Archive for January, 2014

Just keep swimming – A tip on enduring when forfeit is calling

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

No-one ever said life was easy, but they never exactly make it clear how tough some seemingly simple challenges could be. While others may have more problems, our struggles are always bigger in our own eyes because we feel, fight and understand them better.  You cannot feel the weight another’s problems as wholly and authentically as your own.

It can make you wonder why you would want to add to the list of natural struggles, by enforcing tough life choices or new habits onto yourself. We are always faced with the temptation to give up, but sometimes a helping hand and a word of belief can be enough to keep you fighting on.

I believe in you!

 Right now, I am almost two weeks into a healthier lifestyle of more exercise, healthier eating, restricted drinking and dedication to making the improvements I want in my life. As you probably know, it isn’t always easy!

There is always temptation around me, from the smell of the burger shop as I pass on the way home from rehearsal, to the titters of my friends when I order orange juice or, worse, water instead of alcohol or, at least, a Diet Coke.

So many challenges and alluring temptations that make this task a lot harder.

How do I keep from giving in? I keep going.

Keep doing what it is you need to and work to keep the invading desires from stopping you in my tracks.

When I walk past that take-out shop, I focus entirely on getting home to the healthy food I have waiting, not letting myself pause for a second thought or get drawn into the temptation.

A lot of the time, temptation overcomes you when you are thinking about it “Oh, should I?” or are actually thinking about the temptation itself. If you keep going and don’t allow the urge the option of occupying your mind, it is easier to get rid of it.

If you focus your attention on other things, especially objectives, it will take your attention off those little voices that try and drag you back to the dark side.

Keep going about your day and let those temptations pass you by. Good luck! X

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Getting around Writer’s Block

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Writer’s Block affects most writers, if now all, at some point or another. It isn’t the end of the world when this happens, all you need is a few handy tips to clear the blockage and get back to work. The longer you live with Writer’s Block, the harder it will be to get back into the swing of things again so it is best to recover as fast as possible.

Here are a few handy exercises and tips for curing Writer’s Block

  • Stop working on the offending project(s) for a while and switch to something new and just start writing. Write anything. Whatever comes to mind, put it on the page- everything- even “I can’t think of anything!!”. That way you are opening the channels for creativity and getting the brain working on outputting words again.
  • Get out and get some fresh air. This may sound like a stupid suggestion but it really does help! Fresh air will improve circulation, wake you up and can help you find the inspiration you need. If you look around, you may even find a new story to work on from the things you see.
  • Do some ‘people-watching’ find a place to sit with a notebook and see people who go past. See a person and try to put a story to the cues they give, such as posture and their visible emotions. This can be as outlandish or unlikely as you want, just keep trying to get the creative juices flowing (Doing this can also create you some interesting characters for use in projects). Remember to be discreet otherwise people may act strangely around you or feel creeped out.
  • Go and do normal activities around the house or outdoors and ask yourself ‘How would ‘Character’s name’ feel in this situation?’ or ‘How would ‘Character’s name’ do this?’ It could be as simple as the way the character might hold the dish brush or how they’d transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer.
  • If you tend to insult yourself or your work when you suffer Writer’s Block, stop immediately. Changing your thinking changes your attitude; it will stop you thinking about failure and will help you to relax. You don’t want a critic constantly jabbing you as you work and you are no exception.
  • While suffering from Writer’s Block you have to leave your projects alone. Do not delete anything, no matter how stupid it seems at the time, it may turn out to work really well when you come back to it later. If you really cannot stand to see the parts you have just written, cut them from the file and paste them in another and save it as another file. Only delete something when you are writing with flow again and 100% sure it has to go.
  • Another good exercise is to try and make up a character. Think of a name and ask yourself questions about the character as if you were interviewing them for a magazine. Don’t disregard anything, this is merely an exercise to get the kink out of the creativity hose, it could be a talking duck called Splat who lives in a crater of Jupiter. If that’s what comes to you, just go with it.

The main thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about it. Everyone gets writer’s block, even non-writers, so just take your time to get back into it and be nice to yourself.

I hope these tips help you deal with your writer’s block and hope you can get back into things very soon. Writer’s block is common and repeatedly happens to most writers so just enjoy the process of expanding your creative abilities with these exercises and enjoy the feeling of writing freely again when you do. Good luck!

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Beat the January Blues

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

January Blues – not another New Year post!

Why is this time of year just so depressing? Just a few short days ago we were enjoying the holidays and celebrating the new year. So why the sudden change from happy into sad?

The statisticians and the media love to bombard us with information at this time of year. First they make us feel guilty for the good times that we had during the holidays, then they scare us rigid with every manner of health and financial issue to make sure we are good and afraid as we venture into the new year, compliantly making lists of resolutions and buying up the products they advertise that are each guaranteed to help us make those changes we need to make. Talk about getting the year off to a stressful start!

It doesn’t help that the first day of the new year starts right after one of the booziest and most excessive nights of the old year. How are you supposed to get off to a great start doing this, quitting that and changing the other when you’re nursing the worst hangover you’ve had since last new year’s day.

January Blues

A few days in and it’s back to work. Yes work, remember that? Well no, quite often we don’t. We’ve had a good break away with any luck and, if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent at least part of that time dozing in front of a warm fire with a full belly. Just how to get back to work is confusing. And pretty much everyone is feeling the same, so it’s not just your own malaise you’re dealing with, but everyone else is on go-slow too. Just how did I turn my computer on again??

The next thing to arrive are the bills. Did I really spend THAT much? Well yes I did and now it’s time to face it.

Just about now in the month the lawyers will remind the media that this is their bumper season for divorce and cue up all the stories and articles about how your marriage might not even survive the month. Then the insurance companies will release a survey about which day in January is the unhappiest day of the year. Talk about putting ideas in people’s heads!

In short, it can be a horrible time if you let it.

And the only way to beat January and those who prey on us during this month is to beat them at their own game!

No I’m not going to give you a list of fitness goals, diet suggestions, exercise tips or personal development targets. I’m quite sure you’ve had enough of that already! Instead here are my ideas for how to avoid getting depressed in January before it has a chance to set in.

So here is a list of 7 ideas to help you feel better in this month and beat the January blues before they can get to you!

1. New Year’s Resolutions – falling off the wagon – if you’ve dropped them, don’t beat yourself up.

Pretty much everyone fails at New Year’s Resolutions. Why should you be any different? The difference is you can be smarter and stop beating yourself up about it. Just because you ate that cheeseburger, smoked that cigarette or downed that beer, doesn’t mean you have failed.Think of it like a journey. If you got lost on the way would you turn around and go home? Or would you realise you were lost, get back on the right road and carry on until you arrived at your destination? Resolutions and other goals are no different to that journey. Sometimes you will get lost. Accept that you will get lost sometimes. Make a strategy for how you will get back on the road again rather than waste time and happiness by beating yourself up!

And if it doesn’t feel like the right time to be quitting or changing or working out more, then maybe you’ll stand better chance in a few weeks when the weather is warmer or the evenings are a little longer.The important thing is to keep believing that you can do what you set out to do. Don’t take away a sense of failure from your new year’s resolutions. There is nothing that says you can’t have February resolutions, or Spring goals, or Summer structures, Autumn regimens, or hatch holiday plans. Feel free to break free of the seasonal cycle. After all it’s mostly because someone wants to sell you something like a gym membership, vacation, divorce package or weightless plan!

Make your own calendar of how to live your life!!

2. Don’t should all over yourself! – Keep it fun!

New Year is an industry. Designed to make you dissatisfied with your life, to get you to buy lots of products that are going to make it better. We are bombarded with messages about giving things up or doing things we don’t want to do – like it’s meant to be hard. How about turning it around? Keep it fun. Decide to pick up your camera, make a short film, watch YouTube videos to learn how to street dance, or how to do woodcarving, or how to do new make up fashions. Do that hobby that you’ve put on one side. Take out your bike more.

New Year doesn’t have to be heavy and it doesn’t have to be demanding.

If you’re feeling down because of the sheer weight of all the things you should do, then decide not to. Concentrate on doing the things you prefer.

3. Light it up!

If you’re in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, then the January blues means a loss of daylight. The nights are long, the days are short, the sky is often cloudy, the weather is often not conducive to venturing outside. If you find that you suffer from depression at this time of year, then it’s worth considering whether you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many people feel this to a degree.

Getting outdoors can help a lot. Not only fresh air, but even a few minutes of sunshine can make a big difference. If it’s cloudy you’re still getting some light so it’s still worth going out even if it’s overcast. Deep breathing of some fresh air for a few minutes in the daylight can make a big difference to your mood. Combine that with some mindfulness or meditation and it can be a very good way to beat the January blues.

If you really are suffering or if you are really up there in the north, then you may want to invest in a SAD light. This is a very bright light with a daylight simulation bulb that will replace the missing sunshine. Many versions are also alarm clocks that will simulate a sunrise so that you wake up to bright light over a period of a half hour or so and you can lie in the light and get a good dose of sunshine without leaving the warmth of your bed. A very good way to start the day!!

4. Dance away the blues – dancing is a great way to exercise.

You don’t need to be good at it. No one needs to see you do it. Put some jamming music on and dance away in the privacy of your own home. (The bathroom is good for this if you have other people at home that you’d rather not see you dance!) The important thing is to move your arms or jump up and down, feel the music, be happy and if you can, get out of breath.

OK if you’re reeeally not a dancer, try swimming, aqua exercising with those waterproof headphones is a firm favourite of mine, running, walking, skating, cycling, taking an exercise class, put on that old aerobics video. Anything to get the blood pumping again.Forget about weightloss or fitness, goals, diets or exercise regimes.

Just do it for the fun! Do it for your mind!!

5. Give your relationship an overhaul – it’s a tough time of year for couples.

The statisticians and the divorce lawyers aren’t wrong about that. So why not be prepared and put some extra effort into your relationship? How long is it since you took your partner on a date? Paid them a compliment? Gave them a gift for no reason? Cooked them a meal? Brought them breakfast in bed? Shared your dreams? A little effort now can avoid trouble as the month progresses. It’s a good time of the year to reinforce security and comfort to stave off all those articles the media are producing to try to sell advertising space for medical insurance, vacations and gym memberships.

Don’t let the gloom get your partner either. If you’ve noticed your partner get depressed at this time of year, then encouraging them to get more daylight or maybe just paying them a compliment or giving some reassurance may go a long way to  helping them through the season’s ups and downs. Sharing your concerns about post holiday depression can be a way to reconnect with your partner and help you both to beat the blues.

Who knows, maybe you could get your partner to dance too?

6. Be mindful – mind your mind!

It’s easy at this time of year to get sucked into ruminating. Sure another year has passed, but does that really mean that you have to think about it that much?

If you find that thinking about the passing years or the pressure to achieve in the coming year is bringing you down, then don’t remember that you don’t have to think about it. It can feel obligatory to have the water cooler conversations about the passing years or the plans for the coming year, but it really doesn’t have to be. There is no rule that says we have to sing Auld Lang Syne at New Year. It’s ok to let it go. If others start the type of conversation that goes “So another year, huh?” stop them in their tracks and change the subject to something more positive. Or if they’re boring you with their new year’s resolutions or fitness achievements, then congratulate them and change the subject. You don’t have to be drawn into the type of thinking that goes with the start of the New Year.If you find it hard then learning about mindfulness or meditation can be useful in staying focussed on the here and now, and dropping the rumination that can make seasonal depression so much worse.

Again, just as you choose what you talk about, you can choose what you think about too.

7. Just Chill!!

It can seem like the media and everyone around us is all go, go, go, with goals, resolutions, diets, exercise programs and vacation plans, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Some people prefer to relax and hibernate a bit for the winter season and that’s OK too. If you would rather stay warm by the fire, it can be a good time of year to achieve other things. Maybe that genealogy project or take up oil painting, read that novel or watch those box sets you’ve been saving.

It’s a good time to recharge your batteries and be kind to yourself! Or take time to just be.

If you find that you are a little down at this time of year, remember it’s ok to feel your feelings. Those feelings we resist tend to persist, so try telling yourself that it’s OK to be depressed, that it’s only for a while and that it will figure itself out.

Sometimes the blues will just disappear if you stop fighting it.

Remember: You can make your New Year in the spring if you prefer. Or the summer. Or don’t have one at all!

The January Blues aren’t compulsory and you can do a lot to avoid them off with a little advance preparation.


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Related posts: Why do we feel depressed after the Holidays/Christmas?

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