Tag Archives: happiness

How to Keep Calm and Carry On – During Times of Stress and Anxiety

Lately, especially lately, the world seems to be bursting at the seams with stress.
Life is fast-paced, aggressive, selfish, and anxious…and
we have to try and stay calm when everything about us appears to be falling apart.

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World events, local events, and even familial situations are rarely under our own control and we can feel like we’re drowning, so how can you take control and remain calm under pressure?

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© Lisa Shambrook

Mindfulness and Meditation: I am only just beginning to learn about each of these. Both offer techniques to centre yourself. I used to think I could never try meditation because I had no idea how to empty my mind, but I have learned that meditation is more about harnessing your thoughts, bringing them back to you, and accepting who you are. When my thoughts wander during meditation, as they will, I can recognise that they are and refocus, bringing myself back, focussing on my breathing and my presence.

I am learning that knowing myself and loving myself helps me immensely to remain a calmer person. It also helps that my daughter has been studying Buddhism which has some beautiful teachings. My favourite was something she told me from a Buddhist friend:
Imagine yourself as a mountain and your thoughts as clouds, let them drift by…

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© Lisa Shambrook

Anchoring: I have used anchoring for many years without really understanding it. Generally using an anchoring technique means to recall a time in your life when you were calm, in control, and happy, and focus on that moment, and combine it with a physical sensation like pinching your thumb and forefinger together. Then when you feel stressed, if you recreate that physical sensation by pinching your thumb and forefinger together you will recall the moment you felt in control and calm, thus restoring a sense of peace.

I have a stim/totem that I clasp and smooth between my fingers when I feel anxious and it helps to calm me. I’ve carried acorn cups and hazelnut halves about with me for years and years, they reside in all my pockets, and I have a compulsion to collect them when I’m out and about… Being able to channel a memory of a happy time and combine it with this action/stim is anchoring, and it really helps!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Go for a Walk: Take time out, remove yourself from the place of stress, get outside and into nature – all good advice to help you stay sane. I find nature a hugely calming influence, and it gives you space, both literally and figuratively. I’ve written before about harnessing Nature’s Antidepressants and it’s true that the natural environment can inspire and calm you. And remember it’s free, so, get out there and take your fill…

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© Lisa Shambrook

Gain a different perspective: When you’re stressed, anxious, or panicked, try and analyse how you’re looking at your situation. I tend to worry and dwell on the ‘what ifs’, my husband can embrace change and looks at the positives. If you are a negative thinker, then switch perspectives. Ask yourself if you can change anything about your position, if there is, do it, if not then you need to accept the circumstances.

We need to understand the idea behind the Prayer of Serenity: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Some things are out of our control and we cannot change them we just have to go through them, but some we can, and we need to embrace the times we can change and take control of our destinies.

It’s important to note that we do have to go through many things we cannot change, and we should do that with courage and, hopefully, positivity. The most damaging advice I ever had was to visualise my problems and if I couldn’t change them then put them in an imaginary box and close the lid. It doesn’t work, and eventually you’ll end up with an imaginary cupboard full of boxes of things you’ve never been able to face. If you have these boxes, and cannot face opening them, ask for help. There are many therapies and counselling that can help you confront your deep held demons.

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© Bekah Shambrook

Calm your Environment: These days decluttering is a definite word in our dictionaries. The things within our homes can help define our moods. Now, I quite like mess to a degree, I’m creative and like bits and pieces everywhere, but it can go too far. I don’t like to be surrounded by rubbish or negativity. Too much clutter can distract me and bring me down. I have to go through stages of clearing out and decluttering at regular points in my life. I usually use the adage if it doesn’t hold a memory, or make me happy, or I haven’t used or looked for it in two years, then it can go. Except books…I struggle to let books go! Spring cleaning, at any time of the year, can be cathartic and cleansing, and help you create a healthy environment.  

Add beauty to your home, pictures that you love, candles scented with the fragrances that inspire you, flowers, anything that you love. Make your home your sanctuary.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Affirmation: The more you repeat something the more the unconscious mind accepts it, and this goes for both positive and negative intonations, so embrace the positives. Tell yourself something that makes you anxious or stressed will be fun, that you’ll enjoy it, and the chances are that you can alter your perspective!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Let off Steam: Sometimes when we’re stressed we just need to let loose, to release the tension and the pressure. Adrenalin often accompanies stress and anxiety and sometimes you need to ‘run that off’ to coin a phrase. Stamp around the house, yell a bit, get outside and exercise. Listen to music and sing along. Shake it off and rid yourself of nervous tension!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Chocolate: *shrugs* Like I‘ve said many times before, chocolate is a winner. It contains serotonin and can help you relax. Go get a hot chocolate with whipped cream, or grab a bar of chocolate… *grins* Chocolate is good!

What helps you during stressful times? 

Free Spirits and Happiness

I yearn for freedom, for open skies, hills to run, and oceans to swim.
I yearn for the ability to drop everything and escape when life gets too much,
and sometimes I do. Sometimes I need to escape.

Free Spirits and Happiness - The Last Krystallos
My own views on mortality herald free-agency as a major part of our existence, and though life and circumstance does its best to trap us, freedom and reaching for our dreams is the key to happiness.

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© Lisa Shambrook

What is happiness? There’s a quote which says ‘Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.’ Henry David Thoreau. Sometimes we put too much into trying to find happiness when we should be enjoying life as it is, reaching for the stars, and supping at life’s great feast. Happiness can be the simplest of things to some, like bare feet on dewy grass, or the riches of life, like an expensive glass of champagne, to another, but it’s the liberty of choice that offers both of these.

Many of us regard things we own as the things which make us happy. I could list a fair few possessions that I love which make me happy, we all could, but what are the most important things?

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© Lisa Shambrook

They say when you love something you must set it free ‘If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it’s yours; if it doesn’t, it wasn’t. If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ (Commonly attributed to Richard Bach)

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© Lisa Shambrook

There’s a story I remember as a child, a Swedish tale, retold in a picture book I adored. It told the story of The Bird of Happiness. A little boy loses his kite and is upset at its loss. An old man tells him possession is not happiness. Then tells the children the story of a bird, a beautiful golden bird, and it showers a village with happiness. Everyone was happy, and no one was in need while the bird flew and watched over them. Then one day the people began to worry what would happen if the bird ever left, if it forsake them, and they lost their happiness so they decided to build a cage. It was a fine cage, a magnificent cage of pure gold, and while the bird was asleep they trapped it and shut it in the cage.
Every day people came to see the bird, and it was sad, but no one could see. It refused to eat and its golden feathers dulled, and as it paled and greyed a twilight descended over the town. The people became unhappy, and the only thing that shone was the golden bird cage. The bird grew tired and smaller every day.
Then one day the sun stopped shining and the sad town grew quiet, and a flicker of a flame ignited in the cage. Everybody came to see as the bird burned and the fire in the cage grew and spread. The heat melted the gold and the bird suddenly rose in splendour from its ashes, bigger and more beautiful than ever. It circled and then left the town forever.
The old man told the children the bird disappeared and the townspeople had to begin to find happiness on their own. The bird now flies free and every now and then drops a tear or a feather and lights up someone’s life.

My freedoms are important to me, like the bird of happiness, without the ability to be free, to soar and to fly, I could not be happy.

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© Lisa Shambrook

In The Lord of The Rings – The Return of the King: Aragorn asks Eowyn, “What do you fear, lady?” and she responds, “A cage.”

Eowyn needed to escape, to be herself, to be a warrior and a fighter, and to reach for her dreams. My happiness lies in my family, foremost, and in nature, in the ability to write and to read and to escape. Perhaps this is why I like motorbikes, and dragons, and I feel like I have the spirit of a cat!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I fought for many years to become myself, to spread my wings and to fly. I am forever grateful that my children have learned this truth early. Embrace who you are, embrace what makes you happy, don’t worry about being judged by those around you, they need to find themselves, not worry about who you are!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Fight to break those bars, to escape the cage that society places you inside. Your reason for life is you. Know yourself and then you can be the person who lifts and encourages, who inspires and stirs those around you to find themselves too. Be the person who frees others, be the one who cares, be the one who’s there.

Drop your tears and feathers into the lives around you and light up someone’s dark day.

Be happy.

What makes you happy?  

Where is Your Happy Place?

When life is throwing shards of ice at you, your head is ready to explode,
or you are just in a dark, bottomless pit (figuratively – otherwise you’re not going anywhere…), where do you go? Where’s your happy place?

Where is your Happy Place - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos
Last week I blogged about water – it’s my happy place. Where’s yours?

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Feet in the water © Lisa Shambrook

I am happiest when I have my feet in water, down at the beach, letting waves ebb and flow as I splash through the ocean. This is where I am in my element. It revitalises me, lifts me, and energises me. It calms me, relaxes me, and soothes my spirit. Sometimes, if I can’t get to the sea, I can sit by or dabble my feet in a river, and the rush of water will still my senses. The sound, the movement, the texture of water all affect me, and without doubt it’s where I am happiest.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and forests have a similar effect. The magic of trees, bluebells, wild anemones, winding tracks and pathways offer me another place of happiness and retreat. Listening to the wind whisper, fae glancing through flowers, and even trickling streams take me away from the troubles outside and stresses decrease.

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High on a Mountain Top © Lisa Shambrook

My oldest daughter loves mountain tops, the rugged landscape and the freedom of the wind and the air. I, too, feel alive when I stand upon mountains and hillsides!

Where are my other happy places? How do I cope when I can’t get out and throw myself headlong into nature?

My dog and my cats are another safe zone. They have the added bonus of interacting with you too. I’d never known complete unconditional love, until I owned a dog. Her dependence on me is total and she gives me everything. Deep chocolate brown eyes and loyalty that’s unheard of in most creatures, including humans. If things are bad, she knows and she’ll sit beside me with her head on my knees.  She also gets me out, dog walking, and into nature every day! She is my happy place.

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Misty, Raven and Roxy © Lisa Shambrook

My cats, though more conditional with their love, are also there for me. Run your fingers through soft fur and listen to a cat’s purr, and you can’t fail to feel better. One reason why it’s proven that the older generation live longer and happier when they own a pet, is that they give you love and a reason to go on.

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Writing and Art © Lisa Shambrook

My other releases are writingnothing takes me away from stress and trouble than losing myself in another world, in words and places that don’t exist outside my head – and creativity. Making things, stories, or art, or craft, take me to happy places.

All these things, all these happy places can be solitary, or with my family. My family are always welcome in all my happy places – they make my happy places even better!

Where are you happy places?

Where do you go when it’s all too much?

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Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

PS. We probably shouldn’t forget chocolate…that’s always a happy place!

Tell me about your Happy Place…

Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite?

Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite treat?

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite - The Last Krystallos

Velvet luxury, happiness and pure delight – that is chocolate.

This seems to be the right time of year to write about chocolate. A couple of months past that chocolate fest which was Christmas, Valentine last Sunday, and the next chocolate fest of the year, Easter, right around the corner! Yes, rather tongue in cheek – because for me, every day is a chocolate day…or at least every day has chocolate potential!

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite? The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Galaxy, Lindt Strawberry Cheesecake, Nestle Dairy Box, M&S Mint Whips © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve written before about Hot Chocolate, and I’ve literally traipsed around my town seeking out the best Hot Chocolate, but this is pure chocolate…and I want to know which is your favourite?

Hot Chocolate - Chocolate Heaven - The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Hot Chocolate: Calon – Carmarthen, Calon Takeaway, Chocolate Utopia – Nottingham, and Calon © Lisa Shambrook

Chocolate contains chemicals which lift moods. It contains phenylethylamine and tryptophan, which both work as antidepressants by combining with dopamine which is naturally present in your brain, and produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness.

And since chocolate creates happiness, here’s a pic of what chocolate produces – endorphins! “What you see is a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex which creates happiness. Happiness. You’re looking at happiness.” (Shanna Germain FB)

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So, chocolate is a gateway to happiness, can you feel my whimsical adoration of this substance? Why don’t you tell me which chocolate you like best, so if we ever meet, I’ll know what to greet you with!


*Note: I appreciate the chocolates here are probably all British, let me know your favourite bars from wherever you are in the comments! Educate me…

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Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

 

Dreams and how to be Happier

Have you ever wished you could be happier?
Life can be tough, but it’s important to find sunshine even on rainy days.

dreams-and-how-to-be-happy-the-last-krystallos-titleMy bishop spoke on being happy just the other week and, having recently gone to an Emotional and Mental Health Training Day organised by the church I attend, and currently battling depression, I listened with great interest.  What he said made a lot of sense and he later introduced me to the site www.actionforhappiness.org. Action for Happiness has no religious, political or commercial affliations, and welcomes anyone committed to building a happier and more caring society.
Today I’d love to share their GREAT DREAM poster with you:

greatdream_full_400 actionforhappiness.orgSo here we are: Ten Keys to happier living:

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Dan giving blood… © Lisa Shambrook

GIVING Do things for others – They say the best way to forget your own troubles is to help others and give service. There’s an old Hindu proverb: Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo! Thine own has reached the shore.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

RELATING Connect with people – I’m a known loner, a typical INFJ, but when you are part of my life, it’ll be forever. I find socialising very difficult, so Facebook has become a life saver, quite literally, the place where I discovered my people. Without this connection, though I love my own company, I’d be lost.

Walking the dog © Lisa Shambrook

Walking the dog © Lisa Shambrook

EXERCISING Take care of your body – This has become more important to me as I’ve begun to understand how much exercise deflates depression. Your general health has a lot to do with how you feel, so look after yourself. I love walking Roxy, our german shepherd, and daily walks allow me to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Last year, as a family, we learned how important exercise was. We used MyFitnessPal and lost a combined eight stone between us. Never have we felt fitter and better!

Appreciating beauty © Lisa Shambrook

Appreciating beauty © Lisa Shambrook

APPRECIATING Notice the world around – This matches exercise, get out and see what lives around you! I have so many posts on this blog about the wonder of nature, which you can find in the menu at the top under Articles in Simply Nature. I love wading through the ocean and rivers, wandering through woodland glens, climbing mountains and exploring the great outdoors. When I feel down, I need to be reinvigorated by nature, it makes me happy!

Learn more © Lisa Shambrook

Learn more © Lisa Shambrook

TRYING OUT Keep learning new things – Knowledge, you should never stop learning. There’s always something new out there, whether it’s keeping up with technology and the children or learning a new skill just for yourself. Just because our school days are gone, it doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, get out there and learn new things, have fun!

Set goals, dream big © Lisa Shambrook

Set goals, dream big © Lisa Shambrook

DIRECTION Have goals to look forward to – I once wrote this as a reply on someone else’s blog about achieving their dreams: I began life as a contemplative dreamer…a quiet, shy child with an imagination that spanned so many ideas. It took until I was thirty to turn those gossamer dreams into concrete goals, but I did and now I’m working hard to keep those dreams-turned-goals alive!

(There’s a)… difference hence my gossamer dreams and concrete goals. Putting something in writing, or into action changes the aspect of a dream into something solid.

Dreams have meant so much to me that my (first) book ended up with the tag line ‘it’s those silly dreams that keep us alive’…we need dreams to inspire us and we need to turn some of them into reality to make us grow. Goals are a way of growing and making things happen, but sometimes we just need those airy fairy dreams to give us hope and inspiration!

Bounce back © Lisa Shambrook

Bounce back © Lisa Shambrook

RESILIENCE Find ways to bounce back – Life wasn’t meant to be easy. If we didn’t know the sour we wouldn’t know the sweet. We need the bad to love the good. Opposition in all things is the way of life, don’t let it get you down, let it build you up instead. Be resilient. Be a cat. You know when a cat slips, or makes a mistake? They right themselves immediately and look at you like it never happened… be a cat.

Love life © Lisa Shambrook

Love life © Lisa Shambrook

EMOTION Take a positive approach – Life has negative and positive people. Be someone who people want in their lives. We all suffer at times, and it’s important to be there for each other through the tough times, but as with resilience, we need to embrace the difficult and allow it to strengthen us. The process of refining silver includes being blasted with fire…a lot, but the finished piece is beautiful and brilliant. Let’s concentrate on the good, the positive and embrace the sunshine in our lives.

Be yourself! © Lisa Shambrook

Be yourself! © Lisa Shambrook

ACCEPTANCE Be comfortable with who you are – Love yourself. It’s as simple as that. Whatever your beliefs as to where we come from, we’re all wonderful human beings, with amazing miraculous bodies. I love the Marianne Williamson quote, from ‘A Return to Love’: ‘…We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually who are you not to be?’

Our deepest Fear... Marianne Williamson quote © Lisa Shambrook

Our Deepest Fear… Marianne Williamson quote © Lisa Shambrook

MEANING Be part of something bigger – My bishop spoke of our faith being something bigger and I took comfort from that. My faith to me is something that encompasses my entire life, my reasons for living and being. You may find something different. There are plenty of things in my life that give me reason to be, from my faith to my family, to my writing and many more wonderful things…embrace them and live happily!

Be part of something meaningful © Lisa Shambrook

Be part of something meaningful © Lisa Shambrook

Do you agree with these points
or do you have any more ideas on how to live happier?