Well-Being Tips For February and A Big Welcome to Lucy Thompson
A fresh year, a fresh new start and what better way to head into 2021 than with a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself in these difficult times. I am thrilled to introduce well-being expert, yogi instructor, breathwork and massage professional and nutritional therapist, Lucy Thompson to Love French Style Blog.
Lucy runs the successful yoga school and café, French Yoga Garden in Charroux in Vienne, France and organises retreats, yoga sessions and online classes for her many students. Lucy and I are going to be sharing her advice and tips for well being on various themes over the next few months and we really hope they help you to put things into perspective and achieve everything you dream of this year.
So, if you quite rightly thought that this year you already had more than enough to deal with to be setting yourself unrealistic goals and resolutions then we hope that the articles we are going to share with you allow you to move forward in a positive, gentle way.
Over to you Lucy –
Thanks Katie – I am super excited to be contributing here on Love French Style. I am a self-confessed pop-health geek! There I said it – there’s no denying it! After spending 20 years in health and wellbeing communications, working with experts and working on anything from HIV Clinical trials to the London Marathon – with ‘A’ lister skincare on Vogue in the middle – I’ve developed quite and ear for fad vs fiction. I love a good health story but I love it even more when there’s some science to back it up and more so when I see something really working for myself or others. So in this blog I’m not going to be to professing or mandating health protocols in anyway – think of me more as a curious curator, holding a hand out to catch and then offer up the latest thoughts, advice and considerations in health and wellbeing. I’ll be discussing topics and teachings from not only my own disciplines but new thoughts, developments and tips from other health related fields and from other leading experts to do with the mind, body and breath, insights to help all of us live our best lives.
We are now entering a whole new year and almost a whole year living with Coronavirus. It’s been long and hard for all of us and many of you may be finding it hard to move on from 2020 and everything that it brought to you. For some of us, that may be a case of having so many restrictions on our everyday lives that we may now feel anxious about the future. For others, we may have actually lost family or friends to the pandemic and are struggling to cope with that loss.
Whatever our situation – we’ve all lost on some level but hopefully gained on others. Perhaps gained some personal time, cracked projects you never had time to tick off your list, had more family time, learned a new skill etc. With any new year there’s often a sense of renewed hope and we must keep that glimmer alive. However, I am totally of the school where we need to keep things real and play our own part in shaping our futures – I say let’s give ourselves some credit – take back some power and play a role in making things better this year…..and things don’t change unless we do things differently. Or for a moment making it personal – things won’t change for you unless you do things differently!
But where do you start? Here we are going to deep-dive on how we can change…if it’s even possible to change to make things different in our lives and what we can do to shift mindset and get things moving again…..
Well change starts now – February is a great place to start. The best time to start I feel….A few year’s ago I stopped making new year resolutions – people are meant to evolve and learn, adapt and grow all the time – that’s the joy of being human. So once we stop being overly optimistic and putting tons of pressure on ourselves to crack something in January, whether that’s to stop drinking and get fitter or simply to start a new habit – then we can give ourselves a fighting chance. Why? Well often we’ve over-indulged, clocked up some impressive sofa time and have generally stagnated – we are not in the right mindset to go from feast to famine, from all to nothing and we need time to digest the closing of the year. The weather is rubbish, it’s cold and as we’ve often raced to the end of the year – often no proper building blocks have been put in place to give ourselves the best chance of success.
So what can you do to change your chances of success? With January now out of the way, take this time to build a good foundation for the year ahead to avoid falling into the same mindset that may have held you back last year.…mindset is key so let’s start there:
⁃Take a bit of timeout to take stock. We’ve all been affected in some way or another by the extraordinary external forces blindsiding each of us during 2020-21. So take a moment – think about what you want to ditch from last year, whether that’s changing a habit, changing your behaviour or changing your job, just have a look back and see what served you well last year and what didn’t.
⁃Disassociate yourself from this – whatever happened, whatever you want to let go of you can – learn from your past experiences and let go. Try not to use your past as a reason to explain who you are, or as something that is fixed and unchangeable. If you still look at a past event or experience and think that happened to me or I am the way I am because of that – then you are excusing yourself and still living in the past. Recognise that you are not the same person anymore and you can change.
Professor Ellen Lenger (1) of Harvard’s Psychology Department – talks brilliantly about this in her book ‘Mindfulness’. She talks about how we all get stuck in patterns and don’t update our own filters and narratives about ourselves. We give ourselves labels….for example people who label themselves as depressed don’t see variability or change in themselves – they don’t see when they are not depressed only that they are, chronically so. And this sort of shapes a person and so they can begin filtering out things that don’t fit that narrative, making it even harder to change. So you can see that our own internal dialogue is really key here.
So how do we get out of this rut and start to change…well imagination is key – beginning to imagine and see yourself as being different, in a different state and dropping those labels. See a better future self and frame it as something possible – it’s much more motivational and powerful to aim for something positive than avoid something negative. Very few people actually imagine their future self. Try it and see if it works for you and let us know. The better view of your future can then become the thing that helps you to drive change, changes your behaviour and help you to putt steps in place to get you to where you want to be. Tell people about it – enable them to make you accountable to your vision, to help you and support you in your quest for change.
Dr. Benjamin Hardy (2) is an organizational psychologist and bestselling author of Willpower Doesn’t Work and Personality Isn’t Permanent. He has a free challenge on his website at the moment called: The Create Your Future Self Project – why not give it a go and see what happens and let us know: https://benjaminhardy.com/
And in the meantime here are six key things to consider when you find yourself slipping into negative thought patterns – or stuck:-
⁃Dial down venting or talking about a situation all the time – it only keeps it in the present
⁃Think about issues or roadblocks and even negative thoughts and emotions as something that is happening in the third person – also known as ‘distanced self talk. For example I could say: ‘Calm down Lucy, you are just angry – it’s not the end of the world’. Talking to yourself like this – as if you were another person altogether – isn’t only calming but it may also enable you to reframe what seems like an impossibility as a challenge, one to which, with your own encouragement, you may be able to rise.
⁃Keep learning from your mistakes and trying new things, small adaptations can make a big difference
⁃Seek out support – doesn’t have to be formal….a good place to start it to join groups online – people who are doing what you want to do or be, and as your own mind starts to change it’ll become easier to connect with more positive people
⁃Consume positive media – I feel we really are what we read and consume so keep it positive and helpful and in line with where you are heading
⁃Develop a simple plan of action and break it down into really small steps and just start. It’s not enough to simply write it out as it’s just a thought until we do something to make it happen. Even if it’s a mistake, you’ll still make progress, and that will keep you focused on creating positive change.
So let’s go for it – come on Spring, we’re getting ready for you!
Ref 1. https://harvardmagazine.com/2010/09/the-mindfulness-chronicles
Ref 2. https://benjaminhardy.com/if-youre-not-getting-what-you-want-in-life-read-this/
The French Yoga Garden, Charroux Vienne. Yoga and well-being retreats in France.
Thank you SO much Lucy, we can’t wait to hear from you again very soon X