Building Blocks To Happiness
I haven't titled this post yet, because...well Because I'm not entirely sure what I'm about to write. I've spent the past few days really thinking about post ideas and there are a good few things I want to write about that I have a feeling will all come out in a muddled heap of words which I'm hoping will kind of make sense. Kind of... If you follow me on twitter or instagram you'll know I have spent the past few weeks under the weather. What started out as a weak lethargic feeling turned into the shivers, vomiting, bronchitis and eventually good old flu. I could blame it on the chilly weather, a dormant virus one of my students gave me or over indulging during the holidays. However, deep down, nestled snuggly under all of the excuses is the real reason I fell ill.
I was burning the candle at both ends just before Christmas. In fact I had spent months burning the candle at both ends. Telling myself that I'd rest at the weekend, or the following weekend. Then I'd fill my weekend with endless to do lists, I promised myself I'd take a break in the half term holidays. Alas to no avail I "couldn't" . Of course I could really, but I felt that if I didn't keep going, if I stopped just for a day, everything would crumble. All of the hard work of the past few years would somehow be erased and the only way I could be successful was to fill every single minute of every day with jobs, tasks, things to do, things that would make me successful. But that's not how it works, because instead I ended up getting to the point where I no longer want to blog daily. I no longer enjoyed checking my instagram feed or twitter. Getting up and going to work, to a job I once adored became something I dreaded. Everything became a chore. I was tired, completely and utterly overwhelmed, sick, and I hadn't worked out properly in months.
Over the holidays I wrapped up warm and spent a hell of a lot of time cuddling the cats and snuggled on the sofa with Fray. We rarely went out and when we did it was usually to spend time with my family, enjoy good food and laugh. Always wrapped up as warm as can be. I began to notice, without the infinite to do list distracting me, I had become really rather negative, and quite the pessimist. Not only was trying to stay on top of and do everything affecting my physical health - causing me to be unwell, stressed and the reason for lack of physical exercise it had also, unknowingly, affected my mental wellbeing too. This is when I knew something had to change.
What had contributed to my happy, positive, optimistic mind set? I wondered. It was something that plagued my mind most days, whilst in the shower I'd ponder the very core of what made me who I was before I got so negative. Whilst driving I'd mull over what I used to do compared to what I do now. Whilst cleaning I'd consider everything from the way I eat to the weather and daily activities I find myself partaking in. It was whilst parking the car one day it came to me. (I have a 23 year old Ford Fiesta with no power steering, believe me, parking takes a while.) There were a series of things I did every day that contribute to a healthy, happy mind. Without those things, gradually my physical and mental wellbeing began to suffer.
Sweating It Out
Physical exercise of some sort every day is absolutely paramount to me. I'm a very active person and when I don't work out first thing in the morning, it won't happen for the rest of the day. My sleep suffers without it and I become easily distracted. I procrastinate more and my joints begin to seize up. Whether it's stretching it out with a yoga session, pumping my heart with cardio or going for a leisurely stroll, exercise is now high on my list of priorities as a daily habit for 2017. No longer do I look at working out as something that will solely benefit the way I look, that will drop me down to a desired dress size or have me beach bikini ready. Instead I consider it something I need for my mind and body to be the very best me I can be.
Meditation & Visualisation
This is always something that I will cut out of my day after working out as soon as the going gets tough. It's easy enough to do, after all it takes up twenty minutes at least, if not half an hour and I can do a lot in that time. But guess what? That 20-30 minutes spent meditating and visualising will put me in a motivated, calm and productive mind set. I am all about achieving my goals with all the motivation you could ever need as soon as I open my eyes after precious time spent laying the foundations for my day. Another daily habit to add to the list.
Look After Yourself Before You Look After Others
You know on the plane, just before you take off, they do the emergency thingymabob that we've all heard a million and one times - so don't really take much notice because ooooh look in-flight magazine, and quick check in on fb. Gotta post that last airport photo on IG before I'm 30,000 feet in the air...
Well the part I never fail to pay attention to is the "make sure you have your own oxygen mask on before helping others, even young children" part. It makes perfect sense, how can you help others with their mask if you're struggling to breathe through lack of your own?! Yet how often do we listen and apply that advice to life. It's time to look after ourselves so that we can give our best and look after those we love. Take care of your body - brush your teeth twice a day, floss, have a skin care regime, wash your hair, dry it properly and feel proud of the way you look. Be kind and loving to your body and it will be kind and loving to you.
Eat All The Colours
What happened next along the line of "I just don't have enough hours in the day" saga that inevitably was my life? I began to slack on the cooking, on preparing wholesome nutritious food. Guess what happened then? Without the right food in my diet, I became anaemic for the second time in the space of two months. Go me.
Three meals a day is just the very start of what my body needs. Those meals need to be colourful and nutritious, well thought out and prepared with love. There needs to be snacks too - plenty of fresh fruit, humus, veggie sticks, nuts and dried fruit and smoothies. Deserts that make not only my tummy happy but my heart and soul happy too. Teas that warm me from the inside out and plant based treats that make me feel all kinds of goodness as I tuck in.
I also need to take a few supplements - Iron, B12 and Magnesium supplements are a must for me. Without them I become anaemic, my immune system suffers and I get awful migraines. I'm also currently trying out omega 3 and chaste tree supplements in an attempt to balance my hormones and heal my skin. I'll let you know how they fair.
Surround Yourself With People Who Uplift You
Sitting alongside eating right, looking after myself, exercising and meditating comes people. When was the last time I spent proper, quality time with friends that uplift me? Life just got busy is an excuse I found myself stating every time someone asked what I was up to? When could I meet up? How come I never made it to get togethers anymore? We are only as good as those we surround ourselves with.
I'm going to take that a step further here and say that it's also those we interact with, in real life, on social media and even the videos we watch on Youtube. There are particular vlogs I really got into during 2016 that I am taking off my subscription list, because not only do I feel that they aren't quite as honest as they make out, I also feel like they have become unrelatable for me where I am now. The blogs we read, the music we listen to, the social media feeds we mindlessly scroll through, they all contribute to our state of mind, sometimes in a very small way, often times in a very large way. Comparison really is the thief of joy, and giiiiirl ain't nobody stealing my joy this year.
The Little Things
As well as the big building blocks above which I believe are pretty vital for most human beings happiness, there are the little things. Those things that we like that make us different and unique. That make us, us. For me it's cat cuddles, steaming hot mugs of tea curled up by the fire reading a book, long walks by the sea. It's lighting a new candle, travelling to a new place, looking at old photographs, making actual things with my hands. It's making other smile every day, watching period dramas, listening to one direction as I dance unapologetically around my flat filling the blanks when I don't remember the words. It's waking up before my alarm, watching a sunrise with Fray. It's being on the other side of those doors at arrivals, that split second before they open and I see him. The person who no matter what, never fails to put a smile on my face and make me laugh until my tummy hurts.
It's the hot water bottles, the clean tidy flat, cooking up a storm on a Sunday morning. It's spending time with those I love, helping others achieve their dreams.
The thing is, it's all about balance. I need to include the main building blocks for my happiness every day and throw in the little things whenever I can. After all I tried to be successful the other way and it didn't work.
What is success? It's really rather subjective.
Success to me is happiness. If I feel content and happy each day, without looking back and without planning the future. If I am present in this very moment, with a smile on my face. To me, that's success.
How about you?