Practicing what I preach – self-care solutions to uncertainty

Hi everyone, how’s it going this week? Good, or are you feeling like you’re in the middle of a tornado and you don’t know which way to go so you are frozen to the spot with indecision?

Well that was me last week! It started off well, with a glorious walk at a nearby reservoir in the bright sunshine that gave me lots of opportunities to add some more autumnal light pictures to my @soothedbynature collection.

And then the weather changed the next day to a whole tipping down of Yorkshire rain, grey, miserable, and cold – and then Boris spoke to the nation. I think it was the two combined that sent me down a less optimistic track.

I think for most people, we like a bit of a frame-work to live within, to understand what the societal rules are, so that we can then either live in relative harmony or challenge them if there’s something we disagree with AND this is where I’ve struggled this week, because when things go a little off plan, or I really don’t understand something, my natural reaction is to research, investigate and problem solve.

I’ve realised these are some of my key skills when the shizzle hits the fan, partly due to my natural curiosity, to want to understand the big picture, all the options and a strong desire to help solve issues for people, be the fixer, get the job done and I genuinely get a buzz out of it.

Even when I was waiting for the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis, despite being told to avoid Dr Google, this approach served me well and I felt fully prepared and more robust to the news.

Let me give you an example of this problem solving and wanting to help in practice. My childhood included lots of animals as we had a pet shop, so our house was known in the village as Dr Doolittle’s house – if any wildlife was injured, it promptly got delivered to our house. For more stories about this, and some dodgy photos of when I was little, click here!

So, because of this, the ‘rescuing of animals’ has followed me deep into adult life. Where we live we are surrounded by farms and fields, and during the time we have lived here, it has involved many an animal rescue situation that has created a whole series of comical tales (literally enough for a book),

Some examples of wildlife rescues are: an injured woodpigeon, a huge Canada goose that literally fell out of the sky, a lost baby hare, a bullied just-born calf, a starling in our chimney, an escaped flock of sheep, a mamma hedgehog and her 4 babies disturbed by storms, many baby birds being protected by me upon fledging from my evil, sister cats (they are nice when not hunting) and in the last 2 weeks, a goldcrest and some cows…

This beautiful goldcrest flew into our patio windows and fell to the bench and sat there looking very stunned. So, in it came and I gave it sugared water and left it alone for 3 hrs to sleep, as advised by the 3 Owls Bird Sanctuary. That afternoon I put the box in the garden and after a cautious 10 minutes, it eventually flew off, result, another one of god’s creatures back to its natural habitat!

The latest event was hilarious. Picture the scene; us happily watching Britain’s Got Talent this Saturday night, when we hear a noise, like kids on scooters whizzing passed our house. Hubs and I look at each other quizzically, our kids are in the house, it’s 8pm and dark and as far as we know the neighbour’s kids aren’t outside either.

He gets up to investigate and peeks around the curtain, and then declares, ‘There’s a cow in the courtyard!’ not what you expect to hear, I dive up to look and sure enough, there it is, a big brown cow looking back at us!

As we go to get our shoes on, we hear the noise again, which we now recognise as more of a cow stampede, and there is more than one of them, they have run back passed out house and are now either heading up the lane where we suspect they came from, or out onto the main road.

In the end, hubs ran out after them, whilst I text a local policewoman and called the farmer up the lane. Half an hour later, hubs had slowed down the traffic before they went off down a steep bank, the policewoman had called me back and was on it, and the farmers truck was out on a mission to get them back in. Job done, problem solved, happy days.

My point is, these events albeit bizarre, are easy-ish things to fix, common sense prevails – cows in road would be a dangerous nightmare = don’t just sit there thinking it will be ok.

I am going somewhere with this honestly, but I thought I’d start off by telling this story as it was too funny not to.

My problem is when you are dealing with information that is so confusing, with so many blurred lines, searching for the solutions, to understand what the rules are, it becomes nigh impossible to work out what you should and shouldn’t be doing and if I’m struggling to figure it out, then I know I can’t be the only one. I do not like not being able to work this out, to not find the answers and solve the problem!

Let me just point out at this stage we are in one of the local lock-down areas in the UK which is subject to extra restrictions on top of the list of national ones, hence the deeper perplexity!

And so this bewilderment, after endless researching trying to find out what is really allowed, what is advised not to do and what is actually the law, is what has lead me to paralysis, a kind of floating around, wondering what to do with myself and drinking lots of tea, because that’s what us Brits do in a crisis.

Added to this has been the daily emails from school of new cases and wondering when, not if, our children will be sent home to isolate. I then got crosser and crosser with myself, telling myself to ‘snap out of it, get focussed, why are you wasting time, come on!’ until I realised what I was doing, that the self-critic was in serious over-drive and sought other ways to help myself, rather than the unforthcoming, none-sensical government clarity.

So, what did I do?

  • Firstly, I just walked, moved, got out with the dog after some soggy days and a good podcast in my ears to try and make some sense of what was happening in my head.

Thankfully I picked the perfect podcast – Emma Gannon’s ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’, episode 286 with Dr Soph, on ‘Self-sabotage and seeking safety’ and the lightbulb moments were blinding me left, right and centre – ‘Ah so this is what I’m doing, I get it now and what a relief it is to find I am, in-fact, completely normal! (well to a point anyway!).

If you are feeling any of the fight / flight / frozen still, physical responses to this crazy situation right now, I highly recommend you listen to this podcast episode, it is simply brilliant and very reassuring that we are not all going mad.

  • Next I had an accountability meeting with myself – focussed on what I had actually achieved and not what I hadn’t and although it felt piece-meal at the time, it added up to quite a lot – phew I’m not completely useless after all!
  • I re-connected – when we feel weird, it’s so easy to go inwards and feel like we don’t want to show this part of ourselves to the world, when in fact often the opposite is better. Have those deeper conversations and you will find that 9/10 people are feeling exactly the same as you. Deep-down we know this; we just get a little stuck.
I shared this pic on Instagram as it kind of summed up how I was feeling, imperfect hair and windswept!

And so I followed the direction of my friend Jayne, @theflexcollective , threw in a ‘truth-bomb’ as she calls it and kept it real on Instagram– we are all just humans after all dealing with something we have never had experience of before, we are all just winging it as best we can, and getting vulnerable and real ALWAYS encourages others to do the same, allowing us to connect on a deeper level and understand better how humans operate.

  • I got out of the house, down to The Flex Collective to have a meeting with my ‘WOW Wednesday’ partner Clair, and TFC owner Jayne. We discussed how we were going to re-start the face to face meetings, at her lovely co-working space, which is beautifully done and Covid-safe – it felt good to be moving forwards with WOW plans AND to be supporting WOW member Jayne in her new business, at such a tough time for small businesses.
Meeting Jayne @theflexcollective to discuss all things ‘Wow’ in her beautiful, spacious meeting room
  • I read other accounts and articles explaining that lots of us feel like we are heading into a bigger slump than the initial shock of the first time around, BECAUSE we thought we’d done what was asked of us and now everything should be ok. We’d trusted and followed the government’s plan and now we are being asked to again, when we aren’t entirely sure they got it right in the first place.

That’s a big ask, and it is something that resonates with me and the cancer journey; I had to just trust the doctors knew what they were doing and go with it, I had no choice, and it’s that lack of control that makes us all feel edgy.

  • And finally, I did what I do best, got creative at 4am! Thankfully my conscious confusion dissipates when I sleep, (although I do have some seriously whacky dreams) and twice this week I have had the early morning, creative download of ideas, firing in out of the blue, just like my heroine Elizabeth Gilbert explains in her infamous book, Big Magic.

In my head I planned out a ‘How to create and write a Blog’ workshop, which thankfully I remembered in the morning and quickly scribbled down and later in the week I came up with the idea for my next @psychologiesmagazine Live on Instagram, ‘Gain Creative Confidence’ Session (no 8!) which is at 1,30pm today, Monday 28th September.

Prepping for today’s live with my trusty new highlighters!!

I’ll be posting more about what that entailed and the tasks too, later today, so people can come back here and get the full details to join in.

So overall, these are the steps I took, to change my mindset, be kind to myself and become productive and more content again, basically practicing what I preach to others and yet it’s much harder to take care of ourselves isn’t it?

In summary, this is my advice:

  1. Physically move – get the blood flowing, release the endorphins, and breathe!
  2. Have a reality check on what you’ve actually achieved, rather than focussing on what you haven’t and then celebrate that!
  3. Re-connect, tell people how you feel, allow yourself to be vulnerable and let those connections become deeper, without the fear of judgement
  4. Get out of the house and visit somewhere inspiring (for example Jayne does taster days for anyone local)
  5. Educate yourself, research what is going on, unless that triggers further anxiety, and then take each day at a time
  6. Trust in your talent, your brain has ways of slowing you down, in order for the creativity to come back. Trust that this will happen, usually when your brain is switched-off from all the noise
  7. And finally as the great Julia Samuel says, ‘This too shall pass’, change happens, all the time, it’s rare we will ever remain stuck in this uncomfortable state, but it is really useful to recognise and acknowledge what is happening and then use these techniques and many other self-care solutions out there to improve how you feel and be more prepared next time.

So, I hope this helps a little if you find yourself stuck as I did this week, I’d love to know if it resonates?

Can you believe this is my 80th Blog post? I can’t believe I’ve written 80 so far but I’m really happy with the direction the Blog has taken me, with creativity at it’s heart, always, but also sharing the well-being lessons I’ve also learned along the way through the constant, curious learning I do and from the people I meet and the creative community I connect with. I feel incredibly lucky to have some very wise and inspiring people around me who are now good friends.

So I hope you like what I do and find it useful, in October I’m hoping to do some new ‘Creative Community’ interviews because I love learning from people who I respect and admire and I hope you will too.

Until next time, take care everyone and like the main image for this post, keep on swimming!

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

Ps Don’t forget you can connect with me on Instagram too @thecuriouscreativeclub, for regular extra bits to what I do here.

Inspiration Corner – What I’ve been up to this week

Podcasts

As well as Emma Gannon’s podcast I mentioned above, I’ve listened to some other great podcasts this week:

Dr Chatterjee – Feel Better, Live More

Dr Chatterjee is back with a new season of his brilliant podcast. His episode with Julia Samuel, who I mentioned above, talks about embracing change and learning strategies to cope with it including using pain or loss as an agent for change, another must listen for these times.

Holly Tucker MBE – SME SOS

Holly launched her podcast SME SOS, 48 hrs after lockdown began back in March to support small businesses throughout this unchartered time. Last week’s episode interviewed June Sarpong OBE who has some excellent life tips, including trying to do just 10% better in all areas of your life and what that could mean, an inspiring listen as always.

Courses

I’ve done lots of researching and learning this week, trying to pinpoint what I need support with the most to upskill and make things easier in the work that I do and want to do.

Nicky Raby, (@nickyraby) is a coach (and many other things) who I really admire, and I’ve followed her work for some time. This week she’s been doing some free ‘Lets get visible’ sessions on Instagram, which are kind of taster sessions to her bigger programme called ‘Speak Up’ which I’m considering investing in as it looks a great course.

I also want to train up on WordPress as I developed this website and Blog very quickly back in 2018 without entirely knowing what I was doing! I want to be able to use it to its full capacity so will be doing a local workshop to help with that @theflexcollective.

2 Comments on “Practicing what I preach – self-care solutions to uncertainty

  1. Pingback: Gain Creative Confidence – Session 8 with Psychologies Magazine – The Curious Creative Club

  2. So much truth here, Juliet, a lot of what you write really resonates, and I have often felt the same recently! Thank you for writing beautifully, as always, and for the extra podcasts to listen to! Anna xx

    Liked by 1 person

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