For many, last week was the first full week back at work since the Christmas break and it may have been a challenge, leaving you feeling stressed, and made even more difficult by doing your best to put all the Christmas decorations away for another year, whilst focusing on keeping new year’s resolutions.
Saturday morning the weather was murky and misty, not an ideal start for Fresh Air Fridays in 2020, yet I knew that as soon as I got outdoors with my Fresh Air Fridays colleagues for our “Re-charge day” I would connect with nature and my surroundings in beautiful Coate Water Country Park, Swindon and that I would feel much more relaxed.
This month the theme for Fresh Air Friday sessions is “Filling yourself up first.” Many of us are brought up to believe that we are to put the wants and needs of others before our own. This may be fine for a while, but long term is unsustainable and serves nobody.
Have you ever thought why airlines in their safety briefings tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first? The answer lies in making sure your resources are full and available to you thus giving you the possibility to help others.
When we spend time re-charging our own batteries and doing the things we need for our own wellbeing to ensure the tank is full, we then have enough energy, resources and willingness to support and give to others.
I've attended two sessions this month and discussed this theme with fellow facilitators, including Corrine Thomas, as well as members and visitors. Corrine shares her thoughts and reflections below gleaned from what she experienced.
“As soon as I stopped and took time to do some deep breathing, I noticed my surroundings and the number of birds that were singing, I had not noticed this until I stopped being busy doing and spent time just being. This was made even better by taking time to be present to my surroundings; this meant I could forget about my ever growing to do list, worrying about what might happen in the future or dwelling on something which had bothered me previously and just enjoy being in the current moment.”
“I soon noticed that people on the session who had arrived saying they felt stressed and looking a bit distracted, had calmed down, forgotten about their mobile phones and were taking time to enjoy talking about the things they love to do that help us fill ourselves with energy. There were many varied ideas and just talking about them made us smile and realise how much we put
ourselves to the end of the line.”
What stops us doing those things that fill us up?
Just being on the Fresh Air Fridays session was giving all of us time and space to recharge our batteries. In every Fresh Air Fridays session, we start with a deep breathing exercise, this is an immediate and easy way of calming the body. “It was very noticeable the difference in everyone after taking a couple of minutes to just breathe deeply”, said Corrine. Deep breathing releases us from running like headless chickens, with lots of I should, or I must statements; our feelings of obligations to others and putting needs of others above our own.
Keeping it simple
Filling yourself up does not need to be complicated or difficult. On the second session, we spoke about simple things such as taking a few minutes out of a hectic day to read a book or to walk outside for 10-15 minutes to allow nature to influence our mood; invariably clearing the mind and slowing our pace. Going to bed earlier to avoid rolling into the power of that “second wind”, giving ourselves time to relax, enjoy reading and get to sleep early enough to
have a good nights’ sleep.
Fun for the family
Another shared idea that came up is that filling yourself up first doesn’t have to be an individual activity, it could involve doing something as a family or with a friend or partner. Things raised included visiting a museum, going to an art gallery or enjoying a spa.
Finally, we took a few minutes to consider what we are grateful for. By focusing on the positive things in our lives we are training our brains to look for positives and have a positive mindset. This can be difficult when life is challenging but just being grateful for the small pleasures in life is enough to change our mindset longer term. At the end of the “re-charge” I was grateful for the blue skies and sun that followed us the entire time.
Next month in Fresh Air Fridays we will be talking about and practicing being present. This underpins all the other Fresh Air Friday themes and is something we visit every month. February will be a time to explore it in more depth and really immerse ourselves in being and staying present.
I will be launching Fresh Air Fridays, on Tuesday 21 January in Oxfordshire.
If you would like to come and try Fresh Air Fridays, get in touch with me today by replying to this email, or register for your spot here.
References: www.FreshAirFridays.co.uk (Corrine Thomas)
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