Finding Gratitude During Tough Times

Gratitude is already a difficult practice at the best of times. So how do you tap into those feelings of gratitude when you’re not feeling grateful for the bad experiences happening around you? Or maybe you’ve been feeling depressed for a whlie and you’re not sure how you can feel gratitude at all. There are some easy exercises you can introduce into your life that will help bring feelings of gratitude even when things around you seem grim.

Why would I want to experience gratitude?

  • Resilience
    • Resilience is a meta-skill that can help you get through the darkest days. Notice how difficult times are easier to navigate through when your thoughts are coming from a positive slant. Any negative emotions that could lead to unproductive actions or reactions can be challenged and re-framed into productive motivation. Gratitude isn’t about completely removing sadness and negativity, but it is used to help process those difficult feelings.
  • Good mental health
    • Remaining in depression and a negative mindset will hinder your path to better mental health. When your mental health hasn’t been tip top, it’s so important to address it just like you would any injury that is affecting your daily life. You may not see how poor mental health is affecting you day-to-day but it does affect the way you perceive every personal experience and your interactions with the people around you.
  • Life is easier
  • Everything around you is exactly what you need and want at this point in time. When you have gratitude in your life you will be completely grateful for your current possessions. You’ll notice that the importance you’ve placed on material objects is diminished and you are better for it. You’re no longer stressing about having more, being more, doing more.

How to begin your gratitude journey

Gratefully accepting the situation around us is the basic idea of the practice of gratitude. Life is already difficult, that is something we must accept. But we don’t need to accept the negativity and mental rut that can come from difficult life experiences.

  • Focus on the good
  • Your perception of the world will frame how you respond to your present situation. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but you need to identify the blessings in disguise. Maybe the unexpected loss of your job has led to you investing more time into your passions and a more rewarding type of work.
  • Time and patience helps
  • Be kind to yourself and grant yourself patience without judgement. Any negative jugemental thoughts about yourself will only hinder your path towards feeling gratitude.
  • Find joy in small things
  • Taking the time to focus on the little things in your life that make you smile will serve as a reminder of the positivity surrounding you. This practice also helps you feel less concerned with the things you don’t have and distracts your thoughts from negative emotions.
  • Thought swapping
  • Stay in control of your feelings and actions by reframing any of your unproductive and negative thoghts into the postive. This pratice is also known as CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You are acknowledging the difficult internal thoughts and making the choice to move away from them and towards reconnection with the world around you.

Wishing you all the best as you introduce gratitude into your life. Leave some comments below sharing your experience with gratitude.

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Crochet For Absolute Beginners: Sculpting With Yarn

Working with just a crochet hook and a ball of yarn (or 5) you can create many different textures and shapes in your very own crochet project.

There are different parts of the stitch in which we can work into. This causes the yarn to be pulled in different directions so you can shape your work into whatever design you design.

Working into the post

You can crochet a stitch around the front of a post of a crochet stitch. Or you can crochet around the back. When reading a crochet pattern these stitches are called Front Post and Back Post crochet. Normally this term is abbreviated with the type of crochet stitch, for example, a double crochet stitch worked into the front of a post in a stitch is called FPDC. Similarly, we can have back post treble crochet written as BPTC.

Front Post Double Crochet (FPDC)

Working into the post of a previous row of double crochet (US terminology from here onwards) can be done around the front of the work. In the video below I show how to do a FPDC. My YouTube video explains in detail how to make this stitch.

Front Post Double Crochet

You make a FPDC by putting your crochet hook through the post of the next stitch from the front of the work.

Back Post Double Crochet (BPDC)

Working from the back of the work you can make a stitch around the back of a double crochet post. Or a treble crochet post! In the video below I have done a BPDC. My YouTube video explains how to do it too.

Back Post Double Crochet

Insert your hook from the back of the work, through the DC post of the next stitch. Work the rest of the DC as normal.

Working into the front and back loops

Front loop only (FLO) and back loop only (BLO) stitches can create edges for your work to give it a 3D shape.

Front loop only (FLO)

The FLO and BLO stitches are super easy. Just work your next stitch into one of the loops at the top of your stitches. This can be done for any height stitch because you’re just using the top loops this time.

Back loop only (BLO)

Increases and decreases

Your rows and circles don’t need to stay the same size. To create shapes with your yarn and crochet hook you’ll need to learn to increase and decrease the number of stitches in your rows and rounds. Increases in a crochet pattern are abbreviated as sc inc for adding a single crochet stitch to a row. The stitch type is usually included otherwise it’ll just say inc and you continue using the same stitch as the rest of the row.

Single crochet increase

To increase a stitch in a row simply place 2 stitches in the same stitch. See my YouTube video for a full explanation.

Crochet patterns abbreviate decreases to Dec or Sc2tog which means single crochet two together. Or it’ll say DC or Tr depending on the stitch required in the pattern.

Single crochet decrease

To decrease the number of stitches in your row by 1 you will crochet 2 stitches together into 1. For a single crochet decrease: put your hook into the stitch and pull up a loop, don’t complete the stitch yet. Put your hook into the 2nd stitch along and pull up a loop, you’ll have 3 loops on your hook. Then finally pull up a loop through all 3 loops to complete the SC Dec.

Thanks so much for reading. Your support means everything to me. Sending my gratitude and kind thoughts to you all. ❤

The power of journaling

What is journaling?

The basic idea is that you record your thoughts, emotions and experiences. Normally this is done daily in a book. The act of writing things down encourages the information to be stored more effectively in your memory.

Why journal? Is it right for you?

Writing down your thoughts right before sleep can help to release your brain from the noise of the day. Or you might like to keep record of exciting or happy memories. For example, I have a memory that I wrote in 3 separate journals because it was so exciting at the time. At the age of 10 I watched a dog give birth to a litter of puppies. In my first 10 years of life that was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced and I needed to record it. Eventually my young mind started worrying I would forget my memories and made sure to journal all my family holidays and various events in my life. Now in my 30s I gladly live mindfully in the moment without fear of forgetting the past. We do not need to be attached to our past in a way that affects our mental health negatively.

Writing things down can help you to let some difficult emotions go. Once the thoughts and fears are set out on the page in front of you they don’t seem so big and overwhelming. And bonus, you don’t feel the pressure to keep the thoughts and memories in your head because they’re recorded for you already. That takes a lot of stress off your brain.

According to various articles from psychological research there are positive and negative outcomes to journaling. It can either help you understand yourself in relation to others or it can hinder your self discovery journey if you only concentrate on “yourself in isolation”. The results of a collection of research articles include the following positive and negative outcomes of journaling.

The pros of journaling

  • Encourages you to evaluate your reactions and emotions
    • Identify action vs reaction. Reaction is what we do with our “monkey brain” when we act on impulse without consideration.
  • Allows you to find resolutions to open issues
    • You can see all aspects of a problem when it’s written out in front of you.
  • Clarifies your views and motivations.
  • Focuses your negative energy into creativity and positivity.
  • Increases your tolerance of change and unpredictable or unexpected situations.
  • Improves mental health by making you feel more connected to the world around you.
  • Helps you define your goals and encourages action through motivation.

The cons of journaling

  • Causes negative rumination
    • You live within your own negative thoughts.
  • Prevents you from living in the moment
    • You begin to focus on how you’ll record your life events instead of experiencing them.
  • Makes you become egocentric and obsessed with your needs.
  • Allows you to blame the situations around you but not come to any positive conclusions.
  • Prevent resilience by encouraging thoughts to remain on negative experiences.

Maintaining the habit of journaling regularly can be a challenge. Although it becomes easy once it becomes part of your daily routine. Encourage yourself to keep at it by making it a fun and rewarding experience. Use different coloured pens and highlighters to really engage with your journal pages. I have an old sticker collection from my youth that I’m re-purposing in my journals, cards, labels and craft. Some are those holographic stickers from the 90s, they really jazz up a sparse journal page.

Thanks so much for reading! Comment below with your journal experiences. Or share your tips and hints to make the most of our journaling journey.

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