In these challenging and uncertain times, it is difficult to advise others to cease from worrying. People are panic buying foods and household goods, schools are likely to close as of next week, shops, bars and restaurants will also be closing their doors and the NHS is bursting at the seams with more patients than they can cope with.
Those who are more prone to worrying can easily grow obsessed with listening to and discussing the current pandemic. Others will ponder on it then move on in their thoughts. They may appear to be aloof and unphased but the fact is they simply process chaos and troubles differently.
Worrying does nothing to change our circumstances yet many of us succumb to it. Growing up when a situation affected me, I would think of it constantly until it began to consume my very being. I allowed worrying to take my joy and it meant I rarely lived ‘in the moment’. Instead, I would be out with friends enjoying myself to a point while a part of me secretly worried about one thing or another. I struggled to deal with disappointment as I hated feeling and being out of control.
I am due to go on holiday in several months and it could possibly be cancelled or rescheduled. Years ago I would have had an out-and-out meltdown. I would have telephoned the travel operator on a daily basis requesting updates and growing more and more agitated. Today, I am trying to take life in my stride (and sometimes fail) with the knowledge that worrying has no positive impact on our circumstances.
Are you plagued with worry?
Please share your experiences.
Life is short – loosen up!
Sometimes we do not realise how short our life on earth is. We put much effort into planning, worrying and saving for our future. Whilst it is advisable to plan ahead, we should also live with an open mindset that life is unlikely to pan out exactly as we would hope. We must live flexibly enough to deal the challenges, the hindrances and the detours.
Some may well live life according to text book; GCSEs, A Levels, degree, masters, then entry into their desired career. All by the age of 25 of course! Some may take several detours along the way due to circumstances outside of their control which means they enter their desired career aged 30. Some may not go through the typical education system at all whether they do not deem themselves academic, they have no interest in attending university, their desired career path does not require a degree, they need to work full-time on leaving college. The point is each person will arrive at their destination.
Life is for living and we owe it to ourselves to have an element of joy even if life is not exactly how we envisaged it to be. There will be seasons in which we will feel trapped, frustrated and challenged. There may also be little we can actually do about it (I have been there). However, we can choose to focus on the areas of our life that we can change, however small that change may be.
Wear the new shirt/trousers/lipstick/skirt to work. Why wait for a special occasion that may not arrive for months? Live for today, feel good today, feel proud of yourself today with the intention of enjoying the journey. Let us not become so preoccupied with keeping our eye on the end goal that we forget to live in the moment.
Change whether it benefits us directly or not is inevitable. We have little control over the circumstances that change the course of our lives. We can choose to wallow or ride through the change. Either way it will happen whether we are on board or not.
I find children highly adaptable whereas adults can become entwined with routine. At primary school in the 1980’s, I recall peers leaving and new children joining. After a week I had almost forgotten about those who had left and those who had recently joined became part of our ‘new family’. Adults appear to take longer to adjust. Partly, I believe is to do with the fact that we become set in our ways.
Like most people I gladly welcome change when I have had a hand in the decision making process, not so much when the change has been thrust upon me. I am trying to be more flexible in my thinking and my approach. Such people tend to take life in their stride rather than walk around with their feathers ruffled.
Seeing as we know change will come, we owe it to ourselves to allow for a level of flexibility. We owe it to ourselves to be less rigid with our plans, our dreams, our schedules. There are often more ways to reach our end goal. When life throws us off course, we can jump back on the saddle as opposed to giving up.
We can work towards embracing change by learning to expect the unexpected. At times life can appear to be plain sailing for a season then a sudden change can occur. We can choose not to ‘coast’ during the comfortable seasons and plan and stay focused.
How do you react to change whether positive or negative? How has this impacted on your life?
Weariness happens to the best of us. Whether employed/self-employed, studying, running a home, rearing children, caring for elderly parents, life can take its toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally. We owe it to ourselves to give our body and mind rest when needed otherwise we will become burnt out. When we feel drained we have absolutely nothing to offer to anyone. It is likely we will be snappy, despondent, lethargic and uninspired – not the kind of characteristics that others will gravitate to.
The majority of Saturday mornings I wake up and think ahead to what I hope to achieve. The mere thought of meeting just a few of these tasks make me feel overwhelmed. I would not say I ‘carry’ more than the average woman but still I have this feeling of being overloaded. My husband is very hands-on and optimistic even when busy – he takes life in his stride. I on the other hand feel the need to discuss (okay grumble) what I have to do as if it changes anything!
We can be over ambitious in cramming far to many tasks in one day rather than focusing on just three or four. There will always be one more thing to do but we get to decide if it is vital or if it can be put on hold for another day. The need for control or perfection can result in us pressuring ourselves unnecessary. This only causes feelings of anxiety and defeat.
As I leave church I am already thinking ahead to cooking our Sunday lunch and tackling the pile of ironing that mainly consists of school uniforms (polo shirts x10 come to mind!) I plan to listen to music or watch a Netflix series on my phone while ironing. It makes a significant difference to my sense of well-being.
It feels as though time moves faster the older I become. The years roll smoothly into each other and at times I have wondered whether an event took place in 2018 or 2019. As a child the weekends felt ample and the summer holidays like a lifetime. I recall July and August in the 1980’s being filled with endless trips to the park, beaches and play schemes. I was rarely without an ice lolly in my hand due to the scorching weather.
As an adult my weekend feels like it ends on a Sunday somewhere between ironing my children’s school uniform and choosing an outfit for work. The prep work for Monday certainly puts me in ‘work mode’.
Technology plays its part in keeping us connected to the world. There are many positives in signing up to social media. However, if we are not mindful we can spend a lot of our time online; casually surfing, networking, promoting our business. This reduces our time to rest, reflect, see people in person, read books, explore the outdoors and so on.
On my commute I read the online bible, books, blogs and listen to music. I decided that I may as well use my journey to learn, reflect and enjoy music. This has enhanced my commute time; something I once saw just as a means to an end.
Outside of our day-to-day work whether we are self-employed or an employee, we can decide what we do with our time. We can choose to commit to studying, reading books, going for leisurely walks, visiting a friend or relative. Whilst it can be difficult to factor in time to do as we would like, we can be flexible to ensure there is some space for learning, developing, fun and family time. I am of the mindset of ‘if it is important we will give it priority’.
Time will pass regardless of what you do with the hours you are given. You can decide if you want something to show for it or not. Do you wish to look back in years to come and smile at the fact that you did what you intended, you did what was necessary and what mattered to you and others around you?
Life is for living and not just for allowing time to pass us by.
For the past few days I have been thinking about my behaviours; particularly those I would like to change. I have found myself at this point on a number of occasions. Initially I am excited and enthusiastic about the prospect of a ‘new me’ then situations arise and I find myself right back to square one. By this time I am despondent, exhausted and frustrated.
At times we have the will and zeal but slide back to our old way of thinking and acting. Once the despair surfaces we may struggle to believe we can ever change making it easier to revert. We can talk ourselves out of trying believing it to be in vain, that we are just as we are. Change will be painful, change will take work, change will have its setbacks and change will take time. Our behaviours are learnt over years therefore it would be unrealistic to expect radical changes over a few months or even a few years.
By nature, I am an introvert – I am present when with you but I need time out daily at work and home. This is to recharge my batteries and reflect on the many thoughts, decisions and discussions that have taken place in my head and with others. By nature I can be grumpy, direct and I wear my heart on my sleeve – just ask my family! I struggle to conceal my feelings when sad, angry or confused. I try but it seems hopeless. I would probably burst if I have to suppress how I feel – it is simply not a part of my make up.
Despite being well aware of my behaviours I still remain hopeful that even a small change is better than no change. I am learning not to be too hard on myself when I fail to act as I know I should. I am learning that no one person is perfect and yearning for absolute perfection is pointless – you will always come up short. Instead I try to accept who I am whilst pushing for improvement.
Have you attempted to change your behaviours?
How did you feel when change was slow or non-existent?
We have officially made it to 2020!
I am looking forward to what this year has in store for me and my family. No matter how many plans we have there is still an air of the ‘unknown’ which can be both frightening and a little exciting at times. It really does depend on your perspective. I have learnt we are not in control of our life half as much as we would like to think we are. Does this mean we should throw out our plans and sit back for life to ‘happen’ to us? I say no. I say we go ahead and put plans in place knowing some will pan out, some will go on hold and some will be scrapped due to our personal choices.
I make it a habit to write down my plans and rarely have more than five. I believe if your list is too long, you can easily lose focus or overstretch yourself and fail to reach any of your goals. At the end of each year, I discuss my plans with my husband and he shares his plans with me – several interlink and the remaining are personal. Sharing your plans make you accountable; it could be with your spouse, partner, family member, friend or a mentor. Three to six months into the year you could provide an update on how your plans are going, considering:
What were the challenges?
How did you overcome them?
Did you change direction?
How did you manage the disappointments?
What lessons did you learn?
I am unsure what changes you would like to see in 2020 but they are less likely to occur if you fail to note them down or type them in your phone/laptop. Regularly reading your goals serves as a reminder but also makes your mind more efficient by helping you to focus on the important aspects.
So in 2020, do not allow your goals to remain as ‘loose words’, ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’. Do what you can now to reach your goals, however small the steps may be. If you cannot get a place on your desired course this year, buy a book to read/study in the meantime in preparation rather than simply waiting to apply in 2021. If you wish to be more organised, choose to write ‘to do’ lists listing your key priorities. Be flexible and willing to take a change of direction if needed. Most of all remember to enjoy the process!