All posts by Vicki Shouksmith

Avatar

About Vicki Shouksmith

An productivity consultation specialising in helping you to regain a sense of control at work. Replace feeling stressed and overwhelmed with a calm and confident can-do attitude.

Finding Your Passion Again

I recently finished reading the first book in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

By reading, I mean I physically held a book in my hands – something that I rarely do.

As a child, I loved reading. I was always walking to the library at the edge of our estate to pick up yet another book. I loved to get lost in the stories written by the likes of Enid Blyton or Fiona Kelly.

Technically, I still read a lot because I have an Audible subscription, but it’s not the same. I like Audible because I can listen whilst getting on with other things, meaning reading is no longer an all encompassing activity that helps me to relax.

Reading A Discovery of Witches and immersing myself in a world of witches, vampires and daemons, with tales of love and strife woven throughout was just what I needed to find my passion for reading again.

With the stresses of daily life always surrounding us, it’s important that we have ways to pull ourselves out of our own heads so we can properly relax.

Reading is one of those things for me but I’d forgotten how to enjoy it fully.

What’s something that you love doing but haven’t done properly in ages?

Give it a go this week and see how you feel 😊

Go into battle for yourself

Today, I pulled the most beautiful oracle card from the Ask An Angel deck.

It read ‘Battle’.

Initially, I assumed the word had negative connotations but I realised the image didn’t trigger this same reaction. Upon reading the description, I found that the message what just what I needed to hear – as it so often is.

In essence, it explained that heroes battling dragons stand in the face of danger and surrender to a higher state of consciousness. They do so at the expense of all ego attachments such as pride, greed and compulsion.

The hero goes on a journey to face the shadow in order to bring back the good, and it is time for you to go on this journey.

It asked if you had “fallen asleep” in the mundane routine of life and needed an adventure. If so, this is your sign and it’s up to you to decide where you want to be and what you’re willing to fight for.

Does this resonate with anyone else?

I know I needed to hear this today and I assume someone else does too 🙂

Move Your Body

Anyone else follow Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) on Instagram?

I always find him to be very motivating, especially when he’s tired with a new-born baby and he’s still encouraging everyone to move their body.

Today he reminded us to:

‘Stop telling yourself reasons not to exercise and remind yourself how good you’ll feel afterwards and how much more energy you’ll have afterwards.’

January is a good month for me and exercise; partly because of the New Year motivation and partly because Yoga with Adriene always does a 30 day challenge – and I need this kind of accountability to stick with it.

Doing the YWA challenge works well for me because the daily videos are posted at 6am meaning I can do it in the mornings before work. I never get sweaty enough to require washing my hair afterwards – a serious bonus! And, I don’t have to think about which exercise video to choose on YouTube because that’s decided for me. In short, all my excuses not to exercise are stopped in their tracks.

And guess what? A week in, I really do feel better!

Don’t get me wrong, I still hate my life a little when my alarm goes off an hour before I actually have to be up, but in no time, I’m happily settled on my yoga mat, focusing on my breath and I feel good. Even after today’s video which, in my opinion, was crunches hell masquerading as yoga… I still feel good.

I know that when you’re already feeling exhausted, exercising is the last thing on your mind, but Joe is right that you do feel better afterwards.

So, with that in mind, how are you going to move your body today?

New Year’s Day

It’s arrived – the day where we all get to start afresh with a clean slate.

We’re all waking up and feeling excited at the prospect of what we’ll achieve this year, or at least we will be once the hangover subsides…

But, it’s not just a new year, it’s a new decade and the world is our oyster!

Let’s make sure 2020 is a great year by creating goals that are centre around what is going to make us happy.

Scrap the New Year’s Resolution that you make every year and give up on by mid-January. Instead, focus on small goals that you can build on. You don’t have to make huge shifts in the first two weeks to feel like you’re achieving something! Design your goals so you’re making small changes in the right direction.

You want to lose weight? Make a resolution to start walking for 20 minutes on your lunch break or have a healthy smoothie for breakfast every morning.

You want to save up for an amazing holiday? Make a resolution to choose to save the money instead of going to after work drinks on a Friday or having a takeaway on the weekend.

You want to spend more time with friends and family? Make a resolution to leave work on time at least once a week or to ask to work from home one day a week so you don’t waste time commuting.

Whatever it is, don’t try to go from zero to a hundred in a day! New Year’s Resolutions are a recipe for disaster because we try to make too many changes all at once.

Slow down.

Yes, 2020 can be a great year for us if we push ourselves, but we have a whole year to get to where we want to be. Let’s be realistic about what we can achieve in the short term.

‘Tis the season…

I wondered what to write when I realised a blog post would fall on Christmas Day, but then I read this from the lovely @bodyposipanda on Instagram and I knew I couldn’t say it any better.

“Today, I want to hold a little space for the people who aren’t feeling merry or joyful and might be wondering how they’re gonna get through the holiday season.

The people who lost someone this year and are bracing themselves for the first time without them.

The people who are going home to guaranteed body shaming and fatphobia.

The people whose mental health issues won’t magically disappear just because it’s Christmas.

The people with eating disorders who are worried about holding onto recovery when everything is so food-centred this time of year.

The people who are struggling to afford every day life and might go into debt trying to keep up with celebrations.

The queer kids who aren’t able to fully be themselves around family because it might not be safe.

The people gathering strength to fight against racist comments round the dinner tables.

The people who don’t drink anymore and will have to keep explaining why because who doesn’t drink over the holidays?

The carers, the retail workers, the hospital staff, everyone working extra time under extra pressure for not enough extra pay.

Anyone who’s just feeling overwhelmed and like they can’t keep up with it all.

I see you. And I want you to know that it’s totally okay to feel exactly how you feel. To get through this year however you can. To protect and preserve yourself whenever you are able to. And to take this season a day at a time.”

Slowing Down

Alex and I spent this weekend in Copenhagen – somewhere I’d recommend to anyone if they have the chance to go!

The city’s history is evident all around, with stunning architecture and cobbled streets combining to create an idyllic setting.

As we wandered around the city’s streets, I felt a similar sense of peace as I do in many other cities on the Continent. There’s an innate knowing that life is lived at a slower pace. The frantic, impatient pace of London, or any other UK city for that matter, wasn’t present as people casually made their way about their day.

I felt wonderfully relaxed while we were away, but as soon as we landed back in Edinburgh, my mind started racing with thoughts of when I could do the Christmas food shop, buy those last few presents and make time to see friends and family over the next couple of weeks.

For all the joy and happiness that Christmas brings, stresses come with it too, so it made me smile when I got into work today and my daily quote calendar had these words of wisdom to share: “The muddiest water clears as it is stilled. And out of that stillness, life arises.” Wayne Dyer

All too quickly I had left the calm and serenity of Copenhagen behind and fallen back into bad habits that lead to feelings of anxiety.

Anyone else guilty of doing this?

I needed a reminder that stillness is good and we don’t need to be racing around in order to get everything done.

Whenever I feel myself operating from a place of stress, I’m going to try to channel a Copenhagen resident and remember to slow down. Could you benefit from doing this too?

 

I forgot…

I cannot tell you how much those two words having been winding me up lately.

Every time they emerge from Alex’s mouth, I find my face morphing into an ‘are you f*cking serious’ look.

There had been some underlying tensions in our relationship for a short while, but Alex was none the wiser…

I’d asked him to do a number of things that still hadn’t been done and it had been his turn to clean the bathroom for the last couple of weeks. Determined not to ask him to do something that should’ve already been on his radar, I clung onto the vain hope that I would one day wake up to find him cleaning of his own accord. Wishful thinking, that as time went on, resulted in one very passive-aggressive wife…

While this is just a silly anecdote about my other half not doing his fair share of the household chores (no shock there), it is indicative of how little things can become big things if you’re not communicating.

As a couple, the differences in our personalities work to our advantage most of the time, but they do sometimes lead to frustrations. A little to and fro is an inescapable part of any relationship – romantic or not – and communication is the key to making sure it doesn’t breakdown past the point of no return.

I wish I didn’t have to remind Alex to do things, but I know deep down that there is never anything malicious behind his actions (or lack thereof). He just doesn’t work in the same way that I do. When something is on my to-do list, I can’t relax until it’s done. Alex, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a to-do list…

Have you found yourself getting frustrated with anyone in your life lately? Can you honestly say you’ve communicated effectively and told them outright what you need from them? If not, do it now. And if you feel like you already have, do it again.

I can easily talk myself out of repeating what I need from Alex because I feel like it falls on deaf ears sometimes, but if I’m not communicating with him when something is bothering me, I’m just as much to blame for any strain that is put on our relationship. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask you don’t get, so many sure you’re asking for what you need from the other person in your relationship.

Judging Yourself

As I’ve said before, I’m an avid reader of self help books and judgement is a topic that features in most of them. Authors explain that you must look inside when you’re judging yourself or someone else because it’s often indicative of something deeper going on.

This concept has never resonated with me more than when I started to drive a pink car. I bought it because it was cheap, not because it was pink – something I explain to people every chance I get, which is rather telling in itself.

I wouldn’t say I’m the most confident of drivers, especially when it comes to parking, and when I began driving a car that made it ridiculously obvious that a ‘woman driver’ was at the wheel, all manner of fears arose. I was scared of how I would be perceived because I personally had so much judgement towards people who drive pinks cars…

In the beginning, I would read into the behaviour of other drivers towards me on the road and feel like I was doing something wrong. Now, I think it’s hilarious when a man thinks he’ll be able to cut in front of me at the next junction because I know I’ll make a speedy getting away from the traffic lights we’re at.

My attitude has shifted and I’m less judgmental towards myself, and time has been a factor in that. There was no escaping the judgment I felt around this because I drive my car every day. I couldn’t avoid it and instead had to deal with the judgment I was experiencing.  

I soon realised that the fact it was pink wasn’t the problem; the problem was that the colour of the car was louder and more attention-grabbing than I was comfortable with. As someone who usually prefers to fly under the radar, driving such a noticeable car didn’t sit right with who I felt I was as a person.

If I hadn’t been forced to confront this, I don’t think I’d have ever reached this conclusion. With this in mind, I think it’s really important to spend some time noticing our judgements and getting to the root of what’s causing them.

When you last judged yourself or someone else, what really triggered it?

We all judge one another constantly and we’re unlikely to ever be free of it, but what we can do is become more mindful of when judgment occurs and stop it taking such a hold. Whether you’re judging yourself or judging someone else, remember that a little compassion can go a long way.

Give Yourself Some Credit

By now, you all know I love a good quote that I stumble across on Instagram, and I thought this one was a beauty!

You've handled everything

As someone who experiences anxiety, I love everything about this quote.

Fear can impact our lives in a number of ways. From holding us back from things that seem of little consequence at the time to crippling us in ways we can’t explain, it can stop us from reaching our true potential.

Seeing it presented in this way and knowing that it was true was very comforting to me. I have handled every situation that I’ve feared and I felt the need to give myself some credit for that.

Do you need to give yourself some credit too? My guess is that you do.

No matter the situations you’ve faced, you’re still here and you’re still breathing.

As Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear and do it anyway, because you know from experience that you can handle it.

A Flexible Approach

Would you say you’re flexible in your approach to life?

I’m not!

Flexibility is a constant journey for me.

As an advocate for being organised, I struggle when things don’t go as planned. I know I need to learn to be more adaptable and that’s something my laidback husband is always encouraging me to do.

When we approach life from a position of ease, we develop an innate knowing that we can adjust to whatever life throws at us. We can gracefully navigate our days and any obstacles we encounter are less likely to push us off course.

There’s the old adage about two trees that I think this is extremely fitting here. One tree moves freely with the wind in a storm, while the other refuses to bend and its branches eventually snap under the strain.

I know I need to release my attachment to making sure things go exactly as I planned – life just doesn’t work that way. Instead, we need to use being flexible to our advantage. Rather than rigidly sticking to our guns, we must work with the new set of circumstances we are presented with, and seek out the best way to reach the desired outcome.

Stretching our bodies to become more flexible is commonplace and we must strengthen our minds to do the same. With this in mind, how can you try to be more accommodating as things unexpectedly change?