Resilience

Frozen?

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We couldn't write a blog this week without talking about the 'Beast from the East'.  As a nation, we are pretty consumed with the constantly changing weather! I wonder if that's because it is something outside of our control and it has such a profound effect on all we do?

The extreme conditions of this past week will have undoubtedly affected every one of us in some way or another.  The arrival of the snow will have also brought with it different responses and reactions from each of us, based on our previous experiences, preferences and perspectives.

For some, the focus falls on the unexpected joy a "snow-day" can bring, with opportunities to get out, play with friends and family, and have a reprieve from the 'normal' routine.  For others, the arrival of snow only offers disruption, difficult challenges and in some cases disasters.  Most of us will fall somewhere in between those two extremes.

Personally, for me, I'm not a fan of the cold and wet, but I relished the opportunity to visit relatives that were only with us due to flights being cancelled, and I enjoyed watching the kids ditch the games consoles for the outdoors! 

And yes; the kids teased me as I nagged them to put a coat on - and when I went out for 5 minutes with 15 layers on, they said I looked like “one of those kids whose parents had overly dressed them up!”  They had a point (see pic) - but at least I was warm :)

I've also experienced a fair bit of disruption, with important work events being postponed and many of my friends and family, including some who were poorly, and impacted and stranded by the snow.  I'm now hugely thankful that many of them have arrived safely to their destinations after their ordeals, and thankful that life can begin to return to "normal".

But it got me thinking...

We are all as unique as the snow flakes.

We are all different; each having a unique set of experiences, preferences and perspectives. Because of these differences, it can be easy to look at others and form an opinion based on our own bias. We can sometimes believe that "they" are wrong, and "we" are right.

Sometimes, our unique thinking impacts how frozen or flexible our mindset is, especially concerning what is, and what is not under our control.

There was no way I was going out without my 15 layers - no matter what the kids said I looked like - and there was no way they were putting on any more layers than absolutely necessary. At the end of the day, I thought, they were the ones that would feel the cold - Except they didn't because they were too busy building snow-balls and snow-surfing (yes - you read that right!) down the ski-run that living on a hill creates when it snows!

The ability to be like the kids and surrender a need for control brings a healthy open and flexible mindset. It acknowledges that others may have different viewpoints when it comes to snow, or indeed anything else, and be ok with that. It is a sign of a good mental and emotional health and helps with resilience.  Why can't you slide down the hill on an old surfboard?

The inflexible (or frozen) mindset of not being in control or not being able to accept that another person may have a different point of view (and maybe don't feel the cold like you do) and the problems that brings, is not always as helpful, and not healthy for our own mental health, nor for our relationships.

So maybe we could all try a little thawing of a frozen mindset, displaying grace and acceptance of circumstances outside of our control, and consider that there may be another viewpoint or approach that it is different from ours.

Not better, or worse - not right, or wrong - just different.

The weather is a great reminder that the principle of a fixed or flexible mindset applies to everything else I’m not in always in control of too.

So this week, why not keep an open mind as to where might you be able to invest in your health by being more flexible, and less frozen, in your thinking when circumstances happen outside of your control?

Main Image Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev


If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

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And as always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! and we'd love you to get in touch and share with us about any experiences about how you have learned to have a more flexible mindset and how this has improved your life.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner, Angel or Prayer Warrior - and want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities click on the links above or contact us

Our Dishwasher is Broken

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As I have been away this week, Gareth, (AKA - the legendary voice behind all the Intentional Health animations!) Kindly offered to write this weeks post! Enjoy!


Photo Credit :Catt Liu

Mid-November 2017

“Oh disaster, upon disaster!" The one kitchen item that is so critical to the flow of our family life; the single appliance that can make or break business continuity in our family unit of millennials, technology geeks and sport-jocks - has become no more, and kicked the proverbial bucket!

And then at that moment, the realisation came as the four of us stood in the kitchen ashen-faced, gawping at each other in silence, “no dishwasher! and Christmas is coming?!  “Arghhhhhhhhhhh!”

All those dishes... it was about this point that flight kicked-in over fight… “Maybe we could leave the country?”... “We could go to my mothers?” … “We will need to sell up!”... “Somebody call IKEA, they'll know what to do!” Even Marlon our dog was standing by the front door with lead in mouth ready to depart.

And then Dad pipes up in Corporal Jones style … (fans of Dad's Army will understand)….. “Don't panic, don't panic!… I got an idea! Let's just do the dishes ourselves over Christmas!”

At first stunned silence.

Then the look of three individuals reminiscent of the minion movie where both shock ‘and’ confusion takes over the face;

…and then agreement.

(By the way for those into health psychology, this all forms normal parts of the stages of change).

And so we bought washing up liquid, new dishcloths and we made a pact that we would team up; all four of us: mum, dad, two teenage boys; and wash-up together, every single day through Christmas.

Mid-January 2018

We have decided that Ecover the most effective and environment-friendly liquid…. Just saying (though other environmentally friendly brands are available) and our dishwasher is still broken but we are all the more connected.

Don't get me wrong, we already enjoyed conversations around the table as part of our daily culture, we believe wholly in family time….but our conversations went deeper, they were extended, more time led to discussions about school, filmmaking experiments, about mum’s next work presentation, about Dad’s continued success in fantasy football (ahem), about faith, about politics, about the environment, and our health.

We played the ‘guess-who’ game loads, despite Mum’s frustration that most of the answers were Star Wars characters and even the dog joined in as we danced to pumping tunes whilst discussing and playing music, as the washing and drying took place. We had great fun and made some wonderful, lifelong memories.

Three takeaway's

  1. Broken things are just barriers to stimulate different thinking, and potentially allow for a whole new direction
  2. We are not meant to be over-reliant on things, but relational with each other, it’s a spirit thing as much as anything
  3. Doing a job well, and in 'team', feels great, and a healthy active work ethic is good for us.

Intentional Health is about change and stepping towards a healthier me in community, like being part of a washing up team….

Why not join us on our Journey?


If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.


As always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! Or find out more about becoming an Intentional Health Angel or Prayer Warrior if you want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities. 

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Feel Like Giving Up?

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Photo Credit :Lucy Trevatt

As we approach the January halfway point, I wonder how your new year resolutions, disciplines or goals are going? Are you making progress and celebrating your success along the way, or perhaps the novelty is beginning to wear thin and any changes are feeling hard? Have you been tempted to give up yet? If so, we want to encourage you today.  

Although making changes in life sounds relatively simple in theory:  ‘you stop/start doing something new’, in reality, and in practice, it is actually quite hard!

We are hard-wired to be efficient, to stay safe and to conserve energy.   Making change requires a lot of willpower, risk and effort.

Making changes to any existing habits, disciplines or routines, is not easy, but here are 3 things that might help in reaching goals or adopting new disciplines or resolutions for this year.

1 - Remember your ‘why’

Ask yourself “Why did I(start/stop/fill in the blank) in the first place?

Rarely does anyone attempt to make change lightly. It is usually only after something becomes so unbearable, or something else becomes so compelling, that we feel change is necessary.

Once we begin to make changes in the new and improved direction, the ‘unbearable’ can quickly become a distant memory, yet the ‘compelling’ still remains a long way off, despite all our efforts. It is then that it is often much easier to settle back into old routines and comfortable, safe old habits.

Going back to remind ourselves why we wanted to make any changes in the first place, can really help keep us motivated during this time, especially until the new behaviour becomes an unconscious habit.

2 - Create an environment of reminders

Once we have established our motives for change, putting meaningful reminders front and centre of our everyday activities is really important.

Things like; putting pictures of what ‘success’ might look like on our bathroom mirror to look at while teeth brushing, writing encouraging notes and sticking them on the fridge and make tally charts or scorecards to record every time we make small steps in the right direction, can all help.

Sharing our successes with others or inviting others to ask how we are getting on when we next see them can also help keep us accountable.

3 - Accept failure when it happens

Perfection is an illusion. Failure is inevitable, and never more so than if we have set ourselves the “perfect” picture of how we will change or how easy it might be.

If we chose to humble ourselves and accept that a degree of failure as a likely option, we can be intentional in exploring and creating a plan for how we will overcome those obstacles before we are faced with the potential reality.

If we aim for perfection, we don’t accept failure as an option, and it will be much harder to start (and therefore put ourselves at risk of failure) to achieve our goals in the first place, and we are more likely to give up altogether.

So this week, if you feel like giving up, please remember why you started, put reminders of that on your fridge, and when you mess up, remember that success only comes after you get up one more time than you failed! 

Keep pressing on and don’t give up!


If you've been thinking about becoming an Intentional Health Church Partner, Angel or Prayer Warrior - and want to partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities - now is the best time for that too! ;-) 


If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! and we'd love you to get in touch and share with us about how you love to laugh.

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Changing Seasons - Tonya's story

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Photo Credit:Jaromír Kavan

As Niky wrote about last week’s blog, in life we all go through different seasons where change comes.

I have experienced times when these changes feel exciting and I am happy with the path of the change I am walking. At other times a new season hits, and I cannot see my way out or the direction I am heading and I feel as though I am in a black tunnel that is so long, I cannot see the light at the other end. Change in itself and the unknown of what it brings can feel a real challenge and very unsettling. I can have the tendency to feel out of control and off balance and this can lead me to struggle to manage my emotions and lead to thought patterns that spiral into panic, anxiety and worry. As a result, I can spend a lot of energy focusing on the ‘what if’s’ rather than the ‘what is’ and catastrophise the worst case scenarios rather than recognising the truth of where I really am in my present circumstance.

I love the song lyrics written by some friends of mine which say ‘Your present circumstance is a gift to behold’. I have found during difficult times this has been a really powerful reminder. To help me cope with the changing seasons, especially when I am in a period that feels dark and cold like winter, it helps me to refocus on the beauty of what is around me - the small things in the present of each day that I am grateful for.

I spent some time in Africa a number of years ago and distinctly remember on a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, there was a bus with the words inscribed ‘The journey is more important than the destination.’ This really stuck with me and has helped me when moving through the different seasons of life. Sometimes we do not know where we are heading, things do not make that much sense, but it is what we learn and how we grow through these changes in life that are the exciting bits and far more important than the end place of what we want to achieve.

Niky explained last week, that I and my husband are currently walking into a change of season. As Christians we are walking a path of faith, stepping into something unknown and different to what we thought would happen or perhaps would have planned for ourselves with a move to North Devon. Two years ago we felt God gave us the vision to set up a rest and retreat centre and since then we have been pursuing His journey for us. For me who likes to be very planned and know where I am heading, I had very strong expectations of how it would all pan out. I thought we would reach the destination quickly and easily, finding the property we needed to set it up that and by now we would have a story to tell of how God had slotted it all into place. Of course on hindsight, what I have learnt is that this is a long journey, that we need time to be prepared and equipped for whatever the next season brings and that each of the stepping stones along the way is foundational and significant. I have had to learn to surrender and enjoy the ride of the journey, rather being so caught up with getting to the end destination immediately.

I now recognise it is out of these places of uncertainty where we are less prescriptive about what and how everything needs to be, that we have more room to grow and learn and be transformed and leave more space for ourselves to recognise the beauty of our present circumstance, however hard and uncomfortable it may feel at times.

My time partnering with Intentional Health as a volunteer, as a member on a Programme, as an Angel and over the last six months as an employed team member has been one of those significant stepping stones in my journey. When I took on the job, we all knew it may be only for a short season, but however long that season turned out to be it would be a fruitful one. Through this time, I have been taken on my own journey of transformation, I have learnt to care more about myself, in order to be able to serve others better, have recognised how to take more rest (so that I can help others with this in the future) and have most importantly taken more control over my thought patterns. When I am tempted to catastrophise and focus on the ‘what if’s’ and forget to take notice of the things I am grateful for around me in the present, I am now more able to take captive the negative thoughts for myself. It is all these things that have helped me to intentionally manage my season change as I follow the next steps of my journey, despite not having a clear picture of what it will look like and how I can plan for it!

It has been significant in helping me to see things in different ways, equip and help me gain the confidence and skills for the next part of the journey as well as being able to help Niky and the team move things forward.

Thank you to all the team at Intentional Health, and to you all for the way you have impacted my journey and helped me walk through the changing season. I will very much miss working with Niky and the team, but I am forever grateful for the experience and what it has taught me.

God bless, Tonya.


We have now launched our 2018 training dates for churches who want to partner with Intentional Health. To find out more about this, please click here.

Our next season also requires us to find more Intentional Health Angels just like Tonya. These are people who can support us along our journey as we get our 10 session community programme out into communities across the UK. you can find out more about that by clicking here.

If you want to access our free resource library - including our Free webinars and worksheets, including how we can control our thoughts and feelings please sign up here.

https://www.intentionalhealth.uk/free-resource-library/

This part of the site is still a work in progress, so please let us know if you have any difficulties by emailing info@intentionalhealth.uk. And once again, please let us know how you are finding your current season of life too and please share this with anyone you think might be encouraged.

Give Thanks

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Photo credit: Simon Maage

We would like to take this opportunity to say happy Thanksgiving ahead of this Thursday, especially to all of our American friends.

Although Thanksgiving is not an officially celebrated holiday here in the UK, giving thanks and taking time to think about all the things we are thankful for, can be really good for our health.

“Research suggests that individuals who feel grateful experience lower blood pressure, improved immune functions, recover more quickly from illness, and can more effectively cope with stress,” 

Being thankful also has huge and long-lasting benefits for our mental health and wellbeing, as well as helps us build resilience for both expected, and unexpected curve balls that life often brings.

We can benefit the most from an attitude of gratitude by being intentional about it. That means choosing to look for things that we are thankful for, and regularly listing them, one by one. A habit of gratitude is an excellent habit to have!  So how do we create that sort of habit?

We can intentionally focus on gratitude and joy by fixing our thoughts on anything good, making sure our thoughts are true truths and not assumptions and think about anything that is honourable, right, pure and lovely. Taking a moment to appreciate and admire any of the good things we often take for granted is also a great place to start!

This week, there has even been an advert floating around Facebook ahead of the Christmas and Thanksgiving frenzy that can help us do just that - click the link here if you are interested in watching.

In the meantime, here are 3 simple steps to starting an attitude of gratitude habit:

  • 1) Notice things to be thankful for,
  • 2) Write down at least 3-5 things a day,
  • 3) Repeat every day for a week or two!

Lastly, we'd be very grateful if you let us know how you get on ;)


PS - I'd also like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to all of our Intentional Health  Church PartnersAngels and prayer warriors - who partner with us to prevent sickness, save lives and inspire healthy communities! 

Facts are our friends...

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The "Churchill War Rooms" was one of the sights we managed to visit after we received a second very generous gift of a cottage holiday this half term, that included a day trip to London. Whilst learning all about Churchill's life and leadership, I was struck by this "Churchill Saying" on one of the walls.

"The great thing is to get the true picture, whatever it is"

This reminded me of something we talk about in the very first session of Intentional Health. Many people arrive for the first of the ten-session programme and see a set of weighing scales. They become anxious about having to be weighed, and the coach reassures them that it is NOT a compulsory activity, after all, Intentional Health is all about empowering choice!

The first session explores how we may all be a little fearful of what the scales might say, probably because of the embarrassment and shame that the world places on us.

Knowing what the scales report doesn't change the truth, it simply presents us with the true picture; the facts.

The session goes on to explore how "facts are our friends" - because they give us an opportunity to honestly and objectively face our true picture. Only then can we make an informed choice as to whether we are happy with that truth, and if we are not, we can decide to make some changes.

Exploring these facts as part of Intentional health’s loving, supportive and encouraging communities, can bring freedom and a life of wholeness. That is why I love it when I see and hear that those same people who came in fearful, are literally queuing up at the end of the session to learn and embrace the facts. These are the brave ones who are then empowered to make changes and live a life of freedom and hope!

Choosing to continue without all of the facts, means we continue on obliviously making choices based on half-truths, or worse, choosing to not choose and bury our heads in the sand. This is almost always the easiest option in the present term. And while this might make us feel better for a short while; choosing 'not to choose', burying our heads in the sand, ignoring the facts or making uninformed choices, simply doesn’t win the war over the enemy of shame and poor health choices. That is why we agree with Churchill on this and say that "facts are our friends".

Till next week, where might you be more intentional about finding out your true picture?


One of the facts Intentional Health are facing at the moment is a shortfall in financial support.  If you find these blogs, or the Intentional Health programme helpful, please consider helping us support and reach more people with the message of Intentional Health by becoming an Intentional Health Angel.

Learning from a Toddler

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Photocredit:Alexander Dummer

This past week, I have been reflecting on a recent discussion with a friend about how Intentional Health is in a ‘toddler’ phase:

No longer in its infancy, discovering how to stand on its own two feet and walking unsteadily with small, baby steps, whilst at the same time, often wanting to run on way ahead of what it is capable of!

As I watched a toddler play over the weekend, I was reminded of just how much joy there is in this toddling phase of life.

Everything is seen as a huge adventure playground; an opportunity to learn and discover new things, and of course, to ‘get it wrong’. Thankfully, because a toddler’s centre of gravity is still low down, ‘falling over’ isn’t too traumatic! In fact, it is a normal part of life and something adults usually make a game of and celebrate to encourage more baby steps!

I then thought about how different ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘falling over’ can be in later life, and about how it is not readily celebrated because the expectation is that we “really ought to have learned and grown up by now”.

As a result, our worldview changes and instead of being full of joy and learning in our baby steps, we end up feeling shame, inadequacy and ridicule.

We give up trying new things, for fear of failing and instead, we listen to lies about how we are not good enough, clever enough, rich enough, patient enough, generous enough, disciplined enough, certainly not as good as them, the list goes on…

We believe these lies and accept that it might be best to stay safe, in our comfort zone, believe 'they' know best and just do nothing.  After all, it is much easier to do nothing, because doing something, anything requires ownership, humility and effort on my part, and that often requires courage!

Of course, it is true and healthy to put away our childish ways and grow up.  And growing up also requires an acceptance that we are not perfect, we will probably make mistakes and will definitely  ‘fall over’ if we try and walk before we can run.

I would also argue that it is good to remember we can’t always expect to get something ‘right’ straight off or have knowledge or mastery if we have never understood or experienced it before.  Does that mean it is better to do nothing, to not take any steps, rather than try and get it wrong? That doesn’t require much courage.

When I listen to lies about how I might not ‘be enough’, I become trapped in my shame, fear and focused on my inadequacies.

Negativity and lies paralyse me. Lies cause me to not take any baby steps and certainly do not motivate me to change! Listening to lies also means I miss out on opportunities to grow, learn something new, overcome life's obstacles and really live life to the full.

When I see friends, family, colleagues become paralysed or give up from listening to these lies and ‘falling over’ in shame and fear, I have a unique opportunity to be even more courageous. I can challenge those lies on their behalf, by encouraging them to celebrate just how many baby steps they have taken and call out the amazing and good things about each of us… of which there is always more 'good' than we might dare to believe!

A toddler has very little shame and fear, learns lots and has an abundance of joy!

Shame and fear will cripple us of our joy and make it really hard for us to make any progress, grow or develop. I wonder if this is because instead of taking ownership for the tiny steps we are able to take - we become paralysed in accepting the lie that we probably are not enough, which leads us to settle and give up.

This week, I am going to choose to focus on what it might look like to grow up, to take full responsibility and ownership of any areas of my life I can control, let go of the things I can’t and become a little more courageous in taking a few more baby steps. Will you join me?

I believe that only then, will we be ready to make the changes that lead to a life of joy, a life in all its fullness and celebrate all that we have learned and achieved so far! 

This week at Intentional Health we have taken more toddler steps and launched our new website! It is not perfect and there are some things that still aren’t quite working properly yet, but we are getting it out - so please bear with us, and encourage us as we learn and develop something new!