Stay present in times of stress and anxiety

In these difficult and uncertain times of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is only one thing we can do to feel less anxious and stressed: Stay Present.

Easier said than done though, right?

I’ll admit, things got to me over the weekend. 

And I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one feeling this way…

A dark cloud of overwhelm and fear appeared out of nowhere.

Just a day or two before, I was looking forward to my daughter’s birthday, excited about a blossoming relationship and the signs of spring were everywhere, bringing nature to life with vibrant splashes of pink, purple and yellow.

Then up popped an insatiable combination of anxiety, fear and stress for the coming weeks that started to eat away at me until I barely recognised the words jumping around in my mind and spilling out of my mouth.

Will I have enough money to be able to feed my family and pay basic bills? Will there be food and supplies in the shops? Will I have the energy to take on this additional stress? Will I be able to cope? What if….? How…? 

Suddenly it all became too much and I needed to retreat. 

In those quiet moments of reflection last night I realised I’d slipped back into a destructive habit; one where I single-handedly decide to take everything onto my shoulders.

As a single parent, I’ve done this for years – feeling like I have to do everything and be everything to everyone. It’s damaged my physical health and well-being and led to irritability, fatigue, mental exhaustion and an overriding sense of wanting to run away to a cottage in the middle of nowhere (or at times a galaxy far far away).

Thankfully, after years of inner work, it doesn’t take long for me to get that lightbulb moment and realise where I’m going wrong. (If you’re not at that point yet I highly recommend starting with The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan.)

As I shared my feelings with someone close, I was reminded that the best thing (the only thing) we can do in any situation is to stay present. 

When this quote landed in my Facebook Messenger inbox, I smiled. 

I breathed. 

I felt a sense of relief. 

I let something go.

And I felt a warming sense of gratitude wash over me.

The practice of staying present will heal you.

Obsessing about how the future will turn out creates anxiety.

Replaying broken scenarios from the past causes anger or sadness.

Stay here, in the moment. – S. McNutt

This quote, together with my friend’s wise words, helped pull me back from slipping into old habits and behaviours and into a more positive energy from where I can sparkle and shine again.

I realised that I don’t have to do everything alone and there is always something or someone available to lighten the load. But you do have to show up and embrace your vulnerability as you ask for help. 

Before going to sleep I set the intention to start my working day today with a meditation by my amazing self-love coach, Katie Phillips. Her ‘I am present’ meditation was the perfect antidote to my temporary blip of darkness. 

Katie’s beautiful meditation reminded me:

  • To breathe. 

Sounds simple but it’s amazing how many of us breathe slowly and shallow when we’re going through a period or moment of stress and anxiety. Breathe deeply, hold and release. Allow yourself to let go of tensions and relax.

  • The past is not who I am. 

In every moment we have the opportunity to leave the past behind and start afresh. Nothing that’s happened before really matters now, only how you choose to be in this present moment.

  • To ask myself which thoughts are of service to me.

When we worry about the future and feel like we’re losing control, that can be scary. But it’s useful to tune in to those worries and notice how our bodies feel. Our thoughts create our reality so if we’re worrying unnecessarily, we create physical change in our bodies. At this point in time we all want to be as healthy as possible, so worrying and staying fearful will not help on any level. 

  • To remember that I AM ENOUGH.

This moment right now is really all we have. So embrace being here and knowing that you are absolutely enough.

‘I am here. This is it. And it is enough.’ – Katie Phillips

Lorraine xx

Katie Phillips has generously offered to share her I Am Present meditation for you to try. Click here to listen.

If you enjoy the meditation, please do pop back and leave your comments below. Thank you. <3

Find out more about Katie Phillips and the School of Self Love HERE.

The Art of Resilience

‘It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.’

How resilient are you?

Do you crumble at the first sign of difficulty, or do you dig deep, stand strong and tap into every ounce of wisdom, strength and courage?

The art of resilience grows from looking at situations from a different perspective. Resilient people will reflect on the problem and what it’s trying to teach them.

Instead of simply wishing to get through the tough times, they actively find ways to thrive.

Today, I have a question for you…

Rather than wait for the next challenge to appear in your life, why not work on building resilience now?

Just as you wouldn’t start a 500 mile car journey without checking your car was working properly, filling up with fuel and ensuring you had all the supplies you needed en route, why would you go through life, relationships or running your own business without gaining all the essential tools required to enhance your inner strength and capabilities?

5 Top Tips for Building Resilience

  • Live each day with gratitude. It’s a well known fact that happy people are healthier. But what makes people happy in the first place? Rather than being ‘made’ happy by external events, happy people start with a positive mindset; they understand that happiness truly does come from within. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, start by writing a short gratitude list every day. Every morning when you wake, or every evening before bed, write down three things you feel grateful for. Start small with obvious things if you struggle: children, pets, a secure home, and build up to including small things that happened in your life, or opportunities that arose that gave you a warm, fuzzy heart. When you recognise that you’re noticing (and feeling thankful for) the small things every day, that’s when you’re truly living with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Extend your learning. Education and learning should not be confined to our school and college years. The most resilient people understand that learning is for life – whether that’s in the form of qualifications and training or simply the personal growth that comes from falling down and getting back up again; for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Learning new skills that develop emotional intelligence enhance our sense of empowerment, inner strength and courage.
  • Play and have fun! Playing just for the fun of it isn’t limited to childhood. Breaking out of our daily routine to play simple games or have a little creative fun boosts our physical health and mental wellbeing. Add in some regular laughter and joy with friends, family or community and you have a recipe for resilience success.
  • Build relationships through kindness. Acting from a place of compassion, thoughtfulness and warmth is the best way to build strong, nourishing relationships. Step away from expecting anything in return and instead give your time, love and energy to others selflessly. It’s not about being a martyr or a doormat, it’s about being the best version of you. Be kind, come from a place of love and integrity and build your own web of supportive relationships and connections.
  • Boost your physical health. In addition to building emotional health as mentioned above, it’s important we keep our physical health in good condition. Having a strong body boosts our physical recovery through times of illness and stress. When we fail to look after our physical body, we may find that we keep getting knocked down again and again after every setback. Start by getting regular physical exercise – including cardiovascular activity and strength training – as well as plenty of time in fresh air and nature to boost overall wellbeing. Relaxation and sleep are essential too, so do schedule plenty of time for self-care. Adding meditation and yoga to your life will also enhance your physical and emotional health.

Are you building resilience on a daily basis?

If not, what can you do today to boost your inner strength?

Lorraine xx