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Unsticking yourself when you’re stuck

Do you ever wake up with that feeling that you’re ‘off’?

Like you’re just not firing on all cylinders? Like you’re just not firing on any cylinders? Like you’re just not firing at all? You feel like you’re in quicksand and your feet are slowly sinking into the thick goo – sucking you in further and further.

That was me today.

To start with, I didn’t have a great night’s sleep – my kitten decided to deposit a very smelly ‘gift’ in the kitty litter at 4am – which was particularly putrid, and I could smell immediately.  In fact, if I recall correctly the horrible stench actually infiltrated its way into my dream until I realized it wasn’t in my dream but was actually coming from the kitchen and I knew that I wasn’t getting any more sleep until I disposed of it outside… as you can imagine it’s challenging to get back to sleep properly after that.

Now years ago, as a new parent, I had interrupted sleep from crying children, and then more recently, I’ve had nights when my kids, who are now young adults, are out on the town so I don’t rest properly until I hear their key in the door!

But today it’s not just tiredness that’s causing me not to fire on all cylinders – in fact I really have no idea what’s causing this feeling of blah… I just know that I have to practice what I preach and get myself out of my head. So how do I do that?

My first step is to meditate – in bed, for about 10 minutes before I get up.

Meditation is for me a time when I concentrate on my breathing. My mind always wanders, which I used to berate myself for, but now I just bring my thoughts back to my breathing.  Today my mind was refusing to budge away from the pity party that was going on in my head, but I stayed there for the full 10 minutes, just focusing on the in and out of my breathe.

My next step was to get outside and exercise. I put a podcast in my ears, grabbed my 12-year-old best friend Rosie, my black Labrador, and we set off for our daily walk. I have a daily practice of gratitude which simply means that I notice stuff and I say thank you for it.  There is always so much beauty around when you look for it and today the sunrise was particularly stunning, painting bright splashes of colour on the horizon, and the cockatoos were screeching away happily through the trees, so I said thank you for them.

I want to take a moment to talk about the choice of what I listen to because it has a huge effect on my mood. In the early days of podcasts I loved to listen to the crime podcasts that investigate real life mysteries, until I realized how much they weren’t helping start my day feeling positive and productive. In fact, they were having the opposite effect. Nowadays I love to listen to more uplifting and educational podcasts – my current favourite is Jay Shetty’s On Purpose podcast series – his recent chat with Will Smith is a must hear. It’s like feeding my mind and soul with nutritious and delicious food that leaves me feeling fantastic!

Tony Robbins says that “Emotion is created by motion. Everything that we feel is the result of how we use our bodies.”, so by moving your body, you can help achieve a more productive state of mind.

I know that my long walk isn’t going to change the world, BUT it does help change my body’s state and that changes how I perceive the world.

And finally, another simple thing I like to do is to smile. Just smile. 😊Pull the corners of my mouth up to the skies and smile. Hold it there and go deeper into the smile. It’s a highly underrated act that really helps. AND it has the added benefit of making anyone I bump into feel better because I’m smiling at them.

Yes, they may think I’m the crazy smiling lady with the black labbie that walks the streets of our hood every day, but this crazy smiling lady is feeling a little less stuck and a little more optimistic after these simple but effective acts of self-care.

And my dog Rosie is smiling too!

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