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: Reading and Wellness

reading and wellness

Hey everyone!

Happy weekend 🙂 what did you all get up to? I am currently in a cafe and blogging from Rotterdam (very cool and chic) which I can’t wait to share with you all later, once I have processed my thoughts!

Following on from Art & Wellness blog post last week, I wanted to touch upon Reading & Wellness. This is something that is very close to my heart as well. There is a lot of research and articles in this space; so I am not going to try and reinvent the wheel but thought it would be useful to share a few articles which I have found to be helpful.

Reading has personally been very positive to my wellbeing. This is also why it is one of the more important new year resolutions I want to complete and would like to encourage others to make it one of theirs.

Reading & Wellbeing

  • Reading is relaxing – I constantly struggle to find time to do everything; as for many of you, do you feel like there is always a conflict of what one wants to do and the time available to us? I have been trying to actively make time for myself (working progress), often I use it to read or visit a gallery/museum. Reading is one of the most relaxing past times and I can easily get lost in a good book and not move for hours. For those looking for a comfortable cushion, I really recommend the L shaped IKEA cushion for only £7 (not an ad, just really love this cushion!).
  • Reading is a work out for your brain/mental stimulation – keeping the brain mentally stimulated has been proven in studies to slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I believe that keeping your brain active and stimulated would help later in life. I think it is comparable to as being physically fit would keep you better equipped for bumps and pains when one gets older. With personal experience of dementia in my family, I would wish everyone to keep their brain active so that it stays healthy and happy! My aunties always tell me that mahjong does the same thing, so whatever works for you!
  • Reading can help with depression – following nicely from the previous point, studies have found that reading can help with depression. A wonderful personal account by Raifa and I think she delivers a very important message that reading only complements professional help; it is not the magical solution for those who have a mental illness.

The sense of community that one finds in books, a companionship with the narrative voice or the characters, can help provide a friend when in need and tackle one symptom and possible cause of depression – loneliness. – Rafia Rafiq

  • Reading improves your memory – it has been found that making new memories can also help consolidate existing ones. I think this is similar to the idea of giving your brain a workout and helps you concentrate.

There are a lot of other reasons why one should read, such as more interesting conversations and better vocabulary. I hope I have persuaded that reading is amazing :)! For those who would like to read more, I found a great article on 14 ways to cultivate a lifetime reading habit! Or if you aren’t ready to read another article, there is a great TED talk on trying something new for 30 days!

Thank you for reading my blog post today and may you continue to have happy readings!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

Culture: I am Ashurbanipal

Hi everyone!

How has your week been so far? I am not going to lie – I feel like January is starting to drag, however, I can’t believe that it is already near the end of the month and I have Chinese New Year to look forward to!  To keep my spirits high and trying not to let the cold winter days bring me down I have been keeping my eye out for exhibitions in London to share with you all.

Last Sunday, I went to the British Museum to visit “I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria” exhibition. Though I have been fascinated by the history of Babylon and the Middle Eastern region during this time, I do not know very much about that period apart from the beautiful statues that I had previously seen in the British Museum and the Louvre. As you can imagine, I was super excited to learn a little bit more about the Assyrian empire. The current exhibition will be available until 24th February, so if you are in town and want to keep out the winter cold, I would highly recommend the exhibition.

King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (r. 669–c. 631 BC) was the most powerful man on earth. He described himself in inscriptions as ‘king of the world’, and his reign from the city of Nineveh (now in northern Iraq) marked the high point of the Assyrian empire, which stretched from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. – British Museum

The Lions and the Library

When you first enter the exhibition, there is a wonderful ambience. I personally, think it is one of the most tastefully displayed exhibitions that I have been to in a long time. The room was relatively dark but key pieces were highlighted with spotlights. From the start, the impression I got about King Ashurbanipal was that he completely understood the concept of “personal brand”. The beautiful artwork carved in gypsum clearly advertises his bravery through the killing of lions – the greatest beast in the Assyrian empire. Not only did he consistently boast how brave he was but also liked to tell everyone how smart he was. During his reign, he made it a mission to learn from the scholars at the time.  There were great examples of their clay tablets and writings at the exhibition, including extracts of the Epic of Gilgamesh

Lights & Action

Assyrian artists seemed to have enjoyed depicting their success of wars through cruelty and brutality in extremely graphic detail! The museum made wonderful use of projectors, which I had never seen before. By projecting an outline on a different part of the panel, you were able to follow the intricate story; it really gave an insight into how stories were told to the masses during that time. With sound and lighting effects – it was just like a movie. I found it truly jaw-dropping; even if you might not be interested in the history, it is worth just to see the use of projectors!

I spent roughly two hours at the exhibition, and this was also not at my usual pace of reading every single thing possible. There was so much in the exhibition, unfortunately,  I did get fatigued with all the information and intricate objects that I found myself skipping certain items or sections because I just couldn’t absorb any more facts.

If I was to give feedback to the British Museum, they should have provided an option of an audio guide, so that it was easier to step back and observe an object and listen to commentary rather than rely on the information written on display. There was exclusive curators’ commentary available through Apple Music and Google Play. However, by the time I found out about it, I was already inside the exhibition with no reception so I couldn’t download the audio guide and I also didn’t have my headphones either…

Nonetheless, it was a great exhibition; so it gets a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been? What were your thoughts? As always, I would love to read your comments and thoughts. Do share any interesting facts about the Assyrian empire with me; or if you have any questions on the exhibition, please comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S The Guardian does a great review of this exhibition as well if you want to learn more!.

 

 

Thought of the Day: Art & Wellness

Hi everyone,

How is everyone doing? I hope you have had a wonderful weekend. Today’s post is going to be a long one, so sit back and relax with a nice warm drink. I have subscribed to the Art Pass for about two years now and because I am able to get discounts to exhibitions, it has meant that I have ended up visiting many more museums and galleries than ever before. The Art Fund has conducted a wellbeing report, which I want t share with you today 🙂

Stress and Anxiety

From the research, it has been found that people in the UK are anxious about their workload, financial situations, health issues, and social isolation etc. To be fair this is not a surprise and something I think about more often than I would like. It is also not surprising that many people struggle to find time for themselves and/or pursue activities that positively contribute to their own wellbeing, such as visiting museums and galleries.

Wellbeing

This is a topic I care passionately about, but I realised that if someone asked me – what exactly wellbeing is? I would not be able to give them a concise answer. This is probably something I should delve into more in the future. However, for the purposes of this post, I will use the definition from the report.

Wellbeing covers our happiness and our satisfaction with our lives, but stresses and anxieties are also central to our overall wellbeing.

It is too simplistic to believe that wellbeing is just absence of anxiety. It also encompasses how we feel about our lives in general. This would change depending on whether we are focusing on the present or the future.

Anxious society?

I think we can agree that we need a bit of stress in our lives. This just keeps us moving and helps us get things done, however, if is long lasting and persistent then this can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. I have certainly experienced this myself when my personal needs conflicted with my career. From the survey, it turns out that 45% of adults in Greater London say they feel anxious at least some of the time.

How do you de-stress?

I am really going to try and work out what my best ways are to de-stress this year. I have touched upon recovery, previously. During the early stage of my career my wellbeing was what I neglected the most and did not realise the impact it had on my mental health. For someone who likes to say yes to everything and do things that stretch me, it is an easy trap to fall into.

While it is not easy to do, the report recognises that making time for ourselves or taking time out with others can help build resilience against stresses and anxiety. Having my best friend return to London has done wonders to my wellbeing as I have someone to engage in deep meaningful conversations. I am grateful that I have a wonderfully supportive boyfriend who has helped me cope with whatever life throws at me/us. Having time for myself is very important and I really appreciate it. My favourite things are visiting museums and galleries; as well as reading and travelling – basically, anything covered in this blog!

Do we use our time wisely?

The survey found that when we do have time to ourselves participants use over 3 hours watching TV and nearly 2 hours a day on social media. Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with that, as long as it works for you. However, in the survey, these were not activities chosen by respondents to relax or deal with anxiety. In fact, 39% said staying away from social media was a way to de-stress!

screenshot_20190120-081825

Art and Wellness

We all understand the benefits of our wellbeing comes from doing the things we love. This really isn’t rocket science! The survey found that most of us (59%) understand the power of our leisure activities and we consider them as an important part of our lives as well as helping us feel more positive about life in general.

screenshot_20190120-082909

What I found fascinating was that over half (53%) of adults say their leisure activities help them deal with life’s up and downs, rising to 74% among those who specifically make time for these activities. Though especially for art, the survey responses found that 63% of participants have at some point used a visit to a museum or gallery to ‘de-stress’. However, only 6% of them had visited a museum or gallery at least once a month.

This is one of the reasons for my blog. I have seen the benefits of seeing art for my wellbeing and it seems like others feel the same way! (It’s nice to know I am not the only one.)

screenshot_20190120-083159Per the report, they described museums and galleries as places which can offer an oasis of peace and tranquillity or an array of stimulating new ideas. I really agree with this, I find them such conducive environments – you learn so much and it is something we can share with others. I have definitely had more interesting conversations and the report said that it could potentially give one a sense of purpose (I have yet to experience this).

What do you think though, do you agree with the findings of the report? I have personally experienced the benefits of visiting museums and galleries and would love to encourage you to try the same and see whether you felt a bit better after 😊 Regardless, of whether you like art or not, be kind to yourself and make time for yourself to do something you love – you know you deserve it!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x