photo/woman-holding-sparklers

Lost Your Mojo?

Rediscover Your Inner Spark

It happens – one day you feel like you can take on the world whilst the next day you feel like hiding from it. You’re in a funk and it’s unnerving, uncomfortable and worse, you’ve no idea how long it’s going to last. We’ve all been there. But is there anything we can do to speed the process up, rediscover our inner spark and feel like we’ve got our “mojo” back?

Luckily, the answer to that is a resounding yes! So, if you’re feeling out of sorts, read on to find out more about what might help, as well as identifying what probably won’t.

Get Back to Basics

Quite often, when I find myself feeling like this, it’s because I’ve burnt myself out, taking too much on than I can comfortably handle.

Of course, sometimes we have no choice but to take those tasks on, say as a single parent having to be both mum and dad, or working full time whilst caring for our elderly parents, or even just during exceptionally busy times in our lives period. It’s during these times, however, that we need to really take some time to assess and evaluate what absolutely must be done and what needs to take a back seat.

For me, getting back to basics is crucial to either avoiding burnout altogether or to recovering more quickly from a bout of it. It’s about doing all the things we probably don’t feel like doing during these times: eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and taking adequate time for ourselves to rest and rejuvenate. The oft-quoted example of this that I see is that of the instructions when on an aeroplane to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others, such as any children.

The difficult part of this is being motivated enough to do it! Just recently, I went through this exact situation. I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t be bothered to do it because I was so burnt out. It’s a Catch-22. But do it you must if you want to speed up the healing and recovery process.

Tip: Start small. Identify one or two things that you could start to do now, today, that you know are good for you. What you’re looking for is to start building momentum so that things you want/need to do but don’t feel ready for just yet, feel a little easier once you’ve got some of the basics under your belt. Things I did:

  • increased water intake;
  • went to bed earlier;
  • listened to guided meditations;
  • made sure to have 3 meals per day;
  • started taking vitamins and probiotics again;
  • contacted the GP for help quitting smoking.

A week later, feeling buoyed up with having cared well for myself that week, I felt inspired to take on some other essential self-care that I’d let slip but that a week before seemed just too difficult to face:

  • made sure to have a healthy breakfast;
  • took up yoga again;
  • reconnected with hobbies (knitting, blogging, etc);
  • reconnecting with friends and family;
  • reading self-care books/articles;
  • journalling.

The plan for this coming week is to stay on track with all of the above now that I’m feeling much more like my old self. A couple of weeks ago, every single one of these would have felt impossible.

Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m sure that some of you are thinking “Great – and just when am I supposed to find the time to do all of this?” and I totally get that. The answer, however difficult you may find it (myself included!), is to stop doing all the things that you’re currently doing that you don’t need to do.

I can’t speak from a male-perspective, but as a wife and mother of two who works full-time, I’ve realised recently how much I was doing for other people that I didn’t really need to do or that could wait for a time more convenient to me. It still feels incredibly selfish to write that sentence because, somehow, I have this perception that I “should” be doing those things.

I realised that if I wanted to be a better wife, mother, employee, me, something had to give. I couldn’t give myself the things that I needed for my health and well-being if I was constantly doing things for others first (think oxygen mask analogy again). I also would inevitably burn out eventually and then couldn’t do all the things I needed to, whether for others or myself, and then I really would be in a pickle.

Maybe it comes from wanting to feel needed or liked on a subconscious level but these last 2 weeks I stopped. Told the family, friends and my students that actually I wouldn’t be doing anything that I felt that they could and should be doing for themselves. Yes, there were a few who complained but you know what? The world kept on turning, they did it themselves and I had time for self-care. No, maybe they didn’t do it the way I would have done it but, turns out, my way isn’t the only way! They also learned how to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have known how to do so actually everyone was happier.

Tip: What did this include? Ironing for the husband and 18 year old. No reason at all why they can’t do their own and saves me a good couple of hours each week. Helping the 18 year old get her first contract phone. Normally, I would have dropped everything and just done it for her and caught up with my work afterwards cutting into my evening time. Instead, I offered to help her to do it at the weekend which we did. With my 7-year old, instead of just doing little things like putting her shoes away and tidying up any toys she left out, asking her to do it which she did (sometimes begrudgingly mind!). With my law students, returning work full of written English errors that could easily be corrected by them with an effective proofread without marking and asking them to resubmit once they had finished their work to the standard they know is required.

What did I learn from this? To set boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you gather your nearest and dearest and inform them that you’ll never lift a finger for them again, but rather that these things do not become something “expected” that you will do, especially where they are the responsibility of someone else. If you want to do something for somebody or if somebody needs your help, of course you will still want to do that but only if your self-care isn’t being compromised in the process.

Result: more time and energy for me to practice self-nurturing habits and build up to the big one – cutting out the things I knew were bad for me!

Banish the Bad Habits

I’m sure most of us have at least one habit that we desperately want to conquer but for some reason we keep on doing it. Mine – apart from not setting healthy boundaries – was smoking. I’ve been ping-ponging for years between quitting and smoking/smoking and quitting. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it by myself, made the call to the GP and went to see the nurse who prescribed Champix. I have to say it’s not for everyone but has made quitting incredibly easy over the last two weeks, more so than any other method I’ve tried. There are uncomfortable side-effects of course but I’m guessing heart disease and cancer, the almost guaranteed side-effect of smoking, are far more uncomfortable and deadly!

I’ve mentioned before on this site that at the end of 2018, I drastically reduced my alcohol intake to no more than around once per month for special occasions e.g. a holiday or celebration and, frankly, my life has been a million times better as a result and I don’t miss it at all now it’s become the norm.

What your bad habit is will be individual to you and, like me, you may well have more than one. That’s fine. I have no issue if anyone wants to smoke or drink or anything else for that matter. This is really for anyone who feels that their bad habit is making them feel bad about themselves. It could be as simple as stopping biting your nails or swearing (next on my list!). If you feel there’s a bad habit that you’d like to change, again, start small. Do a bit of research on the internet on how others overcame the same habit. Start putting a plan together, including a date for when you plan to stop or reduce your habit and maybe start building a “toolkit” to help you in your challenge.

If it’s a habit that takes up a lot of your time, and I can honestly say until I stopped I didn’t realise quite how much time smoking, going to the shop for supplies, drinking, recovering from a hangover and the like took up of my time, then you’re in for a treat when you do get past the first difficult weeks of stopping. You’ll have a ton more time on your hands for more self-care and you time. The only thing to watch with this is that you don’t substitute one bad habit for another!

Another example of how I did this was when I tried to quit smoking previously I replaced cigarette breaks with coffee/tea breaks. Whilst I’m sure nicotine and all the other chemicals are far worse for us than caffeine, being over-caffeinated to the point I was I’m sure contributed to the feeling of burn out. And then I had to wean myself off the caffeine too! Not helpful.

Also, don’t give up if you don’t manage to break your bad habits the first time. I’ve quit smoking so many times now that I doubt anyone believes me anymore, not even myself. I can’t wait to surprise everyone! Remember, we call them habits for a reason and, regardless of our reasons for having these habits, at some point we’ve clearly come to rely on them to help us get through the stresses of the day. Go easy on yourself and take it one day and one challenge at a time. If you do relapse, take a break from quitting your habit of choice, dust yourself off, regroup, re-plan and try again.

Finally, don’t expect overnight results with any of these tips. It took time for you to lose your “mojo”, it’ll take time to get it back again. Just start taking steps in the right direction, at the right pace for you and you’ll regain that inner spark in no time.

How about you? Have you any tips that could help others feeling under-par to get them back to their best selves? Why not share your tips in the comments below.

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meditate

How to Try a Yoga Retreat – at Home!

Starts this Friday!

Yes, you read that right – get yourself a taster of what it’s like to go on a yoga retreat whilst staying in the comfort of your very own home – for free.

Starting on the morning of Friday 9 August 2019, you’re all invited to attend Yoga with Adriene’s very own yoga retreat lasting right through to bedtime on Sunday 11 August 2019. All you need is access to the internet and You Tube and to follow the instructions on the link below:

https://yogawithadriene.com/reclaim-your-center-at-home-retreat/

As you may have noticed, I’m a massive YWA fan so I’m always sharing links to her material most of which is completely free and crafted with the “at home” practitioner very much in mind.

After a crazy-July of YWA power yoga, I’m really looking forward to this month’s theme of “Reunite”, especially so having learnt that there will be a 3-day yoga retreat at home special to shake up the usual daily practice.

For full details, I recommend clicking the link but essentially each day there is:

  • a morning session of yoga;
  • followed by a short meditation;
  • a journal prompt session;
  • an evening yoga session; and
  • a nature activity.

I’m sure there are those of you thinking that there’s no way you could fit all of those activities into the whole weekend never mind every day for 3 days straight! Until I started a daily yoga practice, I would have had the same reaction in fairness. But, it’s surprising how much I can actually fit into my day when I make it a non-negotiable part of my day.

It’s a fun little taster session that you can fit around your existing commitments – I’m actually in work all day Friday so I’ll have to get up a little earlier to fit it all in and may end up eating a little later than usual in the evening, but planning it in advance definitely makes it easier to manage. Over the weekend, the youngest will no doubt be joining in and dropping out as it suits her and probably saying “mum” every 5 minutes through the meditations but I guess that’s good practice for taking my yoga “off the mat” and practising a calm and peaceful mind all day, every day – not just when it’s convenient to do so!

Why not challenge yourself to something different this weekend? Feel free to share this article with anyone you think might be interested and if you take part, let me know how you get on in the comments.

See you there!

Remember, as with any exercise programme, speak with your own independent healthcare provider to check suitability for your needs.

Quit Smoking: Week 3

Day 21 – 3 weeks off the cigarettes cold turkey with only one slip up 7 days ago. For those of you who were sensible enough to never smoke that probably doesn’t sound like much of an achievement. For anyone who has, and has ever tried to stop smoking, especially cold turkey, I’m sure you’ll appreciate why I consider that a success!

The Slip-Up

Yes, Day 13, just as I thought I was getting the hang of this quitting thing I had a row with my husband (who does smoke) – our first since I quit and I fell back on the old coping mechanism of lighting up a fag to deal with the stress. As a matter of fact, I had several that night but when I woke the next day, I decided to knock it on the head straightaway and ran what cigs I had left under the tap before chucking them in the bin so that I couldn’t easily change my mind!

It also helped that my throat was absolutely killing me from not only smoking after 2 weeks off but also having picked up a cough and sore throat off my youngest that then kept me up all week, reinforcing why I should stick it out and stay off the fags if I didn’t want that cough to become a permanent fixture in my life.

The Recovery

I stuck the Paul McKenna hypnosis on that I’ve been listening to successfully up until this point and, when I woke up out of the trance/dreamlike state, I just didn’t have another smoke (if you want to have a go to see if this can work for you, there’s a link to it from my previous post here https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/05/quit-smoking-day-5/ or down the sidebar). I only listened to it that once to reinforce the messages and that did the trick for me.

I also find it helpful to keep building on progress by introducing new challenges such as the 7-Day Digital Detox I started last week:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/18/has-your-smart-phone-taken-over-your-life/

This kept me pretty busy in that I actively started hunting out things to do instead of lounging about on my smartphone of an evening.

I’ve still kept up with the interdentals/toothpicks as well – I find it helpful especially in the car or when I’m walking somewhere to just have one in my mouth/hand to chew or fiddle with. If you fancy trying them, just click the image below – I recommend them for non-smokers too as I was told by my dentist that they’re much better than flossing.

These are the interdentals I use which last me about 10 days but a lot cheaper than a pack of fags and far healthier for my teeth and gums!

The Benefits

I find it really helpful to challenge myself to reach the next Benefit Milestone and to read up on how others have managed to kick the habit. One site that has really helped me is https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit

Notwithstanding my little slip, the benefits I’ve seen by being clean these last 3 weeks include:

  • Pulse rate now at normal levels
  • No carbon monoxide in my body
  • Oxygen levels returned to normal
  • No nicotine in my body
  • Lungs have started to clear out all the smoking induced rubbish out of my body
  • Taste-buds improved as has sense of smell
  • Bronchial tubes begin relaxing so breathing becomes easier
  • Energy levels begin to rise
  • Improving circulation in the body

Most of us who have tried quitting previously will have heard of the notorious “3’s” – 3 days/3 weeks/3 months as being times when it can be a particularly challenging part of the quit smoking journey. For me, it was the 2-week stage so be alert to the fact that your body and your journey may well be different.

My next big benefit is between 3 and 9 months when breathing issues, wheezing and coughing will start to improve as the lungs function better by up to 10%! This is the one that I never get to usually – but this time feels different…

How So?

Last night, I almost slipped again. After another exchange of words with my husband, I found myself at the shop actually stood in the queue, lighter in hand before finding myself practically running to the fridge, buying milk and a packet of sugar-free chewing-gum instead!

The pride I felt in myself walking out of that shop and again on waking-up this morning inspired me to write this post to help others who may be struggling on their own quit smoking journey. Yes, you can just go and buy some fags and light up but the relief is infinitely more short-lived than the pride and sense of achievement that you feel at overcoming your craving. Surprisingly, what helped here is that I’d sat with other family members earlier that day who smoked and managed to abstain so I felt like I’d put myself through that for nothing if I did smoke that night.

What I discovered yesterday is that I can ride out the craving. By the time I got to the shop, unlike on other occasions when I’ve tried to quit, the craving had already passed.

When I got back, I had a cup of tea, went to bed and again popped on the old Paul McKenna hypnosis! I think that I will plan to listen to this once a week now for the next month or so, just to keep those messages fully reinforced.

At 3 weeks, I can hardly say I’m out of the woods with this quit smoking journey, however, by following the steps above and in my other two posts on the topic, I’m definitely on my way.

Wishing any others on their own QS journey the very best of luck – stay strong!! x

3 Easy & Fun Yoga Poses to Make You Smile :)

Smile 🙂

One of the most surprising aspects of yoga when I first got into the practice was just how fun and silly it could be. I always thought yogis were people that took themselves far too seriously to have any fun, especially during a yoga practice session. Turns out I was wrong!

Whatever my mood when I roll my mat out each day, before I roll my mat back up again, I know that I will have smiled or laughed to myself at least once. My favourite poses are the ones that make me feel silly or childish or care-free when in the pose because, quite frankly, I probably take myself too seriously most of the time. These poses are really teaching me to lighten up in my approach to life generally. After all, none of us are getting out of here alive!

So, if you’re ready to unleash your inner child, why not check out the links on You Tube to Yoga With Adriene below and see if these poses make you smile today too:

  1. Lion’s Breath: https://youtu.be/xdUyHPa66A4 (technically a pranayama (breathing exercise) but a great introduction to the practice);
  2. Happy Baby: https://youtu.be/dmlOV0hZ76w?t=1701 (the link should start at around 28:30 minutes just as Happy Baby posture is starting – of course feel free to have a go at the full practice!); and
  3. Back Rock: https://youtu.be/6UEWJsljPVM?t=583 (the link should start at around 09:40 minutes – the full video is a bit full-on if you’re new to yoga though I’d say).

If you do give them a try, let me know in the comments which, if any, made you smile most or, if you know someone who could do with cheering up, why not share this post with them and brighten up their day.

Namaste x

Obviously, any exercise routine should only be undertaken bearing in mind any existing health condition you may have and having first spoken with your healthcare provider.