Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself.

We have a real tendency to be our harshest critics. We often judge ourselves without compassion. It is so important to learn how to be kind to yourself and treat yourself with care. A core principle of self love is the ability to be able to forgive yourself.

Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There isn’t a single one of us that hasn’t been wracked with guilt over decisions we’ve made or actions we’ve taken.

The other evening, after a long day at work and a long evening at home working through various things, that the Virgo in me, assured me, had to be done THAT day, I found myself unnecessarily snapping at my daughter. She immediately burst into tears and went to her room. She is 5. I’m not 5. I was 5 what can only be described as an eternity ago. The guilt made me feel sick, which led to tears. Ten to fifteen minutes later, she came to me, still crying and said ‘mummy I’m sorry’. My heart sank. This beautiful child, thought that my reaction was due to something that she had done wrong.

We spent that next half an hour talking, cuddling, laughing and then meditating before bed. She was fine. I had to allow myself to be fine too.

Had my outburst done any permanent damage to her? Doubtful.

The key here was the time we shared, after the unpleasant moment. It literally was just that. A moment.

Learning to forgive myself has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had in my adult life. Unfortunately guilt is something most of us pick up throughout our early life, and it is so normalised, through punishment and shaming, that we accept it, and own it, making it a part of who we are. When we do something, or say something that we’re not proud of, that guilty feeling is almost what we tell ourselves we should, and deserve to feel.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

It feels so heavy on the heart to carry feelings of guilt around and in my opinion it is as damaging and unhelpful as anger in my opinion.

Accept you humanity. Understand that you will have moments where you will look back and wish you had reacted differently. All you can do is make a commitment to yourself to try for a different outcome next time. The chance is you will slip up again, learn from your mistakes and move on quickly.

Be kind to yourself, and protect your feelings. There is no need to punish yourself when something goes wrong. Love yourself enough to say ‘It’s ok, it happened, and I’ll try my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again’.

It doesn’t matter, how many times you need to say those words to yourself. We can always make a conscious effort to learn, grow, and evolve. Keep moving forward, that’s all that matters.

I Love a Good Horror Film.

Honestly. I really do love ‘scary films’. I say scary in inverted commas because I am yet to find a horror film that has actually frightened me. They may have made me jump at times, or for a split second had prickly feeling of fear rising on the back of my neck, but moments later it’s gone and I’m over it.

I’m not one of those people that then fears the dark, or finds it hard to sleep.

I love the cinematography, the characters, the music, the suspense, and the cultural folklore involved in horror movies.

If you fancy watching a good scary film, here is a list of my favourites, in no particular order.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (The original)
  • Wes Cravens New Nightmare
  • Halloween (all of them)
  • Friday 13th
  • Fright Night (The original)
  • The Possession
  • The Devil Inside
  • The Exorcist
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  • The Conjuring (all of them)
  • Annabelle
  • IT (the original)
  • The Omen (original and remake)
  • The Rite
  • Insidious (all of them)
  • Deliver us from Evil
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Woman in Black
  • The Ring (all of them)
  • Annabelle
  • The Grudge (all of them)
  • A tale of two sisters

There are so many more, but the ones above are definitely worth a watch, and a re-watch! Enjoy.

My Favourite Books.

I LOVE to read. It has been a huge passion of mine since childhood, although these days, between work and motherhood, I hardly seem to find the time. When I do though, I like fiction novels, girlie ones and a good crime thriller, or factual books on subjects that interest me.

Some of my absolute favourites are listed below.

These aren’t in order of preference, or in the order that I’ve read them. It’s just a list (Simple).

  1. Dawn Cairns : Tulips Chips and Mayonnaise
  2. Patricia Cornwell; The Kay Scarpetta series
  • Postmortem
  • Body of Evidence
  • All that Remains
  • Cruel and Unusual
  • The Body Farm
  • From Potters Field
  • Cause of Death
  • Unnatural Exposure
  • Point of Origin

3. Sophie Kinsella; The Shopaholic Series

  • The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic
  • Shopaholic abroad
  • Shopaholic and sister
  • Shopaholic and sister
  • Shopaholic and baby
  • Mini Shopaholic

4. Lucy Diamond: Any Way you Want Me

5. Stephen King:

  • Carrie
  • Pet Semetary
  • Thinner
  • IT
  • Misery
  • Needful Things
  • Rose Madder
  • The Green Mile

6. John Grisham:

  • A Time to Kill
  • The Firm
  • The Client

7. Richard Dawkins:

  • The God Delusion
  • The Magic of Reality
  • The Greatest Show on Earth – The Evidence of Evolution
  • The Blind Watchmaker

8. Christopher Hitchens:

  • God is not Great
  • The Portable Atheist

9. Sophie Kinsella: The Un-domestic Goddess

10. Madeline Wickham (Sophie Kinsella):

  • The Wedding Girl
  • Sleeping Arrangements

11. Carole Matthews:

  • Lets Meet on Platform 8
  • A Cottage by the Sea
  • A compromising Position

12. J.K Rowling: The Harry Potter Series

13. Stephenie Meyer: The Twilight Saga

I recommend all of the above if they fall into genres you enjoy. If not- get creating your own list. Reading is a wonderful form of therapy.

 

The Social Media Generation.

I think social media is great. The opportunities it opens up for individuals, to showcase their skills and talents are amazing. The way it allows businesses to market themselves and reach wider ranges of potential customers. Services are easy to book, and easy to choose from the numerous reviews left on social media sites. We all have instant access to ‘how to’ tutorials, recipes, fashion ideas and so much more.

Social media has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends, even if you can’t meet as often as you’d like, you can still say hi, exchange a quick message, send birthday greetings, and keep up-to-date with what everyone is doing.

However, like all good things, too much can be a bad thing. From my personal observation, the younger generation are teetering dangerously close to the edge of far too heavy a reliance on all things social media related.

Obviously being online has always brought with it a certain degree of risk for youngsters with the anonymity aspect; not really knowing who you’re talking to, which has led to grooming, bullying and exposure of too much information. Putting aside the general identity related dangers, the hidden emotional cost of too much dependence of social media, is far more sinister.

There are those few unfortunate souls, who will bare every detail of their life and all the drama that surrounds them, over their social media accounts, and will seek empathy and support from their contacts. However the more common theme, is for people to only post all the good things that they want the world to see.

Sometimes, it’s akin to living a double life almost, and keeping up a charade like that is emotionally and physically taxing.

As adults, most of us are realistic and understand that no one has a perfect life 100% of the time, but trying to get children, teenagers and young adults to see and accept that is difficult. They tend to go by what they see, so a page on which someone seems to live an enchanted life, can lead to feelings of inferiority, insecurity, envy, bitterness and isolation.

All of us (not just the kids), need reminding, that what we see on social media is not a full and accurate representation of the truth. We see beautiful homes, flash cars and luxury holidays, but we don’t see the hard work, the late nights, the hours spent, the missed school plays and sports days and the sleepless nights that it took to get there. We see the loving relationship, but we don’t see the heartaches that came before it or the tears cried alone behind closed doors. We see the perfect bodies and faces, but the surgery scars, the fat childhood, the unhealthy relationship with food, all hidden behind that pretty filter.

Educate your children to use social media for it’s intended purpose, to make the world accessible to everyone, not as a means to measure their success against the success of others.

Easy Veggie Pasta Bake.

I hear from so many busy mums, who say they hate to cook, either because they are too exhausted, or just don’t have the time. The temptation to turn to the freezer for a fish finger or nugget themed dinner is all too familiar.

While there is nothing wrong with that, and far be it for me to judge, this pasta bake can be ready in about the same time, and is nutritious and tasty. It’s a family friendly meal that everyone can enjoy.

This a guide rather than a recipe, so I haven’t included quantities, just adjust it according to the number of people you’re cooking for.

ok, so;

Grab a pot to boil your pasta (any shape, any kind, generally NOT spaghetti type ones on this occasion).

Put the pasta on to cook as you usually would.

In another large-ish pan, heat oil, and add chopped onion (red or white). While it cooks, mince up some garlic, and chop some peppers (any colour). Throw these into the pan, and cook until soft. Add some tinned sweetcorn and tinned kidney beans. After 5 mins or so add tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Cook this out on a low heat for 10 mins. Meanwhile, drain and set aside your pasta.

Once the sauce is cooked, toss together with the pasta and lay into an oven-proof dish. Add a layer of white sauce (out of a jar), and top with cheese.

15 mins in a hot oven and BOOM, dinner is done!

 

Nipping It In The Bud.

This post isn’t just about stress and anxiety, it’s a post about stress and anxiety in children.

I’m the first one to roll my eyes and brush off dramatic topics concerning children. There are certain theories about parenting, childrens up-bringing and their behaviour that I find outlandish to say the least, however stress management isn’t one of them.

I strongly believe that the ability to handle stress, and keep anxiety at bay is something that can be instilled in children from an early age. Exposure to stresses often begins earlier than we realise, and by the time the heavy stuff happens, most of us have already adopted unhelpful coping mechanisms, such as using stimulants or depressants, having angry outbursts or bottling up our feelings.

Healthier alternatives to handling the difficult situations we all inevitably have to face, are things that should be introduced to children as soon as they are old enough to really engage with the techniques.

The easiest way to incorporate this is to practice deep breathing with them at bedtime, perhaps after a story, encourage them to have some quiet time for relaxation, and lead some breathing exercises for them.

I use guided meditations that are aimed specifically at children, and often use these in place of a bedtime story as they are told in story form, with breathing exercises and visualisations included.

‘New Horizon’ on YouTube do particularly good ones, but there is no limit to the resources available so find some that you child enjoys.

Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. We do, one good thing, one bad thing, and one confusing thing that needs further clarification, each day. I wouldn’t advise doing this activity at bedtime, as it can lead to a lengthy sleep avoidance technique!

Simple ideas like these, incorporated into your routine, will equip them with the skills that they can depend on when life gets challenging.

Managing stress and anxiety is a powerful lesson to teach your children to help them through the ups and downs of life. I really hope you’ll give it a go.

Meditation.

The first thing I want to say about meditation is that it helped to turn my life around, and really helped me to deal with a number of emotions, including, but not limited to; anxiety, sadness, anger and guilt.

Many people have said to me that they find it difficult to meditate, because they can’t seem to clear their mind.

I personally do not agree with the idea that meditation means sitting in complete silence, not thinking about anything. The ability to clear your mind completely and silence your thoughts, takes years of practice.

Meditation, to keep your mind healthy and help you to cope with the stresses and ups and downs of life, is much simpler.

I’m a huge fan of guided meditations, and have mentioned this before. I love apps like Headspace and Calm, but I also make use of the endless free resources available on YouTube. There are so many different types of guided meditations to choose from and they vary in length. My recommendation would be to start with 10 minutes a day.

You can pick meditations tailored to things you enjoy, and situations that bring you peace. I love ocean sounds, rainfall and storms, or visualisations centred around waterfalls and tropical beaches. These are the things that speak to me and bring me comfort. They help me to find my inner calm.

Find something that is right for you. Often it is a case of trial and error.

Those 10 minutes a day concentrating on your breathing and visualising yourself in your safe, peaceful place, make a world of difference to your stress levels in general.

Life is made up of good days and bad, but keeping your stress levels down helps you to think more clearly and find better solutions to any problems you might encounter. Rather than having a emotional response to each situation, you’re more able to deal with things logically when you feel calm. This is turn helps to maintain healthy, happy relationships with family and friends.

If you feel like meditation could benefit you, give it a go, it worked for me and you have absolutely nothing to lose. Happy Breathing.