New opportunities are exciting but frightening. We’re all familiar with that uncomfortable feeling of over-fullness when you eat that extra cookie despite feeling completely stuffed, or when you opt for a greasy take away on a Friday night, overdo it a little, and then regret it the following morning. I’m learning that sometimes opportunities in life can be like that.
You jump in head first because the opportunity is all too exciting to let go, or the cookie looks too tasty to leave on the side, and then later you worry that your eyes were bigger than your belly, and you might’ve bitten off a little more than you could chew. I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks, about how to manage your thoughts when you feel like you’re overstuffed and overflowing; like you’re swimming in the deep end and you’re a river about to break its banks. Here are some tips for the times when you’re drowning in to-do lists, and you’re struggling to keep your head above water:
1. Remember that you’re only a human, and not a superhuman-superhero-wizard.
Everybody makes mistakes and it’s impossible to know everything straight away.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others, try to stop worrying, and stop bullying yourself for not living up to impossibly high expectations. We all learn at different paces and in different ways, and that’s perfectly okay. Remember that nobody’s life is perfect, and you only ever know what people choose to tell you. Worrying about not being good enough will only make you feel more negative, deflated, and defeated. It can be useful to ask yourself ‘is thinking about this problem and analyzing it helpful, or am I going around in circles? Is the problem within my control, or out of my control? Are there any practical things I could do to solve this or ease my anxiety? Is this problem/task as big as I am making it out to be?
3. Be in the present moment – be as observant as possible and keep your eyes and ears open. Try to bring yourself back to the task at hand if you find yourself falling into a spiral of anxiety and worry.
4. Set high standards but be compassionate with yourself if you don’t meet them. Remember that you can only do your best.
5. Practice gratitude, celebrate small achievements, and try to find the silver lining to every situation. It’s rarely the case that absolutely everything went badly. What went well in your day?
6. Remember that we all go through peaks and troughs. No flower blooms all year
round (or maybe some do but…who cares about those flowers anyway? Maybe
they’re hiding something…)
7. Remember that even if things don’t work out, you’ll be okay. Life is full of positive experiences to look back on fondly, and negative experiences that teach us things. Experiences, good and bad, are all part of life’s rich tapestry. Sometimes we take on new opportunities that make our life feel bright and cheery, and at other times, they leave us feeling bleak, despondent and dull. Sometimes it’s a mix of the two. It’s important to be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, even if it doesn’t work out exactly how you’d first hoped. If something doesn’t go to plan, try and find the lesson from the situation and learn from it, rather than regretting it.
September can be a time of new opportunities and adventures for many of us. September sees the end of summer and the start of autumn, the start of a new academic year, and for some, it symbolizes hope and new beginnings. I hope that these tips are helpful for managing the worries that can accompany new challenges and opportunities.
At the cafe last month, we also did something a little bit different and new. We made the most of the heatwave and headed for a picnic in the sun. We had a brilliant time drawing and painting, and we enjoyed sitting in the woods and chatting. We then headed back indoors and had fun playing with FIMO (a type of colourful modelling clay). Here are some of the wonderful pieces of art that were created by the cafe’s talented attendees last month.