I feel like any post I write at the moment, given my focus is mental health and wellbeing, cannot ignore what’s currently going on in the world. However, I know even for just myself that sometimes I don’t want to be reading about the current situation. I know what’s going on and sometimes I’d just prefer to forget about it all. So, to find some kind of balance I’ve put together some inspiration which has helped me in the past and seems to have new resonance now. I hope you will share some of your own sources of inspiration with me too in the comments below!
“Choose What You Use”
This is a new one for me which I’ve only discovered in recent weeks but I’m finding a helpful reminder. I’ve expanded it for myself to be ‘choose what and when you use’. I relate this particularly to social media and accessing the news. Sometimes I need a break and keeping an eye on the news, whether now or even in the past, can raise my levels of anxiety or generally cause me to despair about the state of the world.
This reminds me that I have control over what and when I access certain websites or platforms. It’s particularly helpful right now when I feel like so much of my life is outside of my control which for those who know me roots in my anxiety. For me, this is about putting myself back in the driving seat.
“Treat yourself as you would your best friend”
This has been one of my favourite sources of inspiration for a long time. It has occurred to me many times in the past that I’m great at saying yes to other people but not so good at saying yes to myself. This is true of countless of the wonderful human beings I am privileged to be surrounded by!
One of the times I notice this most is around saying no to something (more here). For example, if a friend tells me they’ve had an awful day at work and don’t feel up to going to a party, I’d encourage them to stay home and look after themselves. I’d remind them that true friends will understand and will want them to put themselves first. After all, ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’. Fast forward to myself being in the same situation and I’m convinced I HAVE to attend the party. Even though logically I know that my friends won’t hate me and they will invite me next time. I can’t seem to drown out those voices.
Likewise, if I wake up feeling really ill I will inevitably push myself to go into work. I’ll be concerned what people will think if I take a sick day. As if one day off will cancel out years of good work. And this is all with an employer who would prefer me to take time off to look after myself – I am very lucky in this regard. However, a friend in the same situation and I’m reminding them that they need to stay home. I’ll tell them that being ill is a sign that you’re pushing too hard or doing too much and your body needs a break.
I seem incapable of taking my own advice and doing what is best for me. This is true across the board but particularly when I feel like I’m letting someone down. Particularly someone I care about. So, I remind myself what I would say to a friend or a loved one and then fight my natural instinct to follow suit!
“In Your Rush to Return to Normal….”
The full quote is “in your rush to return to normal, let’s use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” and has been attributed to David Hollis.
Many of you may be familiar with this quote. It’s making it’s rounds in terms of inspiration on social media and there’s a reason for that. It’s a powerful reminder that in this new normal there may be things we wish to drop. We rarely have a pause in our life to really review and spend a moment with ourselves. Now may be the perfect time to check in with where we are and maybe even who we are and possibly make a change.
For me this is an extension of the thriving culture of decluttering that people are doing right now. Whether it’s spring cleaning or the fact that being at home means you’re so much more aware of the mess and disorder hidden behind closed doors, everyone seems to be at it. The way I see it is decluttering isn’t just throwing out old clothes or donating items. It’s a time to personally declutter anything that’s not helping you thrive in life and be the person that you want to be.
“Don’t Set Yourself on Fire to Keep Other People Warm”
Another one of my favourites and also one of the best ways I found to talk about self-care. This resonates so much with me because, as above, I’m not great at saying no to people or to making myself a priority. This, as I’m sure is true for many of you, will result in a woeful lack of self-care (for how to overcome this click here).
Whenever I share this quote with people they always say how much it makes sense to them. Just like the aeroplane reminder to always put on your oxygen mask before helping others; it cuts right to the heart of the matter. Whilst putting others first is an admirable thing to do, if we do it to our own detriment we won’t be able to look after those who rely on us because somethings gotta give!
If we truly want to be the sort of person others can always turn to. We need to look after ourselves at least as much as we look after those around us. Otherwise we’re setting ourselves on fire and once that happens we’re no use to anyone.
“Think about What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t”
Another great one, if like me, you struggle with being in control or find uncertainty particularly hard to manage. This may be about our locus of control and where we lay possible blame for things that go wrong or success and failure.
I feel consistently driven to have as much control as possible over the events of my life. I do this to try and minimize margin of failure; or it least it makes me feel like I’m doing so. Despite this, I am likely to blame myself for things that go wrong even when I’ve done my best. Because of this I tend to have high levels of stress when things are outside of my control.
To help myself manage these situations I try and focus my energy on what I can do. I ask myself to think about what I can be doing and where I can be using my energy to help myself. The challenge, of course, is to let go of the things which are out of my control or areas where I’ve done everything I can and just have to wait and see what happens. Far easier said than done and I wish I had the answer for this.
“Be Where Your Feet Are”
For those of us interested in mindfulness, this one is for you. In an early post I wrote about how mindfulness can be for useful to all of us, even if meditation and sitting still aren’t our thing! The best description I’ve heard of mindfulness is this one.
We don’t need to meditate or make noises or anything else we may associate with the practice. The main thing is to be in the moment and the best way to do this is to be where our feet are. Wherever you may be, focus on that place. You may wish to try to think and feel with all of your senses. Or even the feel of where your feet, or any other part of you, connect with the ground. I find this particularly grounding and it takes me out of my head. So, go on try it. Be where your feet are!
“In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind”
No list of inspiration would be complete without this quote. The current situation of the world is a reminder of the need to be kind to both ourselves and those around. More than ever we need to harness a sense of community and belonging. I can’t think of a better way of doing so them acts of kindness.
Where do you find sources of inspiration? Share the love in the comments below!