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Surviving the Lockdown

Surviving the Lockdown

Everyone is in the same boat pretty much. We are confined to our homes, surviving the lockdown, to slow the spread of corona virus or COVID-19 as it is called.

So what to do?

You can either constantly complain and be negative and miserable the whole time or start seeing it as a positive thing.

What do you meanThe key to happiness. Surviving the Lockdown

Do you really want to spend weeks, maybe months being miserable? Of course not.

I am sure you would rather be happy.

Why not see this as an opportunity to do lots of things that you never get time to do. All those books you thought of reading but there was other stuff needing to be done.

How about those crafts you fancied trying but never had the time.

What about the times you have seen things about meditation, looked and it wistfully and then moved on?

Yoga. Fancy trying yoga? Gentle movements that can do you good. Exercise is important to how you feel.

Live alone? Then go online and look for groups in your area with similar interests.

Living with family? I bet you aren’t all used to be in the same place at the same time. This is a good chance to reconnect.

Readingmagical book Surviving the Lockdown

If you haven’t ever been much of a reader it’s worth putting your interests in to google along with ‘books’ to see what comes up. With time on your hands, its a chance to learn new things or lose yourself in fiction. There are plenty of free books you can download. Just get a kindle or ebook reader app connect it to an Amazon or other account and you can download them.

Books can be magical transporting you to different times and places, real and imagined. Even different planets, galaxies or dimensions.

They can make the imagination soar. They can also uplift if you get the right book. There are many self help books available now that can really help.

Non fiction, like biographies, can give you a peek into others lives and how they came to do what they do and become. Travel books can take you away to exotic locations and may have you planning to travel more.

If you are a reader, the chances are you have many books, real and digital waiting to be read. If you read mostly fiction, try stepping out of your comfort zone and get a non fiction book on something that interests you. So many books and so little time.

Then of course there are blogs. Thousands, millions of blogs on every subject you can think of ….. well most subjects. Not as long as a book of course, a shorter but interesting read. You can flit from one to another discovering favourites to go back to later.

Craftscrafts

Then there are crafts. Ever had a creative urge? Seen various crafts and just wanted a go? Maybe watched your mother or grandmother? I learnt to knit from my grandmother, crochet I taught myself from a little booklet which I still have. Since then I have painted pictures, done needle felting pictures and animals. tried jewellery making and creating handmade books. I discovered what was fun to have a go at and what was something I really wanted to do which was digital art.

You could even end up with a business like me. Funnily enough it started with forced rest when I was ill for a bit.  I just can’t do nothing so I went back to my crochet and made blankets, then added scarves. Trouble was, I soon had quite a pile of them. My daughter suggested I sell online, so I had a look and went from there. That was 10 years ago now. 4 years into my business I was made redundant from work, I gave myself 8 months to make a proper go of it and earn enough to replace my job  or I would be getting another job. Never looked back.

Its surprising the turns life can take just from trying something new. Go online and have a look, see what appeals, there are lots of craft kits available.

Etsy, Folksy and Not on The High Street are the main ones. Lots do pop up and disappear but those 3 have been going since well before I started my online adventure. Of course there is Hobbycraft too.

Meditation

Meditation is a wonderful practice, it is excellent for mental and physical health, plus general wellbeing. meditation

Don’t listen to so-called gurus who tell you that it’s best to meditate for hours, that is nonsense. You don’t have to sit cross legged, being uncomfortable is counter productive anyway.

So many people say they can’t meditate, they tried and can’t stop thinking about stuff. Blanking your mind takes a lot of practice and some never achieve that. You learn to observe the thoughts and let them go.  Or you just sit and daydream, that’s a kind of meditation in itself.

Have you ever been for a walk and your mind drifted, not really thinking about anything in particular, just enjoying the day and the moment? That too is a kind of meditation. Still think you can’t do it? You probably do it more often than you realise.

Many doctors are advocates of meditation. In some countries, children are taught to meditate and from then on start their school day with a period of meditation as they believe it makes the children, calmer,  concentrate better and be more focused.

Yoga

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. They are slow movements into positions that are then held for a time while focusing on the breath. These are specific movements and poses that will gradually tone and strengthen.

Again, this is something doctors advocate nowadays because of the overall benefits. As you can see, there is also information about it on the government NHS website.

From the NHS website. Read the article HERE!

What is yoga?yoga

  • Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing.
  • The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways. Yoga is now commonplace in leisure centres, health clubs, schools, hospitals and surgeries.

From the BBC website. Go HERE to access the video.

Coronavirus: Simple yoga poses to help home workers

  • Much like thousands people across the country right now, BBC reporter Emily Ford is working from her home.
  • While she’s used to producing stories every day, she is also a qualified yoga teacher.
  • Here, Emily shares a few tips and tricks on how to stay energised during the coming months with some simple stretches and breathing exercises.

Living alone

It’s not easy to be living alone and confined to your home. If you tend to feel anxiety the forced confinement can make it worse. It is very easy forthoughts to spiral out of control especially if you watch the news and programmes about the corona virus.

It seems to me that most focus on the increasing numbers getting the virus and the number of deaths worldwide. It’s very rarely mentioned that there are very large numbers of people that had the virus and recovered.

Keep in touch with family and friends. Talk to them on the phone and Facetime where possible. It’s good to talk but even better to chat when you can see them, it makes the person feel closer somehow.

If you can research local groups in your area with similar interests to you and join any that interest you. They will probably have an online space to chat while the lockdown is in progress. Contact with others is good and very important. You may find that when this is all over you have made new friends to pursue interests with.

If you are generally out a lot you could look at this as a good time to catch up on reading or start a new hobby.

Have some exercise each day, a walk, an online yoga or other exercise class. Try a meditation class too.

It can also be therapeutic to clear out things no longer used or needed.

Living with family

This is your chance to get off your phones and have real conversations. Sit round a table and discuss things. Talk about worries and fears about the situation, sharing makes it easier. Discuss likes and dislikes. Why not share hopes and dreams?

Have meals together, it’s a time to share food and conversation.family meal

Go for walks together once a day. It’s good to have a change of scenery, plus the exercise and fresh air can be very therapeutic.

In ‘normal’ everyday life it seems that families occupied the same space, their home, but didn’t really connect much with each other. As they grew up each would spend more time in their own space than with others. Even eating was something done separately in each persons space.

Family is such an important support group that seems very under utilised nowadays.

What else can you do together? Play board games, card games and do a jigsaw puzzle. Find a hard one and make a start. You will find that most if not all the household will stop as they pass it to add a piece or two. It can be fun.

Gardening is very good for you. Once its tidy, plant some seeds, grow tomatoes and cucumbers, they don’t take up much space and if you have room plant other quick growing veggies. There are lots of gardening blogs with advice on all different types of gardens. It can be fun to plan something different for your outside space.

Got young  children? There are newly sprung up groups on facebook for parents to exchange ideas on amusing children.

Children get tired of the same toys after a while, or they just outgrow them. Look for an online group in your local area that swaps toys or puts them on a group for free. Those can be left outside the house and  collected.

My sister helps run such a group and its very popular. Its monitored so people dont try to sell items on it. It’s so that perfectly good items can be reused or recycled, rather than end up in landfill too soon. Helping yourself and the planet. Result!!

 

How are YOU Surviving the Lockdown?

There is a lot you can do to keep your spirits up during this time. The main thing is to stay positive if you can and see it as an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones.

It’s also a chance to try things you never have time for in the normal course of your lives. It’s actually very good for you to slow down and relax more, learn to live life at a slower pace.

Children don’t need to be entertained every minute of the day. Its good for them to get bored occasionally as it encourages imagination and creativity. We need young ones to have imaginations, they are out innovators and inventors of tomorrow, just as the adults are today’s innovators and inventors.

Think of this as a sort of holiday. No you can’t go out and about but you can relax and go with the flow. If all else fails

Remember …… nothing last forever, everything passes and this will too.


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Comments and questions welcome.

 

Definition of Change

change

What is change?

Change is the only thing in life that is constant, so what is the definition of change? There will always be changes whether we like them or not, it’s a natural process that will always occur. Some are caused by nature and not of our doing, while others occur by sudden inclination.

  • “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu
  • “Life is about change, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s beautiful. But most of the time, it’s both.” Lana Lang.
  • “One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain.” Rick Godwin.

Definition of change

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

  • Verb: to become different, or to make someone or something different.

There are also many other ways of putting it. The Cambridge Dictionary is much the same.

I could copy and paste great swathes of information but I won’t as you can have a look by clicking on the name if you are interested.

Alternative words for change:

alteration, variation, vicissitude, substitution, swerving, deviation, diversion, shuffling, difference, reconstruction, aberration, evolution, restyling, innovation, move, interchange, trade, switch, fluctuation, wavering, modulation, alternating, exchange, mutation, transformation, transmutation, modification, vary, swap, shift….

And there are many more.

So change is a big part of life in its many different forms.

As human beings, we tend to resist change. It begins when we are small as we go through a phase of wanting everything to be the same, such as: food (all meals), toys, clothes, the journeys taken and so on.

  • The fear of change or changing things is called Metathesiophobia.hiding behind and under cushions

 

Where does the fear originate from?

Most likely from cavemen times. There was safety in sticking to the same routes when travelling or hunting because life was more dangerous.

They stuck close to home and socialised with their own tribe. Strangers meant danger, they probably wanted to kill you.

Heights  came with the possibility of falling, speed probably meant you were running for your life. Excitement very likely meant fighting for your life.

Everything back then was about survival, there was danger in change. It wasn’t a good thing to do. Now however, we have evolved but the instincts to resist change are still there.

 

Why is Change Good now?

We no longer have to be as hyper alert to danger as our ancestors were. So change is good, without change we stagnate. We tend to stay within our comfort zone and it becomes a habit.

A young couple in a relationship need change to keep it moving forwards. If the relationship doesn’t change and grow it stagnates and they drift apart.

Some people as they get older stick to the same habits and routines that gradually diminish their interactions with others. Their world shrinks until they are existing rather than living. Life should be about expanding your horizons and comfort zone, rather than shrinking it.

Live, don’t just Exist.time for change Definition of Change

It has never been easier to learn new things even if you don’t have permanent access to a desktop computer or laptop. Nowadays you can use them in libraries for free and there are internet cafes. Many access the internet on their phones with the free WiFi available in so many places.

The internet opens our world up to infinite possibilities, explore them and grow as a person.

Older people cant learn new things?

Actually they can. The saying used to be ” An old dog can’t learn new tricks”. People apply this to themselves. It’s a good excuse for not making an effort.

Scientists have proved that we can continue to grow new neural networks well into our 90’s if we continue learning.

Curiousity keeps us young. Be curious about the world we live in and about your own smaller world. Ask yourself why people do this or that, how something is made and what would happen if…..

Being curious keeps us interested in life and whats going on around us. A chance comment or a written sentence can lead us to learn a wealth of new information without even trying. Learning doesn’t have to be boring. Many people are put off because they think of their schooldays, often learning by repetition.

Some things are good to learn that way, others just boring. I still know my times tables and they still come in useful. In my schooldays we recited them over and over until we knew them by heart. But it’s not exactly an exciting way to learn.

Why should I bother?

Because it can be fun.

It gives you something to talk about with others.

Exchanging views, talking about what you have learnt can be enjoyable. If you really listen and don’t just listen to have your say, you will find that the other person’s view can change yours a little. They may have a view you haven’t considered, that you may think about later and eventually integrates with your views, especially if you have an open mind.

What’s an open mind?keeping an open mind

The meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

  • 12 Feb 2020 – open mind definition: to wait until you know all the facts before forming an opinion or making a judgment.

Definition of an open mind by Merriam-Webster

  • Open mind definition is – a willingness to listen to or accept different ideas or opinions.

I agree with both of those. We learn by listening and not immediately jumping to conclusions.

Many will only consider their own point of view despite evidence that contradicts them. Though to be honest you can find information, facts and figures to support pretty much any hypothesis, which encourages people to close their minds to other possibilities.

Conclusion.

So we started with change and it ‘changed’ into discussions on views and keeping an open mind. Which of course is what much change is about. A willingness to look at new things and consider them.

To try something different without automatically saying, I can’t.

Try saying, I will try, instead of the automatic no, I can’t. It could lead to you having fun and enjoying life much more.

 


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Beyond the Comfort Zone

What is a Comfort Zone?

Collins Dictionary defines it as: If a situation or activity is out of your comfort zone, it does not make you feel secure, comfortable, or in control.

Beyond the Comfort Zone

It’s a safe place to stay inside, unlike going beyond the comfort zone. Nothing exciting happens, nothing much changes and pretty much everything is on an even keel. Sound familiar?

No new horizons to explore, no pushing the boundaries of existence. Does that sound a bit dull?

Don’t you feel the urge for change? That urge is there somewhere, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking for answers. I suspect there is a part of you, however small it is, that is getting the urge to break free. Or just to have something different in your life, maybe.

Do you go beyond the comfort zone?

A lot, a little, never?

A comfort zone can be a safe place to watch the world from but wouldn’t you rather step outside it and take part in life?

Whats that? You like where you are? Really? Then why are you here? Something has brought you here, maybe it’s the need to find something more than the safe life you have. It begins with a restlessness, discomfort, a need to see what’s out there.

Yes, the world can be scary but it is also amazing, wonderful, exciting and a good place to explore is a comfort zone?

Why leave the Comfort Zone?

WHY?

Because there is a whole world out there to explore. Do you want to see the world or even parts of it for yourself? Wouldn’t it be amazing to actually see and touch things you have only seen through a screen or in a book? Wouldn’t you like to be free?

Eventually it can feel like ties that bind or chains that hold you in place.

Maybe that is a step too far. What about having new experiences, meeting new people, moving house or changing your job?

It’s very easy to become too complacent and comfortable in your Comfort Zone. But the outside world doesn’t stand still. It continually changes and eventually can end up disrupting that safe life you thought you had.

And think about it. Do you really want your life to be exactly the same in 2 or 5 years time as it is now?

What are the benefits of leaving your Comfort Zone?

Experiencing real life.

A bit of stress and anxiety are good for us, it helps us to grow as people. It’s not good for us to remain in a comfortable bubble. insulated against the world.  If we do, when a time of change occurs, it can be hard to cope with.

New experiences are all part of growth too even though we are often afraid of failing. Obstacles and challenges raise those fears, but there is a greater sense of accomplishment when we succeed.  Taking risks is really breaking through the barrier.

Challenges and obstacles are things we face and overcome, whereas taking a risk is stepping forward, away from the comfort zone and into the unknown.

Taking risks are growth experiences. Many people avoid these due to the chance for failure but failure is also a growth opportunity.

You come to understand that the only real failure is giving up, that each failure teaches you a way Not to do something.

You also come to realise that fail means ‘First attempt in learning.’

Change is good

Life is all about change, day to day change, week to week and even year to year. What am I waffling about? Change is good. It keeps us learning and growing and stops us from stagnating.

If there are no changes then you begin to exist rather than live. Is that really what you want? Even small chan

Conclusion

Pushing at the boundaries of that Comfort zone is clearly a good thing even if it’s only occasional.

Staying within that zone is existing, not living.

Stepping out will allow you to grow as a person, gain new skills and breakthrough even more boundaries. As you realise how much you can do and achieve, those boundaries will get pushed back even further. Life will take on new colour and meaning, becoming exhilarating at times as you start to really live your life as you are meant to. You will have your freedom back and be happy.

Get the Attitude of Gratitude habit

Thank you

Attitude of Gratitude

It was World Gratitude Day the other day.

Who knew there was such a thing, not me. Thankful. Get the Attitude of Gratitude habit

BUT….

If you get the Attitude of gratitude habit and it can really change your life.

The more grateful you are, the more you have to be grateful for. It sounds corny but it’s true.

You might say: I don’t have anything to be grateful for. I don’t have a job, a nice home, any money etc.

BUT! You are alive, you may not have much but the little you do have is a reason to be grateful. You wake up in the morning, you breathe, you can think. All reasons to be grateful.

You own or have access to technology, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Once you find a few reasons to be grateful, you will soon find more.

Gratitude can bring happiness. When you learn to truly appreciate what you have it brings contentment and happiness. While you are being grateful, a positive thing, you aren’t having negative thoughts to bring you down further.

Will it make a Difference?

It won’t change your life overnight! I know that’s a bit off putting but you know what they say?

“Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.”

Is that true though? I suppose it all comes down to belief. I suspect that one could be classed as a limiting belief. If you grow up hearing that, it becomes true for you.

What is Gratitude?

I googled it and got this:

noun
“she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support”
Similar words:
gratefulness
thankfulness

thanks

appreciation
recognition

How can it help me?

This article from the Guardian newspaper on 23rd October 2018 states:

  • Study after study has found a robust association between higher levels of gratitude and wellbeing, including protection from stress and depression, more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and greater resilience. Simple exercises that people can do on their own – such as spending two weeks writing a daily list of three things for which they are grateful – have been found to increase life satisfaction, decrease worry and improve body image, with the beneficial effects lasting for up to six months. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a world authority on gratitude, has advocated that interventions such as this be used by therapists to help their patients.*
  • Happiness is a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you. The feeling or quality of being grateful.

The benefits of Gratitude:

For the individual:

  • increased happiness and positive mood
  • more satisfaction with life
  • less materialistic
  • less likely to experience burnout
  • better physical health
  • better sleep
  • less fatigue
  • lower levels of cellular inflammation
  • greater resiliency
  • encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom

For groups:

  • increases prosocial behaviors
  • strengthens relationships
  • may help employees’ effectiveness
  • may increase job satisfaction

I hope you enjoyed this post, if so please share.

If you have any questions, please ask. General comments also welcome.

Are you Happy

Choose Joy

What is happiness?

Wikipedia says:

  • The term happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.

Psychology today Says:

  • Happiness is an electrifying and elusive state. Philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and even economists have long sought to define it. And since the 1990s, a whole branch of psychology—positive psychology—has been dedicated to pinning it down. More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of meaning and deep contentment.

What do you think?

I don’t think we are here to be on a treadmill of existence. Do you?

Are you bored, numb, really living or just existing? Do you think there should be more to life than you are living, with the same humdrum routine.

Maybe none of that applies to you. Is your life exciting, fun and different, are you happy exactly as you are?

 A runner on a treadmill. Are you Happy?School, job, family, get up, work, home, feed family, watch TV, sleep, REPEAT!

Sound familiar?

Bombarded by media, online and offline, telling us what to wear, keep working for that bigger house, car, better clothes, latest shoes/bag/coat etc. Showing the latest holiday destination. Informing us that to do and have these things will make us HAPPY!

Uh huh! Really, does it?

Well yes for many, temporarily it does. But all this keeps us trapped in a never ending cycle of eat, work, sleep. On a treadmill that never stops revolving…. until we wake up and step off.

So, are you Happy?

So you have found your way here.

Perhaps you are realising that you aren’t happy, that all the ‘things’ don’t make you happy, except maybe for a few brief moments when the sought after must have is new.  You wake up one day seeing things with new eyes or maybe it has been a gradual realisation. Either way, you feel different, the world seems different. You look around but no one else has seemed to notice. So you start searching ………

That means you’re awakening, seeking knowledge,  you realise that there is much more to life than what you see and hear. You have become tired of that treadmill and are getting ready to step off or have already stepped off.

How does it feel? Good? Scary? Nerve wracking? Or do you just feel relief? Change is nerve wracking, even when you get pushed into it.

When I began,  it felt like putting a puzzle together. Each piece led to the next piece. A book, a program, an article like a trail of breadcrumbs led me to each new piece of knowledge.

Then at times life took over and all of a sudden it would all be pushed aside, not deliberately but almost as though I wasn’t yet ready. As time went on the push to know more became more insistent. I devoured books, scoured the library and bookshops.

Sometimes I would bring home a book and couldn’t read it. I would pick it up, feel nauseated and put it down again. Then a couple of years later would read the book and take great strides forwards. I just hadn’t been ready for that knowledge the first time.

I had strange dreams that kept repeating until I understood the message. At various stages I met people who mentored/taught me for a while, though I didn’t realise it at the time.

Any of this sounding familiar to you?

Sometimes the Universe  steps in

I didn’t give this all as much time and effort as I should have done. Life kept getting in the way. I would have times where I was an active seeker moving along the right path, following the breadcrumbs onwards. Then life would get in the way once more, other demands upon my time would take precedence.

So the universe stopped me in my tracks.

3 illnesses at once to keep me still and make me focus inwards. My eyes were affected so I couldn’t read much or watch television during this time, so I meditated a lot, widened my knowledge with audios.

It’s only when you learn to go within that you begin to find answers.

I learned to be still, that I didn’t have to fill every minute of every day with busyness. I learned to let go, to allow others to help, to realise that I didn’t need to control everything. Not easy things to learn when you are used to managing everything yourself.

It was not a good time, strength of will and staying mainly positive got me through. The one thing that I knew with absolute certainty during that time, was that I would be fine, I would get through it. It took a few years but I survived as I knew I would.

Epiphany’s

When you hear others stories you realise that you are not alone, that many have gone through similar epiphany’s to reach that good place. They have been through hell and back but they survived and it changed them. The amount of people who have told me that their life has changed for the better because of it, is amazing.

I have often said that having those illnesses was a good thing in a way because it was a catalyst for change.

It didn’t happen overnight, it was gradual, took a lot of time and effort but eventually I realised that I was working for myself, doing work I loved and my life was amazing. And it continued to grow more so, as I continued to learn and grow. I no longer took things for granted. I was grateful for life, for love and all the people in my life. Gratitude became a habit.

Eventually when you continue to learn and grow you reach a place where you feel the sheer joy of living well up often until you feel you might burst and it makes you laugh out loud with the sheer joy of living. A place where you are happy, despite anything life throws at you.

Reach for happiness

You have to work on yourself, to learn to like and love yourself for who you are. Many think its being selfish but it’s not. YOU are important and your wellbeing is important.

Being Happy is your birthright, it’s not something to hope for. You already have it inside you, you just have to learn to set it free.

You need to realise that you are worth the effort, that you are as important as anyone else in your life. That your life can be different, you just have to take the first steps on that path to find the real you and allow yourself to be happy all the time and really live your life.

To find that place where you realise that happiness was within your power all along and that’s an amazing place to be.

Are you happy? Do you want to be happy all the time?

Does any of this resonate with you? Please let me know either way.

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