anxiety · Broadband Conciousness · self development · selfcare

The power of choice

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned on my journey to overcoming anxiety came from Dr Terrance Watts, author of “Seven ways and seven days to banish your anxiety”.

He encourages us to change our language from “can’t” to “choose”. So instead of saying, “I Can’t, because of my anxiety….”, change it to “I’m choosing not to,because it makes me feel anxious”.

This might look like, “ I’m choosing not to drive to that event because I’d like to arrive feeling calm & not anxious”, rather than, “I can’t drive there because of my anxiety”. Or “I’m choosing to email rather than call because I want to manage my anxiety levels”, rather than “ I can’t talk on the phone”, or perhaps it’s “I’m choosing not to apply for a new job just yet” rather than “ I can’t cope with attending interviews “.

It may seem like a small shift but it’s incredibly powerful because it requires you to be mindful of your anxiety triggers and concisely choose your actions. It takes the power away from anxiety and makes it YOUR choice!

And of course the difference between something you CHOOSE not to do and something you can’t do is, that if you’re capable of doing it but choosing not to you can always choose to do it in the future, it is not unavailable to you.

You can become a confident driver.

You can become comfortable making calls.

You can attend an interview and present yourself well.

As we continue to use this new terminology it allows for a seed of doubt to be sown in our subconscious. We start to question whether the limits we’ve been putting on ourselves are true. We start to glimpse the possibility of a life free from anxiety. A life in which we can choose differently.

I’ve seen first hand how this change in mindset can be the start of moving towards a life free from anxiety.

I recall completing one of the sessions on the “seven ways & seven days programme” in which you visualise how you will feel in a situation, which currently triggers anxiety, once you are anxiety free. Some of those things I was imagining, some of the things I was choosing not to do – I am now able to do.

What’s amazing is that not only am I able to do certain things without an anxiety, but the things which are anxiety triggering for me and I would previously have avoided I can now choose to do DESPITE the anxiety.

I’ve learned not to be scared of feeling anxiety or that negative voice in the back of my head. I’ve learned to choose to do things that will benefit me regardless of whether I feel anxious or not. And I’ve learned when not to overload myself and choose not to do things too, and I’m good with that.

****

If you’d like to hear more about my story and learn some of the techniques that brought me to this place for yourself, why not join me for a one day workshop? I work with groups of 4-6 people in a safe calm environment to help you change your mindset and overcome limiting beliefs. Feel free to message me for more info or visit http://www.kathrynreay.com

Advertisements
manifestation · self development · selfcare

Is this sparking joy…?

Throughout January I found myself joining the nation in Maria Kondo-ing my house. I was amazed how much freer I felt and how the energy in my home felt less stuck. Despite having a reasonably tidy house there were certain pockets that felt cluttered and didn’t flow and I had a number of things which were not being used or looked at which have now either been set free or are in the process of being repurposed.

This process also resulted in a number of new projects kicking off, one being to finally get our spare room organised and decorated including creating an office space and another being to start scrapbooking some of my memories, which I hope will be be a relaxing creative project for me.

But this got me thinking what about other areas of my life. Do they spark joy? I wrote down all the activities,people and places that spark joy for me – guess how much of my time is spent in those things? Yeah, not enough!

It occurred to me that life is just a million small moments and experiences put together. If large chunks of those moments aren’t making you happy then aren’t we missing the point?

I realised that as with decluttering my home I first need to remove things that do not spark joy (or indeed are causes of frustration or dissatisfaction) in order to create space for things which will bring me joy, satisfaction and ultimately the life I want.

This isn’t so easy of course. There are some things that must be done. And there are some things which are not that easy to change.

But even by simply identifying the things that do not really spark joy for me I am starting to see opportunities for reducing them, rather than continuing to do things that I feel I should or that I feel I should enjoy.

For example cooking, I don’t mind cooking but it doesn’t fill me with joy so rather than feel bad about not spending more time cooking, or making time in an already busy schedule to cook I’m choosing to focus on what it is that actually brings me joy – having quick, efficient, healthy low fodmap food that I enjoy and can eat without getting sick and time to do other things. There are various ways to achieve this involving minimal cooking, being smarter about what and when I do cook and doing so in an efficient way rather than feeling like I should be spending joy filled hours in the kitchen every weekend.

There are also some ‘time wasters’, such as excessive social media or TV use which I can be mindful of. I also include not having enough energy to do things or being limited by injury in this. So prioritising staying healthy whilst it might not spark joy right away that pilates class sparks joy in that I have less problems with my back as a result. Similarly, the effort I continue to make to drink mindfully falls into this category and results in an increase in energy and more time to do things that bring me joy.

I’ve  noticed  however that there is a natural resistance to freeing up time and space in life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds themselves so busy, rushing from one thing to the other – busy with work, business, hobbies, social commitments or family activities, busy with organising, planning, house work and life admin. The worry is that without all this ‘stuff’ our lives lack meaning.

If we stop, remove some of those things from our routine we could find we are left with nothing in it’s place, at least in the short term.

But this is where the magic happens, in filling those empty spaces with things that truly spark joy. In seeing what we would choose instead.

So this is my challenge for the year, to consciously remove things in my life which don’t spark joy and actively say yes to things which do.

Will you join me?

Uncategorized

Overcoming Fear

I’ve been reflecting on the coaching workshop I delivered on Saturday and realised that whilst I still suffer from anxiety I actually need to give myself credit for how far I’ve come.

One of my major triggers is speaking in front of a group. Specifically standing up in front of people. Now coming from someone who has regularly been told to ‘quieten down’ and who as a young teenager used to sing her (out of tune) heart out in amateur dramatics this has often been seen as surprising.

Although now that I think about it it’s possibly not that surprising, perhaps after being shamed for being myself in the past my subconscious thinks I’m doing something ‘wrong’ by saying my opinion in front of people.

But regardless, it’s always surprised people that I have this problem and the result was that I made excuses to avoid speaking in front of groups. And I’ve certainly took this to the extreme in the past.

I still cringe when I remember that as a seventeen year old I once simply didn’t turn up to a presentation my A Level acting course (I know right why was I there if I hate talking in front of people?!) was doing as my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t even get up the courage to let anyone know so I just left campus that day and then afterwards dropped out of the class!

As an adult I also avoided talking in public situations which of course limited my career especially in relation to my dreams of being a trainer or coach.

When working for The Princes Trust on their team programme even though I loved planning the training I couldn’t bring myself to put myself forward to lead the courses which meant my progression opportunities were limited to say the least and eventually I reverted back into my comfort zone behind a desk.

But the pull to teach and to use my voice never left me. I kept returning to it at various points, delivering workshops here and there and creating training materials for clients. Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful colleagues who supported me and gave me opportunities to practice. Two colleagues in particular while I was at City & Guilds are responsible for the fact that I no longer sway from side to side constantly while standing in front of a group and I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful trainer in my first freelance role who put me through train the trainer coaching and supported me in delivering my first training sessions for the client. I loved delivering these half day workshops as I knew the content inside out and could see the benefits to the work I was doing once the key stakeholders completed the training. The feedback was excellent.

Yet I often continued to revert back to avoiding speaking up, limited myself by creating situations I could legitimately get away with sitting down, getting a professional comms person to deliver message or doing a presentation over the phone (never Skype!).

Since then the clients I’ve worked with haven’t needed much within the area of training so again my confidence has reduced. After completing BC in June 2017 I had a desire to share what I’ve learned with others and the opportunity came when Richard shared that he had places available to train in delivering a one day version- I was immediately interested. This seemed like a perfect chance to share what I’d learned in a way that was endorsed by Richard and Liz.

But even during the training surrounded by like minded people who had been through similar experiences to me I didn’t feel comfortable to stand up in front of them. I left feeling that they must think I’d never be able to deliver the training, and doubted my ability to translate the enthusiasm I had in the content and it’s impact in my own life into a confidently delivered speech.

As I said to my friend as I nervously stood in front of her camera practicing my delivery and trying to create content for my future website, “Do I really sound like someone who’s life has been changed?!”

I’ve since realised that this is exactly the point. I’m not super confident speaking in front of people. I have anxiety triggers that might seem like no big deal to others.

But despite this I’m standing in front of people, telling them my story, sharing with them what I have learned, not just from BC but from my collective experience of life and learning, and guiding them through an experience that is helping them in many areas of life.

I tell them that I feel sick and that my anxiety doesn’t like me doing this. And they get it. It’s encouraging for them that thanks to what I’ve learned I’m able to do it DESPITE the anxiety.

It’s part of what makes my workshop special and unique.

And through that vulnerability my confidence is beginning to grow.

On Saturday mid delivery I suddenly realised I wasn’t shaking. This was a first!

Also, when I got to the point where I needed to stand up I suddenly realised I’d already stood up a number of times to draw something I was talking about on the board and remained standing to talk about it further!

Before BC I would not have repetitively put myself in a situation which was massively anxiety triggering for me in that way.

I would have continued to avoid situations where I had to speak in front of the people and I certainly wouldn’t have created situations where I had to do it!

So is there something you’re avoiding? Is there something you feel you ‘can’t’ do because of your anxiety? Are you willing to  open yourself up to the possibility that you could be wrong? That it might be possible?

If so, I’d love to work with you. I offer one day Broadband Consciousness Workshops for groups of 3-6 in London, Durham, Hertfordshire & York as well as one to one empowerment coaching over the phone. Comment or click the contact me button for more info 🙂

anxiety · identity · self development · selfcare

My Year as a Moderate Drinker

I’m feeling very proud that another of my blogs (you can read the first one on negative self beliefs here) has been published on website which I value and have benefited from reading myself.

I’ve been trying to get more comfortable telling the various parts of my story and sharing the experiences that make me who I am today, particularly around my experiences as a child-free stepmum and in overcoming anxiety and finding my way in business and life. I’ve also been trying to write more, it’s a big part of me but I’ve never identified or labelled myself as ‘a writer’ so it’s wonderful if a little scary to start seeing my name out there with words that I have written attached! And even better to see comments that people have enjoyed what I had to say.

I’ve found that talking about positive physical and mental health, childlessness and even the complexities of step family life is becoming more accepted and I’m comfortable sharing about them and the things that have helped me deal with them in my own life.

But when it comes to talking about alcohol use, it still seems like a bit of a taboo. We live in a society where drinking, even drinking a lot, is seen as a social norm. To talk about wanting to limit your intake or aren’t comfortable with your relationship with drink implies that you have ‘a problem’.

Drinking non alcoholic drinks or wanting to do activities that don’t involve drinking can elicit comments like, ‘don’t be boring’ or ‘have some fun’ and heaven forbid if you ‘can’t handle your drink’!

But the reality is that alcohol is an addictive substance and just like having one chocolate out of the box is never enough, one drink is never going to be enough for most people. A lot of people would like to drink less for a range of reasons; hangovers, health concerns, not liking how they behave after too many, needing more energy to play with their kids etc. So it feels like choosing to have a few nights off or drinking less overall should be a totally okay choice which is why Club Soda was set up to help anyone wanting to quit, take a break or just cut down on drinking to not feel left out and to have the support to see it though when it might feel hard.

And it’s for this reason that I’ve chosen to share a blog I wrote for them on my experiences over the last year as I’ve made the conscious choice to reduce how much and how often I drink.

The one or two wines that I could sleep off during the holidays or weekends were causing me more and more discomfort as I dragged myself up at 6:30 each day. I felt slightly hungover at least 2 days out of 5 days which triggered my chronic IBS problems and left me tired and fed up for days afterwards. Yet I felt annoyed at feeling that way after only a small amount of alcohol and I just couldn’t seem to accept the limitations. I’d cut out so much from my diet already to accommodate my condition, giving up my few glasses of red with a meal seemed a step too far!

I was in a kind of denial – I knew I’d have to cut down or else give up drinking but it never really came to the top of my ‘personal development to do list’.

Continue reading on Club Soda’s Website 

manifestation · self development · selfcare

January – The month of planning & cleaning!

So, all of a sudden it’s past the midway point of January and it’s starting to feel like we’re getting ‘back to normal’ after the Christmas break. Whatever normal might be?! It’s also finally feeling like winter which feels strange after such a mild autumn and midwinter here in the UK.

January is generally a busy working month for me, I freelance so after taking time off over Christmas and before taking more time off for half term and ski season (which quickly turns into spring break and Easter!), during January it seems sensible to work as much as possible and it can certainly feel a little monotonous after the excitement and build up to Christmas.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that my ‘script’ (that inner critic or monkey brain) often tries to come up with problems, crisis and stuff requiring my attention during this time so I have to be conscious not to waste energy on this.

There are a few things that keep me going during this time, one is that I do my planning for the year. I book in my leave for the first half of the year so I have things to look forward to, I update my calendar with various commitments, book some trips to see my family (my sister usually visits in Jan/Feb too with her gorgeous babies. Squuuee!) and plan in which weekends I can deliver workshops.

I also complete my Leonie Dawson Workbooks and set my goals for the year. This will be my seventh year of doing so and it has become an essential part of my Christmas routine to begin filling them in, colouring the pages, collecting things for my dream board and just playing and dreaming. I rarely complete during December however so January is about taking my time, flicking through and adding in new thoughts and ideas.

This year I accidentally launched into a massive de-clutter session, that has so far lasted the whole month! It all came about because whilst I was putting away the Christmas decorations on the first weekend of January my friend text me the suggestion to check out the Maria Kundo show on Netflix. Like most of the country it would seem I got hooked and suddenly I understood why ‘complete de-cluttering’ and ‘sort out box in spare room’ had been on my To Do list in my goals workbook for the past 2 years and were in there again for 2019!

When I get an idea in my head I tend to just go for it right away (You can thank my Type 3 Energy for this) so I’ve been de-cluttering like a demon every spare second since. My aim is that I will spend less time and energy on moving things around the house and having to re-organise things. I’ve also let a lot of things I’ve simply been moving from house to house and haven’t looked at in the nearly 5 years since we bought our home. My plan is to take up scrap booking to display some of the more sentimental things I’ve kept rather than chucking them in a box!

So that’s pretty much been my year so far. I’ve also reinstated some things which were helping me last year, including weekly Pilates classes and therapy sessions. And I’ve been trying to be more proactive in documenting my story through my Facebook page and blog without it taking on the feeling of being a chore or oversharing. A difficult balance to strike for many I suspect.

The last few weeks of the month look to follow the same themes however I’ve a few more social events creeping in – a birthday dinner for a friend, a trip to the snow centre with my hubby to celebrate our dating anniversary and a painting class.

Then we’re into February which for me is always when I feel the year starts properly and things start to speed up. Spring seems closer.  Things start to happen and change. Plans made during January are suddenly upon you. And the whole cycle of the year begins again…

anxiety · Broadband Conciousness · self development · selfcare

How to take back control from the negative script in your head

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” ~Dan Millman

I’d love to say I had an “Eat, Pray, Love” moment where sitting sobbing in the bathroom I received divine guidance to leave my husband and go traveling the world eating amazing food. But sadly, it wasn’t quite that profound.

It was more a long series of nights sobbing in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, and concluding “You’re broken.”

I wasn’t depressed and hadn’t been for a long time. My anxiety, a lifelong companion, was under control. So what was wrong?

You can read the rest of this blog on Tiny Budha

 

 

anxiety · Broadband Conciousness · health · selfcare

Why the trigger isn’t the reason

Not a typical New Year’s Eve post (I might write one over the next few days before returning to work) but as I was was sorting through my notes and tying up loose ends I came across this almost complete blog post so thought I’d just complete it and share it. 

It’s about how using my IBS condition as a metaphor I’ve been able to better understand my anxiety and how to deal with that negative voice we call the script and to put the blame for these feelings onto myself or others. 

*****

I have chronic IBS and an inflamed bowl. I have IBS every day. You can’t see it but it’s there. I have to take care with how much sleep I get, my stress levels and what I eat to keep it under control. 

Some days I don’t notice it, some days it’s a slight discomfort or bloating, most days it’s a lack of energy. But sometimes it’s full on pain, cramps, diarrhoea, back pain and exhaustion to the point I’m vibrating with discomfort. I call this a ‘flair up’. 

It really helps me to distinguish between ‘having IBS’ which is all the time and ‘having a flair up’ which is thankfully no longer that often but limits my ability to do things and requires action to get myself back on an even keel. 

It’s also worth noting that whilst I try not to talk constantly about having IBS (and the accompanying limiting diet) I have realised that it’s helpful to let people (or at least my husband) know when I’m having a ‘flair up’ otherwise they presume I’m fine and expect me to do all the things I usually do. 

And it’s the same with the script (that negative voice in our heads). 

I have a script. I have A script every day. We all do. You can’t see it but it’s there. I have to take care with how much sleep I get, my stress levels and what I think and say to keep it under control. 

Some days I don’t notice it, some days it’s a niglling disatisfaction or doubt, most days it’s an irritation. But sometimes it’s full on anxiety attack, tears, a flood of feelings and an onslaught of negative and hurtful thoughts and memories to the point I’m left devastated and convinced my life is hopeless and won’t get any better. 

I’ve learned to also think of this as a ‘flair up’. It really helps me to distinguish between ‘having a negative part of my brain’ which is all the time and ‘having a flair up’ which is thankfully no longer that often but limits my ability to think clearly and requires action to get myself back on an even keel. 

It’s also worth noting that whilst I try not to talk constantly about the script (and the accompanying anxiety which is how it often manifests for me) I have realised that I need to find a way to let people (or at least my husband) know when I’m having a flair up otherwise they presume I’m fine and expect me to do all the things I usually do. 

When I have an IBS flair up it could be triggered by a combination of food, lack of sleep or by stress. But it’s important to recognise that these triggers are not responsible for the pain. The reason for the pain is IBS.

Similarly, a script/anxiety flair up might be triggered by something someone’s said, a stressful situation or overstimulation. These triggers are not responsible for the pain. The situation or person that has triggered this response is not at fault. You are not at fault. It is, and always has and always will be, the script!

anxiety · Broadband Conciousness · holidays · relationship · self development · selfcare · step family · stepparenting

The most wonderful time of the year! (If you can ignore the pressure, stress and anxiety)

It’s my favourite time of year. I love planning, buying and wrapping gifts and cards. I love organising the house, having a clear out and making way for the Christmas tree I love visiting friends, Christmas markets, yummy food, and the sense that everyone is busy working on the same project, Christmas!

I love loading up the car and heading off to share the holidays with my family and the joy on my stepdaughters face when she sees her cousins. I love lazy days in the house with my hubby, making jigsaws and watching movies.

But Christmas can be hard too.

We talk in BC a lot about ‘the script’. That negative voice at the back of your head that’s always putting a dampener on things and getting you anxious and wound up. The script will always tell you how you ‘should’ feel and when you inevitably don’t live up to that 24/7 it tells you there something ‘wrong’ with you.

Society has many scripts as well about how your life should be at certain stages of life, what constitutes fun and what is ‘normal’. If you compare your lives, careers, relationships, families to these ideals you will always fall short. Yet especially at Christmas we fall into this trap time and time again.

For me the Christmas script is I should be enjoying every second of it, I should eat ALL of the holiday foods, enjoy every possible Christmas activity, watch all my Christmas movies, catch up with everyone who’s ever meant anything in my life. I should also have a perfect relationship with someone who takes me ice-skating, helps old grannies across the road and fills my stockings with thoughtful goodies.  And I should probably have a couple of kids and a puppy as well since I’m well in my thirties. Christmas Day should be spent with all of my family and everyone should enjoy themselves.  Oh and their having enjoyed themselves or not is 100% my responsibility! So yeah, fun!

When I was single the script regularly spoiled Christmas as I felt like a failure going back to my hometown on my own. The script never noticed how much I enjoyed planning and wrapping my gifts to  carry back on the train, or watching White Christmas with my mam and sister, or having fun with my friends. It only focused on the fact that I was ‘alone’ and hadn’t found that special someone that I so longed for.

Yet it didn’t let up when I met my husband either. In fact if anything it got worse!

Being part of a stepfamily (both in my family of origin and in my marriage where I have a stepdaughter who on our first Christmas together was only 4) and living 300 miles away from my family, coupled with a mother-in-law in a care home 100 miles in the opposite direction and a school that breaks up 2 days before Christmas is frankly a Christmas logistical nightmare.

On top of this I was determined for us to have a ‘proper’ family Christmas.

For the first 4 years I drove myself (& probably everyone else) to distraction trying to fit a perfect family Christmas into the last weekend in November, one weekend in December and the 2-3 days we had before taking SD to her Mum and Sister on Christmas Eve. To me Christmas means family so this also meant a very long trip and my poor Mum hosting a separate Christmas Day a few days before the real thing. Which was wonderful but stressful.

Yet my script was adamant SD needed a proper Christmas morning with her Dad. She needed a stocking on the bottom of her bed, she needed to put out a mince pie for Santa, and she needed a Christmas lunch with all the family. And on and on.

My script was also keen to point out that a  Christmas Day with just me and my husband was NOT Christmas and I spent much of our first Christmas Day together in tears having already celebrated a few days earlier and now being just me & my hubby with my family and friends all miles away.

This madness accumulated in Christmas 2016 when:

a) we made the mistake of arranging two Christmas events with SD and the family in December one during a normal school time weekend to enable us to join in with a Christmas activity they were doing with ‘our extra Christmas’ scheduled for New Year’s Day. Which seemed at the time a great option and meant I could spend Christmas Day , which fell between the two events, with my family for the first time since I met my hubby. But we didn’t really think through the practicalities of spending 2 out of 4 weekends travelling followed by hosting Christmas/NYE on our return home. Although we probably would have just about managed if it wasn’t for the fact that

b) my Granddad took ill in early December and subsequently died a few days before our planned trip with his funeral the week before Christmas. Not only did this mean that we were as a family of course devastated but that 2 weekends travelling turned into 4 and we’d no sooner got back then my stepdaughter and half of my family descended on us for New Year. Me as usual deep in ‘Christmas Script’ mode was full of anxiety, my Mum still grieving, the children were over-excited and my hubby was just desperate for some time to ourselves. They left on 1 January and we went back to work on 2 January. I’ve never been so tired in my life! 

By the 3rd of Jan my hubby had booked for us to go away for the following New Year declaring that he was NEVER having another Christmas like that!

The result was that last Christmas (2017) I was forced to re-think things and the outcome was as close to a ‘perfect’ Christmas as I think we could get. I took two weeks off work. We had a lovely long weekend with my family doing Christmas activities such as going to the Panto and visiting Santa, we had our ‘Christmas morning’ where SD got her stocking and opened presents but we didn’t do the whole ‘Christmas Day’ thing which had the added benefit of not having to buy two presents for everyone and the whole weekend was a lot more relaxed.

I embraced the idea of a Christmas Day with just my hubby and instead of listening to the script that said it was boring and depressing not to be with my family instead I got excited about the idea of doing whatever we wanted, having a lie in and opening stockings in bed. I reminded myself how long I’d longed for a husband to share the day with. 

In short, It was wonderful!

So my approach now is to stop with the ‘should’ and ‘musts’, take each year as it comes and plan something that works for everyone involved on that particular year (What works one year might not work on another and Christmas evolves as children grow and family’s change), enjoy whatever gift that particular Christmas has to offer (last year it was lots of relaxing at home with my hubby, this year there is less of that but a Christmas lunch with both my parents , my sister and my niece and nephew to look forward to) and be grateful that I have so many people who love me and want to be with me for Christmas.

In addition I’ve learned what I love about Christmas and to focus on that. I’m taking time out to myself to watch Christmas movies and wrap presents, I’m saying no to things that I don’t really want to do, I’m looking forward to the small Christmas rituals that are easy to fit in whatever the schedule, like packing a stocking for my husband, stepdaughter and myself so we can enjoy opening them in bed.

So this year I’d encourage you to focus on what Christmas means to YOU, not to your family or society or the Hallmark people who make Christmas movies. What does it mean for you? What gift can you give yourself? What will you look back on and remember and cherish? 

Don’t wait to be at a certain stage in your life (when you’re married, when you have children, when you have more money, when the house is done, when you can travel for the holidays, when your health is better), just enjoy it for the stage you’re at now. As this particular Christmas will never come again and who knows what next year might bring!

health · self development · selfcare

Hygge season is upon us

I first published this on a old anonymous blog but as we approach winter and the nights are drawing in I am finding myself returning to the idea of Hygee. I’m embracing and enjoying nights in front of the fire under a blanket and going to bed early with a book. I’m cooking casseroles and drinking beautiful teas…..mmmmm.

So I thought i’d re-post and let these thoughts from past me join my other posts here and become part of the family. I hope you enjoy.

There are so many definitions for this Danish word which is pronounced hue-gah.

Hygee House, defines it as “a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day things more meaningful, beautiful or special. Whether it’s making coffee a verb by creating a ritual of making it then lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to the simple act of lighting a candle with every meal. Hygge is being aware of a good moment whether it’s simple or special.”

The Visit Denmark website says “In essence, hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking – preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life. ”

IMG_0068

There are two things I love about this concept.

One is the mindfulness in being connected to and appreciating those beautiful moment which can be found in daily life. I feel we can all learn a lot from this idea as we often rush through life planning and looking ahead rather than enjoying the moment. Or look for exciting things to happen before we will feel we can enjoy life.

And the other things I love about this word is the idea that you can actively create good things in your life by making incremental improvements to things you do daily. Making your tea in a china cup, sitting outside for your breakfast cereal, putting the best bubbles in the bath, lighting candles on a cold night, buying flowers for your home or wearing that dress you’ve been saving for ‘best’. Whatever ‘everyday luxury’ feels like for you. Whatever makes you feel good and cared for and loved.

This interestingly sits nicely with the manifesting work I’ve been doing with Denise Duffield-Thomas of Lucky Bitch as she suggests that in order to bring more abundance into your life (wether that be money, time, love or whatever else you value) you first need to act like you already have it, and offer yourself self-love. So if you feel poor because you’re wearing clothes that no longer fit you or shoes that have holes in then you are unlikely to attract money or to feel good even if you do. Or if you are always rushing around and take on to many commitments you will never feel an abundance of time because you’re always feeling rushed (e.g. a lack of time).

Denise’s advice is therefore to create mini ‘upgrades’ so if for example one of the areas you feel ‘poor’ in is your wardrobe, nothing fits and a lot of things are old and a bit past it then you could upgrade by throwing out some of the really bad stuff and buying a couple of pieces at the ‘next level’. So going to the next level for you might be throwing out those shoes with holes in and buying some new ones even if they are from Tesco. It’s not about how much you spend it’s about what the next level looks like for you, for example you might want to get rid of some old Tesco undis and replace them with new ones from M&S or it might be throwing out your oldest M&S bra and splashing out on a new ones from Agent Provocateur or anywhere in between.

If you’d like to experience more time in your life, an upgrade could be taking a bath instead of a shower, getting up 15min earlier  so you feel less rushed, or saying no to that event you don’t really want to go to.

So lets set ourselves a challenge for today. How can we bring more Hygee into our lives? What small upgrades can we make to take us closer to the life we want to live? And how can we make more time to enjoy those everyday pleasures?

 

 

 

anxiety · Broadband Conciousness · health · identity

Why we are not broken and don’t need fixing

When I was suffering with a depressive episode 10 years ago, I remember waking up one morning and just not being able to face getting up. I suddenly realised what was happening and felt ridiculous that I’d been trying to push on for so long. I called the doctor for an appointment and immediately felt a little better.

It helped me to have a diagnosis, a label, to explain why I was feeling as I was. There was medication and a process that I recognised from earlier episodes. I would sleep a lot, take some time off work, see a therapist, exercise, recuperate and eventually start to feel better. I knew to look after myself during this time, not to expect too much and to be kind to myself.

But once I started to recover it became, in a way, harder. I no longer needed medication, I needed to work every day even though sometimes it felt hard and I wanted to strive for ‘more’ but was scared of pushing myself. Life just felt like too much hard work at times and it was easy to use the label of ‘depression’ to excuse me from being my best self.

I eventually realised that holding onto a label of being depressed wasn’t serving me. I wasn’t depressed at that exact moment. I suppose a better description at that time would have been ‘prone to depression’. I experimented with thinking of myself in this way for a while and I found that the times when I actually felt depressed were now very few and far between. I stopped describing myself as ‘having depression’, stopped waiting for the next episode and instead focused on the things in life that kept depression at bay – having a project to occupy my mind, dancing, getting enough sleep, reading, being open about my feelings.

Over the years that followed I also suffered with feelings of anxiety and had been diagnosed with a ‘Generalised Anxiety Disorder’ so although I was no longer feeling depressed I still found life difficult and stressful and was very insecure, particularly in relationships.

I knew that I needed find better coping mechanisms and accept that some things others may find easy might be harder for me but not to use my diagnosis as a reason for spending the rest of my life anxious and unhappy.

And this is what I’d like to share today, that you do not need to be defined by your mental illness or the current state of your mental health and having difficulties with your mental health does not mean that you are broken.

In his book “7 ways & 7 days to banish your anxiety” Dr Terrace Watts encourages the reader to think beyond their anxiety. For example instead of thinking you ‘can’t’ do something to think in terms of ‘choosing’ not to do something because of the anxiety associated with it. This is doubly important because not only are you taking the power away from anxiety by choosing not to do something for your own comfort levels but if you can begin to believe that you can be free from anxiety then that thing you are choosing not to do will no longer be a problem once you overcome the anxiety.

This was so powerful for me. I completed the 7 days of exercises over about 10 days and at the end of it I no longer considered myself to have generalised anxiety. How unbelievable is that?! That was more than 2 years ago and I haven’t in that time referred to myself as having anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

Does that mean that I am suddenly cured from worrying, that I no longer struggle in social situations, that my fear of public speaking has gone away? No, but I’m more aware of that negative voice in my head as being a separate thing and am able thank it for trying to protect me but I have confidence that my ‘real self’ can deal with the problem without ‘anxiety’ needing to get involved. There are various tools within Dr Watt’s book that enable you to do this and I would highly recommend this for anyone suffering with anxiety, excessive worry or limiting beliefs.

So having now reached a point where I was no longer deeply depressed and I had my anxiety under control you’d like I’d be pretty happy right?

But of course that same nagging voice in my head that made me feel anxious, that made me feel depressed and that told me I didn’t fit in just decided to find another route. I knew from my work with the 7&7 programme that the voice was the reptilian part of my brain and was designed to keep me safe through stubbornly rejecting change (even positive change like believing that people do in fact like me) and I knew that when it started obsessing about something or getting unnecessarily anxious I had to explain to it why I could cope and then focus on something different.

But what I didn’t recognise was when it started telling me I was ‘broken’ and ‘life was too hard and wouldn’t get better’ or that I wasn’t ‘good enough’, was ‘boring’ and ‘unlovable’. These were outdated feelings, I knew they didn’t help but if someone said anything even remotely critical I was bombarded with these kind of thoughts. I would stare at myself in the mirror, tears streaming down my face and wonder how everything had gone so badly wrong and why I was ‘never’ going to get any better. I realised I was starting to keep quiet rather be my usual chatty self, I was exhausted, all my physical issues were worse than usual, I found everything a pain in the arse and I was starting to believe that there was something wrong with me and I’d just have to live with it.

Enter BC!

At some point during all this I watched a video by a guy called Richard Wilkins. After a while of watching his insightful and usually upbeat and funny videos on Facebook I decided to go and see him speak at one of his regular ‘Recharge Days’. I wrote about this in my blog here so I won’t say too much more other than I cried a lot then signed up for his 5 Day Course.

During those 5 days I worked in a group of 8 and shared my story in a way I never had before. It felt almost like an exorcism of those useless negative beliefs. Spoken out loud they seemed ridiculous, (humorous even!) and certainly untrue.

I learned that it wasn’t just about anxiety but that any negative (unhelpful) thoughts came from the same place. Richard calls this ‘the script’ as when we believe these things we live life as though reading from a script, doing and saying things that we would not choose.

I learned to recognise the script and that it wasn’t part of my identity. Just like when I let go of the anxiety label I was able to stop behaving like an anxious person when I let go of the identity of the script (broken, not good enough, always gets it wrong!) I was able to see the real me. I was able to choose whether to listen to the real me (sometimes called our higher self) or to listen to the script.

And so now one year later the teachings of BC are still very much part of my daily thoughts, I’m working every day to build a life more around what my real self wants and to let my true self shine and when I get bombarded with negative words from the script I just wait it out then get on with life.

I’m starting to be brave and sharing bits of my journey on my blog and I’ve set up a Facebook page  to share my thoughts on BC, self care and positive mental health. I’ve even undertaken training with Richard and the BC team to be able to deliver a one day version of the BC course and will be doing my first workshop in Hadley Wood, North London on 23 September 2018. My hope is that I can help others to deal with negative beliefs about themselves and to reduce the stigma around mental illness. We all have mental health whether positive or negative and we all need to care for our mental wellbeing in the same way we do our physical health.

Kathryn ⭐️