Nourish Yourself, Stop The Stress with Sam James
Hi I’m Sam, and my main love in life is helping women find success, peace of mind, and ultimately a little more happiness.
As I begin to reflect on the year that 2020 has been, the one thing that I am certain of, is that it has not been what any of us envisaged the year being. One of my favourite things to do at the start of a new year, is to imagine that I am at the end of the year, and writing a letter to myself about how the year has been, how it has felt, the things that I have achieved and what the highlights have been, rather than setting resolutions for myself.
As I look back on what I my hopes and aspirations had been for 2020, both professionally and personally, it is hard not to feel a sense of disillusionment and disappointment. For me, I found myself really questioning my profession and my business, and the support and services that I offer. I began to question whether it can offer anything of meaning in times like 2020.
Something I have always been passionate about is ensuring that everything I offer is based on scientific evidence and is realistic for the context within which my clients are living.
Within positive psychology and coaching psychology there has been work written, regarding the risks of positivity becoming both toxic and individualistic, when taken out of context, taken to extremes, and applied in unhelpful ways. For me, this became at the forefront of my mind in 2020, leaving me wanting to ensure that messages are being shared that are safe and helpful, and recognising the nuances of everyone’s individual experiences. 2020 has been a very stark reminder that everyone is fighting different battles, and juggling different responsibilities and what will benefit one person, will not necessarily benefit their best friend or sibling.
However, through the fogginess I gradually began to recognise that I was drawing on my knowledge and skills more and more, for myself and my family to support us. The days I didn’t connect with the strategies that I know work for us, the harder it felt.
I sought out micro-moments throughout my day to nourish myself in some way. Whether it was having a mindful moment as I made myself a hot drink, bringing all my attention to my senses as I made the drink in front of me; or getting us all outside for a dose of nature to help our nervous system reset itself; or honouring my boundaries with my device usage.
I asked for help, and prioritised communication with my husband and children, so that we all knew what we each of us were striving to do that day or that week, and what support we needed from each other. By leading these conversations it gave everyone permission to ask for help, or ask for the things they needed to feel OK. For me, this was having a few hours at the start of the day in my office (which I was needing to share with my husband most days) so that then I could more easily focus on the school work with our children and not feel resentful that he was able to work in my office, in peace!
I prioritised movement every day. Whether it was joining Joe Wicks for a morning workout or going for a family walk or doing some gardening, or even on some occasions a walk on my own (this felt like a really big thing, to use up the 1 hour outdoor exercise time on myself!).
I let myself rest. This became harder, as they year progressed. One of the things that became an essential coping strategy was our meticulous planning (it reduced the mental load, by reducing lots of the day to day decisions about what to eat, and who was doing what, when) but it made it harder to let myself just be. I found that meditation helped me to feel more at ease with ‘being’, even for a few moments, and it is definitely my go to when I can feel that I am stuck in ‘on’ or ‘drama’ mode.
It helps me keep check on the amount of ‘numbing’ coping strategies I was indulging in, because I knew that as easy as these are to reach for, and often offer a quick relief, if too much of them feature, I find my mood and motivation plummets.
For me, these are comfort eating in the evening (giant buttons anyone?!), mindless scrolling on social media and binge-watching Netflix. These are often the things that I try and fool myself are ‘restful’. In balance, yes they are, but if that is all I do I become sloth like (and grumpy!).
I have continued working with my clients, and know that the support they get from the sessions has helped them make sense of what is happening in their lives, and continue to prioritise their well- being. I can now see, and believe wholeheartedly, that the support I offer people helps them to cope when life throws curve balls (like world-wide pandemics) at them. It gives people a space to reset, refocus and discover the ways to nourish themselves and their loved ones, in a way that works for them.
At this time of year I always recommend taking time to reflect on the year that has been, and still would this year. I would argue that it is more important this year, because there will be moments throughout the year that have brought you joy, love, contentment and gratitude as well as the things that you will have learnt about yourself too, that risk being forgotten about in the overall chaos of 2020. Be generous and compassionate with yourself as you look back on the year, and approach it with an attitude of love. Grab yourself your favourite drink, your journal or notebook and pen, and take some time to pause and consider the prompts below:
What lessons did 2020 teach me?
1. Can I find ways to be thankful for what happened to me now, even though I was not at the time it happened?
2. What ability did the experiences of 2020 draw out of me that surprised me?
3. How am I now more of the person I want to be because of it?
4. What features in my 2020 highlight reel? What moments do I want to cherish from the year? (as a prompt: moments of kindness, awe, love, inspiration, joy, playfulness)
Images by - Jen Davies Photography
Get in touch with Sam here