How are you feeling on this Sunday morning? I’m looking out of my window into the garden and it’s a lovely autumnal day here in Hertfordshire, UK so I’m feeling good! I get up early to do my meditations and morning pages before I start to write my posts and it’s great to watch the sunrise and see what kind of weather is greeting me today.
So….today’s big question…..did you make some time to look at your values and pick your three favourites?
Which ones stood out for you?
Perhaps you struggled to do the exercise from last week? If time is short, you may have felt that it can just be one more thing to do, and there’s plenty of other people and activities competing for your attention. I’d like to reassure you that this is ok and today’s article has been written with you in mind. We will be looking at ways of finding your values and the joy in your life in a quick and easy way.
I feel that it’s important to take the time to yourself to breathe and reflect, even when it’s busy (probably more so when you are busy). When doing this, you are saying to your inner being that you are important and worth it. So if you are a mum with babies or toddlers, you may find five minutes when the children have a nap or perhaps you could get up a little earlier in the morning before they are awake. If it’s the weekend, maybe your partner could take the children out for a short walk leaving you to spend some time alone. Think about the possibilities in your week for some gentle solitude.
When you find your special five minutes, I would like you to take a notebook and pen and find somewhere quiet in your house to do this exercise. It can be your living room or a corner of your bedroom, wherever feels calming to you. I’d like you to sit here quietly in a comfortable position, either on the floor or in a chair, back straight, and settle into this tranquil place with some nice deep breaths. Nice long inhale and exhale. Watching your thoughts as they float in and out.
Sit here for one minute, watching the breath and just allow yourself to be.
Now take your notebook and pen and write down a list of events from the week previously. Just a quick list which can look a little like.
“Loaded the dishwasher, remembered how much I hate doing it; felt resentful that David never offers to help.”
“Made dinner, Emma refused to eat it. I had spent 45 minutes cooking it; I wanted to cry.”
“We walked to school, Sam wouldn’t keep up; I felt angry and frustrated that we were going to be late again.”
“I talked to Jenna at the school gate, she told me about her latest house renovations; I felt inadequate and jealous.”
“Put Josh down for a nap, and I collapsed in a chair as I felt so exhausted.”
Once you have a few episodes in your week written down on paper, start to look for the hidden gems in there. The small things that made it worthwhile, the things that made you smile. It may have been a challenging week, and you can only find one good thing, and that’s fine too. Life can be difficult when the children take over your life. But look at that one thing.
What was it?
Your top three values may be caring, support and duty at the moment, and it may not feel like you (these three can be exhausting when they are your top three) but it’s only for now, and it’s important to remember that. It will improve.
So back to your gem, what was it? The smell of clean washing as you take it out of the washing machine? The joy of walking to school in the autumnal, watching the beautiful trees as they change colour over time? Perhaps it’s the sound of crisp, crunchy leaves under foot or the warmth of the sun on your face as you walk?
Maybe you met up with a friend and talked about deeper issues in your lives, and this made you feel warm and supported by her. Other women can be a great support to each other in times of stress so it’s worth asking for help if you can.
It’s important to remember that if you are feeling very low and struggle to find one thing in your week that has brought you joy because you are exhausted and overwhelmed you may feel that it’s a good time to look at seeking further help. There are lots of sources out there to support women who are struggling with their mental health, and I have listed some below.
My point is that there are some hidden gems in there, it’s just sometimes difficult to see them when you are feeling this way. So find yourself a solitary five minutes this week and do this exercise during your alone time. Light a candle to demonstrate to yourself that you are creating a space that’s just for you. Perhaps you have some soft music to play in the background. Just slow it down and start to really value yourself.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments and to checking in with you next week.
Some links if you are struggling with feelings of sadness and overwhelm.
Mothers for Mothers – Postnatal Depression Support
Depression UK – list of useful links
Depression in British Women – an interesting article from The Daily Telegraph
The Mental Health Foundation – women and mental health
Melanie Lambert – an excellent psychotherapist covering the St Albans and Harpenden area