This is my first blog post in quite some time.
The whole of last year seemed to take away my desire to write, however, I did manage to finish a book I started the year before called “Everyday Practices for Better Living” (available on Amazon).
Here in the UK, we are beginning to emerge slowly from a second (or is it third?) lockdown. It’s been hard.
Throughout all this I have truly learnt how much I have taken for granted, and, although I didn’t think I was, how materialistic I’ve been. I understand now that the material things really don’t matter. I’ve learnt so many things about myself that I never knew and have had so many demons to confront. I have found a deeper spiritual understanding, a deeper connection to my soul self.
Through this period of isolation, deep reflection and inner as well as outer stillness, I have developed strategies for coping. I’ve had many of these strategies for some time. Some are obvious, but I’ve had to really lean on them and develop them further in these unusual, transformational times.
This is extracted from my book and I have found them useful. They are summarised here.
Coping Strategies for Stressful Times
• Panic and fear fog the mind, which can lead to irrational and fearful thoughts and actions. Try to keep positive and take a few deep breaths if you feel panic coming over you.
• Limit your exposure to television. We now have access to the news all day, every day. Most of the news stories are fear-based. Because people tune in, the adverts during breaks command the highest revenue. Fear-based news makes money. Keep up to date only with what you need to know.
• Focus on more positive things. Listen to positive podcasts, watch inspirational programmes, and watch positive online content. Take responsibility for your mindset and behaviours. Be present and be mindful.
• Don’t catastrophise things in your head. And, if you start to do so, find something to focus on and take your mind away from such thoughts. It’s OK to feel sad at times, but not excessively.
• If you feel panic and fear welling up, take a little time to take in some deep breaths to calm your nerves.
• If you can, take some time to meditate to still the mind. Focus on the breath or on an inanimate object, such as a cut flower or an apple.
• Take a walk, and if you can take it out in nature or in a park. Walking can help alleviate anxiety and help instil more positive emotions and a sense of calm. Focus on your feet connecting with the earth as you walk.
• Focus on presence and being in the now. The past is gone. You can’t do anything to change that, and the future is not yet here. All you have, essentially, is this moment. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the present moment.
• Crystals. If you’re sensitive to them they are great for instilling a little bit of calmness. Place your favourite small crystals in your pockets or wear one around your neck. (Worry stones work just as well. Choose a simple pebble, which you can take out and concentrate on for a moment or play with in your hand.)
• Essential oils are very calming. Burn some oils in a burner or place a few drops of essential oil in a bath, if you have one.
• Adult colouring books. When my children were small some of my happiest times were spent colouring in pictures with my youngest son, so I was overjoyed when adult colouring books came into being. The activity helps takes your mind away from overthinking.
• Look at your diet. This is more long-term, but changes can be made immediately. Look at eating more healthily, incorporating more high-energy, high-vibrational foods into your diet. Omit highly processed foods.
• Exercise. As above, a walk is good. Or a bike ride, running, skipping, yoga or any aerobic exercise that gets your heart rate up and that you can safely do.
• Journal. Journaling is wonderful at inspiring creative ideas and discovering solutions to problems.
• Reading. Read something inspiring and motivating or light-hearted.
• If you’re at home for any length of time, like we have been during the Covid-19 pandemic, don’t mope about. Be organised and motivated. Get up, get dressed, plan your day, do some work, create something or do some gentle exercise.
The one thing I’ve learnt throughout my life, and indeed more so since the Covid-19 pandemic, is that difficulties and challenges are put on your path to reveal your greatest strengths: determination, courage, resilience, strength of character and patience. There are lessons in every test we endure, and we learn the most when we are tested because we have the resilience to find the answers, which ultimately lie within our being.
Mother Theresa once said about the daily suffering she encountered, ‘Every day I see Jesus Christ in all his distressing disguises.’
Extracted in part from “Everyday Practices for Better Living” by Tracey Howarth Tomlinson, available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon UK and US.