SOUL

  • Self Care..Coping in a Crisis

    By Danielle McKenna

    lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

    They say that crisis brings out a person’s character and from what I’ve experienced in the last week or so I couldn’t agree more. The action of taking our freedom away has left us all exposed, triggers revealed and temperaments tested.

    In my circle there has been a huge range from the group I like to call the ‘dig for victory crew’ who are relishing the opportunity to learn how to knit and bake and have already painted the downstairs toilet a deep purple that they will later regret. The ‘keep calm and carry on,’ lot have plans to teach their children Spanish and have frozen enough sausage casserole to feed the Armada.

    Then we have group who are catastrophising and in the glass is permanently half empty group. This lot like to pass on information from their mum’s cousin’s dog walker about the fact we are on lockdown until 2023 and the conspiracy theories that the government have produced this virus as a type of genocide and survival of the fittest. Perhaps aliens have landed, and Boris would rather we didn’t know. This is not helpful. Nor was their hoarding of loo roll and pasta.

    Another group ‘the hippie dippy tribe’ (me) believe that this is a chance for the world and the human race to connect, heal together and emerge in some sort of utopian harmony. The light workers are organising mass meditation and kumbaya by candlelight at 6.00 every night. The fitness crew are doing their very most on Instagram stories and suddenly everyone is an expert on health and fitness. Burpie challenge anyone? Do you even know me Karen?!

    Do you know what? Some days I am a mix of all of the above and that’s ok. We are all having very normal reactions to a very abnormal situation. This crisis means many different things to many different people and we need to give ourselves a break as we work through the changes that are happening for us all.

    I have been bombarded with meme’s, 80% of which are meant to be funny but are actually seriously unfunny. Like the corona virus’ representation of Chandler Bing, the human race has taken to strange humour to hide the fact we are all shit scared and using this as a defence to stop us from admitting it.

    Jokes aside, I am obviously talking (Houseparty obvs) to friends, family and clients about what this means for all of us. What is coming up? What does the future hold and what are we learning from this gigantic pause?

    The commonality that I am hearing is despair over not knowing how long this will go on for, obviously health, and the future of our economy. I’m afraid none of us have the answers at the moment, and this lack of control is frightening for many of us. However, we can all find ways to be our own light at the end of the tunnel and look at the elements of our life that we absolutely can control and implement self-care to support it.

    Are you making use of your daily exercise allowance and getting into nature either by yourself or with the kids. Just a quick change of scenery can lift a mood and nature can be so reviving. I think after lockdown we are viewing the beauty of Mother Nature somewhat differently. Keep moving and find new ways of entertaining the children through movement. We have just discovered ‘Cosmic Yoga’ and it’s a life saver.

    Limit your screen time. I don’t believe that watching the news or listening to every story is helpful. Sure, tune in for the important announcements, but don’t have it a backdrop to your day. The same applies to social media. This can really influence our mood and time spent on Instagram should be rationed as severely as hand sanitizer. Swap it out for music that lifts your mood and makes you happy.

    Wake up with a plan so that you have structure around a daily routine. I have set homework for some of my clients to send me a basic timetable of their working week – schedule moments for meditation, exercise, nourishment as well as household tasks and home schooling. This is an opportunity to boost the self-care bank and if you are self-isolating as a family you can take it in turns to give each other an afternoon or morning ‘off.’ Even if this is to just spend some time alone to just ‘be’ or down gin and tonics in peace. (Joking . . . sort of)

    Make sure you are nourishing your body and your mind. Alcohol is not an essential when we are feeling anxious as it can be a trigger. I know many of us are using this as a coping mechanism against the boredom and for some of us this is ok in moderation, but be mindful, your waistline and your liver will thank you for it. Use this time to learn a new recipe to feed the family, listen to music together, listen to podcasts that teach you something new, and if you are really struggling with heightened anxiety I recommend some guided meditation to calm your soul which you can find on YouTube.

    We are all learning things about ourselves during lockdown. Previously, I thought of myself as some sort of cat that prefers my own company and although generally outgoing, I enjoy being at home too. I have discovered in the past week that I’m probably more dog and I need the energy and connection of the people I love in my life so am scheduling more chats (again, Houseparty), talking more on the phone (who knew you could speak on a mobile haha) and am sending things via the post to people I love. Not being a particularly tactile person, I have surprised myself by being excited about squeezing my friends when I see them (consider this a weird warning guys) and I won’t take human connection for granted again.

    My daughter and I wake up every day and think of one thing we can do to make a difference to people and in the process, its teaching her kindness and compassion too. We have put rainbows in our windows to make people smile on their walks. We have sent rainbows in the post to friends and family who live alone, and we have sent videos to people we love and miss. Yesterday we fed the ducks, naturally, with bread I had to defrost first.

    Remember we are all in this together, and, like everything else, this too will absolutely pass. It will be a distant memory, but I hope that one day we will look back on this time and remember the dedicated time we gave to our children, a time we all had a reset, we made our health a priority, our real heroes, the NHS were given the acknowledgement they deserve, we realised the value of community and the importance of considering others. All we can do is follow government guidelines, stay at home and love our families.

    *In the last day, from the result of my last article, I have heard from many mothers who are struggling to cope with anxiety and very real worries over their future and how to care for their families in our new normal. My heart breaks for them, but also, I want to acknowledge their bravery in reaching out and sharing their very real fears with someone they’ve never met before. We are all in it together and I am happy to help in any way that I can. Please do contact me free of charge via email should you need to Danielle@lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

  • Self Care... to Steer Your Child Through Stormy Waters

    By Danielle McKenna

    lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

    Singleline: Shutterstock

    We are currently living in uncertain and scary times. Guidelines changing, economy under threat and global death numbers climbing. We are in a state of war nothing like anything that this generation has experienced before.
     
    Everyone I speak to, be they family members, friends, clients or the little old man stood behind me in the supermarket queue yesterday, we are all worried about the coming days. So it is any wonder that our children are also experiencing increased anxiety.
     
    For the sector of the family who thrives most on routine, it is an unprecedented experience to have their schools closed and routine disrupted. Time apart from their friends, the clubs they enjoy and social distancing from people they love, like elderly grandparents - who lets face it, these days do much of the raising too. It takes a village, and right now that village infrastructure is taking huge daily adjustments. Without question they will be picking up on our energy, not to mention the fact that for once the adults don’t seem to be any wiser too.
    So what can we do to introduce calm and a bit of normality over the next weeks and months to come?...
     
    1.

    Answer any questions they have to the best of your ability. Don’t lie, children are smarter than you think. Their intuition is, more often than not, more honed than ours, so don’t break their trust when they’re already feeling strange

    2.

    Routine. With home schooling I truly believe routine will save us. Yesterday I started a timetable for Sadie and I. She is 5 so phonics and basic maths are important, but so is being creative and free time. I have tried to include 3 choices for each lesson so she can feel involved in decision making on what her day looks and feels like too. I haven't yet received the guidance from school, and am sure this will be great, but it helped me to take the lead on how our days will be structured.

    3.

    Don’t push it. At the moment the only thing that matters is that they feel loved, safe and secure. If it’s a battle getting them to sit down and learn then take a break. The last thing you need is to feel more stressed too. If it’s a cuddle and a film you all need then go with it.

    4.

    Move. If you have a garden try and get outside whatever the weather. Nature is so soothing and a constant whatever we are facing. Nature can reset our souls. (Sadie and I are going to be planting seeds together). Joe Wicks is offering P.E lessons for children at 9.00 every day on his YouTube channel to encourage movement. God bless Joe Wicks!

    5.

    Limit screen time. This goes for all of us. I found myself glued to the tv yesterday and all it did was increase my anxiety. Tune in for the important announcements but don’t have the drama played out constantly. Children will pick up on this too and not all stories are helpful or even relevant.

    6.

    Get creative and play. Use those paints at the back of the cupboard, play that board game gathering dust and do that puzzle you don’t usually have the time and patience for. Colouring can also be so mindful for adults as well as children. Encourage story telling and reading together.

    7.

    See this time to rest and reset as a gift for your family. I personally am thrilled I get some concentrated time with my daughter where we will bond and have fun together without the pressing engagements of every day life. She has no idea about mummy's den making abilities, but she soon will . . .

    8.

    Schedule alone time. I am going to attempt to get 30 mins to myself a day (not including evenings after bedtime) where Sadie will know that mummy needs to be quiet. Wish me luck!!

    9.

    Virtual play dates. As we are in a state of isolation they will be missing their friends. Schedule some FaceTime or let them send voice notes or silly videos to each other. My neighbour and I have already scheduled a glass of wine over the fence for next Thursday. Can you do the same for your children? Also, connect your children with your elderly relatives over the phone, FaceTime and Skype. We need each other now more than ever.

    10.

    Look for the beauty and the silver linings, I promise you they are there. Notice the days when the sun is shining, notice spring started to unfold in the garden. Practise gratitude as a family, have meaningful conversation, impart wisdom, tell stories about your childhood and theirs, and just cherish one another.

    I understand that we are living in difficult times and of course I am concerned for our elderly and the economy and what that means for my family and I in the days to come, however the hippie in me also has high hopes.
     
    We know that the way we have been living as a society needs to change, perhaps this is the global change that the human race needs. I hope with a change to reflect, we will emerge as a more compassionate and mindful society where we truly think about the issues that matter, and consider each other more.
     
    Suddenly magazine stories filled with gossip and plastic surgery villains or heroes seem irrelevant. Suddenly that disagreement you had with so and so seems ridiculous. Influencers who get paid per post for ‘skinny tea’ or whatever mindless crap we get fed with suddenly is obsolete. As we focus on the realties of feeding our families in the days to come, thigh gaps are less important. We are separating what occupies our minds with what is important to us and good for our souls.
     
    With blue skies over China, a massive decrease in pollution in Italy and the Venice canals running clear with visible fish and swans, it’s amazing how quickly our planet can heal when it’s given the chance to rest - like us.
     
    The hippie believes that we will come together as a planet and as a planet we will heal together, but this starts at home and with our children too. Right now their mental wellbeing is more important than their academic schedule and we will catch this up eventually anyway. Educate them on kindness and compassion, practise gratitude and find the positives in this crisis too. Good luck and stay safe. I am sending love to you all, remember we are all in this together.
     
    *if anyone is struggling with anxiety and needs some support around managing it and self care, I am happy to take emails at this time free of charge. Danielle@lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

     

  • Self Care...for the Mum

    By Danielle McKenna

    Lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

    Career, partner, kids, house, gym, social life, trying to be a good person, swearing less, eating less but moving more . . . You know the cycle, the juggle is real. Especially for mothers, who lets face it, are the CEO’s of their household. The decision makers, the crisis handlers and the chief bottom wipers. No one warned us how tough it would be.

    Don’t get me wrong, becoming a mother and the love I have for my child could not be more rewarding. My daughter has made me a far kinder, more resilient, empathetic person, but my goodness I have those moments where I could hide under my duvet for a day. Or just quietly disappear one day and join the circus (although that wouldn’t feel much different from home) or simply long for the days I could lay in past 7am.

    When you are spinning so many plates, self care can be quite thin on the ground, if at all. Most mums I speak to have an element of mum guilt. You may have convinced yourself you don’t deserve to be looked after and that you come last on the priority list, but if you’re going to make it through with your sanity and identity intact taking care of yourself is not optional.

    With Mother’s Day around the corner, what a better time than now, to ask for a partner to support your self care or even take it into your own hands and put yourself first for the day. A whole, entire day dedicated to you, imagine that?! If you’re reading this, there’s no excuse.

    A really easy way of determining this is ‘What do I need?’ Vs ‘What do I want?’ For example, you may desperately want a new handbag or new shoes, but these purchases won’t sustain you long term. What works for you is likely to go a little deeper and be more lasting than the fast buzz of a quick purchase. Does it nourish me, does it nurture me, does it refuel me? Am I giving myself love and kindness? All important questions when making correct self care choices.

    Secondly, I want you to start pondering what you actually need? Don’t take any notice of the bombardment we receive on a daily basis from media, friends, family (not easy I know) and think about what YOU need. The results won’t last if self care is not in line with what you are mentally and physically craving.

    Start listening to your mind and body and begin to hone your intuition. Are you going to that punishing gym class because you enjoy it and it will revive you or because you think you ‘should.’ Are you reaching for a that piece of cake/glass of wine/family sized chocolate bar, because you’re hungry or you’re trying to fill a void left by an unpleasant emotion during the day?

    Easy self care tips, that don’t cost a penny include; making sure you get enough sleep, having a relaxing bath or shower, being around friends and family, meditating, treating yourself kindly, making time to rest, walking in nature and having quiet time. If you want to invest a little more you could book yourself a massage, a creative course or even a spa weekend. Anything that helps you to feel rested and supported.

    Thirdly, make Mother’s Day a family project. Invite an open conversation with your child, children or partner about what mummy needs and what would make her happy. I think sometimes we are reluctant to ask for what we need or even assume that others already know. However, I think more often than not people want to make you happy and they want to support, they just need some gentle guidance. So be bold and have that daring conversation.

    The oxygen mask on the plane is the simplest way of demonstrating putting yourself first. If you don’t get that mask on quick fire then you cant take care of anyone else, including your child. If you are depleted and exhausted in life you won’t have anything left to give the people you love and care for. Self care is paramount to a balanced life.

    Motherhood is the survival of the most resilient and creating healthy self care habits will ensure that you create lasting safety and stability for you and your family. No better gift for you on Mother’s Day than that.

  • Self Care in Relationships

    By Danielle McKenna

    lionesslifecoaching.co.uk

    When I was at school, I remember getting a special commendation for a Valentines poem that ruefully finished with the line ‘oh why oh why do bimbos get all the luck?’ Wise, cynical, oh-so-woke, 13-year-old me thought she knew allllll about it.

    The truth is, the older I get, the more I realise we never stop learning. There is always more. Especially in matters of the heart. We, as resourceful, creative and whole human beings, are constantly evolving and rolling with life’s many punches. The hope is that your partner evolves with you, or that you will have a constant by your side willing to support you throughout, but sadly this is not always the case.

    So, what can we do about it? We can make sure that the pillars our relationships are built upon have strong foundations from the very beginning. We can communicate early how we expect to be loved and everything we do for each other can demonstrate love and respect. (This works for platonic relationships, and our relationships with our children as well as romantic ones by the way.)

    Conversely, we also have to respect ourselves to choose wisely and intelligently. Do not, under any circumstances, ignore red flags. Red flags in a short-lived romance can cause years of damage to unravel, mend and move past. Also do not settle. Life is long and you need someone you’re happy and willing to go the distance with.

    While I realise love and relationship types come in many different forms, varieties and complications. The pillars that should remain true and for me are unshakable, are pretty simple;

    1.

    Value yourself. A good rule of thumb is ‘if my best friend was being treated this way, would I be ok with it?’ Many of us are willing to make an impassioned speech on behalf of someone else. How many of us do it for ourselves?

    2.

    Validation. We all need to feel witnessed; we all need to feel heard; have you been giving each other the time and dedication you both need? Have you taken the time to figure out what resonates? Words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts? Take time to know your partner and validate them when they need it most.

    3.

    Loyalty and Trust. Does what it says on the tin. Unless you’ve consciously chosen to be in an open relationship, any abuse of trust to someone you love is inexcusable and you need therapy.

    4.

    Independence. It is so important to keep a sense of self in relationships. Make sure you have your own interests, friends and career. To be too co-dependent is always a mistake. Familiarity breeds contempt and we all need something that is entirely ours.

    5.

    Be kind. If all else fails, this is your place of safety. Looks fade, chemistry lessens, money gets spent, but if you have someone that is consistently kind and understanding of you, this is gold.

    If you are lucky enough to be in a loving partnership, honour that person every day and make a fuss of them on Valentines Day. What can you do or say to make them shine and understand what they mean to you? Sometimes the smallest of gestures make the biggest of impacts, especially when they come from the heart.

    If you are alone, don’t get hung up on it. The one thing that can’t be forced is the timing of love and it will come to you at the right time and moment. In the meantime, work on every area of your life so that when that person shows up (and you’ll know) you’re ready to meet your equal. Build a healthy relationship with yourself first so you recognise it in another. Anything less is never worth it and sometimes in being alone you find your magic.

    If you’re at some ‘halfway house’ of a relationship be brave enough to ask for what you want and need. Honour yourself enough to have that brave and daring conversation. If they aren’t willing to meet you on the bridge, they are not for you and they’ve dumped themselves for you. Next! If you’re the procrastinator, recognise that perhaps you need more. If they don’t set your world alight, then they are another souls blessing.

    Or if you’re immersed in something more toxic and you are repetitively asking for something simple and as basic as respect, clarity and communication, they are incapable of providing it. Take a step back and notice the areas of your life that need more support. You need to step your self-love game up, as it won’t be coming from them and can only ever come from you.

    Whatever type of relationship you are in, without question, the most important relationship is the one you have with YOU. If you place your self-worth in the hands of others you’ll always be left powerless. If you are waiting to be chosen you will always be left wanting. We experience the love we want by the love we give. So, this Valentines Day, and always, make sure the love you give to yourself is unconditional.