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My word, and focus, of the year, is CALM, and I’ve decided to join some lovely ladies in a link-up in which we share how we’re doing with the word of the year. I’m late this month because I thought it would be posted on the last Thursday of the month, which should be next week. But now I understood it’s the last Friday of the month, which is today. So let’s get started.

After the chaos that was February, I was happy to move on to the month of March. But before that, I realised that I didn’t do so badly with calm during February after all. Despite all the upsetting things that happened, after some initial bad moments, I could find ways to move on. I was definitely upset, but my moments of being upset were short. I could quickly convince myself that “it’s going to be ok” and no serious anxiety was triggered. I distracted myself with music, and sarcasm kept me sane. So February could have been worse!

Now over to how I’ve been doing with calm during March. I realise that this post is very similar to my “Joyful things” posts – probably because focusing on joy during this time has contributed so much to creating calm.

The bad things

March has been extremely busy and quite miserable, which was expected. I do a charity design project for my former church in Sweden three times a year. It’s a lot of work but normally not a problem. Sadly, since becoming competition secretary in the camera club, the design project always coincides with photo competitions, and I simply can’t do both – it takes ALL my time and energy. Ironically, being too busy with competitions makes me unable to focus on my own photography! The role as competition admin has brought a lot of good things but in June I’ll step down from this role and will do other things for the club that will suit me better.

Despite being so busy, I can’t say I’ve been stressed over this, in the right sense of the word – I’ve rather been exhausted and annoyed – wanting it all to be done so that I can go on with my normal life. And I’ve tried to create moments of joy here and there and tried to find ways to create some calm, even while my brain was on overload.

Focusing on beauty and joy

Calm is very much connected with focusing on the good things in the world. After the war started in Ukraine, I created my Instagram challenge Beauty every day and started writing on the blog to collect the joyful moments of the week – both to help myself focus on the beauty in the world and the fact that we still have good things to enjoy. The Instagram challenge has been difficult because the weather has been totally awful, and there’s only so much beauty inside this house right now. But spring is here for real now and there’ll be plenty of beauty outside very soon!

This tree at this time of the year brings both beauty and joy

Doing things for me

Despite all the stress and frustration I’ve felt during March (in fact, I’ve been more exhausted and annoyed than stressed!), I’ve done my best to create moments when I could switch off and do something nice just for myself.

Getting organised in Adobe Lightroom

After a very good tutorial about Adobe Lightroom, I decided to re-create my library and start using Lightroom more to its full potential. The library function is fantastic and I now have ALL my photos there, including the old, poor quality ones. Now everything is well organised and easy to find.

Self-care in the form of physical exercise

Getting started with weekly training sessions with a personal trainer has been the best thing I’ve done in a long time. When I have an appointment I can’t be lazy and decide not to go. I get there no matter what (unless I’m ill, of course), I have someone pushing me, someone competent to give me the most suitable exercises to help me make progress, and he also gives me a lot of food for thought, such as how to manage my thoughts when I get stressed, “stop the overthinking” which is one of the most important things I need to do for my mental health.

After the training sessions, I have a fantastic feeling of satisfaction. I’ve done something that improves my well-being both physically and mentally, it relieves stress and frustration, and is something I do ONLY for me and my health.

Socialising despite the existence of Covid

The Covid restrictions were lifted here at the end of February (? can’t remember the exact date) and I was very mixed about it. You all know how cautious I’ve been! But lately, I’ve also felt that with stable numbers and very little risk for ourselves, for now, I should try to live my life again. This seemed especially true after the invasion of Ukraine. I felt that I should go out NOW and enjoy playing music with friends in pubs, and other things that give quality of life, because who knows how long it will be possible?

I thought I would be anxious about going inside the pub but when I got there, I wasn’t. I decided to not overthink it – the pub was rather empty except for the musicians, and most musicians are at an age where I at least believe they would be careful. But the most important thing is I really enjoyed myself and since then I’ve felt more relaxed about being out and about.

Then came St Patrick’s day – and after it a new Covid surge, which was anything but a surprise. I still have mixed feelings about what I’m comfortable with in terms of socialising, but try to balance it against the advantages socialising give my mental health and whether those advantages are worth exposing myself to the risk of getting Covid. It’s hard to know what to do, but for now, I try to socialise sensibly and be calm about it.

What does calm mean, really?

During this month I’ve been thinking about the word calm – what does it mean really? Focusing on calm, does it mean to be calm all the time, no matter what happens? Is that even realistic? Life happens, and with it, stressful events will happen at times.

To me, focusing on calm means finding strategies to help me handle stressful situations, so that I’ll have a “toolbox” to pick from when I need it, and get into a habit of thinking in ways that will help me stay calm, and not let myself be overwhelmed.

To me, what’s most helpful right now is

  • Stopping the overthinking, and managing my overall thinking pattern
  • When I get stressed, I try to convince myself “It’s going to be ok”, “I’ll work it out, I always do”, “This is just temporary”.
  • Managing my everyday mindset. “This is going to be a good day” instead of worrying.
  • Not focusing on what bad things could happen, but instead all the good things that might happen.
  • Worry doesn’t solve anything, it only makes life less enjoyable
  • Focusing on enjoying the good things
  • Always trying to figure out WHY I feel stressed or worried about something – and how I can change my thinking around it.
  • Looking into ways to remove from my life what only steals energy.

What’s next?

My hope for April is that it’ll be a month of rest and recovery. I will be able to get back to normal and focus on work, music and the garden. I’ve also been inspired by Denyse to join her self-compassion challenge. I’m really bad at following challenges but I can at least have it as a focus for the month since self-compassion is something I easily forget about, and maybe especially now, something I really need to practise more.

Do you have a word of the year? How have you been getting on during March?


I’m linking this post with Deb, Jo, Donna and Sue, for the Word of year Link-up.

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Comments:

  • 26th March 2022

    Hi, Susanne –
    Thank you for joining us to share your monthly reflection on how you have been interacting with your WOTY. I also find that what I focus on tends to increase for me. And I try to reduce overthinking (sometimes much more successfullly than other times).
    I wish you a calm month ahead filled with rest and revcovery!

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  • 27th March 2022

    My word of the year is flow…as in go with the flow, ebb and flow. I need to write more about it but LIFE has been difficult during March and I have not felt like writing about anything!! I appreciate your mention of the war in the Ukraine and how it has affected your outlook. What a great idea to create that Instagram challenge to look for beauty every day. I think during spring it is easier than other seasons to find something of beauty to distract us, to photograph, to remind us there is still goodness in the world.
    Hope you can figure out a way to remove the things that drain your life of happiness and energy. I tell myself every single day that worry accomplishes nothing but it isn’t easy to switch off. Trying to remember to say a prayer before I get out of bed and before I close my eyes each night. That does help to bring me at least momentary peace.

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  • 27th March 2022

    Hi Susanne I totally agree that being calm all the time is just not possible but rather it is how we react to situations that counts. You’ve raised some excellent strategies to achieve calm, especially when life is a constant demand. Thanks so much for sharing your CALM journey with us at 2022 WOTY Link up and I look forward to reading next month’s post. Have a beautiful month. xx

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  • 27th March 2022

    Thanks for joining us Susanne – I hope your April is more calm for you but it’s great to see your month unfold., the good and the bad. Overthinking is the bane of my life too! I can understand the concerns about going out and your own mental health – it’s hard at times.

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  • 27th March 2022

    It is wonderful to have a focus, such as calm, or any other feeling you want more of in your life. Good for you! I start and end my day with telling myself, preferably out loud (when suitable,) about the things I am the most grateful for at the moment. If I ever feel stressed during the day I remind myself about the current things on my gratitude list, and repeat those to myself. It is a way for me to find calm in stressful situations. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you!

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  • 30th March 2022

    Hello Susanne. I love your explanation of calm: “To me, focusing on calm means finding strategies to help me handle stressful situations, so that I’ll have a “toolbox” to pick from when I need it, and get into a habit of thinking in ways that will help me stay calm, and not let myself be overwhelmed.” You are, of course, absolutely correct that feeling calm all the time is unrealistic, and probably not ideal. Stress can be useful in helping us determine that something needs to be addressed or fixed. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head that focusing on calm is more about handling the situation and not getting overwhelmed or caught up in the stress. Here’s to a more restful April!

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  • 2nd April 2022

    A couple of years ago I took on the role of president for the romance writers association I was involved with. Oh my goodness it stressed me out and I stopped writing for myself. Then I felt so guilty about how stressed out I was even though I knew it was a rational response. Juggling the day job and writing was one thing, but juggling it with the pressure of the presidency was another entirely. Stepping back to let someone far better than me take over enabled me to be creative again. Wishing you much calm in April.

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  • 3rd April 2022

    Susanne, your bullet points on what “Calm” is for you should serve as a primer for me, and others, who struggle with dealing with stressful events and maintaining calm. Thank you for outlining it so clearly! You are absolutely right that it is how we respond to the things that happen in our lives that generates calm or, of course, stress. I have made some progress in this – trying not to respond to things too quickly, taking time to really consider my response, reminding myself that panicking and worrying are probably not going to get me anywhere. I relapse, of course, but it’s better than it was.

    I am so happy that the trainer and your sessions with him are going so well! Movement is essential to my well-being, and my ability to deal with stress. I’m eagerly anticipating the warmer weather (more so this year than many others…) and the additional boost that will give me! Your pictures give me hope that will come soon(ish).

    And, so glad that you are offloading some responsibilities that are weighing too heavily on you. Finding that balance can be so hard! Trust me, I know of which I speak. 😉

    Take care, as always. <3

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