For the last year or so, I’ve been practising gratitude on a daily basis with the help of my 6 Minute Diary. And, more recently, my daily goal setter, which was sent to me from the lovely people at Mal Paper.
I’ve realising that being prompted to find 3 things to be grateful for in the morning, and something that I appreciated about my day just before bed, is one of the easiest ways of expressing gratitude.
Before I had a planner, gratitude, and practising it on a daily basis, seemed a little contrived and woo. Simply because forcing myself to find good things that happened in my day didn’t feel authentic. Especially when I was having a bad day.
Now that I’m feeling the compound effects of being consciously grateful each day, I’m understanding just how important having an attitude of gratitude is in life. Here’s the 3 benefits I’ve personally felt in by flexing my gratitude muscle every day:
It Helps You Attract More Things To Be Grateful For
Bear with me, I know this sounds woo, but carry on reading.
One of the ideas that I’ve read about over the years that is resonating with me more and more, is that what you focus on grows. For example, have you ever woken up on the wrong side of bed, stubbed your toe, burnt your tongue on your morning cuppa, then the day just went down hill from there?
The opposite is true too. By starting the day thinking of a few things that you appreciate in life, whether that be as wide reaching as your family and friends being fit and well, or as specific as the way your hair feels after it’s been freshly washed, it gets our brains into the habit of looking for other great things in our life.
You’ll then find good things just seem to be happening more and more, and that opportunities pop up out of no where. I’ve been feeling this more and more recently, and I know it’s a result of me training my brain through gratitude to see the good in every situation.
It Boosts Your Self Esteem
When you’re in a more grateful mindset, it makes sense that you then feel more satisfied with your life in general.
This then stops us having such an urge to compare ourselves to others, as we feel content with where we’re at on our own journey. It also means that we can cheer our peers on from a place that feels genuine, rather than secretly resenting their success, or not feeling good enough ourselves.
This has been a very welcome side affect of practising gratitude for me. I’ve struggled on and off for years with comparing myself to others because of my own limiting beliefs. I’m not going to lie, it’s not something that’s happened over night, but consistently being grateful has helped put in perspective what’s important to me in my life, and not to strive after the idea of success that is shown on my social media feed.
It Builds Resilience
Recognising everything that you have to be grateful for, even during the most uncertain and challenging times helps to build our resilience.
Being grateful for the little things in life, is what’s got me through some tough days during lock down, and continues to put things in perspective for me when I feel hard done by. Such as the fact that I have enough money for food or caught a glimpse of a cute squirrel on my lunch time walk that made me smile.
There is always something to be thankful for, not matter how small, which is sometimes the glimmer of hope we need to keep on moving forwards one step and one day at a time.
Building a resilient mindset is something that I’ve had to work on over the years. When my marriage fell apart a few years ago, I was at a complete loss as to how I should move forward. It felt like I had to draw upon every single ounce of energy I had just to remain positive.
Although I believe we all start with a level of resilience that’s cultivated through our childhood and teenage years, it’s taken practice and time for me to build my own resilience to a stage where I’m not that phased by big periods of change. I believe I can deal with it, just like I’ve dealt with change before.
So how do you go about building personal resilience?
Well the 4 tips that I’m about to share with you are things that I’ve had as part of my daily routine on and off over the last few years. I’m now in the position where I do all of them, and to say that they’ve helped me with all he uncertainty that 2020 has brought with it, would be an understatement.
I urge you to give a few of them a go (if you don’t do them already) so that you can build your own resilience; hopefully facing whatever life has in store for you next with a greater sense of inner strength.
This is something that I returned to earlier this year when lock down set in. I find that by noting down what’s on my mind, and how I’m feeling about it, helps me deal with it much better, and builds my resilience in the process.
By getting curious about why I react to situations in a certain way, or why I’m feeling particularly emotionally charged towards something, has been a great tool in me getting to know myself better too. And when I know myself better, I can trust that the decisions I’m making are the right ones.
It hasn’t always been that way though. When I first started journaling, I struggled with what to write. That’s where prompts can be really helpful. You can look on Pinterest or Google to find useful prompts to get to know yourself better, or reflect on how your feeling about the curve ball that life’s thrown you. I even made myself a jar full of prompts at the start of lock down.
Recently, I’ve been preferring just writing for 10 minutes first thing in the morning about everything that’s on my mind. That way it’s out of my head and on paper. And once it’s out, that’s when I can start to deal with it.
Listen to Inspiring Podcasts
It might sound a little strange, but my favourite way to listen to podcasts is in the shower. I used to listen to them on the bus on the way to work, and once I was put on lock down started, I had to figure out another way to get my fix.
The main reason why I listen to podcasts is because they inspire me to see things from a different perspective, or they affirm something that I’ve already been thinking. Both of which builds my resilience because I learn to trust my judgement more, whilst keeping my mindset in a more positive place. Things always seem easier to face when you can find the silver lining, no matter how small.
Deliciously Ella – the podcast series covers all aspects of wellness and well-being. I particularly love the episodes about finding happiness and the importance of sleep.
How To Fail with Elizabeth Day – Elizabeth champions things not going right in life, and everything that we learn from them. Each episode she speaks to a well known person about their perceived failures.
Read Self Development Books
Reading is the first thing that I turned to on my quest to build my resilience because I enjoy reading so much anyway.
I’ve written a blog post (you can read it here) about the 5 self-development books that have had the biggest effect on my life. Like I say in the post, I a big believer that the book you need the most at any given point in time will work its way into your hands.
Just like with podcasts, books encourage me to view my life from a different perspective, and they help with building my resilience because I’m learning that there is always a different way to view or approach a problem that will lead to solving it. This inspires me not to give up when things feel like too much, because I know there will always be another way.
At the moment I’m reading Super Attractor by Gabby Bernstein. It’s based around the idea of manifestation which is something that I’ve become more and more interested in. If you’re in need of some inspiration with what to read check out the ones I mention in my blog post that I’ve shared the link to just above.
I’m admit, affirmations are something which I’ve only started to come back to recently. Mainly because I stopped them when they started working, not realising that for them to really work, you need to be saying them to yourself consistently.
Affirmations help to build a resilient mindset because they reframe negative thoughts you have either about yourself, or your situation into positive ones. When you say affirmations often enough you trick your brain into actually believing that they’re true.
I’ve been finding it tricky recently to really believe that I’ll make my freelance business plans work, but I’ve been surprised just how much affirmations have helped my mindset. I’m starting to believe in myself much more, and that makes it so much easier to face more challenging circumstances.
In case you were wondering, saying affirmations in your head works just as well as saying them out loud. (so no need to worry about the potential awkwardness of someone else overhearing you) And if you’re not sure where to start, I wrote a blog post featuring 5 affirmations to increase your positivity that you can read here.
Which of these tips for building resilience will you be trying first?
If there’s one thing that lock down has pushed me to do more of, it’s spending time in nature. What started off as being one of the only reasons I could go outside of our flat each day, has now turned into one of my favourite forms of self care. It’s become obvious too, that my previous office-based lifestyle wasn’t allowing me to get any where near enough of it.
Spending time in nature has become one of my daily self care rituals, simply because it has such a positive affect on my mental health. Being outside has become so important for me, because it’s 30 minutes of escapism. I can briefly get away from what’s buzzing around in my head that day, and momentarily stop worrying about what’s going on in the wider World.
I’ve been surprised just how much getting outside has improved my mental health. It’s definitely been something that I’ve leant on heavily through some big periods of change that we’re all feeling at the moment. (hello Covid and Covid-related redundancy) So why is getting outside so important? If you don’t already, here’s 4 reasons why you should think about getting out in nature more often:
I remember in the months before the break up, when I was feeling anxious and ridden with guilt as to whether I should end my marriage or not, I used to go on a walk almost daily. It’s been the same with my coping with other big changes in my life recently; mentally trying to get through Corona, and remain positive when faced with redundancy.
My walk of choice then, and now, is along a foot path close to a harbour that’s a few minutes away from my flat. The sound of the water always has a massive calming affect on me, and lifts the mental fog that going through such a lot of uncertainty brings. It’s the tonic I need to get some perspective.
It Boosts Our Energy
It’s been said that a 20 minute walk can have the same energetic impact on our brains as a cup of coffee.
I definitely believe this one. Before Covid was a part of our lives, I had got into the habit of going for a 5 minute walk with one of my work mates every lunch time. My office didn’t have any windows, so it was great to get out and actually see daylight. It also meant we wouldn’t hit the dreaded afternoon ‘wall’ until past 4pm, which was much longer than we could last without having a walk.
Now, as a freelancer, I’ve made getting outside a non-negotiable part of my lunchtime routine. I always find that I get back to my desk feeling a bit more perky and with fresh ideas for the projects I’m working on that day.
It Encourages Us To Be Present
Getting outside in nature gives your brain a much needed break from the overstimulation it has to deal with from our busy lifestyles. There’s always an email to look at, or a social media notification screaming for our attention.
Side note: if you’ve watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, you’ll know just what this is doing to us as individuals, and as a society.
Leaving your phone at home, or firmly in your pocket, means there’s nothing dragging your attention away from the present moment and what’s around you. This is the number one reason why I think getting outside is so good for our mental health. Being present with what’s happening around you, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is a game changer.
When I went out for a walk earlier today, I was fascinated by just watching the clouds move and the changing light. It was beautiful. Taking a moment to really breathe in the intricacies that mother nature provides us with is the rest that our brain needs.
It Enhances Our Creativity
For similar reasons to the ones I’ve already mentioned, getting outside gets our creative juices flowing.
I always find that I come up with some of my best ideas after I’ve been for a walk. That’s because it feels like when I’m in nature, my thoughts are given space to breathe.
If I leave my phone at home, there’s nothing else demanding my attention, so solutions and project ideas seem to pop up out of the blue. A lot of my ideas for blog posts have come about from being outside.
I’ve also come home from walks in nature equipped with a strong realisation as to what the next best step will be in helping me navigate out of a period of change.
Now obviously not everyone has access to the woods or a beach on their doorstep. I’m lucky enough that I’m close to water, because, as I’ve already mentioned, I really do find the sound of waves calming. However, even getting out to your nearest green space, or a tree-lined street could help.
My advice to make sure you get the sustained benefits of spending time in nature, is to find a way to realistically factor it into your day so that it can gradually become a habit.
For me, this looks like a 30 minute walk as part of my lunch break. For you, it might be grabbing 15 minutes outside before your day begins, or using time in nature as a marker for the end of your work day.
What’s the biggest benefit that you’ve felt from spending time in nature?
To say that 2020 has been a year of overwhelming change would be an understatement. It’s affected so many of us on so many levels.
In fact, for me, the last 3 years or so have be a roller coaster ride of various changes and my trying to cope with them. It started with my marriage ending, then getting out onto the dating scene, starting a new job, (and then another) and moving house. This year then brought a pandemic that forced me into redundancy and now into a freelance career. I bet that reading this, you’ve been through a similar amount of change in the last few years or so yourself as well.
Often, it can feel like big periods of change happen back to back to one another without giving you the chance to pause and regroup. That’s certainly how it’s felt for me anyway, and I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed all the time.
Having spoken with some of my followers on Instagram, I’m understanding that I’m not alone when it comes to not knowing where to start in the midst of an overwhelming amount of change.
When you’re overwhelmed, it can feel like your frozen; so much is different that you don’t dare take another step in any direction for fear of toppling an already unsteady ship.
So how do you deal with feeling overwhelmed? In my experience it all comes down to mindset. If you can get yourself into a positive and productive mindset as much as possible, the rest will feel so much easier.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days. Feeling down and not wanting to face everything that’s happening is natural. We’re not robots. It’s especially on those days that I remind myself of these 3 things to help me feel less overwhelmed:
It Won’t Last Forever
I know this is a difficult one, because when you’re in the middle of it, it can feel like the fog of change and the uncertainty that it brings with it won’t ever lift. That’s all part of the overwhelm.
It might sound like a bit of an obvious or cheesy analogy, but just like the seasons change, so do our circumstances. If we embrace everything that those seasons have to offer us, it can be that much easier to make the transition into the next one.
Lock down has been a Winter for us all; filled with darkness and storms of uncertainty for us to weather. Winter is a time for self-care and to rest, to prepare ourselves for the fresh start that moving into Spring inevitably brings. Lock down definitely felt like the rest I so desperately needed after being busy, almost to the point of burn out, in my last job.
Navigating a new normal, and what it means for our work and social life, is us moving into Spring. If we look hard enough, there will be opportunities to be had and silver linings to be found.
You Have People To Support You
I’ve said it before in a blog post that I wrote about feeling lost, but I think it’s definitely important enough to mention again.
You are not alone in this. You do not need to suffer in your overwhelm by yourself. You have friends and family who want the best for you, and who will be there for you. Given the hand that 2020 has dealt us so far, they are likely to be feeling a similar way to you themselves, and you’ll both feel better for getting things off your chest.
I’ve found so much solace in connecting with like minded people on social media too. Being able to consume content from people who are going through, or have been through similar things to me has been a huge boost. Find your online tribe by searching for and following hashtags that interest and inspire you.
Control What You Can Control
I think that a lot of the overwhelm that comes from change is that it can feel like there is so little that we can control; so why bother trying to do anything?
In the initial weeks of lock down I felt frozen and overwhelmed in this way of thinking for sure. I soon realised this was making me miserable though. Feeling helpless isn’t a good starting point for being able to move forward.
What began to be, and still is, my mantra is; ‘just control what you can control’.
From a practical point of view with Covid, this has meant washing (with gel or water) my hands as often as I feel comfortable when visiting new places and wearing my face mask according to government guidelines. The rest I can’t control, so I try my best not to worry about it.
When facing redundancy, I knew that in seeking out a new working opportunity, the one main thing I could control was my mindset. So to reduce the overwhelm I doubled down on the amount of self development (you can read about my top self development books here) that I was doing, and actively sort out opportunities to be positively inspired.
Which of these things could you do with remembering the most at the moment?
It’s hard not to scroll through Instagram or Pinterest these days without being inundated with super motivational quotes; one’s shouting at you to take action and change your life. These motivational quotes cover everything, and promise success in work, study and life in general. Well, in theory anyway.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m a fan of quotes myself. However, words can seem empty if they don’t have any meaning behind them. (trust me, I’ve had enough dates in the past that promised to be in touch, but never followed through)
My top 5 motivational quotes are my favourites, because, rather than being an empty cheerleading cry, they inspire me to see my life circumstances from a different perspective. That’s what the best intentioned words have the power to do.
“Our Greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail” – Confucius
I’ll be honest, this is a quote that I’ve come back to A LOT, which is why it’s top of my list. It’s been the motivation that I’ve needed in so many situations. I love it because it inspires resilience. Which, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know is what I’m all about.
I’m a strong believer that life knocks us off course for a reason; it’s the nudge that we need to move off the path we were on, and take ourselves in a new direction. A direction that will make us happier in the long run.
When my marriage was falling part, I felt like I’d failed because I hadn’t been able to make it work. Being divorced by the time I was 30 seemed like a massive fail to be able to rise from. At times, and certainly at the beginning, it felt insurmountable. I eventually rose, and am now in a relationship where I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.
My friends have had similar experiences. One of my best friends lost her job during lock down. She was devastated because she really enjoyed what she did and couldn’t see things getting back to normal in the industry she was working in for a long time. It felt like a massive piece of her life was missing, and still is.
However, her failure to go back to work after her period on furlough has meant that she’s been able to pursue a career path that her previous job didn’t really offer the time for. She got a job almost immediately in another area that she’s passionate about, that will end up giving her loads of valuable experience.
“If there is a belief that is capable to move mountains, it is the belief in our own strength” – Marie Van Ebner-Eshen Bach
This is a quote I turn to time and time again when I’m having a bad day, or it feels like nothing is really going as I want it to. We’ve all been there right?
It’s the nature of life that we will all go through difficult times. It’s unavoidable, and as much as it feels bad at the time, it’s experience that makes us stronger.
Reading this quote motivates me to think just how far I’ve come and the difficulties I’ve faced and overcome in the past; like getting divorced and being made redundant.
I think we’re the last to give ourselves credit for things we’ve achieved. Especially when it comes to scenarios that were emotionally challenging. Often we just pick ourselves back up, and although are grateful for having got through it, don’t celebrate just how much stronger it’s made us.
I bet you can think of at least a couple of situations that have made you stronger, and sometimes we need a prompt like this to remind ourselves just how much strength lies within us.
“Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us” – Unknown
This is one of my top motivational quotes because I think it couldn’t be more relevant right now.
The global pandemic that we’re still continuing to go through has shown us that there is so much out of our control, and it could stay that way for a long while to come.
However, if I think back and compare myself to the person I was at the start of lock down, to who I am now, I’m not the same. I’ve learnt so much not only skills wise, but about myself as a person. I never in a million years would have thought it would have taken something as big as a global pandemic for me to see that.
I learnt all the skills I needed to launch and run this blog, I’ve learnt to slow down from the fast pace of life that was burning me out, and to stop and appreciate everything that I have. With my new found more balanced lifestyle, I’ve carved out a new career for myself too, rather than going back to a job that wasn’t doing my mental well-being any favours.
Even if it’s just a relatively small thing, I reckon that if you look back over the last 5 months, you’ve changed for the better too.
“There is no one giant step that does it, it’s a lot of little steps” – Peter A Cohen
This is a quote that I find super motivational when I’m struggling to see my progress.
It’s like the saying; no one is an overnight success. Too often we end up getting caught up in comparing our lives to the highlight reels other people show us on their social media. We’ve not seen all the hard work, and the thousands of steps taken to get them to that point. Because undoubtedly that’s what it has taken, but it’s hard not to feel frustrated with ourselves.
It’s happened to me before with this blog; I’d been plugging away for weeks and weeks without really seeing any results, then all of a sudden I got a jump in Instagram followers or a big surge in my Pinterest reach.
In the midst of doing the do, it can be easy to forget that the habits that we’ve taken the time to cultivate, are moving us forward one bit at a time. We just can’t see those steps working in our favour, and it takes quotes like this to remind us.
“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things”– Kurt Vonnegut
This quote has made it into my top 5 because it’s another one that I think is more relevant than ever considering the strange times we’re living through at the moment.
Being kept inside our homes for the majority of the day for weeks on end I think has forced us, me certainly, to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life.
The alternative was to wallow and morn the life we had before the pandemic took hold. Whilst I think we all did this on some level, adapting to the new normal we found ourselves in meant appreciating everything we did have rather than everything we’d lost.
Those little things in life for me looked like discovering the joys of Disney+, finding new corners of my city, ones that I only saw by getting out and walking, and the satisfaction of a new bake turning out well.
There have been days, and I’m sure you’ve felt it too, where the Corona-coaster has felt like to much to bear. It’s on those days that reading this quote has reminded me just how big those little things are for my mental well-being.
Which of these quotes do you find most motivating?
Disclaimer: this post features links to a PR product that I was sent to review. I do not get payment for you clicking on the links; I’m sharing, as it’s something that I genuinely enjoyed using, and think you will too.
I’ll be honest. Having a planner that I use on a daily basis has been a relatively new addition to my life. It’s only when I thought that my mental and emotional well-being were suffering that I started to really get into the habit of putting pen to paper.
When I was coming out of my marriage, I was feeling lost, and got into the routine of watching rubbish morning TV, or even worse the news, whilst I was getting ready for work. I could tell that it really wasn’t serving me. My thoughts were given too much time to fester, and I knew that I had to do something about it.
This started with cultivating a better morning routine for myself. I’ve posted before about how to create a powerful morning routine, and that has always included writing of some kind. Getting my thoughts, ideas and plans down on paper has become one of the morning rituals I look forward to, and get the most out of, partly because those festering thoughts are given space to breathe.
It might sound a little dramatic, but I do think that having a planner has changed my life for the better. I’ve tried a couple of planners and journals so far, all with similar prompts and benefits, but I wanted to share with you a daily planner that is fast becoming my favourite. Here’s why:
My Daily Goal Setter
I was sent Mal Paper‘s latest planner to try, and I couldn’t snap it up fast enough. Theirdailygoal setter encourages you not only to nurture morning and evening routines that are good for your mental well-being, but is also structured in a way that will keep you moving forwards with your goals. Both of which are exactly what you need when you’re trying to navigate through a big period of change in your life.
It Keeps Me Focused
One of the plus points that I’ve always found with having a planner or journal is that at the very least it keeps me focused for the day ahead, and at most, the month ahead.
The daily goal setter has sections at the beginning for you to write down your long, medium and short term goals. Although I’ve had goals floating around in my head of things I want to do and achieve over the next few years, I was actually surprised that I hadn’t formally written them down before.
I really liked how the structure of the planner then encourages you to review the month, and subsequently week ahead with those goals in mind.
I Can See My Progress
When I sat down at the end of last week, I shocked myself with how much I had actually achieved towards my goals, and I definitely think the planner had something to do with it. It was a great way to end the week too; I felt so proud of myself.
In the past I’ve often set myself up with too many tasks on my to-do list for the day, and end up overwhelming myself before I even got started. By using the handy ABCDE method described in the planner for prioritising my daily tasks, it prompted me to think about which were the most important tasks, and to do them first.
It sounds simple, but I’ve realised that that when I’m feeling most overwhelmed, or having a self confidence wobble, that I’ll focus on the the little bitty tasks that feel easy, but don’t actually move me any further forwards, rather than the bigger, scarier tasks. That’s because those bigger, scarier tasks feel like too much of a step outside of my comfort zone.
Using the daily goal setter is helping me to get out of that bad habit, which is empowering. For the first time in a long while, it’s starting to feel like my goals are actually achievable, and it’s so satisfying to see the progress I’m making.
It Sets An Intention For The Day
I shared over on my Instagram recently that I’ve become a fan of mantras in the last couple of weeks. I’ve also written a blog post about affirmations, that you can read here.
The reason why I think mantras and affirmations are so great, is that when they’re written or said in the morning, they can set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
Starting the day with a positive intention makes it that bit easier mentally to face what’s ahead of you, and each page in the daily goal setter includes space to write an affirmation for the day. One of my favourites that I’ve written for myself in the last couple of days is “I am excited for what is to come. I am allowing success into my life”.
It Encourages Gratitude
If you’ve ever read anything about the law of attraction, you’ll know that our thoughts can be a lot more powerful than we think. The basic premise is that, what we think about, we bring about.
With that in mind, it makes sense that by being thankful for things that are already in your life, more things will come into your life for you to be thankful for. Noting down some of the great things in your life can give you a boost on days when you’re feeling a little ‘meh’ too.
The planners that I’ve had in the past have all incorporated sections at either the start or end of the day to write down a gratitude list of 3 things. The daily goal setter is no different, and it’s a habit that I’ve enjoyed keeping up with. One of the things that I wrote down that I was grateful for this morning was my health; I’m stronger than I have been for a long time.
Are you a fan of using a planner?
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If there’s one thing that’s pretty much guaranteed in life, it’s that we’ll experience change on some level. Some change is expected, and some really isn’t. (erm, hello Corona) Getting nervous about change is definitely a feeling that I’m familiar with.
In the final year or so of being married, I spent what felt like thousands of hours agonising over the reasons why, even though I was desperately unhappy, I should stay in my relationship. Taking a big step into the unknown just seemed like too much change to deal with. I was anxious, and let the fear of everything that change represented keep me frozen where I was for too long. I was scared to walk away from the comfort of what I’d known for so long.
When I did eventually get divorced, (you can read everything I learnt from getting divorced here) rather than feeling overwhelmed, it felt like a weight had been lifted. Now, I’m going to be honest and say that overcoming my fear of change didn’t happen overnight, in fact, at times it was it was emotionally draining, and it took some real inner work. Was it worth it though? For sure.
I was originally inspired to write this post after reading a blog on a similar subject by Jodie Melissa. She wrote about how our anxious reaction to change is natural because we crave safety, and I would agree with this for sure.
However, as with pretty much everything that I’ve learnt, seeing things from a new perspective really does help when faced with change. I wanted to share with you the reasons why I’ve found that stepping away from safety and into the unknown isn’t something to be scared of, but instead, is something we all have the strength to embrace.
It’s A Learning Experience
Change knocks us off course, and as you try to navigate through it and out the other side, things probably won’t happen exactly as you want them to along the way.
But that’s okay, because it’s through that experience that you’ll learn. Some lessons will be harder than others, but ultimately they will help you grow.
When my marriage was ending, I made, in hindsight, some questionable choices with my finances. This included putting a long weekend in Ibiza, (my way of escaping everything that was going on) all on my credit card.
Whilst this didn’t put me in the greatest position financially, as I was saddled with a substantial amount of debt to pay off, it did teach me the importance of budgeting effectively. Meaning that I can now experience the events and parts of the World that will leave me with the best memories, not a massive hole in my pocket.
You’ll Grow Stronger & Wiser
It’s through things not going right, that not only will you learn, but you’ll also become stronger. As Kelly Clarkson famously sings “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and by getting back up again, you gain the resilience to be able to face the next change that comes your way without feeling quite so scared.
I was terrified about getting back on to the dating scene after my marriage ended, but threw myself into the dating apps anyway. Through A LOT of trial and error, disappointments, and frankly weird experiences, I became wise to the behaviour of certain men on the apps, and the red flags to avoid.
I don’t view it as wasted energy though, because I became more resilient to rejection, and despite the ups and downs, I actually met my current boyfriend on a dating app.
What’s Meant For You Will Not Pass
Although you may feel lost in the midst of all the change initially, I’m a strong believer that what’s meant for you will not pass. This can offer the much needed comfort that we crave as a knee-jerk reaction to change.
Forgive me for sounding a little woo, but, if you’ve set the intention for what you want from your life moving forwards out of the change you’re experiencing, and you’re doing the things that will get you there, then the Universe will step in and support you.
Even though I was stepping away from everything I had known in my marriage, I had a gut feeling that the pieces would eventually come back together again. I never imagined that those parts of my life would be gone, but I had faith that the new pieces would create a happier and more fulfilled picture for me.
What’s the biggest change that you’ve learnt from?
As I spoke about in my last blog post, when you’re feeling lost, or facing a massive curve ball in life, it’s more important than ever to practice self care. Trying to navigate a challenging time is exhausting, so it makes sense to make looking after yourself a priority.
I think that there’s a lot of confusion as to the definition of self care, especially as it’s a phrase that’s thrown around a lot these days. What I do want to stress is that self care can mean different things to different people, and so doesn’t always have to include the obvious ‘pamper’ activities.
What Is Self Care?
As I’ve already hinted at, self care isn’t all about bubble baths and face masks; although it can of course include those things if you want.
Self care is any activity that preserves or benefits our mental, physical or emotional well-being. Which means you don’t have to be sat quietly in a corner to practice it either!
Self care activities that benefit your mental well-being can perhaps be best described as anything that helps to de-clutter your mind and reduce your stress levels.
As I’ve already talked about, this will look different to different people. To look after my mental well-being I prefer to do things that promote a sense of quiet. But hey, I’m an introvert and that’s just me.
Self care ideas that you can use to look after your mental well-being are reading, tidying up your home, doing a creative hobby, unplugging from social media or going for a walk.
Like the word suggests, self care for this type of well-being is anything that benefits your physical body. Although a lot of the examples that I’ll share with your may sound obvious, they are often the easiest to overlook.
Self care ideas that you can use to look after your physical well-being are staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, moving your body in a way that feels good to you, or fitting an extra portion of fruit or veg into your daily meals.
Sleep is something that I’ve been very up and down with throughout this pandemic, and I’m currently working on a routine that will help me wind down into an uninterrupted sleep.
Going through a big change can impact how we view ourselves and our place in the World around us, and practicing self care for our emotional well-being can help us explore and come to terms with that.
Self care ideas that you can use to look after your emotional well-being are journaling, meditation (you can read my beginners guide here) and making time to talk through what’s going on with a trusted friend or family member.
I’ve done all of these things to differing levels myself, and know that I still need to work on opening myself up to others more rather than carrying the burden of what I’m trying to cope with on my own.
Why Prioritise Self Care?
Being able to move forwards out of a time of big change or feeling lost takes so much energy, and you need to replenish that energy in order to keep on moving forwards into the future that you want for yourself.
I’ve found that sometimes devoting full days to self care can feel like an impossible task. Like any habit, in order for you to get into a routine with self care, you need to be able to fit in time to do it consistently.
With that in mind, I dedicate around an hour to self care each day. This is mainly made up of journaling, reading, meditation and exercising in the morning, and a soak in the bath with a book most evenings. I realise that isn’t realistic for some people, but I would definitely recommend carving out at least 10 to 15 minutes at the start and end of your day for your self care, and here’s the reasons why:
To Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Yourself (& others)
One of the great side-effects of spending time looking after your emotional well-being is that you get to know yourself better. You begin to understand what makes you tick, how you react in certain situations that isn’t serving you, and what brings you joy.
If you understand yourself it makes it that much easier to trust that the decisions you’re making are the right ones.
It Boosts Your Confidence
It makes sense that if you doing the things that attend to your well-being needs, that you’ll feel good. And when you feel good about things it boosts your confidence.
Knowing that you can navigate through a tough time mentally, (as feeling lost often is) and still show up for yourself on a daily basis, breeds a positive mindset too.
To Help Deal With Stress & Anxiety
Again, it should hopefully make sense that if you’re doing activities that benefit your mental well-being on a regular basis, you’ll feel stress and anxiety begin to melt away.
You’ll also be better equipped to deal with periods of stress and/or anxiety when they crop up again in the future. (because let’s face it, they do) Knowing that you have a toolkit of actions you can go to when you feel the overwhelm creeping in will feel empowering.
It Promotes A Sense Of Balance
By carving out time each day to take care of your self care needs means that you can take a step off the treadmill of ‘busy’ that life often becomes. I’ve been there myself, and it can be so easy to neglect your own needs when things get full on, when it fact it’s the time you should be looking after yourself most.
In doing small acts of self care on a daily basis, there begins to be a separation between the times when you’re serving others and when you’re serving yourself.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; you can’t give from an empty cup, especially when you’re trying to figure out a way to pivot through something unexpected that life has thrown at you. You need that extra energy to be able to move forwards, never mind the fact that you definitely deserve it.
Could you do with fitting more self care into your daily routine?
When life throws an unexpected curve ball your way, it can lead you to feeling lost. When everything you once knew is shaken to the core, it’s natural not to know how to move forwards.
I’m speaking from experience, because I’ve been there. When my marriage fell apart, I lost my sense of self. I had been one half of a partnership for so long (the best part of a decade) that I’d forgotten who I was outside of it. The future that I thought I had was taken from me, and I had no idea how to move forwards.
More recently, my role at work was made redundant. (you can read all about it in the post I wrote here) Again, my preconceived ideas of what my work life would look like over the next few years was stripped away, and I wasn’t sure what the best way of moving forwards would be.
So, what do you do when you feel lost and confused in life? The 5 tips that I’m about to share with you below are based on what’s worked for me, and are a formula that you can return to again and again if you need to. After all, life does have a habit of keeping us on our toes.
I want to preface this by saying that I’m not a Doctor, so if these tips feel like too much, or you sense that there is something much deeper behind you feeling lost, please go and see a professional to work through it.
1. Focus On The Things That Bring You Joy
When you’re feeling lost, it makes sense to return back to things that make you feel good. This is more than just self-care; it’s consciously seeking out opportunities in your day that bring even the smallest smile to your face.
This is a concept I first read about in the book, Light Is The New Black by Rebecca Campbell. This book is quite spiritually lead, but essentially focused on doing the things that ‘light you up’. (or bring you joy) For me, when my marriage was falling apart, the things that brought me joy were filling my bedroom with flowers, fairy lights and photos of the people I loved, and going to dance class to really let loose.
The things that bring you joy don’t have to just be activities. Like in my example, they can be things which bring you joy in your own home or space, and make it feel more like ‘you’. If you’re feeling so lost that you’re not even sure what might bring you joy any more, use Pinterest or Instagram as inspiration and try a few things until you find what the magic combination is that lights you up.
2. Use Your Support Network
When things were starting to get rocky within my marriage I’m the first to hold my hand up and say that I buried my head in the sand with it all; which just made me feel even more lost.
If I didn’t acknowledge that things weren’t very good, or that I wasn’t happy, then I wouldn’t have to admit that it was actually happening. I kept my group of best friends in the dark for so long, that when I did eventually speak to them about it, they were surprised that I hadn’t said anything sooner.
When you’re feeling lost, it’s the time when you definitely need to be leaning on your friends and family most. They love you, so will be more than happy to be a shoulder to cry on. Ask them questions, listen to their advice, and make sure you schedule in time to spend with them either in person or virtually as much as you can.
They’re likely to be the people that know you best, and the more time you spend talking about how you feel with them, the more you’ll start feeling yourself again. They are you’re biggest cheerleaders after all!
3. Trust What Your Body Is Telling You
My body has the habit of forcing me to submit when it’s trying to tell me something. When I was super stressed during my divorce process, it forced me to step away from things and rest by giving me a nasty viral infection that left me exhausted for weeks.
Even now, I know that something isn’t right when my period is off. Basically I bleed when something big in my life is off-kilter. Getting this in tune with my body has taken years of practice though.
After you’ve started focusing on the things that bring you joy, you’ll start to know better what feels good and what doesn’t, rather than every day feeling like you’re stuck in a fog.
I’ve said it before over on my Instagram, but don’t be afraid to feel all the feels. If you’re noticing that you’re not feeling good; having a bad day or week, lean into it rather than fighting it.
By embracing your feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger or grief, and doing the self-care activities that make you feel better, you pave the way to eventually let them go and start moving forwards. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good cry. You’ll feel better for you – I know I do.
4. Make Self Care A Priority
To say that you’re emotionally drained when you’re feeling lost would be an understatement. Believe me, I’ve been there. Bearing that in mind, it’s so important to focus on the activities that benefit your mental, physical and emotional well-being as much as possible.
Don’t confuse this with my earlier point of doing things that bring you joy; yes there will be overlap, but for you to really feel like you’re getting some clarity, I would recommend that you do both.
Carve out at least 30 minutes a day just for you. If you have a busy work and family life this can feel like a lot to find time for. However, you could break it down into 3 sets of 10 minutes throughout the day, which is automatically more manageable. Plus, you deserve it.
Savour your morning coffee, dance like a loon to your favourite tunes, go for a walk, read, journal, meditate (you can read my beginner’s guide here), have a bath; basically any activity that will replenish your energy.
I add self care into both my morning and evening routines and feel so much better for it. If you need some inspiration for how to build a morning routine with self care that serves you, I have a blog post to help you out that you can read here.
5. And Finally….Set Goals For How You Want To Move Forwards
The likelihood is, that after after a few weeks or months of consistently doing the 4 things that I’ve already mentioned, that you’ll be starting to feel a little more like yourself.
I want to stress that I wouldn’t advise that you move on to this final stage until you’re feeling stronger and ready to take some steps forward out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, you may well end up feeling overwhelmed.
To be able to set goals for how you want to move forward out of feeling lost means asking yourself some important questions. How do you want your work life and/or relationships to change moving forwards? And, what would having your mental well-being in a good place look like to you?
When asking yourself these questions, be completely honest with yourself. This is your life, and it’s down to you what you want out of it, not any one else’s, or society’s expectations. You deserve to be happy, and that starts with being true to yourself.
After you’ve answered these big questions for yourself, write a big goal (or two) down that will get you there. Even if it feels scary or unrealistic, and a long way from where you are now, go with it. Once it’s written down you can start to figure out the small steps to get you there. Start with small actions that will be easy for you to do consistently on a daily basis and keep on going.
When I was lost and coming out of my failed marriage, my big goal was to develop a relationship that was a true partnership, and to find someone who would love me for all I was, rather than just some of the parts. I realised that in order to expect this from another person, I would need to do some serious work on myself. I committed to getting to a place where self-love came easily, and day to day this looked like listening to uplifting and/or inspiring podcasts or reading self-development books and taking action on what I learnt.
Have you tried any of these tips before when you’ve felt lost? Let’s chat in the comments.
I first realised the importance of a morning routine after reading Hal Elrod’s book; The Miracle Morning. It’s also one of the self-development books that’s had the biggest impact on me, which you can read more about in this post.
I’d come across lots of morning routine ideas before then, but nothing really stuck. I’d got so used to the comfort of mindlessly looking at my phone, and watching either the news or morning telly before I got ready for work. I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favours doing this though.
In the years since reading the book I’ve honed the activities that I do in the morning before work (when I wasn’t on furlough) to include slight variations of what he shares. I definitely think it makes sense to set your physical and mental well-being up in way that will hopefully keep you in a positive mindset throughout the rest of the day.
Before I share with you Hal’s advice from the book, I want to stress the key thing to remember when starting a morning routine is being patient. It may take trying different combinations of the the below ideas, or doing them for a different lengths of time in order to come to a set of rituals that works for you; that makes you feel powerful and ready to face the day ahead.
My top tip with this is not to over complicate it. Go with your gut instinct as to what feels right. Having an approach that is too regimented will make it feel like a chore, rather than self-care time.
Also bear in mind your own specific time constraints. If need be, you can literally just spend 1 or 2 minutes on each of these things, and they will still set you up well for the day. As you will see, I combine some activities together, as I feel that this really makes productive use of my time.
Silence (or Meditation)
If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ll know from an earlier post that I did on meditation that this took me a while to get in to, but has definitely been worth while for the benefits that I’ve felt. The jumble of thoughts I have lifts, and I can gain a moment of clarity and calm. You can read my beginners guide to meditation here.
At the moment I’m spending around 5 minutes focusing on an affirmation or positive intention that I have for the day, closing my eyes, and breathing deeply. Sometimes I like to visualise how I want my future life to look – I really just go with what feels good on that particular morning.
As I’ve recommended before, you could try a guided meditation on an app like Calm instead. Or, you could try a breathing technique for a minute.
This is another area that I’ve created a blog post about and if you don’t know where to get started with practising them, reading that is a great place to start.
Affirmations essentially train you to re-frame negative thought patterns that you might have into positive and motivational ones instead; setting you up with a powerful positive intention to start the day.
It’s best to make them as personal as possible, and address the negative thoughts that are really weighing you down at the moment. For example, you could transform the thought of “I’m always tired” into “Today I am full of energy and excited for what the day holds”.
I’ve only just started getting back into practising affirmations again, and I’ve written them out on a sheet of paper. I then read that sheet of paper several times and recite them in my head every morning whilst I’m eating my breakfast. A method I’ve used before has been saying them out loud in the shower too.
Visualisation is a powerful tool for focusing on your goals, (just ask Olympic athletes) which is why it’s so great to do it in the morning.
By visualising our dreams and goals; how it will look, taste and feel when we achieve them, it motivates and focuses our mind on how we can take the steps to get there. By visualising a scenario in detail including all of the senses we would feel, it tricks our brain into thinking that it’s already happened. That’s why it’s such a great mental tool for athletes.
There are definitely a few ways that you can approach visualisation. As I’ve already said, sometimes I combine it with my meditation, as it always makes me feel really positive about the day ahead.
Another method you could try is creating a slide show of images that fit with how you want your life to look in say the next 5 years. You could then play this slide show on your phone every morning whilst you’re eating breakfast. I’m also a fan of doing this the old fashioned way and creating a vision board out of magazine cuttings, and sticking it up somewhere that I’ll definitely see in the morning.
I have to admit that during my time on furlough, I don’t think I would have had the motivation to do very much at all if it hadn’t been for me exercising every morning.
The Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) has a whole ethos around exercising for the mental well-being benefits that it brings rather than losing weight. He says that he’s better able to face any challenges that the day may bring because of it. This makes sense because the same endorphins that give you a high afterwards also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp with the tasks ahead of you.
How much exercise you do will obviously be dependent on how much time you have available. If you only have 10 minutes in the morning, you’re not going to want to try to schedule in going for a 1 hour run. As I’m on furlough at the moment, I’ve been doing 20-30 minute fairly high intensity workouts each morning.
When I was working, however, it would have been totally out of the question to exercise for that amount of time without getting up even earlier. Which, as someone who’s not a morning person, wasn’t something I was willing to do. I would just do a couple of simple yoga stretches instead to get my body moving, or dance about to one of my favourite tunes whilst I was making my breakfast.
I love reading, and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I like to do a lot of it. In the mornings I think it totally makes sense to feed your mind something inspirational or motivational rather than the negative stream of stories that are on the news. It just gets you in a better head space to start the day.
At the moment I’m rotating between a couple of self-development books, as well as some anti-racism education for myself. Even just 10 minutes of reading something that encourages me to change my perspective helps me figure out how best to approach my day with that new way of thinking in mind.
Even on a day when I’m feeling less motivated to sit and read a book, I’ll catch up on my favourite blogs, as I find they’re a great way to inspire me creatively. Some of the ones I enjoy are Unexpected Adventures, Nicole No Filter, and Holly Soulie.
This is an area that you could approach in loads of different ways. I think the real strength that lies behind writing things down is that it gets in out of your head and physically on to paper, and that can feel like a weight has been lifted just in itself.
Writing down goals and affirmations also helps them to be cemented in your subconscious and therefore that bit more likely to happen.
If you’re short on time I would really recommend starting the day by writing down 3 things that you’re grateful for. These can be as general or as specific as you like. The key is that it then starts you off with a grateful mindset for the rest of the day, and you’ll hopefully be more aware of things that happen during the day that you could be thankful for. I do this every morning and feel like it makes such a difference.
If you have longer, you might want to consider finding some journal prompts online to help you reflect and dig deeper into why you feel the way you do about certain things. I progressed from this into free writing just whatever is on my mind in the morning; things I might be worrying about, situations that have played out, and why I might be feeling how I am about them.
As I’ve said before in other blog posts, I find that if I understand myself and my motivations more clearly, then it allows me to show up as my best self. That’s why I’ll always ensure that I make time for writing at the start of the day.
Do you have a morning routine? And has this inspired you to give any of these suggestions a try? Let me know in the comments