When Life Gives You Lemons (here are my sweeteners)

We all experience daily challenges, struggles and stresses. Lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy, lack of awareness to name but a few… It seems overwhelming.

Feeling positive is often about balance. After my operation, four years ago, life was complicated. I wanted to give up because doctors couldn’t give me answers. Along the way, I’ve learnt so much about self-care, the gut-brain connection as well as having a positive outlook on life.

So, no matter how stressful life may seem, there are steps you can take to come back to equilibrium, to peace, and to your “normal”.

Here are my survival tips for when life gives you lemons;  

1. Acceptance 
After my serious intestinal operation, I had to figure out a positive way to view what had happened. A year on, I was still looking for answers as to why my intestines twisted. I was being hard on myself, instead of viewing the situation, and myself, with compassion.

I spent too much time trying to figure out what went wrong – looking at the past. I became anxious and so worried with what ‘could’ happen, I was catastrophising.  

I would compare myself to others thinking they were more fortunate than me, when in reality I had no idea what was going on in their world.

I felt far less vulnerable to comparison and envy when I committed to being deeply grateful for what’s good in my life, and tried to remind myself daily. 

If someone or something triggered that ugly feeling of negative comparison, I would remind myself of what was good in my life, right now. Once I thought of one, more and more would rush in.

Learn to accept and appreciate what you have, rather than focus on what you don’t have. All of us have many things to be grateful for.

2. Letting go of what people think 
Looking back at my childhood I now realise I worried far too much about what others thought about me. I would easily become anxious.

I have always loved helping people, which meant I needed to be approachable. This became difficult to do when I couldn’t mask the pain I was in, or even had the energy to talk to people. 

In time I learnt to put on a brave face, counted to 5, and faced my fears. I started approaching people again.

People are entitled to their own opinions, and there’s nothing I can do about it. There isn’t even any sure way of knowing what anyone truly thinks of me, so it’s a waste of energy worrying about it. 

So I focused on the people I could help, and to whom I could inspire and make a positive difference. 

3.  Socialising
Travelling anywhere and being in public caused me anxiety and stress. I would worry about getting stomach cramps whilst I was out. 

As I started to get used to the way things were, I felt ready to socialise again. I filled my time with the company and conversation of people who nourished rather than drained me. After all, spending time with the right people is meant to be an energising and rejuvenating experience, and you’re likely to feel better afterwards.

So take a careful look at your calendar and really consider what you’re saying “yes” to when you accept that next dinner invite.  

4. Meditation
I’d accepted an invitation to a vegan restaurant with my new flatmate and his friends. Little did I know that I would meet an amazing soul who introduced me to a meditation app by Ashok Gupta. 

The app included a 30-day meditation as well as videos on the science on how we get caught up in negative thoughts. 

Meditation deepened my self-awareness. It helped me to slow down and recognise negative patterns I needed to overcome. It taught me how to respond positively instead of reacting impulsively. The best part was, it eased my anxiety, improved my attention, empathy, and listening skills.

I love to meditate with relaxing scents around me. And for this I use Scentered products, the Escape balm is my favourite. As the online description says, it lifts my spirits. You can find out more about it here(Please note that this is an affiliate link where I get credit for referring you)

5. Exercise / Yoga!
After physiotherapy to strengthen my abdominal muscles again, I was so focused on lifting weights that yoga was at the back of my mind. In fact, a yoga teacher had said not to do yoga until my scar had healed properly.  

When I finally went back to yoga, a year later, I cried and remembered how much I loved the feeling after doing yoga. 

Without movement, stress lingers in the body. It hangs around far longer than it needs to, unless you take the (physical) steps to clear it out of your body. The next time you’re stressed, try going for a run or doing some yoga or simply taking a walk around the block. 

Even better, make a daily habit of exercising so that stress never has the opportunity to stick around longer than necessary.

6. Find a song that makes you go places.
We all have a song that makes us light up, gives us goose bumps, and makes us forget about the rest of the world for a few minutes. 

Keep these songs handy. When you need a break, all it takes is to plug your earphones in and listen. 

Sometimes all it takes is to let go, surrender, and maybe sing like no one is watching.

Sometimes all it takes is to let go, surrender, and maybe sing like no one is watching.

As you can see, these are all easily achievable no matter how busy you are. Whatever you decide to do, dedicating time to yourself is essential to de-stress and rejuvenate.

The aim is to do small, purposeful practices throughout the day to truly make your moments count.

Rita x

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