Wellbeing Check-in

We’ve been living under varying levels of lockdown for over three months now and (although everyone’s situations are different) I think it’s fair to say that all our lives have changed.

So I thought it might be a good time for us to do a wellbeing check-in!

Of the things that I’m grateful for during lockdown – my top three (in no particular order) would be: my garden, being able to work from home and living with a wellbeing advisor! Mostly because he’s lovely… but the wellbeing advice is always a bonus!

One of the things that Beardie often refers to as a good way to check-in with how we’re feeling is the “five ways to wellbeing”.

Research has shown that we need to fulfil certain needs in order to maintain good wellbeing: Connecting to others, being active, taking notice, learning and giving. You can find more details over on the Mind website here.

Connecting to others has definitely been difficult for all of us during lockdown… video chats just aren’t the same but they’re better than nothing.

So maybe do a check-in with how you’re feeling now and think about how that compares to the before-times. Maybe there’s one of these five needs that you’ve been fulfilling more during lockdown and you want to carry that through to the after-times?

I’ve personally been a lot more active and have really been enjoying running (still can’t believe that…) so I want to make time for that on the other side.

I’ve also realised how much I value seeing my friends face-to-face and being able to hug them! I’m definitely going to be a hugger when we have a vaccine!

Hope you’re all staying safe and mentally and physically well x

Habit/Cycle Tracking

A couple of years ago I started habit tracking. It isn’t something I stick to every month, but I still find it really useful to come back to when I get out of routine and find my good habits slipping.

Habit Tracker by Clementine Creative

I’ve streamlined my habits a bit and I now just track the few things which I feel make the biggest difference:

  • My sleep routine.
  • Switching off my phone in the evening.
  • Eating at least five portions of fruit & veg per day.
  • Exercise (going for a walk or doing some pilates).

Last year I started thinking about also tracking my mood, energy levels and sleep quality alongside these habits to see what effect the habits were having. I was interested to see whether sticking to the habits or letting them slip had an immediate impact on my mood, energy and sleep.

This also led me to thinking about how hormones affect our mood, energy levels and sleep quality and the fact that these things vary throughout the month as part of a natural cycle – regardless of habits. So I started tracking all these things alongside my menstrual cycle to see what patterns emerged!

It hasn’t been a particularly scientific experiment, but after tracking five cycles, I found that my habits don’t have a huge impact on a day to day basis, but that maintaining good habits (such as eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep) help to keep me happier overall.

Unsurprisingly – I found numerous patterns between my menstrual cycle and mood, energy and sleep quality. Most notably – at the beginning of each cycle my energy is really low despite sleeping really well and towards the end of each cycle I’m buzzing with energy despite sleeping poorly.

A magazine article I read about menstrual cycles, moon cycles and yoga (sorry – I can’t remember what magazine it was!) broke down suggested actions for each week/phase of a cycle. I cut out part of the article and have looked back at it regularly to see how my cycle fits in with it.

Below I’ve outlined what the article suggested for each phase and I’m planning to make my own list of actions/intentions incorporating what I’ve discovered whilst tracking.

Phase One (approx first week of cycle)

  • Set intentions.
  • Rest.
  • Restore.

Phase Two (approx second week of cycle)

  • Develop new possibilities.
  • Make decisions.
  • Overcome challenges.

Phase Three (approx third week of cycle)

  • Celebrate you.
  • Have fun.
  • Express yourself.

Phase Four (approx fourth week of cycle)

  • Share.
  • Reflect.
  • Release.

The information I found whilst tracking has given me a better understanding of the impact hormone fluctuations have and how I can work in sync with what my body needs. I’m much better at knowing when to push myself and when to go easy on myself.

For example – I no longer give myself a hard time for being ‘lazy’ at the beginning of my cycle. My body clearly needs lots of rest and that’s okay. I’ve been saving all my monotonous jobs that involve lots of sitting for this phase of my cycle and it’s actually turned into a super productive time!

Tracking my cycles also made me aware that I tend to have mini-meltdowns around the same time each cycle! This is when I’m feeling really creative and have lots of ideas pinging around my mind. It’s a perfect time to be designing and planning but I need to be mindful of not overwhelming my already busy brain!

Do you fancy tracking your cycle and working out your own personal actions/intentions for each phase? Drop me an email if you’d like a copy of my habit/cycle tracker!

Beardie’s Guest Blog: Self-reflection

My significant other, Andrew, and I have always shared an interest in psycology and wellbeing. It’s a lovely common interest to have and leads to many interesting conversations!

Andrew recently completed an MSc in Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health at Nottingham Trent University where he works in student support. I was very interested to hear his musings on the Moody Blanket Knit-along and how it could improve our wellbeing. Over to Beardie…

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When Jem asked me to write a guest blog about the Moody Blanket Knit-Along it took me a good while to work out what I actually wanted to write about. There’s plenty of interesting stuff to talk about when it comes to knitting and psychology, whether that’s knitting as a therapeutic practice, the positive relationships that the social aspect of knitting can cultivate, or the feeling of accomplishment and subsequent boost to wellbeing that comes with completing a project.

I could probably spend quite a lot of time babbling on about each of those topics, but instead I wanted to share a revelation that I had very recently, in the past few days in fact.

So you know those days where you wake up and everything just feels sort of… wrong? I’m sure we’ve all had them. It was a weekend and Jem was away with work – I had no pressing commitments or things to do, just the odd bit of housework and then a meal with friends in the evening. Sounds like a good day, right?

Well this particular day ended up not so great, for no reason other than it all just felt a bit ‘off’. I struggled to find anything to occupy myself with and the things I did do just didn’t go very well. By the time I met with friends in the evening I was feeling pretty rotten, and even though I had a nice time I ended the day feeling quite low.

As I was relaying the story of my bad day to Jem, I suddenly thought about what colour the day would have been…and it would’ve been a grey day. Almost instantly I began to look at my bad day in a whole new light – picking through the wreckage of the previous 16 hours or so, trying to figure out where it all went wrong and what I could have done differently, or in what circumstances my day might have been less miserable. I could have gone for a walk in the park instead of bouncing around empty rooms at home. I could have remembered about the delivery we were expecting and not felt so annoyed when I missed it. I could have gone out and done something productive instead of meekly retreating back to bed in the early afternoon for a nap, desperately trying to press the reset button on the day.

I only spent a few minutes of time on this reflection, but thinking about it and mapping out the different parts of my day helped me to see things a lot more clearly, and I felt much better for doing so. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t change how awful the day was as a whole, but even just being able to say ‘This was a grey day’ felt good. It almost gave me licence to sit down at the end of the day to tell myself ‘Yep, today was rubbish, but it’s done now and I can move on’.

Hopefully all of you who are in the midst of Moody Blanket knitting are feeling similarly good about taking regular time to reflect on the days you’ve been having. And I hope you’re not only finding it useful on bad days – maybe you’re having lots of good days and are enjoying looking back and pinpointing the things that made them so good.

There’s lots of psychological literature about the benefits of self-reflection – it helps us to understand our place in the world, how we connect with others and how we find ourselves reacting to certain situations. In essence it helps teach us more about ourselves which, without taking the time to reflect, is something we could easily miss out on with so many external distractions vying for our attention at any moment.

Self-reflection can also be very important for personal growth and self-improvement, so if you’re finding the knit-along challenging due to the reflective side of things, then maybe the challenge exists because you’re working towards something positive. Not just a lovely blanket, but perhaps a deeper understanding of yourself as a person along the way.

So, to all of you who are knitting through the good days and bad, make sure to keep going and keep sharing how your squares are looking – it’s fascinating to keep track of, even for a
non-knitter like me!