Small Victories: Why We Should Be Celebrating Them

According to my drafts I actually started writing this post almost a year ago. So that must make this the longest I’ve ever worked on a post. If by longest I mean I wrote an intro, left it a year and came back to it…

Anyway…

Don’t you find that life is all about the ‘big?’ I’m 25 and at this age, it feels like if you’re not getting engaged, getting a mortgage or getting pregnant then you don’t really have much to celebrate. There’s so much focus and energy put into the ‘big’ celebrations that I wonder if we ever remember to celebrate the small victories.

I’m bad at being proud of myself most of the time, especially a few months down the line from something exciting happening. So I got a job. It’s all woohoo at the time but then I just start to wonder why I’m celebrating something that everyone does. Sorry if it’s all getting a bit Camus in here, but hopefully you understand where I’m coming from.

Think about how we commend children. Woo you went to the toilet without wetting yourself or yaaay you ate all your dinner. We don’t do it as adults and honestly, it makes me a bit sad. So I think we should start celebrating all our victories, but especially the small ones. Yesss I read a whole chapter today without being distracted by my phone a million times in between. Congratulations me for going to the supermarket when really I just wanted to stay in and watch another episode of Brooklyn 99.

Basically, I don’t want to get so caught up in reaching big milestones that I forget to celebrate the small stuff, or worse, belittle my successes once the initial excitement has died down.

I didn’t really manage a lot on my to-do list or make any incredible headway on life plans today, but I did make a great coffee, braided my hair reasonably well and wrote this blog post. I should be proud of that.

What small victories have you had lately? Let me know!

Rachel x-x-x

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New Chapter

At the beginning of this year I was getting married, in two week’s time in fact. The date is burned into my brain. It was going to be an anniversary date to remember for the rest of my life.

And now, I’m not.

The date is simply going to fade into the oblivion of the other 364 days in the year.

A hard part of this whole experience is juggling other people’s expectations and opinions. When they hear that I’m not getting married anymore, they assume a relationship breakdown and that isn’t the case. We’re together and happy. Obviously I’m not going to go into the ins and outs but we’re just not getting married.  But of course everyone will have their opinions so I’ve just got really good at smiling, nodding and acting like I’m taking things on board when I’m actually thinking about what to have for dinner.

I’ve really been umming and ahhing over publishing this post for a number of reasons. In spite of my blog, I’m a really private person and I just wasn’t sure about putting this on the internet.

But in the end, I’ve decided yes, because the part I’ve found so difficult is comparing my life to everyone else’s. Through the filters of Instagram and the highlights reels we portray online, it can seem like everyone is living in a fairytale of Starbucks and cocktails. But that’s not real life and sometimes it’s important to share the bad parts too.

I have multiple friends getting married this year, and while that’s difficult in some ways, I’m also really happy for them. Their relationship isn’t mine and their lives aren’t mine and we’re all just taking different paths. But man is it hard to not compare yourself to everybody who is seemingly ‘moving on with their lives.’ But in the last couple of months I’ve taken a step back and seen that things are moving just fine with my life. I was just struggling to see that in the greyer days.

We’re a few months on now and things are significantly better. Learning not to compare yourself to others is a challenge and one that needs to be worked on. It won’t come overnight but it’s a lesson for life.

Rachel x-x-x

 

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The Art of Trying

Recently I’ve been inspired by this video by Dottie James. My introspective nature adores change. I love fresh starts and seeing progress and plotting out achievements in notebooks. But the perfectionist in me struggles with these things. One of my worst traits is my belief that if I can’t do something to its maximum then I don’t want to do it at all.

I’ve tried time and time again to make changes to my life. To exercise every day, to eat better, cut down on caffeine and a million others things I’d love to change. But, whenever I’ve made a start, I’ve been set back by one second of failure.

I constantly preach that it’s alright to miss a day or to fail but I know that I don’t really believe that. And I find it really hard when I’ve set myself a daily task and one day I just don’t have time for it. But watching Dottie’s video got me thinking. In her second video she goes back over her weekly and daily goals and sees how many times she achieved them and how many times she didn’t.

It’s not about succeeding every day. It’s not about berating yourself over not doing them. It’s just about trying.

This outlook has really changed the way I look at my own growth. At the start of the year I set myself 100 goals for the year (I was clearly feeling incredibly motivated at this point!). Some were tiny and some were much bigger but looking at them now, I can see that I’ve barely done any because 100 goals was far too overwhelming. So I’ve reassessed and set myself 3 big goals with lots of little sub-goals.

Saying Yes

I tend to play life safe. I don’t take big opportunities because I’m scared of failure and I rarely put myself “out there” in case of rejection. Honestly, I’m just really sick of being nervous of the outcome getting in the way of me doing things. So now I’m actively seeking out opportunities and living life a little bit more.

Saying No

This goal is all about me-time. I often say yes because it’s easy. Big surprise – this ends up meaning I spend a lot of time doing things for other people that I don’t really want to do.

Health

I’m the first to admit that healthy living is often a bit of a fad for me. I go through phases where I eat well and exercise but when motivation slips these good habits fall straight off the radar. I’m also terrible for forgetting to take my B12 tablets (sorry Mum!) and I could definitely just look after myself a bit better.

Although I’ve made some small goals in each category, I mostly just want to enforce that I want to live my life better. There are going to be days where I don’t do things and that’s okay. Because really what I want to practice is the art of trying. Change will come from that.

Rachel x-x-x

 

 

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Staying Positive Monday to Friday

It’s Monday morning and I’ve got the day off. I woke up early, had a coffee and immediately sat down to get on with some uni work. I’m feeling positive about the week. It’s going to be a good one. I’m going to eat well, exercise and be really productive.

The hours are ticking and while I still feel good, there’s a slight feeling in my chest that I was a little too positive about this week. I’m at placement Tuesday until Friday, I might not have time for the gym and I won’t get much dissertation done this week. Actually I’m not feeling so positive anymore.

Within three hours of waking my positive attitude has dropped. Now I feel like the week is going to be a chore and I’ve got caught up in that same old cycle where things only seem good when I’ve got time to myself.

Here are some ways I’m trying to break out of that mindset:

Watch Your Language

Use positive language to keep a positive outlook. Try not to say that you won’t have time, or you can’t enjoy yourself this week because it’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’ll go from the start to the end of the week in a negative mood. Think about your week as an opportunity rather than a hard slog, set goals and take control of the week rather than letting it take control of you.

Don’t Pressure Yourself

Some weeks you’ll have more free time than you will during others. Naturally this means we don’t always have the ability to do everything we would in a week, but we don’t always see it this way. I like to set goals like going to the gym three times a week but sometimes that just isn’t possible, so instead I’m trying to be flexible and tell myself that it’s alright if I don’t always make it to the gym. Putting excess pressure on myself just means I’m less likely to achieve my goals.

Find Small Pleasures

I find that I go through life desperate for Friday evening when I can have two days of reading, sleeping and doing whatever else that I want to do. But I really don’t like this idea of ‘living for the weekend,’ because I don’t want to live my life spending 5 days a week dreaming about the two days I’m going to get off. I want to enjoy every day. That’s why I’m trying to ensure I have something to look forward to every day, whether it’s a meal out with friends or just a nice soak in a hot bath.

Start Your Day Right Every Day

When I have days off I take time to eat breakfast, put makeup on and just generally look after myself. It’s quite the opposite when I have a busy day where I rush up, giving myself half an hour to get ready, skipping breakfast and dashing out the door. Deciding to take your mornings before work slower can really help set you up for the day mentally and help you have a more positive mindset. I find that I feel so much better on the days where I’ve taken time to eat breakfast and listen to music on my way to placement in comparison to the days I down a coffee and walk there in silence.

What do you do to keep a positive mindset throughout the working week? Let me know in the comments!

Rachel x-x-x

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Why Is Looking After Your Mental Health Embarrassing?

My favourite section of any bookshop has long been the self-help section. I love reading books on wellness and mindfulness and anxiety, basically anything to do with improving your mental wellbeing. For a long time I was always a little nervous of heading into that quiet corner of the shop. What if someone saw the books I was looking at and wondered what was ‘wrong’ with me?

More recently I was sitting on the bus with a guided meditation app playing in my earphones when it suddenly occurred to me to make sure that the screen was off so that no one saw what app I was using. As someone who is quite happy to talk about their mental health, why do I feel so uncomfortable if people find out that I’m making a conscious effort to look after it?

We all have mental health, whether it’s good or bad. Some people can take care of theirs without much effort, some need a little more help, whether that’s through therapy or medication or self help books. And whilst I know there’s nothing embarrassing about that, there’s still some social stigma around people knowing that it’s effort for you.

No one would bat an eyelid over you stretching your legs to make an injury feel better or popping antacids for some indigestion, so why do we feel embarrassed about looking after our mental health?

Maybe some people find having a positive outlook easy but for me, it’s definitely something that I have to work on. I frequently overwork myself or don’t give myself enough credit and as a result I often overlook the positive aspects of my life in favour of the negatives. Over the past couple of years I’ve made a real effort to do everything I can to make sure that my mental health is just as good as my physical health is. I exercise regularly, I aim to get enough sleep every day, I have a mood tracker, I do yoga, I practice meditation, I set myself goals, I don’t drink too much alcohol (most of the time).

Whilst I talk about lots of those things on my blog, I would rarely tell anyone in ‘real life’ that I meditate or that I fill in a mood tracker every day. For me, on some levels, it does feel a little embarrassing that I need to make the effort. Surely everyone else doesn’t have to go to the same lengths to keep their mental health in peak condition.

But on reflection, looking after my mental health doesn’t feel so much different to looking after my physical health. When I go to the gym and eat well, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud for taking matters into my own hands, for working hard and for seeing results when I look in the mirror. When I look after my mental health, I should feel the same. But at the moment there’s definitely a wall there for me.

I hope that 2018 is the year that I can proudly tell people that I meditate because it makes me feel calmer, that I track my mood so that I can see if certain days, or times of the month are good or bad for me and that looking after my mental health isn’t something that comes as easily to me as my physical health.

Rachel x-x-x

 

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