“Some days it storms, some days it shines. This is how flowers grow.” Pavana

I can’t believe I’m here. A few months ago I really didn’t think I would be. Ok, so it’s not that dramatic, I don’t mean here as in ‘alive’, I mean here, writing this blog, sitting here on the balcony, bathed in sunshine, of a ski chalet in France. Enjoying the stunning view across a field of snow, glittering like a carpet of diamonds, to a backdrop of mountains blanketed in snow and fir trees dusted with frost.  After five months of being mostly house-bound, and much of that in bed, this is a huge deal for me.

Having Anxiety and / or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome means letting people down and missing out on things. A lot. I’ve lost count of the number of nights out I’ve cancelled and times I’ve let friends down due to exhaustion or anxiety. All I can say is no one is ever more disappointed than me. The picture above is from the beginning of February, at the end of a rough old week of having crashed and been back mostly in bed. That night I was supposed to be at one of my oldest and best friend’s 40th birthday party (the same friend who’s hen party in Ibiza I missed a few years ago due to anxiety).  So fast forward a few weeks and I felt strong enough to travel (the hubby doing all the driving, bless him!) to France.  It was such a big moment for me I got incredibly emotional when we arrived and burst into tears of relief and happiness that I’d made it. I was just so grateful.

I think acceptance is one of the most important (and hardest!) things I’ve had to learn.  Accepting the bad days (or weeks) and relishing the good days. Not getting frustrated and mostly not trying to fight against it. Maybe we need the bad times to help us appreciate the good ones.

So yes, I’m disappointed I’m not out skiing with my husband, kids and friends as my wobbly bambi legs just wouldn’t be able to do it. Not to mention that anxiety and skiing aren’t a great mix!  I would love to be out there confidently skiing but there’s no point dwelling on that.

Instead I’ve embraced the change of scenery and celebrated the magical moments when I’ve felt up to getting out. So I’ve wandered over the road to that glittering snow field and made snow angels and ‘snow-bathed’ in the sun. I’ve joined the kids in some head-first, backwards ‘bottom tobogganing’ down a slippery, snowy slope. Fun and laughter are much-needed medicine right now! Just watch kids at play and take that lesson on board. As adults we can easily forget that playing and silliness is magical. It’s been a thoroughly therapeutic week.

In the back of my mind is always that slight worry that I might over-do it and end up crashing again.  But I feel far more at ease with that. I can now accept that it is likely to happen at some point as I try and work out where my limits are. And I know that fighting it only makes it worse. So I am careful, I balance doing things with plenty of rest time, and I’ve learnt to stop getting so frustrated about that.

Sometimes you have to stop trying so hard to ‘beat’ it. Accept that it’s a part of you, but it doesn’t define you. It’s not who you are. Befriending anxiety and seeing it as being on my side, rather than the enemy, has helped me immensely. It’s made me far less scared of it. If you haven’t read my first post about making friends with my anxiety (or Geraldine as I call her), I really recommend you do. If you work with your anxiety and become curious in learning about why it’s there and what it’s trying to tell you, you can hopefully begin to feel more in control, less helpless.

So here is a pic of me, a couple of weeks after the pic above, in France, relishing being out in the fresh air. It’s been said so many times, but being out in nature and appreciating the simple beauty of it, is very good for the soul.

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Do more of what brings you joy – why happiness isn’t something you ‘find’, it’s something you create.

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It sounds almost too simple really doesn’t it.  If you want to be happier, do more of what you love!  But when you’re doing something that brings you joy, that you’re so passionate about doing, there’s just no room for anxiety or negative thoughts. Joy and fear just can’t occupy the same space.

There’s no getting away from the reality that anxiety is pretty crap. Yep that’s putting it mildly!  It’s scary, frustrating and can affect your whole life. But I truly believe it’s possible to take charge of anxiety and not let it rule you.  The more I find out about how the brain works, the more I realise that it can be re-trained if it’s fed the right things. And joyful thoughts and feelings are seriously nutritious food for the brain.

In fact, think for a moment about the physical feelings of anxiety – racing heart, shallow breathing, the feeling of adrenalin racing through your body. Now think about how passion and excitement feel – racing heart, shallow breathing, adrenalin coursing through your body. Same physical feelings, very different emotional feelings.  You know how if you want to do something badly enough you can somehow find the courage to do it, even if it scares the hell out of you? That’s because passion can always triumph over fear if it burns bright enough.

Certain types of activity create an almost meditative quality, a quieter joy rather than a fierce burning joy. It’s called being in ‘flow’. It’s no less powerful. Your mind doesn’t wander off, you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing.  Obvious examples are things like yoga, Tai Chi or even running.  I’ve been doing some painting recently and it’s the same feeling. I always use colours and images that bring me joy – so for me that’s lots of purples, pinks, turquoise, vibrant sunsets, birds, flowers.  Now, if I’m not in a great mood, painting’s one of the things I turn to.

What are your passions? What do you love doing – things that sweep you up and get you so absorbed there’s no room to think about anything else?

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the day to day stuff that ‘needs’ to get done. But what’s really important in life?  Yes, bills need paying, kids need taking to school, dinner needs to be made, but if you really want to do something you can – you have to – create a way.  Because it won’t just happen.  You can search for happiness as long as you like, reading books about how to be happy etc, but I’ve finally come to realise it’s way more simple than I thought.  Create a life you love.  Actually I do take that back, it’s not always simple when you have commitments, but there is always a way.

I can’t remember where I heard it, but I heard a story recently about a guy that had an accident and ended up paralysed from the neck down. He couldn’t do anything for himself and relied completely on his wife. She ended up sinking into depression. This wasn’t how she’d envisaged their life. So eventually the husband realised he had to do something – his wife needed him and she needed a life she loved. They ended up travelling the world.

You don’t have to be that drastic of course.  But you can create a life where you do more of what you love. Don’t hold yourself back or wait until something drastic happens to give you that wake up call.  Get up early and watch the sun rise. Start that hobby you’ve always wanted to do.  Whatever it is that ignites that fire of passion in you.

Last weekend I was camping with the hubby, kids and another family – one of my wonderful crazy best mates from Uni days who I’m lucky enough to live just a few minutes from. I knew it’d be a big ask for my still-fragile CFS body but I was so excited and we had an absolute blast.  I love waking up to the fresh crisp air, cooking outside around a fire, letting the kids run wild and getting filthy. There’s an absolute feeling of freedom that brings me huge joy.  Since we got back (I’m writing this four days later) I’ve been physically and emotionally exhausted from doing so much more, even though I thought I was being careful, and I’ve been mostly back in bed, recuperating. And I’ve questioned whether perhaps I shouldn’t have gone as I’d been progressing so well and it feels like a smack in the face to be back feeling crappy again. The anxious thoughts creep back in – what if this time I don’t get better?  But then I look back at the photos of us so happy, chilled out and laughing and I know that I wouldn’t take it back. We need those times of joy. They’re what life’s about.  I’ll never forget that weekend, it’ll always make me laugh thinking about it.  And the more we feed ourselves with those feelings, the more the brain chills out and gets used to that way of responding. It sends messages to our brain that everything is ok.

And my husband will roll his eyes when he reads this blog. It’s only something he’s been telling me for about five years. It took a while – and a huge wake up call – for the penny to drop for me.

I’ll stop blabbering on now and finish with a fab quote a friend shared recently that made me smile:

“The diem ain’t gonna carpé itself.”

What are you waiting for? Go and seize the day, in whatever shape or form you can.

Hazel x

 

What is going on?

A brave and honest account of the physical and emotional rollercoaster Chronic Fatigue Syndrome…

a snoozie life

shockWhat a difference a day can make. It is 11.27am and I’m typing this post after doing 30 minutes of yoga in the sun. I’m feeling calm and balanced and strong and awake. Yesterday at 11.27am? Well that’s a different story…

audiobox2I spent yesterday morning bawling. Not crying or weeping or sobbing but bawling. Huge sobs wracking my body, snot and tears sliming my face. And I just couldn’t stop. What triggered this episode of excess emotion? Well, I watched a very sad episode of the TV show, Nashville (those who watch this show will know why I was crying!). I often cry at TV, I’m an emotional person, but what started as a few stray tears escaping my eyes and a bit of snuffling quickly escalated. I ended up on the floor of the shower bawling. Why?

Well, there’s a few reasons why and one of them is that…

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Gratitude – the antidote to Anxiety?

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Last night I soaked in a beautiful bath fit for a Princess. My daughter and her friend had filled it with glitter and fresh lavender from our garden, so it seemed rude not to take the opportunity for a bit of relaxation on a cold and rainy August evening!  Being a practical kind of princess, I also tipped in some Himalayan bath salts – full of magnesium and great for releasing toxins from the body and for sleep.

I lay there, feeling full of love and gratitude for those two sweet girls, who had just, in their playing, reminded me that we should never lose our sparkle, just because we grow up.  I also felt an immense gratitude for the fact that I could enjoy a bath. Eight or nine months ago I could barely get in the bath, trying to wash myself took every ounce of energy, and when I got out I would have to lie on the bathroom floor, exhausted, until I could manage to get up and get back to my bed – which was right next door.  I know I’ve mentioned gratitude briefly in other blogs, but it’s so important it definitely deserves to shine all on its own.

One of the blessings of a chronic illness is that I seriously appreciate so many little things that I previously took for granted. I wasn’t ever ungrateful, but I didn’t stop to think about being grateful for them.  Now I’m grateful for everything. When I started being able to get out of bed and be downstairs some of the time, I was so grateful for being able to sit on my sofa. I am still grateful every time I sit on it. Then I was grateful for being able to have a shower, now I’m also grateful for being able to stand in the shower most days rather than sit in the bottom of it. I could go on forever, listing all of the things I’m so grateful for.

Almost every night, since April, I’ve been writing in my Journal at least three things I’m grateful for.  Some days it’s easier than others but I can always find something – and it gets easier the more you do it because then being grateful becomes a habit, just like anything you practice regularly.  The very first one I wrote was ‘I am grateful for being able to relax all morning in bed.’ I’ve also written things like being grateful for a text from a friend asking how I am, for sitting outside in the sun, for a beautiful flower in the garden, for a friend taking the kids out, for my husband cooking me dinner, the internet for keeping me in touch with people when I can’t get out and see them much, for feeling the grass under my feet. And so much more. You get the picture.

But you don’t have to be recovering from an illness to get grateful.  And you might be thinking what has got gratitude got to do with anxiety? According to people that know about these things, it’s impossible for the brain to feel gratitude and anxiety at the same time. And I know it works.  A couple of days ago I watched the trailer for what I think will be an amazing film, called UNrest.  It’s been made by an absolutely inspirational woman who has Chronic Fatigue/ M.E and will hopefully open people’s eyes to the illness.  However, in the comments underneath the trailer there were a huge number of people talking about how ill they are, how long they’ve been ill for and that there’s no hope of them getting better. I usually steer well clear of anything like that and am only a member of forums that are full of positive people working on recovering.  So it threw me a bit and I could feel myself starting to think anxious thoughts, like maybe I’m kidding myself that I’ll recover.  Luckily I’ve learned that kind of thinking isn’t helpful, and that it’s possible to change my thoughts (something I used to think I had no control over – I was so wrong!) so I knew I needed to stop myself. Having learnt so much about gratitude I knew that’s what I needed to do to turn my thoughts around.

So I decided to get grateful about everything that’s been positive about having CFS. You’d think there’s nothing, right? Well a while back I’d have thought the same. But I pretty quickly came up with a number of things I’m grateful to CFS for – like the fact I’ve had to slow down and learn to relax, which means I’m  WAY less stressed than I used to be, which isn’t just good for me but also for my husband and kids.  Like discovering a love of painting and writing this blog.  And other things I think I’ve gone on about before. But as soon as I started thinking gratefully I forgot all about being anxious and I went straight back into a positive mindset. If I’d let myself carry on with my pointless anxious thoughts, they’d have ended up spiralling.  But I caught them early on when it’s still possible to think rationally and make a conscious decision to change my thinking.

No matter what you’re going through, there’s always something to be grateful for, even if you have to look pretty hard some days. But isn’t it potentially life-changing to know that you have the power to change your thoughts? I’m not saying I’m now ‘cured’ of all anxiety, but that’s never been my goal. It’s to change the relationship to anxiety, and be able to control it rather than have it control me. How powerful is that?!

Hazel x

It’s ok not to be ok!

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I usually write my blogs when I’m feeling in a positive place, because I think that’s when I can send out positive messages and be most helpful. But this time I’m doing it a bit differently as I’m writing this at a time when I’m frankly feeling crappy. I’m in bed, physically and mentally tired and pretty emotional. I’m not writing that for sympathy, but I thought maybe it would be just as useful to both myself and people reading this, to show that I’m not always this positive person now who’s got life cracked and has all the answers!  Because I don’t.

I’m just back from a mostly lovely week staying in Jersey with one of my best friends. It involved tackling Gatwick airport, which I knew my legs wouldn’t get me through, so I (deep breath!) used a wheelchair. Ok that was a big one to say publicly!  I’d been very anxious the morning of the day we were leaving so I visualised the kids racing me around the airport and my smiling face when I arrived the other end to see my wonderful friend. And that really helped.

Most of the trip was fantastic. I loved catching up with my friend and her family, and I did far more than I thought I’d cope with physically. But it caught up with me towards the end (post-exertional malaise, often one of the main symptoms of CFS) not helped by what in hindsight I know was a crazy decision time-wise to wean off one of my meds (I should add it was with my doctor’s advice). Cue me now knowing what withdrawal symptoms are like! Let’s just say- not good. And not realising that’s what it was made it all really scary.  So I completely panicked and really struggled to get myself back to a better place.

So I’m back on the meds for now (again with my doctor’s advice) and will wait until I’m stronger and do it much more slowly next time. But it’s left me exhausted and not where I wanted to be, given how well I was improving.

But what I want to say is that it’s fine. It’s fine to feel crappy. It’s fine to struggle and not have all the answers. It’s fine to question and doubt yourself and your ability to keep going and finding the strength to persevere when life’s tough. It’s completely human to have times where you just have to fall apart for a while.  In fact letting yourself fall apart when you need to can be far more helpful than trying to keep going and forcing yourself to feel better.

So today I’m giving myself permission to feel my crappy feelings, to rage against the unfairness of it all, to feel disappointed that I’d been doing so well and frustrated to feel like I’ve gone backwards. Because it’s only by acknowledging those feelings and letting myself go through them that I can deal with them and move through them. And come out the other side feeling stronger again.  Because what I have definitely learnt by now is that I do come through the other side.

So once I’ve let myself go through the crappy feelings, I’m more ready to look at doing something more more constructive.  And doing things like writing this is what helps that process. Getting it all down on paper (or blog) really does help. I’ve also booked in a chat with one of the coaches at CFS Health, one of the Chronic Fatigue recovery clinics I work with, I’m watching inspirational videos and reaching out for practical help and a bit of good old mum TLC. Because I also know that whilst it’s up to us to be our own coach and cheerleader, we don’t have to do it alone.  But we do have to take responsibility for doing something about it – and learn the lesson from what we did, or didn’t do.

So a bit of a different post today – but I hope it’s helpful to see that we can all feel vulnerable and have bad days. I’m down, but I’m not out!  And when I rise back up I’ll feel even stronger because I’ll know I survived, just like we do every time life gets tough.

So go easy on yourself, don’t give yourself a hard time if you’re struggling. You don’t learn when life’s easy!  It’s the tough times that help you grow.

Hazel x

 

“What if…” you asked yourself a better question?

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“What if…”  Two words that are so often followed by some kind of disastrous potential scenario. I should know, I’ve asked myself those sorts of questions far more times than I care to remember. From the more mundane,

“What if we miss the plane?”

to

“What if that temperature is meningitis?”

“What if my bad back is a slipped disc and I have to have an operation?” Closely followed by “… and I for some reason I die and my kids have no mum? I can’t bear the thought of how upset they’ll be.”

To someone that’s never suffered from Anxiety (as opposed to more ‘normal’ anxiety) it must sound totally crazy. It sounds crazy to me, now.  But that kind of ‘snowball’ thinking (where your thoughts literally spiral out of control until you’re imagining the worst possible scenario) has been normal for me for too many years. It would leave me an anxious mess – until of course none of those scenarios I’d imagined ever happened.

You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve never missed a flight, my kids’ temperatures have never been meningitis, and I didn’t need an operation on my back. Oh and I’m not dead. But would really happen if I missed a flight? Am I really likely to die from a back operation (if I even needed one) and if I did, yes, that would be pretty traumatic for all of my family, but would they be ok? Yes, of course they would, in time.  Because stuff happens all the time to people all around the world. That’s called life.  But it’s taken me a really long time, and a lot of work recently, to get to a place where I get that. And it’s still a work in progress that takes conscious effort from me – but I can now see when it’s happening and have ways to shift my perspective.

A huge part of the shift has come from one simple change – learning (from some of the amazing people I’ve been working with) to ask a better question.  And learning to ask myself “does that thought serve me? Does that help me in any way?” If the answer’s no then can I find a different thought?

As in the quote in the picture (one that I’ve always loved and was reminded of recently), instead of the “what if” being bad, we can choose to look at the amazing “what ifs”. Just as “what if I fall?” can become “what if I fly?”, so “What if I fail?” can become “What if it’s amazing and the best thing I’ve ever done?”

But even positive “what if” questions can be a bit dangerous as they can so easily be met with the opposite negative.  An even better question to ask is “How can I …?” Or “What can I do…?” because both more naturally lead to more positive answers. So for me, I’ve changed “What if I never get better (from CFS)?” to “How can I give myself the best chance of getting better?”, “What’s the best thing I can do right now?” and “What do I need to do to help my body recover?”  Or going back to worrying about making a flight – “What can I do to make sure I’m on time for my flight?” That naturally leads to thinking of solutions rather than focusing on problems and what could go wrong. And of course when you focus on solutions, things are far more likely to go well.

Probably one of the most important questions you can ever ask about a situation you’re worrying about though is “Is that within my control or outside of my control?” With the flight scenario, certain things are within your control, like leaving plenty of time. But certain things aren’t, like traffic problems – yes you can leave some extra time but you can’t control the traffic conditions. If something’s out of your control, worrying about it is totally fruitless.  If I do happen to miss the flight, only then do I need to think about that. And I can ask myself “What can I do now? Can I see if I can get the next flight?”

Believe me, I know that’s all so much easier said than done, but as I’ve started moving towards a more positive way of looking at things, I’ve found I’m naturally worrying less, because the pathways in my brain have become more used to looking at the positive instead of the negative.

Amazingly, just like a path you would walk down, the pathways that your brain uses to send messages to other parts of your brain, become wider and easier to travel down the more you use them. As an overgrown, narrow path gets used more and more, it naturally creates a more well-worn pathway.  In exactly the same way, if you practice thinking more positive thoughts, your brain makes those pathways easier and quicker to send messages along. There’s a huge amount of neuro science that backs this up – mine is an incredibly simplistic version but simple’s always good to me!

“A man can be imprisoned in a room with a door that opens inwards, as long as it never occurs to him to pull rather than push.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

It’s all about the way you look at things and what questions you ask yourself. Are you asking “What if I’m trapped in here forever?” Or “What could I do to open the door?”

Hazel X

 

Learning to be me. “If we slow down just long enough to see the beauty in a single flower, imagine what we might find in ourselves in a quiet moment.” Melanie Rogers Jimenez.

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It’s perhaps rather apt that I’ve used the quote above about the sun when I’m writing this whilst sitting in my garden on a hot English summer’s day, with the sun on my skin. It doesn’t seem long ago at all that it was Autumn and I was lying in bed, day after day, looking out of the window – which I’d always have open, whatever the temperature, to get some fresh air in.  Whilst I’m definitely a summer girl, I do love each of the seasons as they all bring something different and have a beauty of their own.

I don’t think anything in nature stays exactly the same, day after day. Plants and animals, the sea, all change over time, even just in minute ways. It’s why I love Linda Hall’s quote above so much.  It’s a reminder that the sun doesn’t go anywhere on a cloudy day, it’s still there, it’s just hidden by a layer of cloud. And at some point that cloud will part and we see the sun again.  And we are the same – the light is there within all of us, and given time, and the right conditions, it will shine again.

Over the last months I’ve been seeing the process I’ve been going through as being one of learning about myself and who I really am. But it’s come to me that it’s not quite true. Yes, I’ve been learning a huge amount, but the truth is that I’ve known all along who I am. What I’ve been learning is how to accept and embrace the person that I’ve always known was there, but was hidden.  I’m not so much discovering myself as re-discovering.

I look at my seven year old daughter now, so vibrant, and so naturally ‘her’ (actually, rather sadly I thought, she mentioned to me the other day that one of her friends is always ‘trying to be posh’ and she couldn’t understand why. But whilst my heart sank at the thought of girls so young already trying to be something they’re not, it started a conversation with my daughter about just being who we really are.) And my son, who doesn’t think about who he is, he just ‘is’.  It can be easy, over time, to lose sight of our natural selves as we try to fit in, to be the person we think other people want us to be. But that’s exhausting.

I look back now at my pre-children Public Relations career and I just think ‘what was I doing?!’. Seriously, there could not be a job I was less naturally suited to, but it sounded like the sort of job a confident, fun, outgoing person would do – and boy did I want to be that person.  For ten years I tried to play that part. But it wasn’t me. And it drained me. I constantly felt an underlying sense of anxiety as daily I put myself in a situation that I just didn’t feel at all comfortable in.  There were parts of it I enjoyed of course – it involved a lot of writing and creativity. I was in travel PR and I loved talking and writing about other places. And the people I worked with were (mostly) lovely. But it never felt right to me. I always felt that the ‘real’ me was hiding away, trying to be someone I wasn’t.  But I didn’t have the confidence to be that person – to say ‘this is me, like it or hate it.’

Meditation has been instrumental in helping me gain clarity.  Like so many other people, I used to think meditation was about trying not to think, which unsurprisingly I found impossible. So I thought I couldn’t ‘do’ meditation. But it’s not about that at all. What I’ve learned from wonderful teachers like Linda is that it’s about feeling it rather than ‘trying’ to do it.  It’s letting thoughts come and go, like clouds drifting through the blue sky, and coming down from your head into your body, usually by focusing on something like your breath. It was only when I stopped trying that I really found that peaceful place where I felt less in my head. And that really allowed those clouds to start shifting and the joy, my inner light, to start shining again. And my rather over-bearing friend anxiety has naturally calmed.

Now that the clouds are gradually parting, I can see myself again. And I’m finally starting to love the person I see. So now I’m just being perfectly imperfect me. It feels like a load has been taken off my shoulders and I feel lighter as a result. Perhaps not surprisingly I’m feeling some energy coming back, as I stop using it to fight myself, and I’m less weighed down by my own expectations of me.

If you’d like to listen to some of Linda’s wonderful meditations, you can find her on YouTube if you copy this link, or search for ‘Linda Hall’.  They’re all free to listen to. I love them.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCTDiRJp9MeAgZbmwmq4w4GA

Hazel x

Positive thinking or positive feeling – which are you doing?

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“Think positive.” How many times have you heard those words?  They’re always well-meant but don’t they sometimes make you want to scream? If you suffer from anxiety then you know all too well that simply ‘thinking positive’ isn’t the answer.  In fact I bet you then use those words to beat yourself up a bit – asking yourself why you can’t seem to ‘think positive’ or why trying to think positive isn’t making you feel better. It might help you for a few minutes, a few hours maybe, but all too often you then go right back to where you were before. And I also believe there’s a danger of trying to force positive thoughts in place of more challenging feelings, which only buries them, without allowing you to feel them and work through them.

The answer is in two very different words. Think. Feel. They’re worlds apart. I could also add in Know. You can ‘think’ something, you can ‘know’ something in your head (knowledge is power right? Well, no, not unless you know what to do with it!). But neither of those are any good unless you also truly ‘feel’ it. In your core. Otherwise you’re just living in your head, not your body.

I’ve ‘known’ for months that to help calm my over-active nervous system down (which, by the way, controls virtually every aspect of your body, which is why with an illness like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you can get so many apparently unconnected symptoms, including anxiety), I need to be positive (which can be hard when life seems to be giving you plenty to feel negative about!). But there is a huge difference between thinking positive thoughts and actually believing them and feeling them. Thinking positive often means thinking something that doesn’t actually feel true.  For example I could think to myself ‘I’m going to get better.” But if I don’t really believe it, what use is it?  Ok it’s better than thinking the opposite, but when you feel it and believe it then that you’ll really feel a shift inside of you.

So how can you make that shift from thinking to feeling and believing? It’s amazingly simple yet incredibly hard sometimes.

Find the positive. The real positive.  What can you find in your situation that is really, truly positive?  There will always be something no matter how bad things seem.  As an example, I think I’ve mentioned before, that the first thing one of my amazing coaches, Raeya from CFS Health, asked me to do was write a list of all the things I CAN do. It was a short list. At the time I was housebound and in bed for much of that time. I came up with 10 things, like ‘brush my teeth’, and ‘have a bath’. She also asked me to write down everything I was doing on a daily basis to improve my health and wellbeing.  Writing these lists focused me on what positive things I was doing. I was finding the positives in my situation. And because they were true, I wasn’t trying to convince myself, which is what ‘positive thinking’ often feels like.  I’m now a few months on and decided to write another ‘what I CAN do’ list. In 10 minutes I’d written 50 things.  The increase from my initial 10 things was partly because I’m gradually becoming able to do more, but in the most part they were things I’ve always been able to do, I’d just taken them for granted. So on my list were things like I can breathe, smile, laugh, cry, listen, love, learn, be inspired, inspire, eat, think, plan dream… Suddenly I’m thinking ‘Wow look at all the things I can do!’ I’m not trying to think positive thoughts, I’m feeling positive!

Another quick example. I’ve worried at times over the past months what effect my situation is having on my two children. Well, the other day I was lying outside and my seven year old daughter asked me to play with her. When I asked what she wanted to play (expecting to have to say no as it would be something I wouldn’t have the energy to do) she said, “Let’s play relaxing. And I’ll make you a fan.”  Isn’t that awesome? I could feel bad that at the moment I can’t (please note ‘at the moment I can’t’ not just ‘I can’t’ – there’s a big difference!) play with my kids as much as I’d like to, take them out places, take them to school etc. Or I could find the positive – which is that seeing me going through a challenging time is helping them build life-skills such as empathy, kindness, resilience, independence, determination and an appreciation of life and the people in it. It also made me realise I could come up with other fun things to do with her that don’t require much energy, like painting our nails, making face packs out of mashed avocado. (My son’s harder – he mainly wants to play football so still working on that one!)

Finding the positive in things means you believe what you’re thinking and you truly feel that positivity in your heart, your core. And the more you do it, the more you’ll naturally start seeing the positives in more things. And once you’re looking at the world that way, the negative thinking will naturally diminish too.

So what have you been thinking negatively about? Can you look for a positive?   There’ll be one somewhere… and if you need help to get you started, just comment below and I’ll see if I can help!

“When life gives you a hundred reasons to break down and cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile and laugh.” Power of Positivity.

Hazel x

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