I also did what I always do when I’m stressed and I ate. I ate so much crap. Luckily when I’ve stood on the scales I’ve only gained 5lbs. I can work with that and have a mini goal to get rid of that by the end of this month plus that one more pound that takes me to that magical 2 stone figure. Regardless of what the end figure is on New Years Eve, 2018 is the best year I have had for diet and exercise in about 20 years so it can only be a positive

I stopped communicating in many ways whilst my depression and stress levels were high except for my book blog. I read a lot, even more when I’m in a down swing as it’s an escapism so that blog has done wonders. But I think I have more to say and am starting to miss this one so, while I may not get back into daily blogging I should at least be around more. 

I’ve started some planning for 2019. I found a notebook with so many lists of things I’d like to do, or read, or learn. One in particular is a list of all the jobs I need to do in the house. Not everything on these lists is do-able and certainly not in one year but they’re a good starting point for getting out of the house more and engaging with life.

I’ll add to this over the next few weeks as we come to the end of the year. One of the lists was of the things I wanted to achieve in 2018 so it will be interesting to see how much of that has happened. 

Gym and year so far weight loss review

We did the gym measurements check in early as we didn’t want to skew the stats as I’ll be spending most of next week eating hotel food so after 11 weeks (or technically 10 as I had a week off) and bearing in mind I’ve eaten cake or wagon wheels every day this week I have lost since I joined 2.2 kgs and 5 3/4 inches which I’m pretty chuffed about.
Looking at my nerdy spreadsheet I didn’t start noting inches until I’d lost a stone but in 2018 I’ve lost 26 1/2 pounds (the half’s important) and a minimum of 18 1/2 inches (they included abs and arms which I didn’t). Who knows what it should be but I’m chuffed enough with these figures anyway. So next time I tell myself I’m a rubbish dieter I should probably look back at this post!

2018-10-07 11.26.47

Action for Happiness Optimistic October Days 1-4

I haven’t done any daily blog posts for a while and was planning to do one this month as the Action for happiness calendar is Optimistic October however life has been a bit busy and so the first 4 days are going to have to be crammed into the first blog.

Day 1 was to write down your most important goals for the month. I have the usual; to work on my weight loss and health journey and to start and not get behind on my Open Uni course as this years module starts at the weekend. I also wanted to write something about work. Now I’m in the middle of a big restructure and as I’ve been frustrated in my current role for a while I’ve been doing my usual of wanting to run away and get a new job. Which is a bit daft when you think about it as I’m about to start a new job under the restructure. So my goal then is to do nothing (hard sometimes) and sit and wait to see what happens next. However I have a meeting with my mentor at the end of the month to look at my competencies as while I need to give the changes a chance I don’t want to miss out should an opportunity arise and it’s something I’ve put off for quite a while.

Day 2 was to do something constructive to improve a difficult situation. I started the day off in a bit of a bad mood (again due to work). My response was to simply get my head down and learn what is needed to do to deliver a training course next week. I also made sure that the volunteering and job shadowing opportunities I needed to book were up to date so I ended the day feeling much more positive

Day 3 – think of 3 things that give you hope for the future: I met up with one of my peer group friends from my development course and we talked about development, career opportunities and ways to save money. Plus all the usual catching up over coffee chat. I also know that I now have about 15 months left before I’m debt free. And I’ve been building on all the questioning and talking I’ve done over the year to build new friendships.

So today is Day 4 – Set a goal that links to your sense of purpose in life. This morning I had no idea how to do this one but then I spent the morning in a focus group about women’s networks in my part of the civil service and getting a group of women on board in helping me set one up for my office and it reminded me how much I enjoy moving people forward in life and giving them ways to feel empowered. I have some action points to do which kind of fit in with setting a goal as the goal is to ultimately have a successful network in my office (which holds 2000 people so a big ask).

It’s been quite fun doing it so far. I’ve not enjoyed work much this week, mostly because it’s the first one back after 2 weeks annual leave and I’ve been quite tired plus I’ve had quite a bit of learning to do. I’m ending my working week feeling quite inspired because using these optimistic goals has helped me focus on what really matters and take actions to take my own life forward

September – three quarters review

So we’re three quarters of the way into the year and it’s been quite the rollercoaster. I started it by continuing the daily blog challenge and my resolutions as such were that I wanted to work on my physical health and visibility (although I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted that visibility to be).

Physically – I am amazed by what I have achieved. Currently 26lbs down and walking 10,000 steps most days with 3 half hourly gym sessions per week. As someone essentially idle that’s an amazing achievement and I’m so happy with it. I’ve definitely got the gym bug too. There was a possibility to work away for 3 weeks where there wasn’t a gym franchise and I really worried about what I’d do instead. Even at the beginning of the year I would never have thought this would be my life.

Visibility – if you scroll through the daily posts you’ll see I read a few books on flirting. This, at the time wasn’t with any view to fixing my love life but rather to get back into the habit of conversing with people and making myself well…visible. I’ve found my social anxiety decrease. I don’t place value on a continuing conversation but rather am I getting answers to my questions. I started with that and then built on it. Now I feel like I can chat to most people.

However, as good as some of this was, I forgot to look after my mental health and actually went backwards on this. I was struggling with money & health issues (despite the lifestyle changes) and most of my friends either had moved elsewhere or were not in a position to go out and about and do things. I ended up isolating myself and cutting myself off from people. I found my anxiety increase at the thought of spending time with certain groups of friends. Everything came to a head with a series of panic attacks after getting an all clear for my health and I started a 6 week counselling programme.

This was quite interesting in that as well as tackling what caused the issues in 2018 we looked back my childhood, and a breakdown in 1994 where I didn’t get the support. We looked at how I have a tendency to dwell on negative comments and viewpoints from a long time ago and ignore the positives that I get now. This is something that will probably be an on-going thing to work on.

It did me the world of good and over the last few weeks I’ve really started to feel my old self again. This is something else we worked on; who is my ‘old self’. I’ve talked in other blogs about the breakdowns. In 1994, having no support I stopped being myself and started being the person others thought I should be or reacting to their comments on such a thing. After 2010 I went back to being the person I wanted to be, full of wonderment and the desire to explore and not afraid to have opinions. I could be nice but I could be bitchy now and again. I wasn’t perfect but I had balance.

After the 2015 one I lost that balance. I was spending a lot of time with a spiritual crowd and did what I’d done before; I lost myself and became what I thought others expected of me, pushing away anything about me that may be negative. It’s very exhausting being good and nice all the time! You need that balance.

I think I’ve got my balance right and I’ve stopped caring if people don’t like me or my opinions. I like me and that’s the most important thing.

I’ve even embraced the idea of dating again. I joined a couple of apps. So far no dates (my choice).  I’ve been chatting and putting that conversational and flirting experience into use and I’m sure I’ll find someone that I connect with soon. I’m actually quite happy making connections and seeing where life leads me. I’m not looking for the next big romance so there’s no pressures. Whatever happens will happen. I read a Susan Jeffers book recently that said instead of thinking ‘I hope’ change it to ‘I wonder’. So instead of ‘I hope some guy likes me’, it’s ‘I wonder what will happen if we make a match’. It’s quite a liberating way to look at things.

Like I said at the beginning; life’s been a rollercoaster but it seems to have stopped doing the loop-de-loops and dives. I wonder what the rest of the year will bring.

Listening to your inner voice

I’ve spent the last few weeks paying real close attention to myself and my anxiety. I started back with the counsellor 2 weeks ago and we’ve been working on ‘inner voices’, what mine is saying and making note of it to reflect and work on.

It’s worked really well and I’ve learnt quite a bit about myself and generally been able to discuss it and start working on letting it go. Up until yesterday my anxiety has been low and I’ve felt quite happy with my progress.

Yesterday my anxiety levels started going up and I couldn’t quite work out at first why. There didn’t seem to be a particular trigger. So I’ve been listening to my inner voice. (I really should name her)

And what my voice is telling me is I’m tired.

On Monday (it’s Thursday now) I travelled to London for an all day meeting on Tuesday. I didn’t get check into my hotel until 7 and I never sleep well in hotels. It also meant I couldn’t eat as well as I’d like. As much as I’d like to once you’ve checked into a hotel and it’s getting close to 8pm you just want to go to the first restaurant you find to eat rather than spend an hour walking around to find the best fit. My colleague will only eat in a Nando’s when she works away. I never seem to have the energy to go searching.

All of this means my diet went out of the window. It’s not the calories and weight loss but rather I’ve been eating quite cleanly and with low carbs and you just don’t know half the time what is going into the cooking. I ended up with chicken and chips and some sauce. It was a restaurant based sauce (not ketchup!) so I don’t know the ingredients and I didn’t have the energy to ask.

Tuesdays meeting was eventful as there’s been a terror related car crash that morning which was on my route to work. Then we were evacuated for over 30 minutes because of a bomb threat (I’m a civil servant and my office when in London houses many senior leaders). While I was anxious about that it does mean you have a higher level of alertness and are less likely to stroll around enjoying your day.

Two days on and I’m still feeling over-tired, my diet hasn’t righted itself quite (I’ve gained a pound as well) and despite having completed my 10k steps a day I don’t feel like I’ve moved around and exercised enough and I’m anxious. So the anxiety this week is the inner voice coming out telling me I need to exercise, get out at lunchtime (I haven’t all week) and go for a walk and to eat better.

I’ve started this morning by making sure I’ve brought my own lunch. Originally I had back to back conference calls from 9 until 3pm (not healthy) but as the 12pm one has been cancelled I’m going to go outside and get some fresh air (even if it is raining on and off) and hopefully the anxious feelings will start to settle.

Eat well, move about more and sleep well. Simple things but sometimes we just don’t do these enough.