Can having a hobby, make us happier humans ?

I remember the day I came to the realisation I didn’t have any actual hobbies. It was during a disagreement with an ex around the subject of time together on a Saturday.  Every Saturday he would spend it playing football, watching football, learning to play his guitar, or playing badminton. I brought up the subject of how maybe some Saturdays he could spend them not doing these things. This is when I was told  “I wouldn’t understand because I didn’t have any Hobbies.”

Taken aback I replied of course with…” Errrr,.. yes I do, I have plenty.” (  Shopping for an outfit and going out drinking was a hobby right ?! )  Which furiously took me to my phone to tell the girls, and seek reassurance from them by asking what their hobbies were.

A hobby Is a pretty broad term, people define it differently, but I suppose to me a hobby should be an activity that we enjoy, that you do for leisure, in your spare time.  And something you can learn and grow from.  I suppose then I didn’t have any real hobbies. I mean finding the perfect outfit for the weekend, then drinking till 2 am took some serious skill, but I wasn’t learning or growing from it.

So fast forward three years and I would definitely say I have more of a range of hobbies. Writing and starting this blog a few months ago being one. But maybe I still don’t have many, considering all of the amazing things we now have around us ready to learn and try out, ( rather than just absorbing into Netflix). Don’t get me wrong, watching a TV series on Netflix is a hobby in it’s own right, and one of my favourite past times, but it’s not one we would put on a CV.

I remember always thinking my ex was a pretty happy go lucky person, he enjoyed his Saturdays learning new chords on the guitar, and passionately shouting at the football.  His hobbies seemed to make him happy. Which led me on to think maybe having a hobby can make you a happier person, and here are some reasons why.

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1) They de- stress you

Us humans work/study hard, some of us putting in a hefty 52 hours a week. To have something we do regularly, to take our mind off of the things we ‘have to do,’  is the ideal release from working life.   People don’t tend to choose hobbies that make them angry. Painting, writing, swimming, are all activities that relax the mind. Hobbies are like mediation they keep you present and both things lead to a more content mind.


2) They give you a sense of achievement

Learning a new language, playing a new song on a musical instrument, or completing your first painting, must give you a real glow inside. They give you a sense of reward, help you grow, and therefore boost your confidence which can only lead to feeling happier.


3) You meet new people or connect with like minded friends

My friend told me that his biggest reason for enjoying golf ,is it facilitates him getting together with other people who also share a love for the sport. The social aspect of playing a sport and having fun with others, always leaves you with a feel good feeling after.


4) You get to show case your talents

If your hobby includes something you excel at, i.e drawing, singing, cooking, playing a sport, it’s a chance to show case your talents.  Either through social media, during a game, performing for loved ones or just impressing yourself.   It feels good to practice and excel at something.


5) It can help your mental health

Dopamine and Oxytocin are just two hormones that are released  when we are doing an activity we like, which are associated with reward and satisfaction.  Having a creative outlet can give you some joy and the more time spent away from thinking about work, or doing work at home the better ( common sense. )  When your alarm goes off to get up for work the majority of us want to press snooze, if it went off to start a hobby we love, I’m sure we would not feel the same.  Immersing yourself in a hobby is a great path back to happiness.


So there you have it, I think having a hobby or two could make us all feel that little bit less stressed and happier.  So try and find something you enjoy, dig out an old hobby or start a new one. I’m off to try my hand at some painting with water colours ( and pretend I know what I’m doing )  ……….wish me luck.

Happy Hobby-ing  XOXO

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Happy LOVE ( yourself ) DAY

Roses are red, violets are blue, try loving yourself, before asking someone else to.

Ok, ok, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s the day of love. So, with love in the air today and being someone who blogs about wellness and recovery, self-love is something I wanted to delve into a little more.

Now we have all heard the saying, ‘’ If you can’t love yourself, you can’t truly love another.’’ I used to think this was just some cliché statement adults used, when they didn’t like your boyfriend choices. But as I have grown and matured, I now realise just how true this statement is.  Like so many of us growing up, I would say my self-esteem was low, maybe this is pretty common for any teen/early twenty something trying to find their place in the world.  But I found my low self-esteem opened me up to fake friendships, jobs I could do better than, and settling for toxic relationships.  I wouldn’t attend job interviews I wanted as I was sure I wouldn’t be able to do the job.  I would waste time in unhealthy and unhappy relationships as I was to scared to be alone.  And I spent time with people who just drained the life from me.  I had no idea at the time, that this all stemmed from a place of,  ‘lack of self-love’.

Self-love impacts so many areas of our life, our relationships, our careers, the friendships we maintain and social situations we surround ourselves in. So of course the statement of loving yourself first, is vital to an all rounded happier life. After a lot of realisation, growth, confidence building and of course maturing, I find myself in a place where I like (love) my imperfect self. And I know both my faults and pros and I’m ok with them.

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Here are a few tips I found were vital in my own self-esteem and growth journey.

1) Cut out (down) time spent around negative people.

Ok don’t ditch your pal Sally who’s going through a bad break up, but I mean cut down on time with those people who are always negative or seem to find the joy in finding the worst in everything. Negativity is contagious, and it spreads like wild fire, emotionally, mentally and physically.  You may find yourself surprisingly happier when you cut down on time spent on these kinds of friendships.


2) Remind yourself daily of what you did that was great today.

Some days I can go to bed with a smile on my face knowing I have made a small difference, I work with young people from troubled backgrounds and knowing iv had a small breakthrough that day, can make me feel proud for perseverance. Other days I got out of bed, I washed my hair, and turned up when I really didn’t want to.  Not as impressive, but you know what, you achieved something – So remind yourself daily how well you are doing. Tell yourself something great you did today.


3) Leave unhealthy/unhappy relationships

Ok that’s a big one, you may not feel ready to leave, but I mean, if you have really tried everything possible, communicated with this person how you feel, if there’s no change, don’t waste precious years of your life with toxic people who do not value you. Let go of people who do not add substance to your life. You don’t need a relationship to define yourself or your identity and you defiantly don’t need one that does not show you love, respect and value your worth.


4) Stand up for yourself. Be assertive

Is there someone in your life who you feel, talks to you in a way that really de values you. Whether it’s a boss/colleague at work, a partner or a friend, if you don’t like the way someone is treating you, communicate this today. Letting someone speak down to you, no matter their position, while you sit in silence is a confidence destroyer. In time being spoken to disrespectfully will dig away at your self-esteem. Now I’m not saying go into work today all guns blazing, but when I feel I am treated unfairly now, I will calmly let that person know its not ok with me, set your boundaries and value yourself. Confidence stays intact.


5) Try something new – Anything-

I can be a real creature of comfort, change used to petrify me.  But I found getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new, gives your inner self a little boost, and a sense of proudness that doing the same safe thing over and over can’t always do. Now I am forever wanting to try new things. Those things you usually hand over to others because you can’t do it. Try it. That exercise class you’d love to join but your to nervous to go alone, Join it. That job you want but you’re to scared to be interviewed for. Go for it.  You may not succeed first time but your inner self will thank you when you do.


6) Stop comparing yourself 

I spoke in a previous post about how comparing your recovery journey to others, can rob any joy you have. How comparing will steal your joy . This is relevant also when discussing building your own self esteem.

Do not compare your situation today to Sue and Pete and their perfect valentines pictures all over Facebook.  Social media is not a true reflection of what is going on in peoples life’s. Be so focused on yourself and making yourself happy ( and those you love ) that a picture of Sue and Pete only makes you feel happy for them, not compare yourself.  Focus on yourself, how far you have come, and your own results, this will both motivate you and boost yourself esteem.


7) Stay in the now

We often visualise loving ourselves once we get the man we want, once we are in the ideal career, or when we at the weight we desire.  Although having goals are great, start working on liking yourself as you are ! Right now! Today! And the rest will follow. 


It took me a few wrong relationships and a lot of self-improvement to find a romantic love I am happy with. But more importantly I am happy with the relationship I have built with myself.

So rather than just telling someone else today how brilliant, loved and amazing they are. Tell yourself to. How great you are. How fab you are doing.
Its not selfish, self indulgent or stupid. It’s vital.

” The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone else to love the you, YOU love, well…………..

That’s just fabulous.”

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Are you a negative Nancy or a positive Poppy today……?

Turning negatives into positives.

I remember working in the country side, It was a mild-march morning, a Tuesday and I’d arrived at work for 8am.  As I approached the long cobbled lane, I’d see a glimpse of the beautiful old building I worked in, the lushness’ of green country views and playful lambs. I felt grateful for mild march mornings, the never-ending views, working in an old historic building and the smell of flowers all around.

Week two. It was a mild March morning, a Tuesday, I arrived at work for 8 am, I drove up the same cobbled lane, I saw an old bleak building, dull flat views, I felt the cold breeze of a mild march morning, and the animals looked glum. I didn’t notice the flowers.

Same time. Same place. Same views. Different mind-set.

I’ve always been an analyser and an over thinker.  Both a curse and a blessing.  The positives that come with being an over thinker are; they tend to be creative people, problem solvers, and more thoughtful. I can relate to this, as I weigh up how others may feel a lot, I’ve also been told I’m insightful and intuitive in my work.   But the not so great side of this, is struggling with unhelpful and negative thoughts,  and over analysing the smallest of situations. I struggled with this for years.       

As a teen I would apply for a new exciting job, spend hours researching the company, shopping for the perfect interview outfit.  The night before I would become so anxious my brain would run riot with thoughts, which would usually conclude in, ‘’There was just no point in me going to that interview. ’’

Another example of over thinking,  I would see an old work friend in the street, Rather than naturally saying hello. I’d think, should I say hello? Does she even like me? Do I smile or just ignore her, encase she doesn’t smile back at me?   Over thinkers will relate.  Simple tasks, become not so simple.  I’m not sure when this changed, maybe my self esteem grew, maybe being around more positive people helped, or years of battling the negative thoughts, I finally won.

But these past couple of weeks, I’m post surgery and learning to walk again with (broken) leg and new alignment, negative thoughts have tried to creep back in.  I don’t like playing the victim or complaining like a martyr, but we all know that when you’re in a place of pain and sadness, you can become immersed in your own world.  I know life’s not all rainbows and butterflies,  I’m not Mary Poppins, the world is full of negativity and injustice, I see most of it everyday in my work.  But when my own unhealthy thought pattern, can weigh me down, both mentally and physically, and affects others round me. I know I need to do something to change my mind-set, ( before It grips tighter). 

So, I thought I’d write a list of the re-occurring negative thoughts Iv been having this week, and try and give them a spin, a better way of looking at things. First Thought;


           I can’t bear the idea of people having to care and do so many small things for me.

Try and enjoy being waited on – Your own chef, cleaner ?  That would be bliss to many people.


It is so much time off work, I’ll go stir crazy, they may replace me.  I’m going to lose my mind sitting here.  

Finally the opportunity to investigate that business idea you’ve always wanted to explore. Time to get into that new series you always complained you had no time to start. Get productive.


What if it goes wrong, what if I cant walk again, what if I’m worse off from deciding on having this operation.

Don’t meet trouble half way- Keep focusing on how far you’ve come. You’re  doing great.


I’m no where near as far as that girl, I can’t lift, I can’t bend, I cannot move, I can’t manage- I’m failing already.

Don’t compare, it is not a race, you’re doing your best. Keep going.


I can’t cope with this pain I can’t do it, it’s too hard learning to walk again, just cut this stupid leg off, I’ll never manage it.

Well you have no choice, so get on with it, pain doesn’t last forever . Don’t be ungrateful for your leg ( tough self-love)


 

You may feel a bit nuts at first writing down your own battling thoughts, but give it a go, surgery related or not.  Trying to think more positive isn’t about pretending you’re never ever in pain, or that you’re  never in a negative mood. Without the pain and the sadness, we would have nothing to compare the good times with. We need a balance.  But trying to overcome unhelpful, negative thoughts, its about giving yourself a better chance of a good day.

It feels better to now be the girl who smiled at that old friend……

than be the girl who didn’t smile back x

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How comparing will steal your joy .

Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous game, which brings you little, to no joy.  Luckily, Iv never been one to feel envy or competitiveness in everyday life.  But since my operation just 6 days ago, Iv found myself worrying profusely, where I should be, at this stage of recovery, in comparison to others.  I think it began at the hospital, when the nurse told me on day 1 ” You should be using your crutches, not me supporting your leg you know”  whilst I sat crying in pain, as it was the first time I had moved since the operation.  At this point I hadn’t even seen a physiotherapist to show me how to use crutches safely, so she was wrong,  but I still worried about the words  ”should be.”   On day 3 I felt extreme nausea from the pain and the physiotherapist said, ” You should be lifting your leg alone, as your going home today.”  And I thought should I ?!  Well I couldn’t.  On the day I was discharged  I felt wobbly and sick, which is obviously expected, Id just had my leg broken and screwed back together.   But on arriving home, using crutches, one wrong move, and I felt my leg give way from under me, I hit the pavement.  Iv never felt pain like it.  And as I laid in the street, I thought ” You should be doing better than this ”

So it hasn’t been the best of weeks, but of course no first post surgery week ever is.  But to make matters worse when I got home and recovered from the fall,  I spent most of my time looking online at others who have had this operation, ( a TTT & MPFL reconstruction) to see what stage they were at by day 5.  Yes this is great for guidance, advice and support, but the direct comparisons made me feel awful.   I had others telling me how high they could lift their leg by day 3, or how far they could bend it on day 4, when I was finding both IMPOSSIBLE to do. 

My mood dropped, I felt anxious, sad.  I had done that to myself.

When you compare your journey to someone else’s, you instantly set yourself up to feel unhappy, But I’ve woken up today with a clearer mind and with a vow to start over.   I have learnt from this. And I know learning to walk again in an alignment my leg has never been since birth, is going to be strange, painful and slow. I understand that my lack of patience and comparing,  is really just a fear that I wont get to where I want to be. Which I will.  Maybe not as soon as ‘Sue’ and her bendy leg.  But I’ll get there.

So whether you find yourself comparing your surgery recovery, your mental health recovery, that new mums waist line to yours, or just the place you are in, in life.   When you catch yourself doing this. STOP.  And tell yourself, we are all on our own journeys, at our own pace, and as long as we are trying our best to reach our own realistic goals, then that’s all we can do.


A better focus is on what you are already blessed with, and how far you have actually come.  As I mentioned last Sunday, Sundays are a great time to re-energise, reflect and re focus.  Looking at both what you have achieved, and that you are grateful for, no matter how bad the week has been, (just look a little harder.)   This week for me, I

Achieved;

Going through with an operation that I have put off since the age of 17.

I managed to walk to the bathroom on crutches (no brace) on day 2, which on day 1, I never thought I would do.

I managed to bounce back from a nasty fall quite quickly.

I haven’t cried today (so far)


Grateful for;

My boyfriend –  So far he’s been my rock, carer, chef, cleaner and my best friend.

My friends and family – For the cards, support and little pick me ups. I am aware of what a privilege this is.

The kindness of strangers – When I fell in the street, two strangers helped my boyfriend carry me to my sofa, they couldn’t bend my leg and I was making no sense, so it was very slow and they were so patient and kind.

Peppermint tea and ginger biscuits – Try these for nausea. God send.

My kitten –  Despite trying to jump near my leg, the one place she shouldn’t, she means well, and her little morning purrs have made me smile.


So give it a go yourself,  put pen to paper, and if you to, have been comparing your journey to others, then start over today.  Remember a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. 

It just blooms. x