Lianne Williams

Mental Health

My Happiness Project: APRIL 'What can my body do?'

Health & Body, Mental HealthLianne WilliamsComment
April what can my body do.jpg

I'm ready to learn about myself in a whole new way. Through my body

A few years ago when I was having mental health dramas it was recommended to me by my GP that I should take up Yoga to help tackle my stress. As someone who spent their life being blessed with a very forgiving body, lifestyle and diet that naturally kept me fairly healthy & strong I obviously decided I knew better and ignored all that advice and struggled on regardless.

Puurrrlese. How the hell was a bit of exercise going to make me feel better in my head?

I looked at these weirdos running about outside in the rain ‘for fun’ and just figured they did it because it made them feel important rather then actually have a measurable scientific input on their mood. Or they were just smug because they were lithe and skinny. I don’t know. Whatever.

Fast forward to 2015 and I attend a Burlesque class and oh dearie me... I couldn’t even touch my toes let alone move gracefully. To be fair I’ve never been able to touch my toes but that wasn’t the point. Despite possessing some bizarre genetics that enabled me to slip straight back into my size 8 jeans after having a baby, I could feel my body was becoming stiffer, slower and finally... after baby 3.... heavy.  

I’m not going to bore you with my weight or my diet or my fitness regime. (Nobody likes a gym bore) But for April I decided to introduce myself to something way way way way way (further..... keep going.... bit more....) way out of my comfort zone.

Exercise.

A pregnancy dictated by strong carb cravings and a weak pelvis meant I ate a lot of incredible food but couldn’t move much at the same time. 41 weeks later and some how I’d put on weight, and worse still, had become sluggish, achy and slow. 

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So whilst designing my happiness project I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to not only recover my body from 9 months of cake, roast potatoes, cheese and pasta (I REGRET NOTHING), I also figured I could have some fun with it too and approach exercise as a new fun hobby that I could carry on for like... ever... 

This month has gone in a blink of an eye. Starting with a particularly healthy holiday to Center Parcs where I challenged myself to do moronic things like run up a hill pushing a pram and wonder why I felt like I was dying after, I also walked 10,000 steps a day, went swimming, played tennis and generally woke my body up in preparation for a harder challenge- The Fit Yummy Mummy workout programme.

Yes you heard me.

My body has supported and birthed 3 human beings and it is worn out, sore and in need of attention. Jumping into some trendy workout aimed at feisty 20 year olds who aren’t sleep deprived, doing the school run, covered in baby poo or struggling with hormones loosening every joint in your body (including my thumbs- bizarrely) I needed to find something that would work with the very real physical limitations of my mum-bod and would respect that I don’t have hours to fritter away on complicated meal plans or hour long workouts. I’ve got 15 minutes. That’s it. Holly’s Fit Yummy Mummy course manages that. 4 weeks in and I can see and feel a difference in my body. I’m stronger and yes.... calmer and feeling more energetic. I take it back. You’re not smug gits after all. There is a genuine serenity that comes from torturing my body with squats and push ups.

I’m fascinated. 

Hence why this months quote is: 

'What can my body do?'

This months tasks have been; 

Move: Dance, Jump, Stretch.

So a fitness regime is just one facet of this experience. Once my fitness is at a stable point I want to try other more interesting activities- hula hooping, tennis, dance, Pilates, Lyra. Dare I say it... netball... cricket maybe? They’ve all caught my attention in the past but I’ve always felt far too inadequate to take part. I mean there’s beginner and then there’s complete and utter physical disaster, like me. I need to prepare before I can even dream of being a beginner.

Meditate. Hypnotise. Affirm.

I strongly believe in the power of the mind and if I can hack my brain to support my new active lifestyle better then of COURSE I’m going to sign up for that. I’ve been enjoying the Aloe Bud app (only very recently released) that helps remind me to do simple basic tasks that frequently slip my mind as a new mother.

Learn the glamour tricks

Short cuts?! Oh no. There are very few short cuts to a healthy strong body. But there are PLENTY of quick fixes to save time, money... to be more glamorous, to feel more.... expensive. And why the fuck shouldn’t I? I’ve EARNED IT. Natural beauty has never liked me anyway, so let’s see what I can do with my body when I’m allowed to get creative with it. Surprisingly there isn’t much that’s grabbed my attention. I’ve already mastered a lot of the tricks I feel would be useful to me. My current focus has been trying to tidy up my poor sleep deprived face. Nothing that a bit of eye cream and white eyeliner can’t fix. I hope.

Fix what's broken. Heal myself.

I’m at that stage now where my body should be close to being normal again. But it’s not. I have ferociously powerful hormones so it’s important I do whatever I need to do to recover and re-balance myself as quickly and healthily as possible. And if there’s something not right I need to get myself fixed ASAP. Last time I was here in 2011 a cervical examination saved my life so checking in with my health and getting any niggles looked at, is time very well spent. 

Set a challenge

Which is obviously to complete the 16 weeks of Fit Yummy Mummy. Other possible goals are to touch my toes without bending my knees and to beat Mr. Williams at an arm wrestle. For now though I'll settle for managing to do 30 push ups without crying. (I DID IT BTW)

Goal:

Explore what my body is capable of. Who am I? What can I do? Prove to myself I can change and improve right before my eyes.

My Happiness Project: March, 'Spring Clean'

Organisation, Mental HealthLianne WilliamsComment
March Spring Clean.jpg

Spring is here and it's time for a tidy up!

During the past two months of Self Care and Connecting with Others I realised that organisation and feeling uncluttered was imperative to my happiness and serenity, as well as my creativity.

'Keep only what sparks joy'

I’ve been tackling essential areas since before Christmas because the house had slowly become a complete tip during pregnancy, and I can’t stand the maintenance clutter requires. I know that if I organise it now, take the extra work out of putting it all away, it’ll make life so much easier for me (and I won’t be embarrassed having guests over, let alone clients or maybe even art group members if I ever find the confidence to stretch myself that far).

I wouldn’t say I’m particularly house proud but yeah, I hate visual clutter and I've been known to purge a boyfriends bedroom once or twice when it got beyond filthy.

Nobody else seems to notice things piling up at home though so it’s this constant battle between everyone leaving stuff out and me cramming it back into drawers again. I've tried to make spaces for everything and this is the best way of dealing with it but if it's only me who uses those spaces, or even cares, then the house quickly becomes claustrophobic. Which then blocks me. Not to mention. I make mess. I make a LOT of mess. And it’s hard tidying that up as well as everyone else’s.

I also like to know what I have lying about in drawers and boxes to make sure I use everything. I have buyers guilt. You know that feeling when you buy something and don’t use it enough or at all? A good spring clean is intensely healing and rejuvenating. I’ve been craving one for some time and now I've had my baby and the children are moving bedrooms it’s a perfect time to get stuck in.

Konmari

Konmari is the Japanese Art of Tidying Up, a festival of Tidying that takes your through every possession you own and teaches you to only keep what Sparks joy. I’ve done it before but it needs a maintenance check up- especially as I need to engage 4 other people in the process who aren’t Konmari converts like me. I need to encourage everyone to take a moment and clarify their stuff. I too need the opportunity to sit with my things and reassess if they still spark joy. I’ve been massively inspired by Project 333 so that will feature this month too in one way or another. 

Pass on the skills

Konmari or a spring clean can only achieve so much unless everyone within that spaces starts to respect the changes that have been made so this time I want to put extra effort into passing on the skills of housework and self care to my children. I don't know how cooperative they'll be but they're old enough now to at least understand they won't be getting away with it for much longer, and not only that, a clean and tidy house is a NICE thing to have.

Prepare and Invest

By preparing to be organised I’ll help myself succeed, so by this I mean make sure I’ve got enough bin bags, boxes for stuff I can recycle or sell on, and a skip if need be. Luckily I think most of the stuff that needs to be got rid of will be paper goods or small items that can be resold. I just need to make sure I have the space to store them or dispose of things before they get in my way. I also need to invest in the right furniture and storage. Having a place for everything makes life so much easier and straight forward. You don’t need to shoe horn an item into an already cluttered space- you just put it back and that’s that.  

Fresh Flowers

One of my Christmas presents was an annual subscription to Bloom & Wild flowers which I absolutely love. Fresh flowers delivered through my post box every month. And they’re so pretty. Fresh flowers are a final touch to the home which suggests completion and organisation. When I’ve got fresh flowers out it says that I’ve got everything under control and I’m giving myself a bit of a treat- whether it’s true doesn’t matter. Fresh flowers also remind me that winter is nearly over and life is going to begin returning to the garden. That there is life outside of the home I've been confined too for so long.

Take Pride in the Results

I'm going to take photos and admire my hard work. I’ve always struggled with interior design and making a welcoming home environment, so I hope I can teach myself something new this month and impress myself a bit. 

My Goal:

Peace happens when you can let go of things that no longer serve you, mentally or materially.

My Happiness Project: FEBRUARY, 'Connecting with Others'

Mental HealthLianne WilliamsComment
February Connecting with others.jpg

This February I’ll be aiming to Connect with Others for my Happiness Project

After several weeks of being pretty much house bound either from being heavily pregnant (seriously, getting in and out of the car was hard enough) and then last month just spending time getting to know my new son, I'm a little nervous to enter February knowing I've set myself the challenge of Connecting with Others for my Happiness Project.

Being self employed means that I'm used to working alone but with that comes occasional, but very intense, loneliness.

I don't have colleagues per say. My work happens a lot online. I can spend weeks working on something completely alone and not even realise. And being the primary carer for my children means I have even less free time to socialise or network with other adults unless they're also mentally stretched parents too- which isn't exactly the type of people I would instinctively choose to hang out with... don't get me wrong, mums & dads are awesome, I just want friendships who I have more in common with then just the fact we have children.

For the most part I prefer living my life this way. I find being around people for too long exhausting (fun, but yeah... EXHAUSTING) and although the idea of going to an event alone or going on stage doesn't bother me on the most part I have a real problem with engaging in small talk and allowing my true humour and personality to shine unless I’m with people I know really, really well. I’m a typical INFJ.

Still, having fulfilling relationships is a fundamental part of human happiness and if I isolate myself for long enough there’s a very good chance my mental health will start to suffer. I feel loneliness very, very deeply if I’m not careful. It takes me to a dark place and despite the unhealthy and over romanticised stereotypes about artists, when my mental health suffers I make crap art... if I make any art at all.

I knew that after having my baby it would be important for me to make sure I was making an effort to maintain contact with others, not just for this stage of my life (it’s well known that new parents can suffer greatly from loneliness) but connecting with others is also vital for my long term happiness. I don’t want to be one of these women who vanishes from society after having children or forgets to see their friends. I want to continue to meet new and interesting people... forever... not just at baby groups or at work.

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I’ve been recommended the book ‘How to win friends and influence people’ which I see is considered a classic. So far it makes a lot of sense to me and I’ve made my months quote, ‘You can make more friends in one month by taking an interest in other people then trying to make them interested in you’. Because I admit... I really struggle with this. For two reasons.

The first being my own ego whispering incessantly that others will most definitely, absolutely, find me boring; utterly, painfully boring, or rude, or stupid, so it’s imperative (see ‘life or death matter’) that I tell them all the interesting things about myself before they judge me poorly. Then the second reason, as a result of being bullied and ignored by my peers at school, I’m actually truly petrified of asking people about themselves. There’s this very potent fear that I’ll be rejected for: crossing the line socially, or intruding, or ever considering myself worthy enough to even think I was allowed to talk to someone. To the point where I wonder if I’m allowed to wish you happy birthday. Or if I can compliment your outfit. Or say hello. Or EVEN look at you. I know that sounds crazy but you have no idea how many times I’ve been slammed for saying ‘Hi’ at someone, or even just wanting to sit down at a desk. Stuff like that rots inside of you. 17 years later and I’m still punishing myself and carrying on what a room of bitchy little girls started. Those little girls still have a say on whether I make eye contact. I’m 33.

So this month I’m challenging myself to:

Try small talk

A real weakness. Even though I genuinely find talking about the weather interesting, beyond that, I’m stumped. I can talk about myself but unless you offer a bit of information about yourself I’m screwed. Learning some scripts or conversation techniques is my first port of call I think. If I’m prepared, I can learn how to chit chat comfortably. I’m prepared to try it if it means I come across friendlier but I’ll be honest... I’m VERY sceptical about making friends as an adult now. I promise to remain open minded though.

Smile and make eye contact

I can do this some times, maybe if it’s a lovely sunny morning and the children are in a good mood and I’ve already spoken to a few different people but most of the time there’s a fear that if I make myself warm and approachable someone’s going to come along and try and burst that bubble. There’s always someone looking for a fight isn’t there? Keeping my head down and chanting ‘I’m invisible, leave me alone’ has worked quite well for me but it’s starting to back fire because even though I do avoid confrontation I’ve also become invisible to all the people who might actually like me and support me. Don’t get me started on dating. Nobody ever noticed me. Ever.

It’s so bad now I actually even get stepped on sometimes.

So if I need to smile and make more eye contact to get people to see me, I can try. This will be one of the harder tasks this month but I will try. 

Love Languages

This is a fantastic concept (check out the book if you’re interested) which discusses how everyone likes to receive love in different ways. Some of us feel loved when others give us physical affection, other people like gifts, verbal declarations... it’s very interesting. There’s a quiz to find out what your love language is and then when you know what your family and friends prefer, you can focus on demonstrating your affection for them in a way they can truly appreciate and vice versa. Often clashes occur when the wrong language is being spoken between people. This month I’ll be trying to implement love languages more into my interactions with others (since it’s Valentines Day this month) as well as make my own love language clear (I like face to face quality time if you haven’t guessed). Anytime I focus on love languages the people around me seem to really appreciate it.

Open my Home

Due to work I regularly move about and usually my home is in a state of packing, unpacking or renovation. Our house is at the stage where we just need to find a lampshade for the dining room and I think we’re done. As a result I’m feeling ready to welcome people into my home. Until now I’ve been quite wary of inviting people in. My doors have always been shut because I didn’t want people to see the mess, the ugliness (We’re in property development so we live in houses that make financial sense rather then homes that talk to the heart- I didn’t even see our current home until we had the keys and were moving in). But now it’s time to change that. My doors are open. Come in for tea. Wine. A chat. Stay over. Play dates. It’s all good. I want to make my home a sociable, welcoming place to be. Once upon a time I actually wanted to run art groups or classes from my home... what happened to that person? Maybe it's time she came back.

Witness others

When it comes to love one of the most profound observations I’ve heard is that our greatest need as individuals is to live a life feeling like we’ve been truly witnessed by someone. That’s what love is to me. Knowing that someone had really seen me. All of me. And has behaved in a way that has allowed me to feel safe being seen. Physically, emotionally, intellectually. Does that make sense? I suppose it includes all those ideas about ‘being yourself’, ‘feeling comfortable’, ‘having unconditional support’, ‘knowing that you were heard’. Now I know I can’t change anyone, nor should I expect anyone to witness me just because I've asked for it, so instead I’m going to push myself to lead by example and really witness those around me. I’m going to listen more then talk. Ask questions about them more then share more about myself. And watch people. Especially my children. Because they deserve to be witnessed more then anyone. I'm hoping this will in turn improve my observational skills as a creative. People are interesting right?

My Goal:

Establish friendships that mean something to me and improve existing connections. 'It's not what you know, it's who you know'.

My Happiness Project: JANUARY, 'Self Care'

Family, Announcements, Mental HealthLianne WilliamsComment

There’s one 8lb 3oz reason why I decided to start my 2018 Happiness Project with a month dedicated to Self Care...

This little guy: 

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Introducing my sweetie, Jacob, who joined us on the 29th December 2017 after an absolutely perfect labour/delivery and has been spending the last week dominating my every living moment because he is so damn cute and I can’t put him down even if I wanted to. 

He is now a week old, my older children are back at school and my husband has gone back to work after Christmas and New Year so I'm right in the throng of it all, recovering from labour, dealing with my body going back to it's pre-pregnancy state, hormones, nursing, sleep deprivation and just getting to grips with things like how to use the pram and you know... bonding with this brand new person who's just walked into my life and calls me Mummy.

Basic self care, sleeping, eating, drinking enough water, can all easily get put to one side and from past experience I can recall how much harder that made things, so this time I promised myself that once I'd given birth I would commit to making life as easy as possible for myself and showing myself as much care as I do my baby. 

Welcome January 2018 and the opportunity to put all those things into place.

My Quote for the month?...

'You can't pour from an empty cup'

I've been amazed at how much better I feel when I feed myself kindly, take my iron supplements, drink enough water, take care of my appearance, allow myself a minute or two of silence and solace, napping in the day and weirdly- doing the housework.

Even though I'm exerting a little more energy to commit to doing all those tasks, the pay off of feeling looked after, fed, hydrated, rested, comfortable and organised means I feel happier, and far less stressed.

The task's I've chosen this month cover a variety of self care areas that I wanted to commit to either because I felt they were key to my happiness, or were areas I knew i'd struggle and I wanted to remind myself not to avoid them.

Do the Minimum. But do it.

This is in regards to completing tasks, mainly housework, and it's something I've introduced to my family too. The idea is, don't aim to do everything perfectly, just do the minimum that needs to be done to get a task over and done with as quickly as possible. And most importantly of all, DO IT. Don’t just leave jobs to fester and get out of control. At the end of every day I’m doing a quick tidy up, no matter how exhausted I am, because when I wake up the next day the feeling of being in a tidy, organised space is utter BLISS. 

Heal my body

I have to admit, I didn't have a particularly difficult labour. In fact, I had one of those dream labours you only hear about in hypnobirthing books so I find myself in an incredibly privileged position in terms of recovery. But none the less I still need to heal my body. Pregnancy and labour are intense. It changes you biologically and physically, and all of that has suddenly lurched full speed into reverse. So that means listening to my body and helping it along. It means accepting life at the pace it dictates and loving myself even when my hair falls out or doing my exercises to repair my diastatis recti- which is particularly bad this time. This is a reminder to heal. Take my pain relief. Eat well to sustain nursing. To get comfortable. To say ‘no, I’m busy right now’.

January Self Care sleep.jpg

Sleep

Obvious really? I’m a fussy, light sleeper so sleep right now needs careful maintenance, especially as I’m also the type of person who prefers 8-10hrs a night. I doubt I’ll get that for a while but I also know from experience I can function on 4hrs broken sleep a day so I’m going to aim to give myself 6-8hrs sleep a day, whether that’s at night or through napping during the day. Either way it MUST be an absolute priority. Sleep is essential to my well being and I am on a fast track to misery if I don’t respect it.

Feel beautiful. Indulge yourself. 

For me, I can tell if I’m struggling when I don’t take care of my appearance or forget to indulge myself once in a while. It’s the first thing of my self care regime to slip. This isn’t about deliberately putting myself in the path of inconvenience or expense however, it is about defining what REAL indulgence and luxury feels like to me and that can vary from wearing my favourite lipstick to spending the whole day reading. My indulgences this week have included buying a comfortable nursing bra (why are they so torturously uncomfortable???), treating myself to pate and a walk to the shops. It also forces me to think about myself once in a while, remember who I am, and not get too lost within the label of Mother. Ultimately I’m Lianne first, and that should always be honoured.

Ask for help. Check your ego. 

Making sure I ask for help seemed like a great way to practice self care, but history will testify, this isn’t one of my strong points.  Relying on others, asking for help... it all makes me a tad anxious. Not to mention the fear of being rejected, let down or then ultimately being left to fend for myself anyway. A lot of the time it looks far easier to struggle alone then to ask for help but I know deep down, figuring out how to delegate and trust others to watch my back is vital to my well being right now. This month I’m going to try and explore that and find ways to lighten my load that don’t leave me exposed or uncomfortable. Starting with smaller favours and then dealing with any problems as the occur. Ultimately the buck will always fall on me but if I make sure I communicate my needs clearly, ask for help at the right time, choose the right people for the job, and try and not take hesitation/refusal personally, I think I’ll feel much better relying on others.

Goal

To establish a healthy, happy foundation for more intense tasks later on in the year.