Sunshine + Glow has always been a really happy, sunny, positive space, a place where I like to share things that help me see the bright side of things. I like to focus on the positive and the good things that happen every day, but that does not mean that I have a life without complications or that I have not gone through difficult times.
Take my last few months, for example. You could read my last post and think: Wow, isn't she lucky! She's moved to a sunny country, has a new place, a new job and lots of adventures ahead. All of that is true, but the real reason why I have moved is because my mum is seriously ill. During the past month I have worried myself sick, I have cried, got angry, and there have been days when it all felt really gloomy and sad. There is light and shade in every day, in every person's life.
Luckily this is not the first time I have faced a difficult time, and I know that during the darkest times we show our most powerful strength and come through them having learnt some valuable lessons. While we often cannot change the big thing that is hurting us or making us worried, there are always many things we can do to take the edge off and look after ourselves. This is particularly important when situations go on for a very long time and we have very little or no control over them. As helpless as you may feel, there are always things you have control over.
DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE LITTLE THINGS
It is normal to feel overwhelmed when things get tough. If you have lost your job, broken up with a loved one, are facing a loved one's illness or your very own, it will feel huge, like a huge beast that you don't feel strong enough to tackle. Where do you start? With little gestures to yourself. Think about what you would do if your best friend was in your situation and then do that for yourself. Some of the things I like are:
- Running a hot bath with salts and a gorgeous smelling bath oil. Aromatherapy Associates have an incredible selection and I love their Support blend and their gift set, but a couple of drops of lavender oil is more affordable and will also do you wonders.
- Play music that makes me happy. Spotify is full of happy music playlists and I personally love the La La Land Soundtrack.
- Go for a walk. If you are caring for someone, you might think this is near impossible, but make the most of the person you care for having a nap to squeeze in a quick walk around the block to get some fresh air.
- Meditate. If you don't have much time, all you need is 10 minutes when you wake up or before you go to bed.
- Cook your favourite meal. Eating good nutritious food is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and when you feel terrible is the thing that we often let go of really easily. Cook as an act of love to yourself, don't feel guilty about indulging in a scrumptious dessert - they have healing powers!
- Listen to a podcast. If I am not feeling my best, an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Conversations or The Lively Show can lift my spirits no end. If I listen to them while I walk, the positive effect doubles.
- Watch something you love on Netflix. In the past few weeks I have watched and loved the third season of Love and Queer Eye. I've now started The Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Video and it gives me an hour to switch off every day.
Like eating well, exercise is easy to forget during a stressful time. Sometimes it is hard to find time to go to the gym, for a run or a yoga class, but making it a priority will help you feel better. Exercise releases endorphins, which make us happy.
I've not been able to join a gym since I have been here, as making plans and routine is not something I can have right now, so I am going for long brisk walks with my brother and practicing yoga as much as possible. Here are some of my favourite videos:
Open, by Yoga with Adriene
When things get tough our initial reaction can be to close in and try to protect ourselves from the world. I love this video, which is all about opening up and balancing what our natural tendency is.
Yoga Nidra, by Fightmaster Yoga
I'm not sure you can call this exercise, as it basically consists of lying on the floor, covered by a blanket and listening to Lesley Fightmaster's soothing voice, but I LOVE this and it is such a tonic for when I am feeling stressed out.
There are millions of videos online. I personally love Yoga with Adriene and Fightmaster Yoga, which are fairly well known by everyone. One of my favourite yoga teachers in the whole wide world is Jen Austin, of Shine Yoga Retreats. I have been on a few retreats with her and they are really special and fun. If you sign up to her newsletter, you will get weekly emails that will often include a yoga sequence to do at home. She even has a retreat at home pack that I would highly recommend.
LET IT ALL OUT
Stress, worry and pain are part of every day life, but they're such bad feelings to hold on to and doing that has a negative effect on our health. Sustained stress can cause muscular injuries, mental health issues, etc. That's why it is so important to find a way to letting them go. During periods of intense stress we often try to contain situations that we are trying to get a grasp on or control, we hold tension and this makes us very stiff, physically and emotionally. If we continue like this for a long time in the end we explode. We either start snapping at people, find ourselves in floods of tears over something we would otherwise consider small or in more serious cases we can break down.
Trying to find a way to let it out is a good way to avoid this, and this looks different for each person.
- Speaking to a counsellor, therapist or coach can be so beneficial. They offer a neutral point of view and a space where you can express yourself freely and without judgement or expectations, and support you might need at that point. Some people have a real problem with this and might think it is a sign of weakness, but I think it is a sign of strength to do something proactive to avoid ending up feeling a mess.
- Time with friends and family is invaluable. You might have a friend who is a great listener. You might have a few. Make time to have a coffee or go to the cinema with them.
- I personally love writing and have kept a journal since I was 8 years old. Writing helps me process my thoughts and feelings and get a little bit of distance from them, and it is something I find very therapeutic.
Sometimes looking after yourself will give you the strength to tackle something head on, to make a brave decision, to change a situation that has been bothering you. There are times when what we deal with is outside of our control. We cannot control the outcome, but what we have control over is how we deal with it, and you deserve to give yourself the best chance.