Connect and re-connect

Join me on a 5 day journey to re-connect with what matters most.

More and more of us are reporting overwhelm, burnout, feeling lonely, and disconnect from friends, family and ourselves. As it turns out disconnect and mental health challenges like anxiety and depression are linked. There has been found to be a causal effect too.

Connections take effort

If we don’t make the time and effort to connect with others we are more likely to feel this disconnect. We will become overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and burnt-out.

Loneliness it turns out is a contributing factor, not only to our emotional well-being, but also to our physical health. I have been learning about humanity’s need for social connection and how it has an impact on our well-being both as individuals and the greater community.

Join us in taking a small step toward more Authentic connections in your life over five days. Each day will involve one simple activity to be done by you… and a little inspiration too!

_____________________________

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Connections and Belonging: authentic connections (post 5 of 5)

We live in a world today where people are more disconnected than ever. With a zillion options for social connections online, we make less authentic connections, more superficial ones, and are constantly distracted by things of little substance.

While I’ve lived a life of disconnect, moving from place to place – I’ve also managed to stay connected to a few key people, and develop new connections. I see so many people around me as disconnected as if they too had been uprooted and started anew every 3-5 years.

For those of us who thrive in a transient life we’ve learned the art of making new connections. While sustaining a few key connections from afar.

Building a strong sense of belonging

It is my intention to build a community where we can come together both online and in-person. A community where we can become more authentically connected with others, as well as ourselves. This community and our activities will help us to live more fulfilling, connected lives. A place in which we feel a true sense of belonging.

Authentic Connections

Brené Brown says there are four elements of belonging:

Quote:

People are hard to hate close up. Move in.

Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.

Hold hands. With strangers.

Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

Brené Brown

We’ll talk more about what this means, but for now, you can learn more about Brené Brown’s elements of belonging here.

Is there an old friend you can call? A journal entry you can write? Or maybe a place you can visit (in real time or in your memories) where important connections can be revisited? One of my favourite things to do is pull out some old photos and allow myself a little walk down memory lane.

What will you commit to doing to start the journey of rebuilding, creating and maintaining authentic connections?

—————

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Connections and belonging: social connections (post 4 of 5)

When our youngest was three years old, I left my marriage. I wanted, and needed for my children to have, and witness only strong social connections within our home. We’d been through more climbs and dips of the roller coaster that was our relationship – with another posting, a deployment and more. By the time I decided to leave I felt like I had a room-mate – who happened to be the father of my children.

It was during/after my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The thinking at the time was that physical trauma (like a car accident or possibly childbirth) could trigger fibromyalgia. But I always believed the trauma and chronic acute stress in my life had been the cause.

There continued to be high stress events in my life with divorce proceedings, my return to school to get another degree, a job that I left due to a toxic work environment, and then… my mom, who had always been my biggest supporter, died several years after the dissolution of my marriage. Eventually, I moved nearer to my closest friends and biggest supporters, who I’d been living far away from for many years. I needed a fresh start where I could be true to myself.

Reliable and consistent social connections

I wanted my girls to know that: no matter what, they could always count on me; and that our connection to each other would sustain us, whatever we faced.

I made lots of mistakes, but eventually came to the place in life where I am now… capable of taking care of myself and my girls, and eventually in a drama-free partnership with a man that I(we) can count on and trust, who would never do anything to hurt any one of us. It’s only since the girls and I have really been settled into this new life together – with a handful of great friends and family nearby that we can rely on – that my health has finally begun to improve.

We belong to our community, family, and each other. And we can face just about anything when we have strong connections… to ourselves, others and our physical space.

What social connections have brought you a sense of belonging and peace in your life? Is there anyone you can re-activate that connection to today?

—————

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Connections and belonging: sense of self (post 3 of 5)

While it’s important to connect with others – like we do when helping people, truly belonging means being true to yourself first. Having a strong sense of self means knowing what you value and what you can/will be flexible on and what requires sticking to your guns.

Brené Brown uses the acronym BRAVING when describing trusting ourselves, or others, and how to be both vulnerable and courageous:

Braving

Reliability

Accountability

Vault

Integrity

Nonjudgement

Generosity

You can learn more about Brené Brown’s teachings on vulnerability and bravery here.

When we have a sense of belonging within ourselves (being true to ourselves authentically) it is easier to have confidence in our connections (and have a sense of belonging) to others/in community.

Connection with self

When I was married to my children’s father I lost my sense of self. We went through some very difficult things that I never imagined would be repeated. And yet, it happened at least once more and was even harder the next time around. Partially because of my rocky connection to my own self.

The first time I was young and naïve and thought my marriage had to last forever. I honestly felt like I couldn’t live without him. I couldn’t imagine the thought of failing at my marriage. I went through a lot of reading and therapy around practising forgiveness. But I no longer felt like I deserved to be with someone who would never take action(s) that would cause me pain.

Taking inventory

It was only after our marriage ended that I started looking hard at myself and who I had become. I took the time to think about what had brought me joy in the past, and whether I was including it in my present. It turned out that I wasn’t. I started running and cycling again. I pulled out my camera and re-learned how to make great photographs. And I started writing again. I felt more like myself and was better able to deal with the death of my marriage.

I can’t recall how much of our relationship problems I had shared with my closest family and friends during the second half of our ten year marriage. I do remember feeling judged for making the decision to end things when I did. My family made an extra effort a relationship with my ex for the sake of our two children. I always had a difficult time with asking for help. But I remember one day going to my parents and asking them to consider what I needed, not just their relationship with the girls’ dad. I pointed out that my ex had the support of his own family and didn’t need to be supported by mine, especially at the expense of my own well-being. I just needed to know they were in my corner and accepted my decisions were what was best for me and my girls.

Social supports

The dissolution of our marriage was never easy. But it became much more bearable when I knew I was giving myself the time and grace that I needed. And that I could count on the social support of the people who were most important to me.

Who are the biggest supporters in your life? Can you be brave enough to share with them how you really feel and what makes you, you? Can you be vulnerable with them? Is it a reciprocal support going beyond a statement that they care? Who do you provide that social support to?

I challenge you to take a look at Brené Brown’s BRAVING inventory and consider what you can do to be both vulnerable and courageous with yourself.

—————

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Connection and belonging: helping connection (post 2 of 5)

It is only natural that when someone experiences trauma and survives they may wish to help others. Interestingly, by helping others who have been through similar experiences we create more opportunities to make meaningful connections. Social connections help ourselves get better. The connections we create when helping others also serve to develop stronger sense of self and healing within.

Helping experiences straddle multiple types of connections that are beneficial to both the recipient and the helper: the joy of helping others; connecting with our own values and self; and staying in the moment grounded in the present, including a sense of place. Empathizing with others within appropriate contexts can have a big impact on how we experience our own emotional response to trauma.

Helping connections

Shared experiences – even around separate incidents with similar stories – can bring people together and foster a sense of belonging.

When we share our truth – about the experiences that have shaped us – we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and show our authentic selves to others. We can form stronger connections both with those we share experiences with and the places in which we experience them. From this can form a sense of belonging (reducing instances of loneliness).

One of the worst feelings in the world is to feel completely alone and believe that it will never get better. Yet the greatest hope and healing can come from knowing these moments of loneliness are finite – that the feeling will have an end; and that we belong to a community in which we do not have to face our hardships alone.

Can you think of a hard thing that you have experienced that others may have similar experiences with? How can you connect with others and help around this common hardship?

—————

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Connection and Belonging, How we heal (post 1 of 5)

When I consider my chronic pain and where it all began… I find myself thinking of: connection and belonging and my own healing journey…

…  all that I’ve learned about trauma and how it affects our health – both emotional(mental) and physical…

… how my own story unfolded and the impact various stresses had on my own connections to people and place…

… how my physical health has slowly improved significantly over the last few years…

Loneliness: the impact of connection and belonging on healing
Photo by Paul Wesson Photography

It has become clear to me that connection and belonging have had the most significant impact on my life and healing. I suspect that to be true for most, whether struggling with chronic health concerns or otherwise…

Lost social connection and belonging

  • Moving across the country, leaving loved ones behind…
  • Breakdown of marital relationships…
  • Lost friendships…
  • Death of loved ones…
  • Abusive relationships…
  • Lost family connections…
  • Workplace stress and breakdown…

Any ONE, any number, or ALL of these stressors can elicit a trauma response. At the very least they can be the reason that we are less resilient when trauma occurs. Without important connection, and belonging we can be at risk of turning inward more and more, with no real incentive to draw us back out. What inspires you to do hard things? More importantly, who do you share your journey from inspiration to hard work to reward with?

—————

Join us for a FREE five day challenge to make more authentic social connections! https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

For more information on how to develop more authentic connections: https://authentic-connections.mn.co/

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Instagram @authenticconnections.community, or Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at trishblogs dot com, or use my contact form.

I invite you to follow me using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my Facebook page, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it.

Blogging for recovery (mental health)…

The road to mental health recovery is a long, challenging one. There are curves and dips, mountains and valleys, switchbacks and stalls. Often moving so slowly we feel as if we’re in reverse. Occasionally we truly are. Sometimes the entire process has to restart, and while it feels like we’re back at the beginning, we never truly are. Each leg of the journey adds to the process – sometimes hastening the forward momentum and at times forcing us to a crawl.

Just as with the act of running, if there are two feet moving in a mostly forward direction, eventually we’ll get further ahead than when we began.

There is no magic cure. No pill to suddenly change the mood and make all of the contributing circumstances irrelevant. There are many factors that must each be tackled when the time is right, and eventually depression can be – if not entirely then at least mostly – overcome.

I am by no means in the clear when it comes to mental health. I know that life will continue to throw me curve balls and that my state of being in the moment will have a significant impact on how those events are dealt with by me.

I am confident though that today I am better equipped to weather the storms.

Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

Photo credit: Debbie Roberts

People ask me what I have done to improve my mental health, and there is no single thing. It took an accumulation of events for me to stop coping in a healthy way. It is an accumulation of activities and life changes that have allowed me to arrive on the other side.

Medication can be helpful as a sort of kickstart or bridge depending upon what you need. In my case, it was adjustments to pain medications – rather than an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication.

But that it is not what helped the most. My complete lifestyle change starting with leaving a job that was killing me in an almost systematic way is what did it. I started a new job in a much healthier environment where the ultimate goal is helping build a healthier community. I feel as though I have aligned myself with professional work that marries well with my own passion.

I have always found health-related changes easier to make when there is already a big change happening. While off to my new job, I started a better routine of exercise and eating well.

Today, almost daily I do 20-30 minutes of cardio and a light weight training circuit. 1-3 times/week I switch it up and take a land-based fitness or aqua fitness class instead, or in addition. Ultimately I knew I had arrived at my desired level of activity when not partaking became something I missed. I feel more like myself when I am active daily. And I am more conscious of what I put inside of my body at the same time.

None of these things are easy. I still see a doctor frequently for chronic pain issues. I still have days that I want to bury my head in the sand. But change really must come from within. Being ready to take ownership of my health and take risky steps to improve things required commitment and support. Whatever that support system looked like I used it. I saw a therapist who really just heard me and validated my feelings while encouraging me to keep moving forward. Friends and family, even passing acquaintances each played a role. Whether in the form of a wellness challenge at work, or bi-weekly tea dates with childhood friends… was all good.

Have you been wanting to make a change?

Just go for it, and stop being so hard on yourself!

——————————-

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

I invite you to subscribe to my blog using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my page on Facebook, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it. You can do so using the easy share button below!

Uncomfortably numb. AKA depression.

I’ve written before of the experience of living with depression. It is a unique experience for each and every one afflicted. Most people I know who have lived with depression identify with the feeling of disconnect, lack of clarity and perpetual fog that I know. There are common themes, but the severity, the presentation, the duration, the triggers… all vary.

I find myself grasping at the instances of sun peaking through the fog, like each one is the only one I’ll know. While I know that many other times I can’t even be bothered to open the curtains in hopes of a glimmer of the sun’s rays – the fog is just going to roll back in sooner than later anyway.

Mavilette Beach in fog

What started my depression? It’s really hard to say. My first memory of someone suggesting I was dealing with depression came when I was newly married, almost twenty years ago. An episode brought on by relationship problems. I muddled through and came out on the other side before I even saw the counselor I’d been referred to. For years after I struggled along, seeing each of my next challenging circumstances as separate and at no time did I consider the cumulative affects.

Stress, or the experience of feeling stressed can be brought on by both negative and positive circumstances. Extra-marital affair, moving, new jobs, birth of a child, work related stresses, purchasing a home, chronic pain, returning to school, death of a loved one, new career, abusive relationship, and on, and on. Each of these can and will have cumulative affects if not managed well, affects that manifest themselves in depression and/or anxiety.

Something else that I know is that no two individuals cope the same way, nor does one necessarily cope the same way in each cycle of depression. Some become hermits, some become promiscuous, while others still turn to substances or other vices for a high. Few know of my own struggles if I don’t speak openly of them.

I work in a challenging and stressful job where I make it through most days in much the same manner as my counterparts. Most days I manage to get my children to their own obligations and interests. The house is relatively well kept. Most of my finances are in order. I ask for and accept help much of the time. On the surface I keep it together most of the time.

My physical pain flares up with every additional stress in my life, good, bad or ugly, physical or emotional. My depression comes in waves and does not seem to correspond specifically with any set timing or circumstance. Sometimes, I can’t standthe idea of of being alone. Sometimes, I can’t bear the thought of entertaining someone else’s company. Most of the time I simply feel numb.

I doubt myself often. I doubt my judgement. I doubt my decisions. I doubt my feelings. And honestly, there seems no way of really knowing which ones are valid, genuine, or in my own best interests.

More often than not, I wish for a blank slate. There are only a few significant things in my life that I wouldn’t wish to do over.

Sometimes the best change is that which comes from circumstances thrust upon you. It’s not about what the events actually are. It’s all in what you do with them. I try not to let life make my choices for me, but take control and make my own choices, even when all I want to do is bury my head in the sand.

Sometimes the actions and decisions of others force decisions to be made and actions to be taken just when we’ve grown complacent, or perhaps even have given up.

One thing I’m learning from a few of the most challenging circumstances in my life is to stop wishing life away. I catch myself still… wishing away the day and the week, just desperate for the weekend. Wanting to make time stand still on Saturday, to not have to go back to the responsibilities of day-to-day life.

So here I am trying to get better… better at: Making the most of life. Living in this moment. Living every day like there may be no tomorrow. Going with the flow and questioning things less. We hear it all the time. Death is the only real inevitability. Whether it comes today, tomorrow, next week, year or decade. It comes.

Sun and ocean

This is where I try to make my changes. It’s not cliché. It’s a fact, we have only this moment. Grab it.

——————————-

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun or email me at trish at trishblogs dot com!

I invite you to subscribe to my blog using one of the options available on my page (email, rss, Google Connect, like my page on Facebook, etc.)

If you enjoyed this post, please do like/share it. You can do so using the easy share button below!