Sunday, January 16, 2022

Taking myself in hand

How are you feeling as we go forwards into another difficult year?

Do you remember 18 months or so ago I came up with a pandemic motto for myself:  'Stay healthy, stay cheerful, and try to be kind'?

I'm still managing to stay healthy by keeping fit, and I'm trying to be kind, but the cheerfulness bit has gone out of the window. 

This could be for several reasons -

1/  general pandemic malaise:

2/   impotent rage about Johnson and his cronies

3/   plain old January blues

Whatever the cause, I've decided to take myself in hand. 

I'm going to take steps.

A couple of weeks ago I read a piece in the Guardian called A hundred ways to slightly improve your life without really trying, which sounded understated and realistic and helpful without being so challenging as to be offputting (e.g. training for a marathon.)

And yesterday in he Times there was a similar piece called How to get a happy fix: 27 easiest ways to lift your mood. 

I already do many of the things they suggest, but I've chosen some items from both of the lists and added some of my own and come up with a cunning plan. 

Starting tomorrow, I will:

1/     Take a cold shower for 30 seconds before my hot one. (Cold showers were suggested in both of the lists.) They are supposed to be good for one's physical and mental health. 

2/     Clear out my in-tray and desk drawers and filing cabinet, and throw away (i.e. recycle) all old manuscripts.

3/     Read a poem every morning before I get up.

4/      Send postcards even when I'm not on holiday.

5/      Phone old friends I haven't seen for over a year.

6/      Always return my keys to the hook, when I come home.

7/      Do that one thing I've been putting off.

8/      Cook one new recipe a month, or an old one I haven't done for at least a year. This may sound pathetic but for one who is uber-bored with cooking it is still a challenge.

9/      Listen to the albums I loved as a teenager.

10/    If I'm going less than a mile, walk or cycle, whatever the weather.

11/    Go outside every morning within an hour of getting up. Apparently, David Ray,  Professor of Endocrinology, says that 'even the daylight on a cloudy day in winter has a powerful effect on re-establishing the rhythms that help to improve mood and energy levels.I did this yesterday, a dull, grey morning and snapped these beauties:

12/    Stretch for at least five minutes daily.

13/    Stop swearing at rude motorists when I'm on my bike, and say something charming instead, even though they never hear me, either way.

14/    Spend a few minutes every day breathing deeply: in through the nose, out through the mouth, making the exhale longer than the inhale.   

15/    List three things every night that I am thankful for. Try to make them different every day.

I'll leave you with two ideas which have recently spoken to my condition. The first is from The Wind in the Willows, and the second is from The Boy, the mole, the fox and the horse.


Susan D said...

Thanks for these ideas, Sue. Some of which validate what I'm already doing. :^)

Take care

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks for commenting, Susan. 😊

dirtmother said...

Further to your postcard sending, have you come across Postcrossing? It's lovely!

I can't abide the idea of a 'gratitude' journal (too easy to stray into toxic positivity) but I do have a nice notebook in which at the end of the day I note at least three things I have enjoyed or noticed that day. A subtle difference but works for me.

Sue Hepworth said...

Hello Dirtmother, I have not heard of Postcrossing and will find out about it.

Also…I love your expression ‘toxic positivity’ and am pleased that no one could accuse my blog of that.
Yes, the journal idea appeals to me. I will try it out. Now I am not writing (books)I rarely write in my journal.
Thank you for your suggestions.

dirtmother said...

I started by setting a minimum number of days in the month I would do this (generally 15 or 20) rather than feeling I had to do it every day.

I forget who came up with the term toxic positivity originally but it is an important concept. And yes, one of the many reasons I read your blog is because it is not that.

Bladesgirl said...

Hello again Sue
Just to say I finished the first book I chose (But I told you…). I really enjoyed it but found myself wishing I hadn’t previously dipped so much into your blog as I found it hard to separate the characters from you and your husband in real life.
Anyway, it was great fun and an effective antidote to these times.
I am on holiday now and it’s good to be away from my four walls, but without wishing to sound ungrateful and miserable. I do share the feelings you mention at the start of your post and am going to use some of my time away to formulate some plans for the coming weeks to combat low mood.
I’m sure family events of recent weeks have pushed me into this situation as I usually enjoy January, my birthday month and that of my younger son too.
I think on my list will be some walks in the Derbyshire countryside.
I’ll be starting Plotting for Beginners very shortly and will report back.
Best wishes, Karen

Sue Hepworth said...

Hi Karen,
I’m glad you enjoyed the book, but I thought you were a newbie to the blog so am surprised at what you say.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy PfB.
And I hope the weather is nice for you on your holiday and for some walks.

Bladesgirl said...

Hi Sue, I typed a comment last night but think it may have got lost in the ether.
I’m a newbie to your blog in so far as I only discovered it fairly recently, but I had a couple of days in December when I was unwell and I spent quite a lot of time “binge-reading” the blog, as I found so much of your content of interest.
The weather here in the Canaries is only “reasonable” I’m afraid, but I’m off for a long solo walk today as my husband has a work call to do early afternoon. We have always been lucky it would seem with weather here in January, but not quite so much this time. Anyway, it’s a change from West Yorkshire.
Good wishes

Anonymous said...

What have you got me doing! Wordle 218 3/6


Love it

Thank you


Sue Hepworth said...

It’s terrific, isn’t it? I love Wordle!

Lois said...

Cold showers, how brave! I think I'd spend all day in bed reading if I had to face one of those when getting up. Glad to know that you're feeling more upbeat and thanks for the reminder to look at Wordle.

Sue Hepworth said...

It is only 30 seconds before a hot one, though even that is bad enough.