When I posted a few weeks ago that I was stepping back awhile to nurture myself during a particularly turbulent time in my life I found myself overwhelmed with love, support and goodwill that came my way in phone calls, texts, messges of all sorts. What you are about to read also came from a very dear friend and I’m thrilled to introduce Jacq as the first guest writer on Best Knickers Always. Woo hoo!! Thank you Jacq for being an incredible support and soul sister. I’m know those that follow this blog will enjoy your writing. (ps- anyone else that who would like to contribute please do get in touch)
As Rebecca takes a break from her brilliant blogging it occurs that this would be an opportunity for me to step up to the plate and contribute to her work after enjoying and benefiting from her writing.
As she takes time to step away from this aspect of her life it reminds me how good she is at knowing when to focus on the job in hand, to drop for the moment the non essential things in life. This is a lesson I’ve taken a long time to learn and maybe you too – how often have you caught sight of yourself in a mirror or shop window and wondered who is that strained, pale, hollow eyes person in my clothes or maybe it was the shock of seeing your ‘sucked lemon’ face or worse, Mrs Angry, staring back. Life pushes us to our limits at times and it’s more important than we realise to recognise those moments and push the pause button.
After a lifetime of pushing myself to the limits resulting in tears, muscle pains and migraines as my emotions and anxieties manifested themselves physically I had an ‘OMG’ moment – it was when a slow burning meltdown that I hadn’t addressed finally caused my body to wave its own white flag and say enough and it was with an anxious mother and two tearful children standing next to my hospital bed that I realised I had a responsibility to take care of myself and recognise when to take a breath. And, like so much in life, once you realise there is an issue, or take a decision, the rest comes easier.
So, here I am taut as an over stretched bra strap ready to snap at anyone and everyone within range and quite a few that aren’t – school run road rage anyone ? “Why are all other drivers so stupid this morning?” Heard yourself shouting at the radio? “John Hunmphries let them answer the question you fool”, or even worse Radio 1 “Chris Moyles shut up and play some music”.
I take a breath – so simple and so good for you. A really, really deep breath that makes your shoulders sink at least 2 inches. This may shift something inside and tears come but keep breathing like this for as long as you need and always breathe when you feel the panic rising. A financial journalist friend relates how she was feeling out of control and the panic was rising and so began breathing deeply and finally began to chant ‘Om’ which worked for her but I’m not so sure the rest of the British Rail passengers were particularly comfortable on her morning work train.
And then, I need to move – I used to walk miles with my beloved Airedale Alf at all times of the day or night. I can remember a sleepless night when eventually at 3.00 am I gave up, got up and went to walk the dog who was delighted at a bonus walk whatever the time. Or run, or dance or do the housework – I love the housework option because generally I hate housework, what is the point, but I do love a clean and tidy house and I reason I won’t relax and enjoy relaxing and so why not get something out of it even if its just a tidier house. And there’s another thing – control.
When you feel out of control either because you’re too tired, too stressed, too overwhelmed it’s good to take action but you’re too tired, too stressed, too overwhelmed to take action – do the small stuff – take up the pile of kit on the stairs, tidy the paper mountain on the desk ( you don’t even need to do anything with it, just put it in order, throw out the stuff you don’t need and when you feel better you can action it), pick up the phone to make the one call you need to make – just one thing out of all the million things in your life will make you feel better for doing it.
Make a list – I am a great list maker, action lists, birthday lists, Christmas lists, books to read lists, what I would do if I won the Lottery lists – you name it I can list it. But, and here’s the thing, you only need to list the urgent to do things if control is the issue, or list the things to be grateful for if you are feeling sad, or list the things you have achieved if your self esteem has fallen. And if the problem is financial – putting things on paper is the best way to gain control of a situation that has run away with itself or is unclear. Its never too late to learn the lesson that if your outgoings are more than your incomings a holiday in Mauritius is not a good idea just now. The best way to see this is in black and white and it will also clearly show what you don’t need and where you can save.
Read a book or see a film – but commit to it completely, don’t do as we all do and read a book with the TV on or watch TV whilst cooking, ironing or answering emails. Go to bed and read a book or go to the cinema and lose yourself in a film. By really committing to the one absorbing thing your over tired brain and your ever active mind will switch off for a couple of hours and may give you the break you need to gain respite or perspective.
And finally, music – food of love and all that but actually food for the soul and all other occasions. Get into the habit of recognising when you are feeling a little bit low or in need of a pick me up and put on something that lifts your heart, reminds you of happy times, something that makes you head bop in the car, puts a little shimmy in your shoulders as you get dinner ready. Joe Simpson, the mountaineer, says that there was a tune that ran through his head when he had fallen down a crevasse in a remote mountain range in the Andes, breaking his leg and convinced no-one would find him. It was Boney M’s ‘Brown Girl in the ring’ and although he thought he couldn’t possibly die to that tune – and I’m with him there – the music helped get him through. So Abba, the Beach Boys, Pavarotti, Kings of Leon, Blur and my current favourite, thanks to Rebecca, Train and ‘Hey Soul Sister’ – try it and see if it works for you.