We All Feel It
Make no mistake, we all feel anxious from time to time cos we’re built to feel that way, fight/flight etc. It’s only when it becomes a habit, a default place, a pattern, that it becomes a problem. If you’re feeling a little lost or uncertain then know that you are not alone, especially at this very uncertain time. Certainty is not a want; it’s an absolute basic human NEED.
There are many reasons why we suffer bouts of anxiety but left unchecked it can lead to depression and confidence can plummet. Coaching is about the journey inward but I wanted to write about what we can do externally to create our own certainty. This is about what comes first. It starts with you, take care of you. I mean it; it starts with creating your own certainty. I know some will think blah, blah; heard this before – look again. Some people think putting yourself first is selfish, it’s not, it’s the opposite. In biblical terms, you can’t serve from an empty vessel.
Get Seriously Protective about your Mental Health
These are times like we’ve never known and it’s why we have to be vigilant, aware of our mental health: no one is exempt. We need to get seriously protective over our mental health and so our routines; don’t underestimate their power to keep us grounded and on track mentally. When we create our resourceful routines, our resourceful routines create us and then we can get back in the saddle.
External problems that you can’t change? I promise you, your solutions lie within. How you feel on the inside greatly manifests on the outside. When you are in that place of absolute confidence and certainty and feel purpose, your external world changes exponentially. This is something I work at consistently and when things get a bit or a lot overwhelming I always revert back to the simple stuff, I have to; it’s like taking one step back to take two steps forward. I used to think it was a weakness to feel anxious; not any more. Now I have learned my body is trying to tell me something and I sit up and take note, instead of pushing it away or using avoidance tactics. Avoiding only puts it back in the cupboard until tomorrow.
So, Go on, Do it Now
Embrace the uncertainty. Take 5 minutes, just 5 minutes to decide on maybe two simple things that you know will make a difference to you and commit to doing them, every day at a time you know you will and do it, without fail (so keep it short and achievable). Stick them up in a place where you will see them constantly. Hopefully, it will make you laugh as – you – just – do – it!!
Here are a few examples of my routines that form a basis to my mental health checklist (this is by no means exhaustive and any good ideas are so welcome)
- Get sleep. You know if you are getting enough, if not, find out. Do anything and everything to enable sleep, make it your mission, yoga, earlier nights, read at bedtime, milky drinks, no tech in the bedroom, mindful breathing, find what works for you and do it, every night, make it your routine. I aim for 3ltrs of water a day to help me sleep (don’t ask- it’s a hormone thing). I’ve also just discovered Pukka night-time herbal and my sleep efficiency went from the 80s to 97%! (according to my watch fitness app)
- Move. We may not be able to meet in groups to walk or go to the gym but for most of us, we can go outside and walk, maybe meet up with one friend or neighbour. Get a free app like Map my Walk and have fun seeing how far you walked and discover new paths. And while you are out, try, try (and it takes lots of practice) to be in the moment. Not on what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. When your mind defaults to those stories, focus back on what’s in front of you. Just the walk, check out the simple stuff, the leaves maybe and take a deep breath. I find that just to drop my shoulders affects dramatically how I feel, just try it. Maybe play some music that makes you laugh out loud or just want to dance, we’ve all got one, I love ‘Always look on the bright side’ by Eric Idle, it makes me laugh. Nature is so calming and when we feel stressed, it is the place to destress, when we allow it, we have to be aware though to be aware. Just breathe.
- Eat some healthy food. Not many of us eat healthily all the time and I’m definitely not one. Get a routine together where you eat healthily say two meals a day. Just as an example I eat a choice of about 3 easy things for breakfast, one is a Weetabix. I eat the same easy thing at lunchtime like a couple of crackers with philly on (yes I know, boring but it works for me and takes the thinking out of it) and then I eat whatever I like at night but I just watch the portion size. This writing isn’t about nutrition, it’s about routine. If it’s weight you want to lose, or gain fitness and let’s face it most of us do especially now, put it into your routine and then essentially, forget about weight loss or fitness.
- Get creative – connect with others. Get creative with how to connect with friends and family, they could be feeling the same as you. The more we don’t connect, the harder it can be, we can become a little insular. Phone, Zoom, over the fence, smile at people when you are walking. We are all feeling uncertainty and need a virtual hug in a big, genuine smile, so go on, next time you’re out give one away. How lovely is that feeling when we connect with someone on a real personal level? Connection/love again is another basic human NEED.
- Be Grateful. It’s not always easy this one and again, really work at it. Whenever you think/see/hear something negative, and there are plenty of people pedalling bad news, the media and well-meaning friends; disengage if you can. Make a habit to balance something negative with SO THANKFUL I HAVE… and think of something good in your life that you’re grateful for like family, health, a job, a relationship, a home.
We can’t change what’s going on in the world but we can manage our own space. Find your own piece of certainty in taking care of yourself – first. Then, and only then, can you help others.