Life balance manifesto

Manifesto

I believe that my blog has something for everybody. Because everybody deserves to have joy and happiness in their lives. But then there are certain kinds of people who will always automatically put everyone else first, they are sensitive to negativity and will avoid it at all costs by letting too much fall upon themselves to sort out. Because of this they may have suffered with depression or anxiety, insomnia, stress and overwhelm. They may feel taken advantage of and be in a place where they feel stuck and aren’t sure how to get out. When they perhaps fall upon my blog they might not have realised that the key is ‘Looking after yourself first means that everything else will become easier’. When they visit my blog and start to implement self-care and other techniques their life will become more joy-filled and they will keep up the techniques they have learnt in order to hold off the return of the stress and overwhelm they felt before.

The reason I chose to help this particular kind of people is because I am one of those people. If that is your personality, it doesn’t go away, but you learn to manage and you learn how much you can benefit from looking after yourself first. You have to keep implementing these techniques because otherwise you can go backwards. It does happen and we realise that we haven’t been implementing self-care and we have let people take advantage of us or we forgot to not overdo it. Then you keep going. You aren’t back to square one by any means, you learn to see it coming by knowing your own warning signs and then you can re-address what you need to do.

This is why I am here doing this, this is why I can help you, because I am one of you. I write blog posts, I send them out into the world and I read them too. I follow my own advice, I am by no means a finished product. I am on the same journey as you. Learning how to feel better in my life and fill it with ease and joy. I am still exploring this, imagining new ways to help myself, reading endless books and blogs and meeting people and using techniques given to me to make this a happier, joyful, easier life for myself. I want nothing more than to help as many other people as I can on the way because I truly believe that nobody should have to be always stressed or sad or unhappy and that everyone can and should live happily and all the awful things I experienced didn’t happen for nothing, they happened so that I would be in a better position to help you.

If there was just one thing that I would wish for my readers to take away from my blog it is that you deserve to have a life full of joy and peace and not to dread your days, to enjoy being you and living your life. Life is precious and it should be full of love and light and it can be when you take this first step to start looking after yourself.

Imogen x

Saying no (Self-care month Day 23)

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Self-care month Day 23
Saying no

Good morning my lovely reader and all my new followers it’s so good to meet you!
Today is my birthday, 29 years ago today I was brought it to the wonderful world and because of that I am feeling extra specially happy and relaxed. I have spent all day cuddling my kitten, Luna, colouring in my new colouring book and watching Disney films. I have felt extra exhausted recently and I have really needed some time to myself to relax and I feel all the better for it.

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Colouring in bed with Luna this morning

Today I give you permission to say no to something. Whether it is something that you aren’t comfortable with, or are anxious about or whether somebody is demanding too much of your time or energy. To really take care of ourselves we need to be able to say no in these situations. We sometimes say yes out of obligation or because we are too kind to let people down. Cont…

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Most Important Tasks

In my Leonie Dawson workbook that I filled out at the beginning of this year there was a page called

12 Zen Habits (From Leo Babuta at Zen habits.net)

They are all pretty useful and zen and go as follows

  1. Set your 3 MIT’s (most important tasks) each morning
  2. Single task (focus your attention)
  3. Zero inbox
  4. Process emails once a day
  5. Exercise 5-10 mins a day
  6. Work while disconnected
  7. Keep your desk decluttered
  8. Clear & declutter home for 15 mins a day
  9. Stick to a 5 sentence limit on emails (make your words powerful)
  10. Say no to commitments & requests not on your important short list
  11. Eat fresh fruit & veg everyday
  12. Follow a morning routine

I think we can all pretty much agree that these ‘Zen Habits’ are worth thinking about as we go through our days. In fact I have them stuck on the wall in front of me right this very second look

zenhabits

My favourite one is number 1. I actually do use this one every day now. Having 3 MIT’s is great because it isn’t overwhelming. It its an endless to do list. It is just what actually matters to you the most on that day. Sometimes there is time for more. Some days I have achieved my MIT’s by 11am and I have the rest of the day to frolic..or whatever. I take 5 minutes every morning to figure out what the 3 tasks are for that day that i definitely need to do. If i think of 4 i have to choose which ones are the most necessary to my day.

Todays MIT’s for example are

  • Write blog post
  • Go to appointment
  • Start assignment

Today is pretty standard actually. Often my 3 MIT’s have something to do with self-care (appointment-actually for hypnotherapy) something for my business (today-write blog post) and often something to do with studying because there is basically always something I really need to do for that.

Other days, I know immediately that My number 1 priority is self care. Sometimes my MIT is actually to find time for a quick nap, or a bath, or just to read alone for a while. On days when I’m not feeling that great I know that that needs to be taken care of first.

Some days it is to do something fun with my family, to visit my grandma, to clean something, to business plan, to organise something for charity, to find time for yoga or a walk or to write in my journal if I haven’t done that for a while, to create something if i haven’t done that for a while.

You get the picture. I need to sit down each morning and actually give myself a few minutes to think about what the day holds in store for me and how I can work out when to do my MIT’s.

Why don’t you try it? Could you list 3 MIT’s today?

Peace out,

Imogen x

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10 facts about me

IMG_4423Morning all. I am very tired today. It is only the second day of half term and I am completely drained! I think it is more to do with the packing up a house of 4 than the extra child being here in the day. But the sun is shining and its pancake day so i’m happy!

So here is a little snippet of my life; 10 facts about me that you (hopefully) won’t already know…

1. My favourite shop is Holland and Barrett. I love experimenting with super foods and anything that gives me energy is priceless to me!

2. Every time I buy something new (even if its from a charity shop) my mother accuses me of being ‘Decadent’

3. My favourite ‘story’ ever told is A Midsummer Nights Dream. Ever since studying it in high school 15 years ago.

4. I cover the telly in my bedroom with a scarf when it is not in use because I think it is ugly. Mr.H thinks I have lost it.

5. I hate wires. They are taking over my house.

6. I declutter on a monthly basis. There is always space to be made and things no longer needed.

7. I think this week will be full of ‘list-posts’

8. Actually I totally love lists. They are the best way to sort the muddles inside my head.

9. I was so shocked when I found out that I was having a baby girl. Sometimes I still look at her and am amazed that she wasn’t a boy.

10. I love getting older. I love life lessons and becoming wiser and more comfortable in my own skin.

Well now I am off to have pancakes with my Grandma and the kids, then time for more packing and a lot of playing and some yoga to relax. Have a gorgeous day!

Imogen x

This is what brought me here

It was actually nearly a year ago when I first came up with the idea of creating a website/blog/service designed to reduce stress and overwhelm by personally helping people to fit in all the wonderful little things that they love and believe they haven’t got time for. The fact is you have got the time and it is important that you do these thing that mean so much to you.
Well I went about starting to set up my new business venture around the family commitments that come with having a 4 year old and a baby at home and running a house while my husband travelled around the world on business.
I didn’t realise there was anything wrong. I had no idea what was coming. I thought everything was as it should be. But then I couldn’t help but wonder-was I supposed to be so irritable and snappy with the children all the time? I was tired I knew that so I tried to get more sleep. But I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake flinging myself around the bed and the few hours sleep I did get wasn’t of any decent quality at all.
Then started the ‘concerns’ regarding my boys behaviour at preschool and boy, I didn’t not cope well with that. Every day I would pick him up and be told how he had been hurting the other children and he couldn’t control the impulse to lash out that most children grow out of by the time they are 3. It broke my heart on a daily basis and I cried so often in front of the preschool supervisor. I couldn’t bare to look at the other parents in case they were judging me and I was terrified about the effect all of this was having on the child I adored with all my heart. The child I had always wanted and that I believe was made for me.
My shoulders were so tense at this time that I was in 24 hour a day crippling pain. I thought that the only way this pain would go is whenever it would be that I died. So, of course, i was getting even less sleep then. I had begun fuelling myself on around 8 cups of coffee a day just to get myself through.
I got a massage for my shoulders from a friend who was studying sports psychology, she sat me up, stood behind me and said ‘right just put your shoulders down’ ‘down?’ I said, I tried but they literally would not move with all the tension!
So anyway my genius business blog idea was completely discarded at this point. I couldn’t imagine how I could help anybody in the state I was in and who would listen to somebody who couldn’t balance their own life anyway?
So i trotted off to the doctors thinking it was probably anaemia or b12 deficiency. Something that I could get a prescription to fix. After blood tests and several meetings the doctor diagnosed ‘anxiety and stress’. I left thinking she’s got that wrong I would know if I had anxiety but no. Apparently I wouldn’t. She put me on the waiting list for counselling and physiotherapy for my shoulders and sent me on my way.
Upon returning home I got straight on to google as many people would do in this situation. I spoke to my friend the mental health nurse who reassured me by saying ‘knowledge is power where this is concerned’ so I ordered a CBT workbook online and set about researching what I needed to do. One of the helpful hints I read was to try journaling. I found a notepad and wrote away not really knowing what I should write about. After a few minutes of getting into the flow I found myself pouring my heart out about how I felt like a big black cloud was following me around. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. Ok maybe I am stressed and anxious then. Maybe the way I was feeling wasn’t right and perhaps there was something wrong after all.
Not long after the diagnosis my dear old grandad died. Which was a hard knock and for a few weeks there. All I could do was get through the days and be there for my family who all seriously adored my grandad with good reason. My family all needed me and I needed to be there for them. Somehow that was my way of dealing with it.
It was a knock yes and a very strange time. Especially for someone who, like me, was fortunate not have had much experience of death. But I dealt with it and life went on.
One thing I really felt the need to do in the midst of everything that was happening was take a trip to see my wonderful, wise auntie Jay who lived 2 hours away in Lancashire. She always somehow had the exact words that I needed to hear and I knew I would come away from her feeling enlightened. And I did. We talked about the anxiety, what I went through with preschool, grandad, childhood even and I cried and her soft gentle voice soothed me so much and I will never forget how much she helped me that day. As I drove back down the motorway the rain poured and I felt my pain wash away with it.
One of the outcomes of that meeting was that I got back in touch with my estranged father who I hadn’t spoken to or seen in 15 years. I had seen that he was on facebook and had considered how it would benefit me to ask him all the questions I had always wondered about and had probably affected my life forever. He answered all my questions with as much honesty as he could and I am grateful for that. What else will come of the situation I don’t know. I guess time will tell but at the moment we are emailing regularly.
I eventually got a counselling place on a 6 week course of group sessions in the middle of the summer. By that point I had dealt with a lot of what had happened and was beginning to feel brighter, happier and like my old self. But wiser and older. I went to the counselling and got an immense amount of help from it. Techniques and information that I will remember for the rest of my life. When I started the counselling I thought I was cured already but my curiosity took me there anyway. I’m so glad. The main thing I got from it was that i knew I had to stop it coming back I could spot it from a distance and delve into my bag of tricks to make sure I don’t get back to that same dark place. And I have used the techniques I learnt at the counselling sessions countless times already over the last 6 months and will do for the rest of my life.
Ok so here I really need to point out that if you do have symptoms of stress or anxiety tell your GP. It won’t simply go away. I also used the information on the website for the metal health charity mind http://www.mind.org.uk

At the beginning of last year one of the few people I had got round to telling about my website ideas was my beautiful little auntie Jay. When I revisited her in the midst of everything I told her I couldn’t bring myself to do it now. I wasn’t who I thought I was to be able to help anybody. She said ‘sometimes you have to experience something like this to be able to help other people’. At the time I really didn’t think it could happen ever. But as those words roll over in my mind more frequently a light beams brighter in my mind. She was right, of course, I can help people with this idea and everything I went through happened for that exact reason!
So that is the story of what led me to create this website that I hope will help other people enjoy their lives and look after themselves.
One of my counsellors many metaphors was ‘when you’re on an aeroplane and the flight attendants are reading out the safety instructions what do they say about when the oxygen masks come down?’
You put yours on before helping anybody else fit theirs because you can’t help people around you if you don’t look after yourself first!

Imogen x

Winter