Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Five Amazing Things

1) The tree fell down in our garden, but it avoided the house!
2) Aldi - the amazingly cheap and good supermarket.
3) The internet - keeping in touch with friends and family so easily these days.
4) Cuddling up with myself in my woolly cardigan.
5) Gazing at my wedding photograph, noting all the details for the umpteenth time, right next to the computer monitor when I am sick of looking at screens.

Monday, December 30, 2013

6 Questions to ask yourself when dealing with a loss, failure or crisis

1) Who can help me right now?
2) How specifically can they help me?
3) How can I prepare for this difficult patch?
4) Am I being open with myself about what the problems are?
5) What have I learnt from all this?
6) What are my coping strategies for daily life?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to prioritise daily when coping with failure/loss

1) Act on professionals' advice
There's nothing more important than our health.  This is the number one priority always.  Do you have to take medication to stay healthy?  Then take it as prescribed.  If you don't have to take medication but someone professional has given you advice - then act on it.  Perhaps you don't agree with some of it. A good friend of mine told me that her advisor asked her to 'compare yourself with others' - which I don't agree with.  I believe this leads to envy and depression.  But perhaps I shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The same person said 'Consider all your options; contemplate and consider before making decisions.'  This is good advice.  Sometimes we may be more experienced in a scenario than the people we are asking for advice - perhaps more time is needed to make a decision about a course of action, perhaps further advice can be sought; a second opinion.  But remember, professionals are normally right - they are experienced in this, that is why they are professionals, they are paid to give you this advice. They will help you prioritise - for you.  They probably know you better than you think, and perhaps help you re-order this list and put different activities on it. Ignore professional advice at your peril.
2) Keep in contact if possible with family
Can you open up with family about your problems; your failures and losses?  They will most likely be very understanding and want to help - by talking to you and perhaps you could stay with them for a little while.  Perhaps tell them what the professionals have advised. Ask them what they think - do they agree?  Most families are there for each other in times of loss or crisis.  Keep the relationships strong at this time, cook your family a meal or send a thank you card for their support.

3) If family are out of the equation then keep contact with friends
You may find that your friends are your family.  Not a problem, your friends love you just as much, sometimes more so, than your family.  Keep in regular phone contact with them - they will want to know you are alright. Like your family, your friends may have an opinion on what the professionals are advising, perhaps worth listening to.

4) Seek ongoing support from the professionals
As well as acting on their advice - which could be a daily activity like taking medication, make sure that you are keeping your GP, counsellor, therapist, advisor or mentor up to date on your life.  They may not realise everything that is going on - this may change their advice of course so it is best to be as open as possible with the professionals, as often as feels comfortable and beneficial.  This could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly and could take place on the telephone.

5) Get plenty of sleep/rest
This is very important - for me at any rate.  I need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.  Go without and I start to lose the plot.

6) Eat good food
Eating good, fresh, wholesome food on a budget is possible in the UK I think.  Pasta and vegetables, jacket potatoes, boiled eggs, beans on toast.  You may find that a vegetarian diet is the way forward on a budget - better for you too.

7) Meditate
Breathe in and say calm on your out breath ten times.  Meditation is simply focussed relaxation - do whatever you feel relaxed doing to get in the 'Zone'.  Computer games might be the thing for you, for me burning incense and gazing at a fixed spot on the ceiling.

8) Do some exercise
Go running or start running.  You just need to put on some trainers and out the door you go, start with a few seconds running to start with, then a minute, then five and after about six weeks you should be able to run without stopping for 30 minutes. 

9) Manage your finances
Check your bank account daily, set up text alerts on your mobile with your bank so you get a text when you go below say £100.  If your life feels out of control, then reign it back under control and stick to your monthly, weekly and daily budget.

10) Help others
You may find, particularly if you're getting professional help, that you start to feel better shortly after your failure or loss.  Are you in a position where you have a skill or asset that you could put to good use to help others?  This will help you feel part of the community and society again and do wonders for your self esteem at this critical time, getting you back into a routine.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moving On: Five tips I have learnt from 'failure' and loss

Everyone fails or loses at some point or another, it's part of the human condition.  Some people argue that innovation comes from failure, that this is the impetus behind evolution.  But when we have a major loss or spectacular failure 'moving on' is difficult.  How do you do it?  Here are my five top tips:

1) Ask for help - or if you can provide help, then provide it.  It will be reciprocated. 
Take one day at a time to start with, just focus on how you're going to get through the day at first.  Silent and lonely grief and anguish can turn in to a negative cycle and lead to depression - can you nip it in the bud by asking for help? Perhaps you don't want to be on your own at this time - are there friends and family you can stay with?  Can you practice cooking or fending for yourself on a friend or family member?  Utilise all the resources at your disposal.  If someone has said to you 'let me know if there's anything I can do to help' now might be the time to call in that favour.    If there's nobody then ask the professionals.  Is there a structure at work you can tap into?  Are there free services out there you could ask?  Have you told your GP about this major challenge you are facing?  They can tell you about services you could tap into.  We're such an independent species that asking for help is the biggest challenge most people face.  If you haven't had a failure or loss recently perhaps you're in a position to say to someone you know who has, the most important question you may ever ask: 'Is there anything I can do to help?'

2) Preparation is key
I believe you can prepare for a major loss, like the loss of a parent.  In the brilliant book by Richard Reoch, Dying Well the last page suggests that we ask ourselves three questions which I have boiled down to two; 'How would you like to be treated if you were dying and what would you like people to say?'  As a result of reading this, I said to one of my great friends just before she died that we all loved her very much.  She said 'Thank you very much Anna'.  I'm glad that was our last conversation.  We need to concentrate on having positive interactions with our loved ones, as we never know when we are going to lose them.  Preparing well for loss is just about telling our loved ones how much we appreciate them and love them as often as we can.  Preparing for failure is different.  When we are preparing for failure we are visualising success. Once we've failed we need to prepare to get ready to 'try again' or go down a different route.  When trying again, have a plan that attacks your weaknesses from the failed attempt, work from the feedback and what you learned.

3) Be open
A tricky one this as our enemies can attack our weaknesses if we are open about them.  But you need to be open with yourself - why did you fail?  How come you are not coping with a loss?  Only by being open can the help be tailored to fit your needs.  By being open you are being a great role model for others, they will be open back to reflect your behaviour.  This openness challenges corruption and lies.  Love and truth stem from open books.

4) Write down what you have learnt
& Pin it where you see it every day.  'Be kind to myself', 'Prioritise my health' 'Count my blessings', 'Remember the good times'  & 'I deserve the best'.  If you can't come up with any learnings from your loss or failure, then pin up some motivational quotes, you can source these from the internet.  Also ask close friends and family to tell you what your good qualities are - stick these on your fridge or computer monitor.  Come back to these learnings in 6 months, a year, 5 years.  There will be other things you have learnt that you can add to your list.

5) 'KBO'
Winston Churchill's less famous quotation was 'Keep Buggaring On'. Or in other words when it gets tough, the tough get going. Just keep going; perseverance, endurance and persistence are the true hallmarks of a survivor. We must carry on in the face of adversity and keep trying to exist in this incredible world.  If you have problems with this, then go back to 1).