I have recently started contributing to the website A Lust for Life. My first article is about the difficulty of making choices using our head and heart. I plan to contribute monthly, let me know if there is anything you have wanted me to write about.
I hope you enjoy!
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Happy Friday World!
Sometimes we just need to read some words of encouragement on a nice backgroud.
Because of that:
“Be an encourager. Scatter sunshine. Who knows whose life you might touch with something as simple as a kind word.” – Debbie Macomber
Winter sure can be depressing. I don’t like the short, grey days or the chilly nights. If like me you feel your mood and energy are down this time of year, here are some things to help make your Autumn and Winter more enjoyable.
- Visit Botanical Gardens. Even in the dead of Winter their greenhouses are filled with beautiful plants and trees. They are warm and smell lovely. The added oxygen can help lift your spirits, while the warm air will remind you of warmer days. If you don’t have botanical gardens around you visit any park, feeling closer to nature often make us feel better too.
- Meet a friend for tea or coffee – not pints. I am not saying drinking is out of the question for the colder months. However, if you are already feeling down, adding alcohol to the mix isn’t a good idea. Alcohol is a depressant, that followed by pouring your heart out to a friend can often lead to the fear in a big way. Instead, meet someone you trust for tea and talk. It will give you a chance to vent and hopefully not judge yourself too harshly.
- Let yourself hibernate. It’s colder, the days are shorter and your energy levels are low. Instead of spending the days complaining about that, give in. Let yourself move slower, eat a bit more and do less. Putting yourself down for your lack of energy won’t change anything, it will most likely do the opposite. The seasons will change, like they always do and you will once again feel more motivated. Untill that time, relax.
- Grab some vitamin D supplements. Usually us humans get all the vitamin D we need from the sun. The UV rays trigger its synthesis into our body. However, in these Winter months we often do not get enough. Those D vitamins are responsible for making our bones strong and keeping our immune system healthy. Pop into your local health food shop and give yourself a boost.
- Eat foods that are hearty and rich with good fats. This time of year it can feel like the tank is always empty. Make sure you are eating things that give you a boost. Nuts, lentils, chicken and turkey will all fill your belly and help balance your mind. Having a slow cooker in the house is handy because you can fill it with what you need on your way to work. When you return home dinner is ready to go, slip into some comfy clothes and eat up.
- Go outside on your lunch break. Depending on the hours you work you may never see sunlight. That can make it seem like you are living one long, dark, day. You need a break. Even if it’s chilly bundle up and walk around the block. Breathe in the air and admire those grey clouds. They’ll part soon and the sun will return… Right?
- Watch, read or listen to something uplifting. Sometimes we need to feel like the world isn’t that bad. I did a post before with some reading suggestions which you can check out. Otherwise ask friends and family what they watch when they want to feel optimistic. Sometimes we need the outside world to help counteract the inside feelings.
The key to all of this is noticing how you feel and deciding what you need. Trying to convince yourself you feel different than you do, doesn’t work. Embrace the cold and the grey. Curl up, get warm and be lazy. It will be Spring before you know it and you’ll be surprised how fast it’s come around. If you feel like you are feeling more down then usual contact someone like myself and talk. It’s totally normal to feel out of sorts at times and usually all that is needed is a little extra support.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
Depression is categorised as a mood disorder which causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in life. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. If you are someone who suffers from depression then I am sure you are aware what a difficult illness it can be to live with. Many times I have heard clients with the diagnosis wish it were something visible, like a broken bone. Then those around them would better understand their needs.
If you know someone who is depressed it can be difficult to know what to do. Especially if you have never felt that way. The first step is trying to understand how they are feeling. Below is a video that captures what it can be like to live with depression.
It can be incredibly difficult to offer support to someone who doesn’t feel like it will help or like they deserve it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, here are some ways you can offer support:
- Listen without judgement. If the person who’s depressed lists all the reasons they feel down don’t counteract with reasons they should feel better. Often they already don’t understand why they feel the way they do. By telling them all the reasons they should feel better is not really hearing how they are experiencing things.
- Be patient. Tell them you are there any time they need you. If they don’t take you up on the offer understand that they are not doing that to hurt you.
- Offer support in any way. Offer lifts, collect shopping or even do odd jobs around their house. Depression causes almost a complete lack of motivation which means lots of things don’t get done.
- Understand that this isn’t a choice. If those suffering could wave a magic wand and feel better, they would. However, even knowing the many factors the can cause depression doesn’t solve the problem.
- Don’t give up.
- Don’t say you know what it’s like if you don’t.
- Try not to push or get angry. Recommend that they talk to their GP or go see a counsellor but realise they need to make the decision for themselves.
- Get support for yourself. If you are in a relationship or are a carer for someone with depression it can be draining for you to be around them. Find a way to support yourself and make sure you find a way to find joy in your life.
What anyone in this situation needs to know is that they are cared for. Do that anyway you can and you can help be the silver lining that gives this person hope.
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton
— If reading this has made you realise that you may be depressed or are ready to get help then contact myself or a therapist in your area. —
After having a roof over their heads and food in their belly, happiness is usually the goal that most people aspire to reach. It may sound simple enough however many things can get in the way. If you are looking for ways to feel happier in your own life here are some things to remember.
- Stop caring about what others think. (Especially strangers) Embrace the quote: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch
- Learn how to deal with endings. Endings happen ALL the time, you move, a friend moves, you change job, a relationship finishes. Ideally we should be able to learn from all of our experiences (even the hard ones) and move onto something better.
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy. Staying fit doesn’t have to be about looking a certain way, it will help make you feel better emotionally as well. If the gym isn’t your thing, try running, yoga or join a team near you so you can make friends as well as breaking a sweat.
- Notice how food affects your mood. Serotonin is the brains natural mood regulator, depending on what foods you eat it can increase or decrease. Food also affects our energy levels, food high in sugar will give you a boost followed by a crash. Once you become aware of the impact of your diet it will be easier to choose food that keeps you on an even keel.
- Let go of people who bring you down. Having a negative person around can make the world seem like a pretty bad place. Try to limit the amount of time spent with that kind of personality. If that’s not possible then try to be around in body but not in mind.
- Find friends who you can have real conversations with. There are so many facets to life, make sure you have people who you can debate the big questions with, it will make you feel less alone.
- Don’t believe everything you read/see/hear in the media. Often you are being sold to, be critical.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Like you, everyone is just trying to get through each day. You can’t know the journey of another at first glance so don’t make assumptions.
- Start speaking to yourself like a friend. If that sounds too difficult try speaking to yourself like an acquaintance who you would like to get to know better. Therefore it would not be in your best interest to constantly put them down.
- Everyone feels like they are a little crazy. And in truth we all are, I am convinced there is no such thing as ‘normal’.
- Just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.
- Don’t judge your feelings. Our emotions don’t have to be good or bad, they just are. Telling yourself that you should feel any different then you do isn’t helpful. If a friend came to you upset would you tell them they are being stupid? I doubt it and remember, you are talking to yourself like a friend now.
- Be comfortable with your own company. Who do you spend more time with but yourself?
- Embrace change. Change is constant, the better you can adapt to it the less overwhelmed you will feel.
- Be positive. You’ll live longer.
- Be aware of your ‘baggage’. We all have our own emotional issues, that’s okay. Knowing what yours is will make it easy to connect.
- Find your passion.
- Let go of ‘should’ and ‘should not’. Why shouldn’t you be exactly where you are, doing exactly what you are doing?
- It’s never to late to change. If you don’t like your life/relationship/job etc. then change it. Yes it may be difficult but if you don’t want to be in this same place in 5 years time then change has to happen.
- Fear is a liar. Fear will gain your trust and make you think it knows best, it doesn’t. Be hopeful and excited about things to come.
“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.” – Ayn Rand
I try to avoid the news. I find it depressing and I believe that is the point of it. To make people think and feel that the world is scary and bad can mean we follow rules more easily. If everyone were to believe that the planet we live is on is wonderful and full of hope you may not find the need to buy that newest product. Or perhaps you won’t watch that mindless show knowing that real life exists with one another.
Bill Hicks, a late comedian was fed up with the news and especially its portrayal of drugs in the media.
My lack of interest in the news doesn’t mean I am not caught up with current affairs. It just means I pick the sources myself. I find if I spend the day listening to the radio every hour on the hour I am shaking my head. I feel heartbroken for lives lost, families torn apart and angry at the people in charge. I don’t like feeling like that I also don’t like allowing strangers into my heart and dictating how I feel.
With that in mind I want to once again show you that the world isn’t all bad and you can learn about good things happening out there. Below are some options to read about some of the positive things occurring all around us:
- Positive News – This website has many different categories, from environment to lifestyle and is part of a global community of contributors. In their own words ‘we look at society’s challenges through a lens of progress and possibility.’ A view I prefer instead of, ‘everything is terrible and broken’.
- Sunny Skyz – The news section of this website will give you positive stories coming out of the states. With a country that is often only making headlines for gun violence or a xenophobic presidential candidate, hearing about the kindness of its citizen’s is refreshing.
- Positive News.org – With headlines like: Kindness Disarms Anti-Islam Protester and Solar Powered Plane Completes First Ever Atlantic Flight this site is exactly what the name implies. It contains positive news with no corporate funding so there isn’t any hidden agenda.
There are many articles written and studies done on whether the planet is better or worse than it once was. Instead of asking that, ask yourself do you feel better or worse depending on how you look at the planet? Personally, reading about all the terrible things happening out there can make me feel undeserving for all I have. When really I should feel grateful for my life and take that energy to help others. If we feel that the world is doomed then what’s the point in trying to make a difference?
Decide for yourself what feels right for you and follow that path. Maybe you’ll start turning off the news or not reading the papers. All we can do is be kind to one another, which in my opinion is the most powerful, world-changing force.
“The bad news is, people are crueler, meaner and more evil than you’ve ever imagined. The good news is, people are kinder, gentler and more loving than you’ve ever dreamed.” – pleasefindthis
Many of us are born into a religion. It’s not until we get older that we have the opportunity to question our beliefs and decide if they are for us. This is an opportunity that not everyone takes. It can be difficult to ask the tough questions like: Why are we here? What is the point of life? What happens when we die?
As a therapist I am sometimes the person that gets presented with such big questions. I feel honoured that I get to help someone better figure out what they believe and in turn better understand themselves. That is why exploring your own view on spirituality is so important. Spirituality is more about deciding for yourself what the big questions are and how to answer them. Deciding when and how you feel connected to yourself and others. For you that may not be in a church but in nature, near the sea or being surrounded by those you love. The forest can be your church and any sunny day your sabbath.
Giving yourself the space to explore what religion and spirituality mean to you is important. It will allow you to better deal with difficult situations. Believing that every experience is to help you learn and grow means that the ups and downs of life are easier to make sense of. Religion can feel like it opposes spirituality because some of the planets biggest religions have outdated views on woman and equality in general. It’s not their fault, these religions were formed thousands of years ago. Being a person now is completely unrecognisable the world of our ancestors. Which is most likely why more and more people are finding it difficult to relate to religion like our generations before.
If you never ask yourself what you believe you can end up feeling confused and alone. It’s okay to ask questions and change your mind. Life happen and we grow, sometimes our beliefs change. Maybe that’s why we’re here, to ask these questions and figure out an answer. At least we don’t have to ask them alone.
“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson