Hello and welcome to the month when we all start to feel that little bit brighter – that little bit more positive and definitely less cold – March is a time for new starts, new growth and oodles of opportunities. It’s the month for getting outside, meeting friends and family and walks in the Spring sunshine.
November to February is for me, and many others too I imagine, months when I just want to hibernate. I dislike the cold, but have come to fear the, sometimes, despondency that threatens to overwhelm me.
I have met a lot of new people since starting my own photography business and noticed that many people feel similar anxieties to those four months.
With that in mind, it occurred to me that I would write a blog about ‘Mindfulness’ and take a little look at why this subject has become, and should become popular because our mental health is a vital element of our lives.
I’m also going to take a moment to talk a little bit about how stress has affected us, its effect on me and ways that we can deal with those things that increase our blood pressure, make us anxious and potentially harm our health.
So, grab a mug of something soothing and join me for a heads-up regarding stress, ways in which we can make some changes and maybe gain some mindfulness along the way.
A decadent mug of joy from Zamanis
Stress is no friend!
Years ago, saying you were stressed would normally gain you a raised eyebrow and very little else. We did not realise the enormous impact that stress has, but now we know that stress is how our body reacts to pressure. Adrenaline and cortisol combine to give us a power-surge of ammunition, allowing us to cope with whatever danger we face. And that is great, because after the problem has passed our bodies take a deep (metaphorical) breath and return to calm.
Unfortunately, some stress in our lives has long-lasting results and stays with us for far longer than we were designed for. Fighting sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths, I’m sure, caused an increase in heart rate, but once dead and prepared to whatever limited recipe cave-folk could muster, they relaxed until the next food source was required to be killed.
Humans face intense problems daily and that stress stops us thinking about anything else. All we can focus on is that thing that we ‘have to, should do, or need to,’ which closes us off to other elements in our lives.
Coping with stress is easier said that done. I know, because stress in the form of anxiety, has had an enormous impact on my life, and until recently, I had not really accepted that I was suffering with stress.
I thought that everyone dealt with stress the same and that it was to be accepted because it was just part of life.
Breathe, my friend.
Then I met some new contacts through my work, who suggested that adopting some mindful techniques along with meditation, yoga and breathing exercises, would help me.
I understood the first two but breathing, I had been doing that all my life and with the exception of delivering two children into the world, I’d managed to breathe my way through life relatively well.
‘Can you recall the last time you sat still and did nothing?’ I was asked.
‘Erm, I watch tv and I read…’
‘When you did absolutely nothing at all?’
Because the reality is, that no, I couldn’t remember the last time I had just sat still. For a start, why would I?
Meditating came with a preconceived idea of chanting, funny smelling sticks and cramp, but I was advised to take baby steps, and while there are (not yet) funny smelling lit sticks, I have started to just sit. Quietly, and on my own, having banished the noisy teenagers, the barmy dog, hubby and father-in-law out of the way first. I then settle, allow my thoughts to ebb and flow, while breathing deeply in through my nose and out through my mouth.
I have to say, my initial thoughts to this are positive. I have, so far, managed to quell a couple of moments of anxiety, and (when I remember) have slept better after a few moments of practice before bed.
You won’t find me on a yoga mat anywhere near you soon, and I’m not big on incense, but I will continue with breathing practice along with my moments of calm.
Dreaming of bluebells
It’s Almost Easter
Speaking of calm, hurrah – it’s almost Easter. The second weekend of April welcomes this magical event and all around me is the scent of chocolate, some family time, a wonderful meal and my very own easter egg.
Now, it may be that I have stepped in my forties, but an easter egg still provides me with oodles of joy. The decorative box, the shiny foil wrapping and that delicious waft as it slides open to reveal my chocolate egg. There really is nothing like it. Oh, wait, I almost forgot – the crack as the egg breaks. Perfection.
While I acknowledge that chocolate is not for everyone, although I do question their sanity, for many people, chocolatedoes make life that little bit nicer. Indeed, it contributes to make my world a little bit of a better place.
In other news…
Last month, I wrote about having been asked to write an article for a camera magazine and now, I can tell you all about it. I was approached by the magazine and asked to write a bi-monthly article for them on various subjects.
Imposter-syndrome is a real issue for me along with oodles of my friends and that call has had a wonderfully positive effect on me. After I’d finished lapping the kitchen in extreme joy, I got to thinking… ‘What on earth was I going to write as an introductory piece?’
Fast-forward a bit and Ta-Da - my first ‘published’ piece is available to read by clicking this link https://cameracraft.online
Life, sadly for too many, is short. Looking forward, planning and living for tomorrow can be achieved with a little bit of attention to our own self-care.
I end this blog with hope that you will take a look at your own stress levels and regardless of your own thoughts on incense, you too will sit quietly for a moment and just let you brain relax and unwind.
Next month’s blog: April Showers – I do hope not!