Thought of the Day: Monotony

Monotony

Thank you to all my readers for your kind patience with my erratic posting schedule this April and May. The various bank holidays in England and my trips away have wreaked havoc to my usual routine. There is so much to share with you but it seems that there are not enough hours in the day to fit everything in.

Continuing my journey on self-compassion, I have tried to be kinder to myself by being less critical when I don’t achieve 100%. Yet, I have not been able to stop an encroaching sense of guilt for not completing things I have set out for myself; such as my blogging and dedicating time for other projects that I care about. Though I had previously recognised it would be a long journey in developing self-compassion, my impatience with the lack of progress is also holding me back which then slows me down even further…

In the past few weeks, I have also developed a trapped sense of monotony: the everyday churn of waking up, travelling to work, work, commuting back home or going to the gym, chores, washing and, sleeping. This feeling does not go away, even when my routine has switched up, such as seeing my friends and family during the holidays. No matter way I do, I couldn’t seem to shake this feeling of monotony. 

Monotony

When researching this topic, there is a clear link between boredom and monotony, but in my opinion, they should not be used interchangeably. As previously written on the blog, it is possible to embrace boredom from time to time; it can be used to stimulate creativity. However, I believe that monotony is chronic boredom and tips the scale to negativity. There are others who have argued otherwise and believes that monotony frees up time to think about other stuff.

Monotony is defined as “lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine.”

I believe the key emphasis is on “tedious”. Monotony impacts an individual differently, where some people cannot live in monotony and require frequent and or excessive changes in their lives. I believe I am one of those people, so much so that I would get upset if I have the same lunch and/or dinner two days in a row (but I am fine having the same breakfast every day; don’t ask me why!…)

On the other hand, other people become used to it. It is also possible that certain monotonous activities can become an “addiction” because it is so comforting, such as a drinking a cup of coffee/tea in the morning, or having something sweet after dinner. I struggle to agree with this argument and rather melodramatic. Can’t something be routine without it being monotonous? There is nothing wrong with seeking comfort in predictability but can monotony be negative to our mental wellbeing? 

Routine vs. Monotony

From the readings (though there is not much on this topic), monotony is bad. However, there are many advocates on the positivity of monotony whereby it is possible to make life simpler and calmer because monotony creates a structure which results in a calm feeling and removes decision making. The simplification of your life helps you conserve energy for things are more important. 

However, I fundamentally disagree with those arguments. This is because I believe that the articles confuse routine with monotony. The fact I brush my teeth in the morning and night is good for my dental health, or going to the gym three times a week is good for my physical and mental wellbeing. Yes, it takes away decision making and allows my mind to wander (similar to boredom), however, this is a routine, not monotony. Routine is monotony without the feeling of “tediousness”. For example, I really dislike dusting the house and associate it with something negative – whenever I complete the task it feels very monotonous. The fine line between routine and monotony is, therefore, in the mind. It is important to recognise the signs and then be proactive to change it. 

Mental Health Check

Through the course of writing this blog post which has taken me several weeks; I have had the chance to step back and assess my mental health and I believe that the following may have triggered my negative mental state. 

  • Lack of reading – I have been struggling to find a good book to get my teeth into. I was reading “Start with why” by Simon Sinek but was couldn’t engage with the book, so I thought I would change it up and read “Little History of Philosophy” by Nigel Warburton, but was not taking much in. Finally, reading “Unnatural Causes” by Richard Shepherd kicked me back into my reading routine and mentally felt better and refreshed.  I am really surprised by how reading has become such an important part of my mental health. Others have also found that this can help with monotony. [Note: not paid for the links, just thought I would be helpful!]
  • Lack of Time Out – As an introvert, socialising is really tough. I love spending time with my friends and engage in deep meaningful conversations but it takes a toll when I am doing it multiple times a week. I was not listening to myself and allowed social obligations to dictate my diary instead of being strict with my time and recovery
  • Lack of Routine – As emphasised previously, having a routine does not equal to monotony. With many friends visiting and travelling to Vienna & Barcelona, I did not follow the comfortable routine I have developed over the past few months, particularly when spending weekends to visit art galleries or museums; (I had to squeeze in a lot of activities in one day rather than time to reflect after the visits). This has also meant that I have not spent much time with my boyfriend which is never a good thing! 

By failing to recognise the importance of routine and checking into my mental health, things that were pleasurable had become monotonous and negative.  

Other Tips & Ideas to Break Monotony

There are others who have suggestions on how to “escape the monotony of life”.

  • For those who are adventurous, I would suggest checking out this article. Clare Healy focuses on the need to being outside and also travelling, such as becoming a weekender nomad by visiting and staying in other cities to break away from your normal routine. 
  • For those that need convincing that you are number one and it is important to invest in yourself, read this article here. It is a great article on overall life tips (not necessarily to tackle monotony). The key take away points are that you should always invest in yourself, whether a nicer holiday away or learning something new – you are always worth those extra pennies. Take risks and own your own time.

In the past few weeks, I have read more and tried to resume my routine of going to the gym and galleries. I can feel myself slowly recharging and become my more positive self, and not surprisingly, life is feeling a little less monotonous! Have you ever experienced monotony? How did you overcome the negative mental hurdle? As always, I would love to hear from you! 

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those who are sporty, a sports example of routine vs monotony can be found here

Thought of the Day: Self Compassion

Self Compassion

Happy Sunday everyone and welcome back to another long read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog. Last week, we discussed confidence and it was a chance to embark on a long but hopefully positive journey. However, this week I seemed to have taken a step back. It was a particularly difficult week and I could feel that I was not myself.

I have been trying to lose weight for my own personal health and to feel more comfortable in my own skin. But let’s be honest, there are social pressures to look a certain way especially when I spend so much time on Instagram looking at other inspirational women. However, this week I managed to put on weight which was extremely frustrating. I tried to “fail forward” by telling myself that it was a poor result but I need to push myself for the next coming week and lose what I put on and more.

Though this is not the main reason for my poor mental health this week, it certainly was a catalyst and impacted my relationships with others. I was taking a lot of issues back home; though my boyfriend tried his hardest to get me out of this “funk”; it proved to be futile. I am very grateful for my supportive network, but messaging my sister and communicating it with my boyfriend made it worse. My feelings of inadequacy grew because I had to reach out for help and inconveniencing others. Frustratingly, I was unable to effectively communicate how I was feeling and I just “couldn’t just get over it”; which then furthered spiralled into negative thoughts on how I could not get anything right. Worst still important people in my life think that a lack of confidence is “unattractive” which went back to the topic of not looking attractive and I put on weight this week, and this was an obvious fact to prove my inadequacies…the spiral goes on. 

This is why I wanted to focus on self-compassion this week. I know that I am very self-critical, however, I believe I need this to push myself forward and be “successful”, “effective” and “high achieving”. I have days where I believe that things are going right and feel awesome but these are plagued by many more days when I look and the mirror all that is staring back at me are my faults and flaws.

Self Esteem

Through my research on this topic, it seemed to be important to distinguish the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion, they are very different and I have been too focused on the wrong thing.

Self-esteem is defined as your feelings about yourself (positive or negative), as well as how you think other people value you and feel towards you.

When we become concerned about our self-esteem, it is necessary to compare yourselves to others. This is how you judge whether you are “better” or have “progressed” further than your peers. My constant comparisons are: Am I earning enough? Am I as successful as them in my career? Do I have the same comforts/lifestyle as them? They have already bought their dream home, when will I ever afford mine? They are getting married, will I ever be married? Do I look as beautiful as her? How do I get myself as slim as her?   You are probably thinking, girl, get a grip! Why are you comparing yourself to others? Though it is clear that I am overly concerned with my self-esteem and what I think of others and what others think of me.

It is clear that my thoughts are negative and for someone who stresses out really easily, it is a double whammy of emotions (Something else to work on…). In such instances, the body’s primitive response kicks in – the fight or flight response. In order to motivate yourself, do you judge yourself harshly and yourself a mental kick to push harder (fight)? Or do you run away and avoid the situation altogether and just “shut down” (flight)? I certainly can recall situations where I have selected the fight or flight response, or flip-flopped between the two.  High achievers consider themselves with more at stake because it is necessary to maintain an image of competence or success. The faster you are sprinting any little bump along the road will trip you up and the harder you will fall and any trip is seen as a failure. 

Being over concerned about your self-esteem does not help to build resilience. Self-esteem is fragile and forces us to becomes dependent on the acceptance and praise of others. In the era of Instagram and a constant online presence; the search for instant gratification and recognition by others through “likes” or “followers” has had a negative impact on our mental health, particularly mine. I recognise the irony that I write a blog and have a presence on Instagram as well. I could just turn away from it all but social connectivity is also fundamentally a human trait. For me, I wanted to tackle the issue more head-on than to remove my online presence but noting that this is not for everyone. There are more and more books coming out on digital detoxes etc.

If self-esteem shouldn’t be the focus, then what is self-compassion and why is this a better model?

Self Compassion

Self-compassion involves applying a sense of warm, positive regard towards yourself. It does not differ from the compassion you give to others. It is when you can empathise and appreciate that things don’t always go according to plan and it is okay to make mistakes. Self-compassion is just when you do it to yourself.

Without it, you are faced with feelings of negative self-esteem. The feeling you are unworthy and in its extreme form could develop into addictions, unhealthy relationships, hollow success, or material possessions. I am sure my boyfriend would say I have fallen into the material possessions category! This can potentially go on to negatively impact your mental wellbeing and develop into mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

From my readings, I understand that it is necessary to work on my inner struggles and learn to love myself. Do not be mistaken that self-compassion is not self-pity. It is not an “excuse” card nor a lazy way out. It is not a sign of weakness. Self-compassion requires vulnerability and the courage to face our insecurities as this is the way to learn self-compassion and acceptance.

“The first step we need to take on the path toward self-compassion is to embrace the most simple and basic fact that when our emotional immune systems are weak we should do everything in our power to strengthen them, not devastate them even further,” – psychologist Guy Winch.

When talking about self-compassion, it is nearly impossible to ignore the research by Dr Kirsten Neff who has also published a book on this topic. I have not yet had a chance to read it, but if I ever get a chance I will give a review when I do! She defines that self-compassion has three components

  1. Self-kindness vs. self-judgment – it is being understanding towards ourselves and recognising that it is okay to be imperfect and that life will throw things at us, but that is okay. If we accept this as inevitable then we can be kinder and sympathetic to ourselves
  2. Common humanity vs. isolation – it is to understand that you are not the only one suffering and that all humans suffer. You are not alone.
  3. Mindfulness vs. over-identification – self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to negative feelings. You have to be mindful of those who are suffering around you and putting your own situation into a larger perspective and try not to get caught up in your own negativity. It means you have to be open to your own emotions and not be judgemental.

If you are interested in learning more, there is a test to check how self-compassionate you areI got a score of 2.23, which unsurprisingly is considered low in self-compassion. A score of 2.5-3.5 indicates you are moderate, and 3.5-5.0 means you are high. It is all well and good knowing a score but the key question is how do we develop more self-compassion? 

Cultivating Self Compassion

  • Practice Mindfulness/Meditation: This is linked to the three elements of self-compassion above; if you find yourself listening to your inner critic and telling yourself stories about your own inadequacies, this is known as over-identification. Be mindful and aware of these thoughts. Acknowledge them and just push them away. The below video is a little exercise you can try for yourself and for those who would like to learn more about standing up to your inner critic, please see this article here
  • Give yourself permission to be imperfect: Stop punishing yourself for your mistakes. It is totally acceptable to fail. You need to accept this feeling, giving yourself the permission might make it easier to accept how you are feeling
  • Express gratitude: I think this is also a topic that is big enough on its own, but feeling a sense of gratitude is very powerful. There is a lot of strength in appreciating what we have right now and who we are right now. Embrace that and you may notice you will develop a gentler voice and move the focus away from our shortcomings.
  • Work with a supportive therapist or coach: Remember my tips are from my own research if you feel that you need extra help, always go to a professional! They are trained to see through all the negative beliefs and can help you find your way back to the amazing person you are and always have been.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. As always I would love to hear from you, so leave a message below or on other social media channels. Remember you are awesome and worthy, so be kind to yourself and others.

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thoughts of the Day: Confidence

Confidence
Welcome back to another Sunday Read on the Pineapple Chicken Blog, this week’s key theme will be on confidence. This is a topic that is close to my heart because it is something I struggle with which meant that this post was particularly difficult to write. Given that I am no expert on the topic, clearly, it is necessary to research and delve deeper into the subject. I believe it is something I have to tackle head-on and make the effort to understand. The internet seriously has an abundance of information. Today, we will just scratch the surface but I hope to keep on discussing it in future posts. Ultimately, the question I want to answer is: will increasing my self-confidence bring positivity to my life?

Firstly, I wanted to thank all my readers for commenting on my blog post “Finding Your Passion”. This completely made my day! I love interacting with you so please do keep sending your feedback/comments through all the various channels. The reason I mention this was because some readers commented on how it can be extremely difficult to find support for their passion or they raised concerns about whether they will succeed; whilst others were extremely positive and believed that “you can do anything when you put your mind to it”. To me, what differs between the two, was the level of confidence in themselves.

What is confidence?

Confidence is about the faith you have in your abilities, the person you are, and how you view your most important relationship — the one with yourself.

Confidence is attained when we’re prepared and self-aware enough to appreciate who we are, faults and all. Being able to appreciate yourself means that confidence can only develop with true belief i.e. you got to believe yourself with conviction. You are not fooling anyone when you are not being true to yourself as we all know that this is not sustainable. Self-belief or confidence has to be authentic, you just can’t fake it.
Confidence is the belief in your own capabilities to succeed, by being confident in your own abilities today, it will reflect the level of performance and mastery you can develop in the future. Basically, it is the key ingredient to drive you forward.

Self Doubt

Confidence touches your past, present and future. It is key to success and requires inner reflection and appreciation of your own self. Honestly, it is no wonder that I do not have much it! Just thinking about my own capabilities and how it will shape my future just makes me hyperventilate. The little voice in my head reminds me that I am not good enough.

Self-doubt is a feeling that is more familiar to me. I understand it stems from fear and negative thinking because I feel it. I have realised that I have consistently stopped myself from trying harder or pursuing things I am passionate about because of the fear of the unknown.

Fear and self-doubt lead us to believe the risk associated with trying something new is greater than the risk of remaining in our current situation.

I have an overactive imagination where I would think of worse case scenarios rather than focus on positive and constructive thoughts. These thoughts are constant spectres in my mind: What if I tried and did not succeed? What if that person doesn’t think I am intelligent enough? What if what I do is just a waste of money and time wasted that I would never get back? What if I am not a good enough girlfriend? What if they don’t think I am good looking/cool/funny enough? The list can go on…

Lack of self-confidence stems from the negative stories we tell ourselves. It is our own imagination and often this is disjointed and distorted from reality. It is unlikely that the people around you are scrutinising your every move and looking out for your mistakes. We need to spend more time listening to our strong inner voice – the voice that says you got this!

Why is confidence important?

Understanding that self-doubt is negative to my mental wellbeing, it would be logical to assume that confidence is important and positive for my wellbeing. Confidence makes all the difference to your hustle, according to this article confidence is how successful people overcome daily obstacles. Confidence is a self-administered magical cure!

Without self-assurance, we are more likely to move towards having negative “perfectionist” traits, such as extreme procrastination or avoidance. You can imagine that without confidence, we would avoid trying something new, we wouldn’t want to push ourselves and, we would become stagnant by avoiding any situation which might cause stress or embarrassment. When we hold ourselves back; it takes away our freedom to be ourselves.

Confidence is critical. It’s an essential ingredient of happiness, an unequivocal component of success and the one thing that stands between us and the person we wish to become.

Cast your mind back, can you recall the last time you felt confident? When you looked in the mirror and thought – looking good? Or after giving that presentation and you couldn’t stop smiling because you knew you kicked ass? Confidence is a positive emotion; it makes you feel good; it makes you glow. It’s an emotion that yields greater self-worth, more happiness and enjoyment, greater strength and capabilities, freedom from social anxiety, and of course — more beneficial and enjoyable interactions with others. Like I said – this magical cure!

Though in all seriousness, confidence seems vital for my path to positivity; so the key question is, how do I build more confidence?

How to build confidence?

Note that the list below is not exhaustive. From my recent searches, everyone has tips and tricks to build more confidence. My list below is just a selection of tips I have read and think are important. If you would like to see more, just let me know in the comment box below!

  • Self Compassion – This is probably the most important thing you can do for yourself. This is why I have put this on the top of the list. I have said this many times before but the message never gets old because I find this difficult myself. You need to have a good relationship with yourself; stop giving yourself a hard time because you don’t deserve it. Stop letting the self-doubt overpower you. You are great and strong; totally embrace it and believe it.
  • Self Reflection – Complimentary to self-compassion is to also be honest with yourself. Self Reflection is necessary, we are not perfect and there is room for improvement. If you want to take that step forward then you have to self reflect. This is not your opportunity to be negative. Start noticing when you’re telling yourself stories. It’s those stories that dictate the way you act, and when they’re negative, your ability to be true to yourself is compromised. Self-reflection is a constructive and positive process. With self-compassion, liberate yourself from your negative thoughts and with self-reflection embrace the courage to improve.
  • Take ActionIt seems obvious that confidence is part of success but one cannot be successful if we don’t turn our thoughts into action. Sometimes it is necessary to think less and take action. As discussed in the topic of passion, you just need to do something. Confidence is the same process. You can keep listening to the negative thoughts in your head – that little voice that beats you down. If you just become deaf to it (even only partially) and just take that first step forward, you are already on your journey to building confidence.
  • Avoid Perfectionism – I have discussed this topic in depth before, but it is really interesting how it is tied to confidence. As mentioned above, we have to notice “perfectionist” traits because it really stop us from having the freedom to be ourselves. Allow yourself to fail because you learn from mistakes, not successes.
  • Comparison to others – not much to say about this as it is self-explanatory. Don’t get me wrong, it is necessary to calibrate where you are from time to time. Comparison to others should be used to check whether you are heading in the right direction. It is not a destination. If you are using it to build on your negative thoughts about yourself. Stop it – it is a waste of time and energy. Nobody has time for that!

I would like to be a person of my word, thus, I will be trying these techniques for myself and will let you know if any of them help me more than others to build my own confidence. I recognise that this is a long and difficult journey, so will keep you posted.

As always, I really would love to hear your stories. Are you a confident individual?

  • If yes, AWESOME, do you have any other tips for me?
  • If no, you are amongst friends and I encourage you to take a step forward and join me on this journey. Be brave – you got this!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Finding Your Passion

Finding Your Passion

Happy Sunday Everyone! 🙂

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, as usual, Sunday on the Pineapple Chicken Blog is a long read on what has been on my mind as I continue my search for positivity. This week’s post is inspired by my boyfriend, though he has not blogged recently, behind the scenes he has been working really hard working on his trading strategy, and a business plan, on top of his day job. He is a doer: when he has his mind set on something it becomes all-consuming (which can be a positive and negative thing). I can feel his neurons firing away. For me, this feels like true passion which is very inspiring.

I realised that I have not felt like this in a long time. I feel like I have no true passion. This might explain the slight undertones of melancholy I have been experiencing over the past few months. I love learning and always in search of the next thing that I can work on or become better at. I mentioned to my boyfriend I felt like I have stalled. Recently, I feel like I have lost a bit of passion, or I was not sure what my passion was…. Do I have one? What is passion? These were all big questions, and honestly, it floored me.

With deeper searching and inward reflection, one potential cause for my little funk might relate to my job where I am now very “comfortable” and I am not sure what the next steps are and how I want to grow. Do I even want to stay in my industry? Or it might be something completely different entirely and I have not stepped outside my comfort zone to explore/discover? Or am I not being grateful for what I have and always in this constant search for something new and shiny?

As any girlfriend would, I relayed my concerns to my boyfriend and his usual supportive self, asked me the following:

  • What do you mean you have “stalled”?
  • Are you sure that you have even started, let alone “stalled”? (ouch!)
  • Is it because you do not have the headspace to think about it? Do I need to give you space?
  • With regards to your job, no one can tell you how to develop your own role/next steps. You need to decide this for yourself, don’t rely on your manager to guide you!

These were very painful truths but I think that was a kick up the butt I needed. I realised that I have been sitting in the backseat of my own life and was waiting for “passion” to land on my lap. I have also recently discussed this with my best friend and she mentioned that when her sisters felt comfortable, they would do something drastic just to switch it up, like quitting a job. Maybe this might be something I need to do.

What is passion?

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

I associate passion with something that is exciting and positive. If you are passionate about something you would have an unlimited motivation to keep working at it. I am sure you have all heard – “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.

Being passionate sounds amazing! The burning desire to make something happen because you care about it. When was the last time you were passionate about something? Personally, I can’t really remember and I really struggled to answer this question when my boyfriend asked me. Even when I told him that I am going to write a blog about passion, he noted that it would be difficult for me since I don’t seem to have one (ouch again!).

After my trip to Chamonix and seeing my friends from my master’s degree, I remembered what passion felt like. During my time at university, this was my sole focus, my “role” was to be a student and work hard towards graduating with a good grade and developing a network of like-minded and passionate individuals. To get me out this funk, I did what every other person would do in this situation and googled “How do I find my passion”? lol!

How do I find my passion?

I was hoping that my Google Search would provide a step by step guide to finding my true passion. I was ready and prepared to do something positive about it. There were a few wishy-washy ones like this article and this one. Somewhat frustratingly a lot related to careers, I did not want to look at what I could do as a job, there were a few articles that were interesting but ultimately, I wanted to learn more about myself. There are a few quizzes out there as well, but they never are any good (for those that clicked on the link, I got: Lifelong Learning).

Unfortunately, I did not find it very inspiring, so I kept digging. The more I searched, the more I realised that there were more articles and posts like this:

I was genuinely shocked by the turn of events as I was expecting rainbows and unicorns and a lot more positivity. In the hours of research and reading for this post, there were some key messages that came up time and time again.

1. Passion is an emotion

Passion is not something that drops out of the sky as some people believe – i.e. forget the ‘Eureka!’ moment. Maybe you are the lucky few that this might happen to, but for most people, you got to work for it. It is a bit like falling in love, your dream man/woman is not just going to casually walk into your life. You need to create the opportunity, pluck up the courage to speak to the other person, engage and court etc. etc. etc. – we can all agree – dating is hard work!

You know what passion is? Passion is an emotion. It’s an emotion without an action. Passion will get you nowhere. Inner drive will get you nowhere unless you act on it. You have to act on your passion. You have to act on your inner drive. Don’t let those feelings stay inside you. You gotta know what to do with them. You gotta know how to make them work to get what you want. – Michael Jordan

2. Do Something

As mentioned above, you need to do something, how will you ever find your passion if you sit on your laurels. Dweck and Greg Walton of Stanford recently performed a study that suggests it might be time to change the way we think about our interests. Passions aren’t “found,” they argue. They’re developed.

Try spending 20 minutes each day thinking about the things that have interested you recently, or any opportunities that you have spotted. Maybe try thinking back to when you are a child, what did you care about? What did you enjoy doing – is this something you can do now as an adult? Have you done something that made you lose track of time because you enjoyed it so much? It is a journey of discovery and it is exciting!

3. Grit

Closely correlated with doing something is that once you found something you care about – you have to keep at it. For the long term, come rain or shine. You don’t necessarily have to be good at it but you need to have grit and persevere with it. Don’t give up!

When you develop competence in something you enjoy, you build more confidence to help you tackle larger challenges, and you continue to grow, which fuels more passion to repeat the process. – Ayodeji Awosika

Angela Lee Duckworth’s video is really short and engaging about grit – I highly recommend clicking the play button!

4. Read

Once you have identified something that might be of interest. Read all about it and read some more. Do your research – websites, blogs, books, anything you can get your hands on! This is because there is probably someone out there in the world that is passionate about the thing you are. Read up about it, they probably have already done a lot; so learn from their experiences, enhance your knowledge.

My Passion

As I researched for this post and talked to others about my concerns and the little funk I have been in. I realised that I have been ungrateful (I feel like this might be a future topic to write about!).

This blog is definitely a passion of mine and I had failed to recognise that. I absolutely love seeing art, travelling and researching for the Long Reads. It has been such a joyous journey and I have learnt so much during the process. Yes, there have been times where I dragged my feet and didn’t want to make the effort. There have been times when I had a creative block and didn’t have content. Nevertheless, the blog has taken me to places I have not been to before and I have learnt about myself in the process.

In Chamonix, my boyfriend told me it is time to get serious about the blog. If this is my passion then I have to work for it! I am not yet there to quit my job and become a blogger full time – though that would be super awesome, possibly in the future. However, I am going to keep up with my posting schedule and take myself out the comfort zone and bring my dearest readers (you!) more interesting content on art and positivity.

Whoop, you have made it to the end, I hope this post inspired you to go out there to find your passion (if you don’t already have one). For those, who have found their passion – keep up the great work, persevere because what you are doing is awesome!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Sleep & Creativity

Hi everyone!

Lazy Sundays

How has your weekend been? Hope you ready for another long read on the Pineapple Blog. Following on from last week’s topic of boredom and its impact on creativity, I wanted to talk about sleep and creativity this week. I have just finished Matthew Walker’s “Why Do We Sleep?” [not an ad] and I highly recommend this book; it is filled with eye-opening information backed by scientific facts and experiments. I had a lot of “oh that’s why!” moments when reading the book.

I am continuing the theme of creativity as I am on a journey to try and find more ways to use the other side of my brain. Working in finance with numbers and analysis, I am noticing more and more how my job lacks creativity. Since I have started writing this blog it has made me realised how creativity is very important to me and brings a lot of positivity.

Sleep Cycle

There are two distinct parts to sleep: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (“NREM”) and Rapid Eye Movement (“REM”). This can be then further broken down to several stages of NREM before entering REM, making the sleep cycle as follows:

  1. Stage 1 NREM sleep is when we change from wakefulness to sleep. This stage only lasts several minutes and it is light sleep where your breathing and heartbeat slows and muscles relax
  2. Stage 2 NREM sleep moves us from light sleep to deep sleep. Body temperature decrease and eye movement also stop (hence, NREM).
  3. Stage 3 NREM sleep is the deep sleep that ensures that we feel refreshed in the morning. It occurs more in the in the first half of the night. This is the time where it is very difficult to wake you.
  4. REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep. Your eye movements begin to rapidly move side to side (hence, REM). Breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. This is where dreaming and creativity occurs. Your limbs are paralysed so you don’t act out your dreams.

Recently, I have purchased the Fitbit Charge 3 (again, not an ad, but it is pretty cool!) and wear it whilst I sleep so that it is able to track/guestimate my sleep cycles. Got to love a bit of data! Unfortunately, this week I have only been averaging around 6 hours of sleep which is not enough, but below was Friday’s night sleep cycle, starting at 11pm. You can see my first bit of REM (4 mins 30 secs worth) at exactly 12:30! Totally geeking out about it 🙂

Sleep

REM Sleep & Creativity

For today, I wanted to focus on REM and its impact on creativity. During NREM sleep research has shown that memories captured by the hippocampus are replayed during NREM sleep, and as we detect similarities between them, that information gets stored in the cortex. During this stage, both parts of the brain communicate with each other and are in sync. The hippocampus prefers to replay things that are similar or thematically linked, it encourages us to find those links and use them to form schemas or organizing frameworks. This is why NREM sleep is associated with consolidating and strengthening memories.

REM sleep, on the other hand, the hippocampus and cortex do not seem to be in sync. As a result, the cortex is now free to replay stored memories in any combination, regardless of whether they are similar. By doing this the brain is able to make different connections, and may not be linked at all (essentially, thinking outside the box). The brain is able to blend together abstract thoughts in novel ways.

Benefits of REM Sleep

Many have described how dreams inspired them, such as Paul McCartney’s story of how his hit song “Yesterday” came to him in a dream or of Mendeleev’s dream-inspired construction of the periodic table of elements. Otto Loewi design of a simple experiment, supposedly by dreaming. He eventually proved something he had long hypothesized: Nerve cells communicate by exchanging chemicals, or neurotransmitters. This, in turn, resulted in him winning the Nobel prize. As alluded to above, REM sleep is beneficial for the following reasons:

Time to sleep

After reading Matthew Walker’s book, I have realised the importance of sleep. This has been talked about by others too (see video). Given its importance, I think we should all consider incorporating time to wind down and give yourself a good night’s sleep. I definitely do not need to be told twice to jump into bed!

For those that struggle with sleep, here are a few tips recommended by Matthew that might help:

  1. Make sure your room is dark and that you are not looking at bright light sources i.e. your phone around 1 to 2 hours before you sleep. This also links back to my previous post, don’t reach for the tech to fill in time when you’re bored, in this case, particularly around bedtime. You may want to also dim your lights around the house in earlier parts of the evening to stimulate sleepiness.
  2. Have a set routine – go to bed and wake up around the same time. Currently, I am trying to be in bed by 10:30pm for shut-eye at 11pm so that I am up for 6am for work and the weekend.
  3. Keep the temperature cool in the house at night. This is because your body temperature needs to drop at night to sleep.
  4. If you have trouble falling asleep or wake in the night feeling restless, don’t stay in bed awake. Get up and read in another room (don’t stare at a screen!), when you start nodding off, then go back to bed.
  5. Don’t have caffeine late in the day or an alcohol-infused nightcap as these will interfere with sleep!

I hope you all enjoyed this blog post, maybe it even sent you off to sleep –  I am not offended at all!  I wish for all my readers sound sleep to stimulate creativity and positivity. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and I hope you all have an awesome start to the week.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Change

Hi Everyone!

How has your weekend been so far? I am taking a chilled Sunday today, originally I had planned to go to the Science Museum, but I had recognised that I have done a lot of socialising this week and it was starting to take a toll on me. For those who have followed me for a while are aware that I am an introvert (it is also in my tag line!). I love seeing my friends and I live for genuine and deep meaningful conversations. However, eventually, I crash and need time to recover and recharge my batteries.

As mentioned in my previous post, I have moved in with my boyfriend, and I have started to find alternative ways to get “alone time” as I no longer have my own room. Today, I wanted to write about change and how that can impact one’s mental health. The below is purely my experience, but I wanted to share how I didn’t manage the big change of moving with a significant other, and how I think I would have done it better (if there was a next time). Today’s post will be a long piece, so sit back and relax 🙂

Change (2)

Change Management – why is it all business?

I recently completed a people manager course for the company I work for. It was very interesting because we spent half a day on just the topic of managing change. If you google “managing change” there are 6.13 billion search results but if scan the first page – it is all in relation to organisations. I can understand why organisations/psychologists have spent so much time and effort in developing theories in this area. However, if you try to google “managing personal change”, you will find that it is all about how to change behaviours or skills.

This is disappointing/frustrating because I strongly believe that big changes in my personal life have a larger impact on my personal wellbeing and mental health than compared to work; such as moving away from family, a heartbreak, a loss of someone close to you. Do you feel the same?

Therefore, I want to explore whether these “change theories” are applicable to my scenario: moving in with my boyfriend and whether this can be helpful for you for any future changes in your life.

Change Curve

Copyright Moss Warner
Copyright Moss Warner https://newsfeed.mosswarner.com/change-management-communications/

This might be quite familiar to most people;  the change curve was originally developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for grief, but this has been applied to change management in organisations. I believe that this can also be applied to other forms of change in our personal life:

  • Shock – when we first discussed the topic of moving in, I definitely went through a stage of shock. I was extremely excited by the thought, but it is so different to how I was living, and there was a shift towards panic  – what if it doesn’t work out? what if we break up from this because we actually can’t stand each other? Do I want to give up what I have now? Am I prepared to commute? 
  • Denial – There was a period of time where I dragged my feet. Given we had talked about it for so long, my boyfriend was wondering why I had not moved in 2018, he kept asking when are you moving in? Give me a date. I was in a state of denial.
  • Acceptance –  Despite loving the idea of moving with my other half, I recognised that it was the right choice and also inevitable if we want to positively move forward in our relationship (marriage, building a family together, buying a home etc.). When I set the date – 1st Feb – it was clear the change was real. Looking back, I did not realise that I was very frustrated by the whole process of moving. I didn’t even know how to begin packing. The constant dread whilst going through my stuff and wondering whether it will fit in the flat. During this time my boyfriend was completely supportive and just said pack everything and we will worry about where to put it later. This added to the frustration because I was not wired that way – I want a place for everything. I didn’t want clutter. I had accumulated a lot of stuff in my lifetime and I knew that I had to #konmari my belongings and truly ask myself what I loved and should bring. There was A LOT of tears and worry.
  • Experimental/Decision – There was no experimental part to the move given that I had set a date and everything just got moved in. There really wasn’t an opportunity to put my “toe in the water”. I think this added to the shock, however, I think I am comfortable in the Decision stage where I have accepted the reality of living without my sister and with my boyfriend and we are slowly finding the right rhythm between us.
  • Engagement – onward and upwards! (Hopefully!)

The change curve is important because I think it is necessary to recognise the various stages of change and the emotions that come with it. Before, completing this exercise, I did not appreciate the significant impact of the change on my emotional/mental health.

If I had an opportunity for a “do over” I should have taken time to understand my feelings and not try to power through it all. Understanding that I did not need to feel guilty when I had become “frustrated” or “angry”.

Communication is key with change and I should have worked with my boyfriend to manage this change properly.

If you are interested to learn more, here are a few more links on the Change Curve:

Implementing Change

John P Kotter is a name you will hear often on the topic of understanding and managing change. He developed an eight-stage change model and written books – ‘Leading Change’ (1995) and the follow-up ‘The Heart Of Change’ (2002). Let’s see if it is useful for my situation and whether I could have managed it better.

  1. Create Urgency – the idea is to develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. In my example, I believe that this was created and this was through communication with my boyfriend and him giving me pressure that this is something that has to be done quickly for the good of our relationship. What is important about this stage is the need for communication – you need to get all parties involved to start thinking and talking.
  2. Building a guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels. For my example, I believe that my boyfriend and I did have the right emotional commitment, but not necessarily the right mix of skills.  I should have considered hiring a “professional” man in a van and moved everything at once, rather than driving and doing it all in bits and pieces, which added to my frustration with the change.
  3. Create a vision for change – When you first create change, everyone will have an opinion or idea. It is important to create an overall vision and strategy. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing something and their role in the change process. This was a particularly easy stage for my boyfriend and I given that we know the ultimate goal was to move in with each other.  However, I don’t think I communicated that I required emotional support from my boyfriend. Unfortunately, during this time there was a lot going on his personal life as well and I did not want to add to his list of things to do. However, it is important that I need to also recognise my needs. I think it would have been useful to involve him in the process of integrating (i.e. my stuff in his space and him knowing what I have done to change in his home) so he was part of the “vision”.
  4. Communicate the vision – Talk about the vision and address peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly. This ties very closely with Stage 1 of the process, people need to understand the change and it is communicated where the end goal in. As you can see, communication continues to be important throughout.
  5. Empower Actions – remove obstacles and enable constructive feedback. Again, communication is key. Having those open conversations on what you think is working and not working was extremely important for my boyfriend and I. By actively asking him how he felt about me moving in, what he has liked so far, what has annoyed him and what could we compromise on, has made this process a lot easier to navigate. He did the same with me, so we can try and reach a point of equilibrium asap!
  6. Create short term wins – set aims that are easy to achieve. I think this is very dependent on the situation, but measurable targets are important and tracking against those targets gives a sense of satisfaction that progress has been made. I definitely need to think this through a bit more: potentially making a meal together at home together and spending a day together at home could be my next targets.
  7. Build on the change – real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. I am currently in only week 1 of living together. The long term change is ultimately living together in harmony before we move again to an eventual family home (fingers crossed).
  8. Anchor the changes – Last, but not least, make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life. I have not yet told all my family about the move in (do they really need to know?). Though this is daunting, I think it is important as this will embed the change and people around me understand the change. As communication is key, it is important to talk about the change and process to others.

For more information, here are some handy links:

Personal Change Management

Thank you for reaching the end of this long read. I hope you have enjoyed the post but please note that what I have written is no substitution for professional help if you are dealing with a significant change in your life. I just wanted to discuss and consciously understand the change that is happening in my life.

Do you think you can apply the change curve and change management models to your personal life? As always, I would love to hear from you.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

For those are looking for another deep read, my boyfriend has posted a deep and meaningful post here.

 

Thought of the Day: Happy New Year!

Hey Everyone!

I want to wish all a fabulous 2019, may it be filled with positivity & wellness so you can tackle anything you want to achieve this year! This will be a short post as I set out the focus of the Pineapple Chicken Blog for 2019 and hopefully, for many years to come.

As I previously mentioned, the blog has grown into something I truly love and I want to make sure that I am taking it in a direction that would bring about longevity by keeping it relevant and interesting to read!

Positivity & Wellness

The focus will be on positivity and wellness by following my journey to find understand what it means, as well as what works for me. I am no expert in this field but I hope my story will spark you to find your positivity and encourage you to focus on your wellness/wellbeing too. Unfortunately, this is not going to be a blog about healthy eating and yoga (though I probably will try to do it this year) because these are not things that invigorate me, but there are plenty of others who have done a much better job than me on this topic! I might reference them along the way but my focus will be more on mental wellbeing.

Travel & Art

Thank you for all my readers who have stuck with me so far and welcome all new readers! The blog will continue its chilled vibes as I navigate and travel to different places in London, UK, and around the world. Travel will be a big part of the blog, as well as the usual art and cultural pieces. As I try to develop my knowledge on the topic of positivity and wellness, I think a bit of science will also come up as I try to read more about this topic. Not sure where my research and reading will take me, but I am super excited to share it with you all!

Blogging Schedule

I will be posting on the blog every Thursdays and Sundays. For more daily updates, please do check me out on Twitter (@pineapplechkn_) & Instagram (@pineapplechicken_). I love to hear from my readers and followers, so any suggestions or topics you wish to discuss on this forum, do let me know!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

PS. For those looking for a different kind of read, check out my boyfriend’s latest post.