Sometimes It’s The Little Things…

After an extraordinarily stressful couple of days, I just went for a run. I passed a bench, erected by someone in remembrance of a loved one. The wording on the bench said the person’s name, and the years of their life (just 54 years) and then, “Stop. Feel the sun”.

I stopped, I felt what it is to be alive. I stared at the inscription. I breathed. I ran.

About a mile further on in the woods, I took a break from running to wait for my dog who had paused to sniff around in the bushes. After a while, she looked up and noticed how far ahead I was, and set off at a fair old pace to catch me up. The air was cold, my breath hung in it briefly when I exhaled. I bent over, putting my hands on my knees and waiting for my dog to catch me up, her tail wagging, tongue hanging out of her mouth.

And it was the most alive I’ve felt in a long time.

Sometimes it’s the little things…

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When The Going Gets Tough…

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” – Dalai Lama

I’ve not had the best of weeks. I’d even say that in the odd, fleeting moment I have come close to feeling depressed, a place I’ve been lucky enough to avoid for the last couple of years. I have doubted myself, felt powerless and without hope. I’ve struggled to find sufficient energy to deal with my problems.

For much of the last few days I have been overwhelmed with a desire to keep to myself, to tick along quietly without being bothered by anything else.

It has felt alien and unpleasant, largely because I had nowhere to run, no place to hide. There was no bottle of wine (or 2, or 3) to numb these feelings with. I have simply had to sit it out.

Tonight, some of the perspective has returned and I wanted to share some thoughts with you on how to deal with sadness when sober. Here’s what I came up with (and which has helped me);

Don’t bottle it up. When you feel down it often makes you want to avoid people, but talking to someone who you trust and who cares will help. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Find some humility. Discovering that you are, in the eyes of others (or maybe just one other), flawed in some way, is not always a bad thing – even if it hurts like hell when you find out. Use it to your advantage and learn from it; it’s a good thing to reassess who you think you are. Understanding that you’re going wrong in certain areas of your life gives you the opportunity to work on yourself, and ultimately to be a better person. Swallow your pride.

Go for a walk. Being outdoors offers a new perspective on a problem. For me, being in the open countryside (especially where it’s wild and rugged) makes me see myself as a tiny part of a vast universe. Nothing shrinks my problems faster than being somewhere that’s been battered by the elements for millions of years, and is completely unaltered by humans.

Be strong and dig deep. If you have been a heavy drinker then it’s likely you have not developed a comprehensive ability to self-analyse. Drowning problems out with alcohol for years can result in you struggling to pinpoint exact feelings, recognise emotions and to subsequently act accordingly. Learning this skill is at times difficult, and frequently painful. It can really hurt to accept certain truths about yourself but doing this means moving on and following the correct path in life. To know yourself inside and out is to be in charge of where you are headed.

Take a back seat. When you feel down and the bottle is no longer an option for obliterating the darkness, concentrate on muddling through the worst of it by really taking care of yourself. Pamper yourself, indulge in whatever makes you feel happy, eat well – consider yourself to be in need of extra care, and ensure that you provide it as best you can. Take the pressure off wherever possible and allow time for plenty of rest. Tiredness makes everything look a million times worse.

Trust in the following maxim; this too shall pass. It will – things will settle down, the storm will drift slowly overhead and clear skies will return. And when they do, you will have reinforced your emotional strength and there will be no regrets or ill-advised decisions that have landed you in further misery or complications.

There will just be you, as you were before, only a little bit tougher.