(i) engage with an activity that you have till now been
(ii) explore your emotions that may have
become stuck or persistent, e.g. depression and anxiety
plan a daily routine that will nourish your mind, body and
* I have come to appreciate that the term
'spirit' can be off-putting if you are not remotely religious. If
this word conjures up hippies and meditation, or bible bashers,
you can simply replace that word with 'nourish' - after all,
whether you are inclined to connect with a god or guru, or simply
enjoy listening to a piece of music, it is all nourishment that
makes us feel good, and is a welcome distraction.
Tips for dealing with depression (for deeper
or longer term depression - professional help should be sought
The Motivational Speaker, Xandria Ooi
has come up with her own set of techniques for bringing
herself back to feeling happy. They may not be a cure, but
could be a welcome distraction and the beginning of a daily
routine of working with them throughout the day.
5 practices for being happy
Step 1. Focus on your objective, this could be very simple -
to be happy
Step 2. Focus on what you are grateful for in
your life, rather than saying to yourself "If only I had more
money, or a nicer house, or the latest smart phone..." My
grateful list includes - my loving partner, our dog and our
home, my health... the list is endless.
Step 3. Accept all
your emotions and don't treat them like the enemy. Your
emotions are part of you and will come and go, whether that is
feeling happy or sad.
Step 4. Give yourself good vibes.
This is especially helpful if you currently live alone. Why
wait for that other person to call you? or the latest 'like'
on your recent facebook page to fill good about yourself. You
could wait a long time to get some positive vibes or
acknowledgement. For me, dressing up in nice clothes, using
the best cups for drinking tea or coffee and gathering flowers
from the local fields, are all activities that give me good
Step 5. Think about life as being a celebration,
anything else treat as a lesson to learn something about
yourself. For example, this morning I became annoyed when I
thought I had lost this document. Because I had spent several
hours developing these ideas I felt justified in feeling
angry. However, I caught myself in time, walked away from the
computer, made a coffee, sat back down and finally found the
document. A lesson in patience for me.
Engaging with your emotions
One technique I use
with my client work is to encourage them to be in touch with
the hurt part of themselves. For example, one client whom as a
child received very little love from his parents and so grew
up suffering from long bouts of depression and feeling angry.
In our work together he began to learn to love his own
internal child. 'self parenting' is the therapy speak for
engaging our internal parent to comfort and love the 'inner
child' that is hurting.
If you have ever experienced
that feeling of being cut off from your emotions, numb, or on
the point of tears but not being able to cry - I certainly
have from time to time, this is most likely a deep part of you
that is crying out for some attention.
technique is very simply but very poweful. Allow yourself the
luxury of time to complete the exercise, allow the emotions to
surface and then allow time also to recover. Be extra kind to
yourself for the rest of your day, give yourself plenty of
Take a blank pad or piece of paper, lined
or unlined, doesn't matter and some colouring pencils if you
have them, or a standard one colour biro pen will suffice. The
idea is to draw pictures or write some words using your
non-dominant hand. This helps to engage the child in you, and
I know from experience, seeing that spidery writing and those
child-like drawings will certainly remind you of what it means
to be a child again. One of my male clients did this in one of
our sessions. He cried for a long time, and once the tears had
faded a little, and with my in-put, he engaged his own inner
parent with the author of the drawings and words. The parent
spoke softly to his child and apologised for not talking with
him sooner, the child became pacified, drew a few more words
on the page to say thank you. My client felt like a huge
weight had lifted from his shoulders after this exercise. He
repeated this techinque at home whenever he felt stuck and
numb inside. If you don't connect with this exercise, or the
emotions don't surface, accept that process and put down the
pen. Allow yourself to be still for a while and imagine
yourself as three years old again. Then again, pick up the
pencil or pen and begin to draw or write whatever comes to
mind. Keep the work of your child, put them up on display. Be
proud of them, and of him/her, and tell them so everyday.
are becoming ever more popular. I love the work of comedienne
and actress Ruby Wax, who is very open about her own journey
of living with manic depression. Through the work of
mindfullness she has learnt to accept and overcome her own
emotions. Check out her books, 'A Mindfullness guide for the
frazzled' and her more recent volume 'How to be human, the
manual'. She is stunningly frank about the depth of despair
she has had to work through, and continues to fight what
Winston Churchill called, the Black Dog of depression. And
because of her honesty I find her work refreshing and
encouraging. The exercise below for anxiety comes from her
book, 'How to be Human`. Anxiety
The state of your body is often a reflection of your
emotions and thoughts etc, vice versa. If you manage to let go
of tension by general exercise you will notice that not just
your muscles loosen up but also your thoughts and emotions.
This is a two step distraction technique.
Hunch your shoulders, look down, frown and walk slowly, even
shuffle. Shorten your breathing. Notice the influence it has
on your thoughts and emotions. Don't spent too long on this I
don't want to make you feel worse!
Step 2. Stand
upright, shoulders straight, chest out, walk confidently and
smile (no-one can see you, just try it!).
difference? You can't always snap out of anxiety or deep
depression but you can certainly try to lift your spirits by
experimenting with your posture.
Another techinque I
have used with clients who are feeling anxious about an aspect
of their lives, especially with those who are frozen with fear
about 'doing the right thing!'. Being
in the here and now
Sit quietly, and allow yourself
to sense the emotions, accept them as they surface. Have a
dialogue with that emotion, ask, "what are you trying to tell
me? Reply to that part of you as a nurturing parent would to a
child, "I hear your anxiety, and am hear to help you". Hear
their reply, thank it again and ask, "Is there anything else
you need?" Allow this dialogue to continue for a while. Often
the anxiety is about an event that hasn't even happened yet
and therefore you may need to reassure the anxious self that
you will be there every step of the way. When it looks like
the anxious self is settled, thank him/her and reassure them
that you will be there for them any time they need to reach
Guided meditations are also helpful if you
can learn to engage the anxious self in some relaxation. You
may need to do the 'here and now' technique first and as a
reward settle him/her down with a favourite beverage and then
some relaxtion time. There are numerous organisations on-line
who offer free practises of meditation, Bramah Kumaris for
example, and for a small fee, institutes such as the Udemy
academy offer short classes in techniques.
Distracting yourself from procrastinating
sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact it is a techinque used by
psychologists and hypnotherpists to engage their clients into
achieving what they are most fearful of. For perfectionists,
that fear is most likely failure. And for others, the
anxiousness is maybe the feeling of overwhelment of the task
at hand. Generally the advice for taking on a large task is to
break it down into smaller tasks, then step by step, do
whatever is required. But, if you dread taking it on in the
first place you have to come up with a strategy for achieving
your goal, i.e. getting the job done.
Ask yourself the
first two questions and then based on the answers engage with
1. What is the importance of achieving this
task? It could be purely asthetic - like getting the ceiling
on the bedroom painted or getting a quote written up and sent
to a client.
2. Rate it on a scale of 1-5, 1 being not so
urgent, and 5 being very urgent. For me, the quote would be
more important as without the quote I won´t get the client,
and in the longer term I won´t get paid.
yourself starting the task, gathering all the tools and
material you will require, then imagine yourself conducting
all the processes towards completion.
4. What will
completing the task look like, how will you feel and behave
after achieving this task.
5. What will the final outcome
be if you complete the task. What will that look like, how
will you feel, behave etc.
The final points, points 4
and 5, are crucial steps. At these two stages you are engaging
with your future self. Seeing yourself starting, taking
actions and completing the task, will most likely make you
feel happy and satisfied.
Create a treat programme along with a daily
I strongly believe, that just like our dogs
and cats, we humans are all motivated more if we have a treat
lined up. Also, by creating a structure to your day will help
you through the challenge of getting stuff done; you know what
I mean, the kind of activities that you have been busy
avoiding for far too long. If I have an important email to
send out that involves a quote, pictures, and general
explantory texts I give myself plenty of time and when I feel
most awake. For me, that is normally before 10am in the
morning. Firstly, I set my alarm for 7am, have my first treat
of the day, a cup of coffee. And then settle down to my
computer. I will fail most miserably at the first post if I
allow myself the luxury of looking at my social media pages.
So I don't open them up until I have completed the email quote
etc. For that same reason I also place my mobile phone as far
from my pc as possible, I don't check any non urgent emails
either. The quietness of the early morning is an inspiration
for me to start work. I appreciate you may be different to me.
I know some friends that don't start work before 10am as they
literally can't concentrate that early in the morning. So my
question to you is, when are you most productive?
the quote is taking longer than usual, maybe because I can't
source all the prices from suppliers or all the images, I will
break off after about 1.5 hours, probably for about 30 mins.
During this time I will have some breakfast, maybe check any
facebook messages from overnight. And then get started again.
Once I have completed the quote I will reward myself with a
second coffee and a nice hot shower!
Making a list of
weekly tasks may seem a bit mundane but better the tasks are
written down than you (conveniently!) forgetting about them.
For me, having a list in front of me, in my own handwriting,
means I am committed in some way of tackling what is on the
list. A daily practise for nourishing your
mind, body and spirit
Zen monks in their day to day
lives perform a series of rituals that help them to:
maintain a focus, in the here and now
- engage with their
- relate to the other monks
engage with their minds and bodies during activities such as
exercise, meditation and general leisure pursuits
not suggesting we should all become Zen Monks but what I would
like you to take from the following practises is a new
perspective on how to engage your mind, body and spirit as you
go about your daily lives. To cover every part of a working
day will fill up many many pages. I am only going to cover the
main aspects of a day, from waking up, to the first meal,
first exercise, first mind activity of the day, to the final
few minutes before going to sleep. Everything else in between
is a repeat of an earlier meal, activity etc.
just suggestions that I find helpful, you don't have to do all
of them, or any of them, I just want to give you some basic
ideas for how to engage daily with your mind, body and spirit.
Upon waking - I allow a few minutes to give thanks to
the new day, and then once out of bed perform five minutes of
stretches for my arms, back and shoulders, legs etc. I focus
on the here and now as I peform each stretch, feeling the
stretch of the back fully as I go down, and then feel the
release as I go back up. If my mind wanders I gently bring it
back to the here and now.
First treat - mine is a
coffee, followed by a hot shower. I make this a self awareness
exercise. I feel the warmth of the drink as I swallow and
smell the coffee!!'; and as I shower, I feel the warm water ,
followed by the soap against my skin. I personally could
stay there alday as I just love the sensation of the warmth of
the water and the smell of the fresh soap gel. But time to get
First activity - out of respect for my partner or
other users I wash down the surfaces where the soap and water
has rested. I love this gesture. I don't think anyone relishes
stepping into a shower that has evidence of the previous user.
The same applies to the use of the toilet and sink. Both can
be cleaned in a very short space of time.
activity - making the bed. I do this as early as possible as I
love the comfort of knowing that the bed is ready for me when
I most need it again.
First meal - I love breakfast,
some people don't participate in eating until about lunchtime,
but I can't survive that long without eating. I consider
eating when I am hungry is taking care of my essential needs.
I am not suggesting that you have to count the number of chews
before swallowing - although this ritual is used in meditation
retreats. But I would suggest is that you are mindful of what
you are eating. I know, like me, some of you have the habit of
checking your facebook messages whilst eating a meal. Nothing
really wrong with that, but do I remember what I have eaten?
Of course not. But being mindful of the flavours and textures,
and of course giving thanks for where the food came from
doesn't hurt either. Cleaning up the breakfast table is the
final ritual before starting work. I love the feeling that the
table is clean and ready for the next meal of the day.
Work activity - as my computer has all my social media
options I do have to be strict with myself, and not indulge in
those options until later in the day. I might check client
messages from our work facebook page, along with client
emails. Being totally engaged with work when you have a dog
isn't easy, and those of you with pets or young children will
know how they can be distracting. For that reason, not
aforementioned, we take our dog for a walk before our
breakfast, then give her a small snack. And before settling
down to work we make sure she has a bone to chew on. This is
her comforter, and with any luck she will have a morning nap.
Exercise - at least three times a week we set aside 30
minutes for more active exercise than the general stretches
upon waking. Again, we aim to be mindful of what the exercise
is doing for our body, rather than watching the clock to see
when it is time to stop.
The day continues pretty much
in the same pattern - more work activities, walking the dog
before our lunch, taking lunch - sensing that the food is
nourishing our bodies and then, after feeling well digested,
we clear the table. This is followed by more work activities
or study period up until about 5pm. And at least one tea break
One point to make before we discuss the
evening events, and the bedtime ritual. Engaging with my
partner when he has a lot to deal with in his working day, has
to be an agreed effort. If I am on my phone during our time
together, which is mostly at meal times and always in the
evenings, I feel it is disrespectful to him that I would
rather engage with someone else, who isn't physically in the
room, than give him my full attention. I also thank him
heartily if he has cooked the evening meal.
try to end the working day before dinner time, around 6.30. By
then our dog is laying flat out asleep which gives us time to
catch up on our working day. I may do some kind of meditation
or have a nap befoe dinner, but that is sometimes a luxury if
work is busy. But when I have time I feel it is a good
practice to indulge- especially as it does help me to switch
off from the working day. After dinner we may watch some tv
news and comment as most couples do, or engage with a shared
interest programme. I personally try not to engage with news
items (mostly bad news these days) a few hours before going to
bed, and for that reason I won't engage with social media
close to retiring. I feel the news and the active engagement
on facebook disturbs my sleep pattern. Again, this is me
taking care of my mind and body.
A quick word about
social media before I sign off here - I have personally chosen
to leave some facebook shared interest pages as the content
became agressive, petty and just a waste of energy. I have now
chosen interests that really nourish me, e.g. creative fan
pages that excite my artistic self.
I often aim to
retire to bed before 11pm. Quality sleep is of great
importance for my mind and body. I have such a busy mind
during the day and by 10.30pm I am very ready to switch off my
brain. I give thanks for my day as l lay my head on the
pillow and generally after ten minutes I have drifted into my
own dream land.
So that is my day, again they are just
suggestions, if you can take at least one useful tip from this
I will feel this article has been beneficial.
keep us informed of your progress with your own strategies for
staying positive and healthy in this current climate. You can
write to me via emai,
or via facebook messenger, under
the banner, Natural Joki Flow.
Edificio Pluma Comercial, Rua Dr. Teofilo Braga 17.
1st floor, door 5