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Grief, Loss and COVID-19

Note to the reader: This article is in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and discusses death and dying. It also explores how we may recognise grief and loss, even when no one has died.

As the number of deaths continues to rise in the U.K. and around the world, many are facing grief in ways they never imagined.

Alongside the loss of someone we love, this current crisis reminds us that grief doesn’t just belong to death; we can experience it when anything that matters is no longer here.

You can grieve for the job you’re currently unable to do, the family you can’t hug, the holiday you really needed but had to cancel.

We are all looking at life through our own lens. What feels insignificant to one, will be a huge concern for another. All feelings matter. And all grief is valid.

We are also being confronted with our own mortality every day. We are seeing stark reminders that death comes to us all, when many understandably don’t want to even think about that.

On the one hand, the daily government adverts have been received by some as terrifying, with their strap lines about who can spread it and who can get it, especially for those identified as most at risk. On the other, the compassionate among us see the yellow hearts placed in windows as a gentle act of solidarity for someone whose loved one has died of COVID-19.

The pandemic has led to war-talk of an “invisible enemy”, “field hospitals” and “fighting a battle”, which gives a sense of the unpredictable yet invasive nature of our times. The language of war when highlighting illnesswhich has been proven to be unhelpful creates an understandable anxiety.

It’s no wonder if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

The greatest mystery in life is why death chooses a particular moment.

Mitch Albom

There will be those who were grieving for loved ones who died before COVID-19, and those whose hearts are breaking because of it.

There will be those with considerations like poor mental health and those faced with domestic abuse, that make them more vulnerable and more at risk following the outbreak, in ways authorities have been slow to recognise. (Here is a list of links to agencies that may be able to help). Trauma can form part of the picture, particularly where people have been witness to or affected by what they’ve seen, heard or experienced.

All while parents, grandparents and care givers around the world will be trying to find the words to explain to young people what this all means.

The pandemic also brings consequences some nations have never seen before, when we talk of loss and bereavement. Families not being able to say goodbye at the bed side. The funeral being delayed as a result of the virus, and those closest not always able to attend. Daily death totals and worldwide images of mass graves can feel like they’re stealing our sense of identity and individuality, when grief is such a personal and unique experience for us all.

The media talks of a “new normal”, but normal will feel different to each of us, and how we feel now will be influenced by what life was like before the pandemic.

Your relationship may have broken down, or you’d started a new one. You may have been made redundant or started a new business. Events may have taken a turn for the worse, or things were starting to look up.

So grief can highlight how different we are, and that our situation can impact how we feel and respond to it. It’s not one emotion, but many that can change from moment to moment.

You might experience anger, frustration, a strong need to blame.

You might feel overwhelmed or completely numb.

You might have little concentration, or finding the simplest things a chore or challenging.

You could be having sleepless nights, or troubling dreams.

Perhaps you feel you’ve lost or are struggling with your identity, wondering where you fit in, in a world that seems unrecognisable right now. You might even feel like you’re “ losing your mind ” , with so much seeming out of our control.

There is no ‘right’ way to feel when you’re grieving. All of it matters, and our feelings help us make sense of what we’re going through. It’s what we do with those feelings and how we channel them that makes the difference to how we cope. But as Rachel Wilson says in this article, “Britain is woefully ill-equipped to cope with bereavement because our grief culture is a stifled one.”

So what helps (and what doesn’t) when grieving?

How you grieve will depend on many things including your personal circumstances, the amount and type of loss you’ve been through in life, what support networks you have, how close you were to the situation, any ‘unfinished business’, and how you’ve been able to process your emotions.

The following might not fit for everyone, but can give you a place to start if someone has died or if you’re recognising loss and feelings of grief right now.

1) Recognise the feeling

Pushing pain away rarely works in the long-term, it just finds a place to hide, and rises up at a later date. Grief, after all, is love with nowhere to go.

It can help to recognise you’re feeling something – even if that’s feeling nothing at all – and even if you’re not ready to process it just yet. Megan Devine explains the importance of acknowledgement in her video “How to help a grieving friend”. This is relevant to anyone who has suffered a loss, as it is if you’re trying to help a friend or family member who has.

2) Avoid minimising if it’s not helping

You might be tempted – or told – to feel grateful for what you have. Well-meaning people will tell you to “think of the good times” or “look on the bright side”, or start sentences with “At least…” that offer little comfort. Or you might soothe yourself by saying there are people “worse off”.

Whilst all that may be true, it can offer little consolation when faced with the rawness, complexity and confusion of grief. As Nora MicInerny says in her TED talk, “Grief is a multi-tasking emotion.” You can feel sad and happy at the same time, and what you experience won’t always make sense.

Don’t feel you have to justify or hide what you’re feeling to make others more comfortable. Tell yourself the truth, rather than telling yourself to shut up.

3) Give yourself permission to cry when it helps

When a grieving person cries in British culture, they often feel they have to follow it by saying “sorry”, as if it’s wrong. But we know crying helps.

Grief can feel like a wave of emotion; you might feel “fine” one minute, then hear a song on the radio and burst in to tears.

If you feel you can’t cry yet, that’s ok, just as if you find yourself laughing at something on the telly. Laughter helps too, and you don’t need to feel guilty for forgetting, in that moment, that life has changed.

It’s the same when processing feelings of anger. Know your warning signs of what anger feels like for you, and reach out to people who can help you channel the emotion in a way that’s healthy, rather than harmful.

Experiencing grief doesn’t always mean crying will help or feel possible, but it’s important you can when you need, rather than believing you shouldn’t.

4) Make room for self-care

Self-care looks different to everyone; it might be spending time in your garden, reading a book, watching a video that makes you chuckle, or having a warm bath. Create a well-being plan that’s tailored to you that you know feels manageable, which includes daily restorative acts of kindness towards yourself. Self-care doesn’t mean “Me first”, it means “me included. That means making your well-being – including sleep – a priority.

Practical things like childcare arrangements or social circles may have changed. It’s ok to accept offers of help where you can, even if it’s someone getting a few essential things from the shop for you.

Routine can be helpful, making sure you get up and dressed at the same time each day, eating regular meals, taking time for your daily allowed exercise when you can. But it’s ok to have a “duvet day” now and then too.

Speak to your doctor if you feel you’re having more bad days than good over time, or call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you need someone to talk with, especially if you’re awake in the early hours.

5) Manage your environment

It’s important your environment lends itself to a place of sanctuary especially when you’re grieving and definitely during lockdown, when we are being told to stay at home unless it’s for one of four reasons.

You may feel under pressure from others to make changes or alter something about your circumstances, or feel the need to “do” something. People may tell you to dispose of your loved ones belongings, or you might decide to clean out old cupboards. An important thing to consider is that you go at your pace, and that how you cope feels within your control.

If you’re affected by domestic abuse, here is Women’s Aid Safety Advice.

6) Reach out

Connection matters, whether it’s having contact with the outside world or having the opportunity to speak with people who understand. There are organisations that specialise in feelings of grief and loss, and again the Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123.

You might decide to join an online bereavement peer support group, or connect with like-minded people who understand loss. You might consider a Death Café where you can talk about your thoughts and fears surrounding end of life. There will be people who understand, even when your situation is unique.

7) Take your time

People often say things like “you’ll get over it” and “time is a great healer”. Research by Dr Robert Neymeyer actually suggests that it’s not necessarily the passing of time that helps in our recovery from loss, but how we spend the time we are grieving.

Despite what some will try and tell you, there are no stages of grief (something misquoted for years). Bereavement is not linear; it might feel more like a rollercoaster than it is a flight of stairs so it will look different to everyone. Your grief is as unique as you are, but help is available.

Don’t feel under pressure to put a time frame on your grief. Be gentle on yourself. Take your time. And reach out if it helps.

Copyright Delphi Ellis 2020

Featured

Tips for Managing Anxiety During COVID-19 and Beyond

If you’re starting to feel the overwhelm of all the recent news, you’re not alone. The feeling is literally global.

People are taking different views, some are panicking, some are minimising – both are potentially responses to fear.

We know when we go through a prolonged period of stress, our brain and body will feel the effects. We also know that when we are in fight or flight – the body’s automatic response to feeling threatened – we don’t make good decisions. So here are some top tips that might help, if you’re feeling the strain.

1) Acknowledge how you’re feeling

All feelings are valid. Whether you’re feeling anxious, frustrated, sad or numb, it all counts. You may be grieving, even if no one has died. This could include the loss of freedom from self-isolation or holidays you had planned which have now had to be cancelled. You may be mourning experiences that happened before the coronavirus outbreak. Your emotions matter, and it’s helpful to find ways to express them in a healthy way that works for you.

2) Read and / or Write

Reading a good book is a wonderful act of self-care, but it’s not always easy to concentrate when your mind is doing somersaults. Some people find poetry helps for this reason, short stories or books with short paragraphs, like Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive.

People express their feelings in different ways, but getting the words out of your head and on to paper or into your laptop can help clear some head space. Mindful journaling can be a healthy way to download what’s in your brain in ways that you can process. The video below offers some ideas, particularly for people who are caring for someone else right now.

3) Get Creative

There are so many ways you can express yourself through creative activities from drawing, mindful colouring and dance. Whether it’s writing your own music (unless you have musical anhedonia), singing your heart out to your favourite song, or dancing if you can, see if you can find something that works for you. A recent report from the World Health Organisation found that singing, dancing and acting has positive effects on our physical and mental health.

4) Move Your Body

A lot of mental health professionals will endorse the benefits of exercise and it’s true to say this is good for you. But when we think of it, our minds often turn to thoughts about going to the gym, a Zumba class or going for a run. Thankfully, all movement counts, whether it’s having a boogie (see above) whether it’s watering your garden or going for a walk in nature (if you can). If you’re self-isolating, even having a good old clear out at home could count as some exercise. Fresh air is just as important, and remember you can currently spend time in your garden if you have one, even if self-isolating, but check the latest government stay-at-home guidance for details.

5) Focus on the basics

According to the Royal Society for Public Health there are three things we should do every day:

  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Drink water

and yet, these are probably the very things that suffer most when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. We know that around 70% (if not more) of the mood hormone serotonin is made in your stomach – so it’s more important than ever when you’re struggling, to try to eat. It doesn’t have to be big meals, but maybe eat little and often if it helps. You could practice self-care by planning your favourite dinners, or ask for further guidance from your doctor, especially if your eating habits are becoming unhealthy for you. You can drink water with flavoured juice, if it helps. Sleep is also something that we can find hard when our mind is racing. Here are some tips on sleep that might help, especially if you’re working shifts.

6) Stay Connected

It’s easy when you’re feeling overwhelmed to withdraw, including coming off social media and that can be a healthy thing from time to time. However, as human beings we are tribal by nature, and so it’s important we feel we have somewhere to belong. Sarah Millican creates the #JoinIn hashtag on Twitter for people feeling lonely every Christmas, and has recently endorsed using it for those self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak. Thanks to modern technology you can also keep in touch with friends and family via Skype, WhatsApp and other methods of communication if you have access to them. Talk to your doctor about accessing counselling if you think it would help.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the different news stories. So keep up-to-date via news sources that you trust and the latest government guidance.

7) Practice Compassion for Yourself and Others

Kindness and compassion are not the same.
We tend to reserve kindness for friends and family – those we care about (that’s why we often don’t include ourselves). This is where compassion comes in.

Compassion is “wise kindness”. It’s being able to recognise our differences but still be able to work together. It’s helping someone you don’t know or like, but at the same time keeping boundaries. It’s helping in a way that’s meaningful, but knowing our limits.

You can show yourself compassion by writing yourself a love note (words of kindness that remind you that “This will pass”), or repeating a mantra like “May I be well, May I be happy, May I be peaceful”. Find ways to give yourself permission to relax, and drop some of the unhelpful commentary that’s spiralling in your mind. This is where techniques like S.T.O.P can help, or a loving kindness meditation to feel connected with those who do understand how you feel.

Make taking care of yourself a priority, and do what you can with what you have from where you are.

This article is aimed at people who are struggling with mild to moderate anxiety. If you’re worried about your health and well-being, speak to your doctor, you can ring the NHS on 111, and if you’re struggling with your thoughts right now, the Samaritans are available in the U.K. 24/7 on 116 123. Here are some links to other agencies that may be able to help.

Copyright Delphi Ellis 2020

Featured

Visiting your doctor in difficult times

One in five patients now has to wait at least 15 days to see a GP in England, NHS figures have revealed.

Just under 5m of the 27.1m appointments at GPs’ surgeries in October involved waiting anywhere between 15 and 28 or more days to see a doctor or practice nurse. Patients are finding it increasingly difficult booking appointments with their doctor in the U.K., or accessing support from statutory services.

If this sounds like you, or if you are planning a visit to your GP soon to talk about mental health, here are some suggestions:

Ask for continuity of care. It’s important that you see the same doctor when you visit (where possible) especially in the early days so that they can monitor your progress effectively. You can request this.

Plan your appointments in advance. If there tends to be a three week wait (or more) to see your doctor, or if you’re told to ring first thing and still can’t get an appointment, ask if you can book a few ahead. You can always cancel them if you don’t need them (obviously try to give the surgery notice if you can). You should be seeing your doctor regularly, especially in the first few weeks if you’ve been diagnosed with poor mental health or prescribed medication.

Book medication reviews (if prescribed). You can do this with the practice nurse if necessary but this is particularly important if you’ve just been prescribed medication, or have discussed a lower or higher dose. Always check with your GP about the possible side effects to expect if they apply.

Write a list of what you want to say and/or take someone with you if you’re worried you’ll forget something.

Ask them what help is available locally, eg peer support groups, wellbeing courses, help with finances like Citizens Advice and help for carers too.

Reach out to organisations like Healthwatch England in your area. They have a team of volunteers who want to hear your patient experiences, especially if the standard of care you’re receiving from your doctor is falling short.

Be honest with your doctor. If you’re struggling, if things are getting worse or you’re feeling suicidal let them know, especially if you don’t have any support at home. You can always ask for a double appointment if you think you’ll need a longer consultation.

Practice self-care in the meantime. While you’re waiting to access services, try to write a wellbeing plan. Make a list containing the names of people you can reach out to, and small things that help you get your sparkle back. Some people find things like going for a walk in the fresh air, watching a video that makes them laugh, and mindfulness helpful.

Remember you’re not alone. Samaritans are available to listen on 116 123 24/7.

Here’s a video from Mind about finding the words to ask for help from your GP

I hope this helps, feel free to add any extra tips in the comments below if you think it will help someone trying to access their doctor.

©️ Copyright Delphi Ellis

Featured

Online Services and Resources

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak my services are currently available online

These include:

Counselling – receive a 1-1 session for talking therapy over the ‘phone or via Zoom for just £25 (for 50 minutes).  Please note my waiting list is now at capacity and I am not taking on any new 1-1 clients at this time. Group are going ahead as normal, see below.

Workshops – a selection of training and ‘micro-sessions’ available via Zoom, Teams or Google Meet

You might also like:

Monday Mojo™ – a free, weekly email sent straight to your inbox containing feel-good vibes for the week ahead, an instant access to the Sparkle Repair Kit™, a small but mighty eGuide designed to help you get your sparkle back.

Copyright Delphi Ellis

Featured

Workshops and Events

Did you know according to Time to Change, 95% of people feeling sick with stress, will phone in sick with another reason (like headaches or stomach upsets)?  For training on mental health awareness, get in touch.

This page includes training and events I offer.


Book a Speaker

If you’re hosting an event and would like me to deliver training or a talk on my specialist areas please get in touch.


Workshops

Topics include:

You might also like Gems – micro wellbeing sessions for the workplace


Serenity – insights, products, events and services dedicated to rest and relaxation for busy women

You can also use the form below to get in touch:

One of the best training sessions I’ve attended in years. Very well presented, Delphi is a natural!

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Delphi’s calm manner and clear-speaking meant she connected with the audience and made us feel that we were able to ask questions without feeling conscious. We can’t wait for Delphi to return again.” Amanda Coles, President SSEWI

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In the media

I’m Delphi Ellis – a Qualified Therapist, Mental Health Speaker, Mindfulness Practitioner and Well-being Trainer – Helping You Sparkle™.

I help people find their mojo and get their sparkle back, often after a difficult period in their lives. I do this by offering counselling, and well-being training services promoting positive mental health, including some specialist services for women. Sessions are available 1-1 and as group classes, with some workshops available nationwide. Private and corporate clients welcome.

As a Mindfulness Practitioner, I also suggest practical strategies for quality rest and relaxation, including guidance on healthy sleep. With a special interest in dream interpretation, I have appeared as the ‘dream expert’ for TV shows like Loose Women, ITV’s This Morning and presenting the Guide to Sleep on Daybreak. You can find out more about this here

Mindfulness Class: Delphi, A HUGE THANK YOU. I really have learned so much and enjoyed every week.

For more details about the services I provide click here, or to book a free initial consultation for counselling (available in Bedford and Milton Keynes) complete the form below (subject to availability).  Please don’t send dreams for interpretation this way.  For dream interpretation services click here.  Messages are replied to during working hours.

 

Professional Career 

I started my therapeutic career in 2002, where I supported those bereaved by murder and suicide, including attending inquests at coroner’s court.  I also spent a brief time with the National Homicide Service.  I now work in the community promoting positive mental health through 1-1 sessions and group events.

When the time is right for my clients, their aim is to find their way forward and get their sparkle back; this is the foundation of the work I do. I listen to what my clients need, helping them find their way back to centre, towards a ‘new normal’.  Find out more about my counselling services here.

During 2018, I developed the training programme and was the specialist lead trainer for the More than Words project, developing peer support groups for bereaved people, around the country.  In 2019, I developed the training and became lead trainer for the You Behind the Uniform project, discussing bereavement awareness and encouraging self-care with front-line emergency personnel, including police officers and paramedics.  I also established a peer support group in Bedford.

Improving the Conversation for Women

In 2004, I established a unique website dedicated to Pregnancy Mental Health, following my own experience of depression and anxiety during pregnancy. This began a journey of promoting better mental for women, including supporting those escaping domestic abuse. I have featured in several popular magazines including Pregnancy and Birth and Natural Health magazines, and featured on radio programmes like Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. (You can see an extensive list of tv and media appearances below).  I also promote healthy dialogue to help end discrimination and highlight inequality, campaigning through my Lets Talk Lady Business™ website and social media, to help end shaming, exploitation and violence towards women.

Volunteering

I am involved locally as a ‘Community Champion’ encouraging collaboration between agencies that promote positive mental health and wellbeing, and volunteering with those that support victims of crime.  In 2018, I was nominated for one of the Women who Make Bedfordshire Safer Awards, held by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  In 2019, I was voted Volunteer of the Year for services to the community.

Community event hosted by OPCC

Community Cohesion Awards 2018

Qualifications and Training

My qualifications and training include Therapeutic Counselling, Delivering Adult Learning, Restorative Justice, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Support for Insomnia, Positive Psychology, Mental Health First Aid and Mindfulness. I am accredited to work with victims of crime, including those escaping domestic abuse.

TV and Media Career

I have enjoyed a TV and media career talking about the subjects I am passionate about, including healthy sleep and dreams.

Media Appearances include:

Radio –

BBC Radio: BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 1 Xtra, BBC WM, BBC Shropshire, BBC Coventry, BBC Three Counties, BBC Radio 6 with George Lamb, BBC Suffolk Breakfast Show, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Drive Time, BBC Radio Leeds Drive Time, BBC Tees, BBC Radio Shropshire, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour, BBC London with Sunny & Shay and on the Eddie Nestor show, Talk Sport, Beacon Radio, Hallam FM, Original 106 FM, Gemini FM, WLR FM, XFM, The Psychic Show (LBC 97.3), My Spirit Radio, Bridge Radio, Red FM

Television –

Loose Women, ITV’s This Morning, DayBreak (Presenter of The Guide to Sleep), , GMTV, The Wright Stuff, LK Today (Lorraine), Consultant to SO Television for My Lovely Audience (Graham Norton), Psychic TV

Featured work –

Daily Express, Mens Health magazine, Practical Parenting & Pregnancy Magazine, Natural Health, Soul & Spirit magazine, Huffington Post, Guardian (G2), Sunday Express, Pregnancy, Baby & You, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Pregnancy & Birth magazine, Prima Baby magazine, Practical Parenting, Columnist for Spirit & Destiny Magazine, Contributor to Talk Mum, Contributor to Silent Voices, Columnist for Spirit Force Magazine

PR Events

Dreams Bed Company, Maybelline New York, Sky + HD (article featured in Daily Telegraph), Johnson’s Beauty: Dreamy Skin, Snow Leopard Trust

Awards

  • Volunteer of the Year Cohesion Award for services to the community;
  • Nomination: “Women Who Keep Bedfordshire Safer”;
  • Regional Finalist for the Health and Social Care Awards for Mental Health and Wellbeing;
  • Spiritual Connextions Awards for Best Service to Others

I also work for a charity in my spare time which offers a unique transport service for cancer patients, which won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

You might also like:

Monday Mojo™ – A weekly email containing feel-good motivation for the week ahead. Sign up here.

With Delphi’s help, I have a new perspective on life and the strength to face new and challenging things in a positive way.” B.

© Delphi Ellis, Helping You Sparkle™ – Wellness through Learning™

The Traffic Light Check-In – A simple way to measure if you’re doing ok (and what might help if you’re not)

In some of my workshops I talk about a Traffic Light Check-In. This is a concept I first heard about from Françoise Mathieu in her workbook on Compassion Fatigue.

The way I use it today, is to help people measure how they’re feeling and whether or not it’s time to reset and recharge. As I explain in my classes though, ‘resilience’ isn’t keeping going no matter what (that’s endurance), and organisations have a responsibility to understand what systems, policies or culture might be impacting employee well-being. (This is why it’s so important to Mind Your Language). We can’t achieve well-being in isolation; it’s a much bigger picture than that. (I talk about the different pillars of wellness here).

However, if you personally want a place to start in terms of recognising your ‘early warning signs’ of when you’re not ok, I’ve given a brief overview below:

🟢 = All good, you’re sleeping and eating well, making time for movement (this doesn’t always have to be exercise, it could be a walk/gardening/even dancing round your kitchen) – you’ll be able to concentrate and engage with people when you want. You’ll be setting healthy goals and might even have a vision for the future.

Action: Keep doing what you’re doing! (Note: it’s just as important to engage in self-care when you’re doing well, as it is anywhere else. In fact, your self-care might be one of the reasons why you’re doing ok).

🟠 = Starting to notice some early warning signs, eg., poor night’s sleep, skipping meals, feeling edgy.  

Action: Start to engage in restorative acts of self-care which may include talking to people about sharing the load, or even the little things like changing your bedding and having an early night. Ironically the very things that can help us feel better (like eating healthy and regularly) tend to be the first things that go out of the window when we’re not ok. However, try if you can to stick to healthy routines that you know work for you.

🔴 = Feeling like you’re not coping, may have started using unhealthy coping strategies. It may be time to stop, reach in to sources of help (eg GP, Occupational Health, Employee Assistance Programme) and start to make more room for your well-being. It will be different for everyone, so don’t be put off by other people’s idea of what that might look like. There’s also a list of links that may be useful here.

You could also consider the Self-Care Check-In, which is in my book Answers In The Dark; have a look at the video that explains more here. Hope this helps.

Answers In The Dark is out now.

You might also like Monday Mojo™ – feel good motivation for the week ahead. © Delphi Ellis 2022

Got Big Plans for the Future But Don’t Know Where to Start? Here’s How to Create a Vision Board

Whether you’re someone who has high hopes and big ambitions or just wants to settle on a particular direction in life right now, you may have been wondering how to get started.

A Vision Board is a great way of putting your aspirations into a visual display to help you decide and stay focused on your plans for the weeks or months ahead.

What are the benefits?

The purpose of a Vision Board primarily may be to help you formalise your intentions and keep them available to you as a gentle reminder of the goals you want to achieve.

Having a visual display of your aspirations that you see regularly can influence the choices you make each day, to help you stay focused on what you want from life. It can also act as a motivator whilst at the same time keeping you on track.

What does it cost?

You don’t need a lot of money – if any – to create a Vision Board. You can use apps like Pinterest, create collages (eg in Canva, see below) or use (preferably recycled) A4/A3 card and some glue (if you’re sticking images on it).

You might decide to do invest in a new notebook instead, and use different coloured pens to draw borders and shapes for each topic, or to accentuate particular words or phrases you use. This may be particularly useful if you have some favourite sayings or affirmations you want to include.

Some people use pictures from magazines or print family photos or favourite quotes, but others may draw inspiration by using different headers like “Physical, Spiritual” (see below) and write what they want to achieve under each.

What to include

You can put whatever you want on your Vision Board – because it’s yours – that you feel will help to motivate you whether it’s words or photos.

You might get started by using what’s sometimes known as a Life Wheel, or the Pillars of Wellness which I’ve included in the image below.

This is where you can consider different areas of your life and “score” each one , on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “life is amazing” in that area) to help you decide which one you’d like to make a priority. For example if you score “8” on physical health, but “6” on Spiritual, you may choose to do your Vision Board to focus on the spiritual aspect of your life.

You could do one Vision Board per area, or have one version which includes key things that might help you succeed.

However it doesn’t need to be that varied. You could if you wanted just have one that focuses on the specific car, job or holiday you want.

Topics you might feature on your Vision Board:

  • Physical – this doesn’t just mean exercise; it might be lifestyle, and how well you eat and sleep. (If you’re having problems sleeping or having weird dreams you might like my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal.) “Physical” might also include recognising your early warning signs (like heart pounding, or shallow breathing) of when you’re not ok so that you can manage it well.
  • Emotional – this area might focus on improving a sense of emotional well-being – like feeling fulfilled, or how well you know what you’re feeling when you feel it. Can you label your emotions helpfully? Can you distinguish between feeling stressed, and feeling anxious, for example? How good are you at reading your own or others emotions?
  • Intellectual – this isn’t about intelligence or how well you’d do in a pub quiz as such, but might include knowing why you do what you do when you’re not doing ok. For example, do you have unhealthy coping mechanisms, or are you curious about your decisions and how you make them? Are there things you want or need to learn or improve to help you achieve your goals?
  • Social – This includes your tribe, the people you spend time with. This doesn’t always mean just friends or family, it might also include colleagues and associates. How would you rate your social wellness right now? Do the people in your life lift you up, or bring you down? This also doesn’t always mean going out and partying. You might decide to try a college course, take up a new hobby or start some volunteering.
  • Professional – what do you want to achieve career-wise? Are you feeling fulfilled at work? Do you feel appreciated and are you using your skills meaningfully? Do you know what your strengths are (in all areas of your life) and can you articulate them? Do you recognise the transferable skills you have between home (eg, from planning a meal to parenting) and work, like juggling diaries/managing money and conflict resolution? When do you feel “in the zone”? (See also Spiritual).
  • Financial – this might be anything from being able to save money, cover your bills regularly, invest in a business, buy a house or clear some debt.
  • Environmental – you might choose to include this in your Vision Board if you want to be more eco-friendly. It might also include ethical choices when, for example, buying food, clothes or when travelling.
  • Spiritual – this is not always about religion, it might be about where you feel most connected. This might include setting an intention to meditate more or spend time in nature. What connects you to the world around you? This might also include your sense of purpose which isn’t always about what you get paid for (although it could be). Perhaps think about when you feel what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularly referred to as “flow”, the state of being “in the zone”. This might be when organising a family get together or engaging in a favourite sport.

Once you know what you want on your Vision Board, you can choose a design that fits your aspirations and begin.

This is an example of a Vision Board created using Canva

Where to keep it

This will depend on whether or not you want to use a physical Vision Board or a digital one.

I’ve mentioned above you can use apps (Pinterest can be great for that) but if you’re going to use your phone it’s important to keep the Vision Board where you can see it. You might save it as your Lock Screen as one example. If you’re going to have a paper version, then again keep it where you can see it every day, like your kitchen. If you choose to have a paper version, you can still take a photo and keep it as the wallpaper on your phone.

The more you see your Vision Board and it reminds you of what you want to achieve, it can influence the touch points you have throughout the day that help you to make better decisions in line with your goals.

How long to keep a Vision Board

It’s really up to you. You might decide to do a new one each month, every year or review periodically. You could do a Vision Board for the next 12 months or the next 10 years. You might decide to refresh it periodically because your hopes might shift, or you find you need to try a different direction of travel. Do what feels right and healthy for you.

If you decide to do a written Vision Board, as described above with headings and writing under each topic, this might be part of your regular journalling practice and so again, you can review it periodically.

This is a good video from Freedom Kingdom with some more ideas. I hope you enjoy this process if you choose to try it.

Copyright Delphi Ellis 2022

Why do we wake up so tired? This reason might surprise you (and a top tip to try)

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According to various commentaries, including from the World Health Organisation, insomnia is a global problem*. People acknowledge that the pace of life affects our quality of sleep, technology makes us easily interruptible at all hours of the day, and quite honestly there seems to be more to worry about every single day. No wonder so many of us wake up tired each morning. But what if something else is causing us to feel exhausted when we wake up?

When I was writing my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, I realised many of us have bought in to a big myth: that we all need eight hours sleep every night. If you buy any popular magazine that contains a ‘Sleep Special’, they’ll tell you that eight is the magic number. Ironically, I believe this might be just one reason we’re not always getting a good night’s rest and so wake up shattered the next day.

The scale of this myth means that we now largely plan our day around it – if you have to be up at 6 in the morning, you might work back eight hours and think this means you have to be in bed by 10pm. But what if you’re not sleepy then? Believing you have to be in bed by the allotted time, you might now be tossing and turning in bed unable to sleep, growing more stressed because as far as you know you ‘should’ be in the land of nod by now. The irony of that is, there’s no way your brain will authorise sleep when you’re stressed. You might eventually manage to doze off but wake up exhausted.

But there’s another thing.

We know that we sleep in cycles (Answers In The Dark contains a section called The Sleep Cycle Repair Kit), and these cycles follow a particular route. We ideally go to bed when we’re sleepy, complete a number of cycles and wake up naturally each day. The problem is, if you set your alarm for 6am (working forward eight hours from 10pm), it might actually be set to go off right slap-bang in the middle of deep sleep. This also happens when we take an afternoon nap and set our alarm for an hour, instead of a short amount like 20 minutes, or the full length of a sleep cycle (about 90-120 minutes). You wrench yourself out of bed, trying to continue with your day, only now you’re experiencing what’s sometimes known as the Hangover Effect – you’ve got a headache, your mouth is dry and you don’t know what year it is.

So here’s the tip: ditch the myth and focus on quality not quantity. Some people will need six hours, others might need 10 on any given day. When you’re a teenager you needed more sleep, just as you might when you’re poorly, and as you’re older you might find you need less. If you have to get up at, say, 7am, but know you’re naturally awake at 6 o’clock, don’t trick yourself in to thinking you’ll just get another cheeky hour in – you might find you then wake up feeling groggier than before.

Of course if you work shifts, that can be more challenging as can be the circumstances that are affecting your sleep in the first place (the video below might help). There is a benefit in taking power naps when you can (I talk more about that in the book too). But where possible try to work out when you’re naturally wakeful and set your alarm for then, rather than wrenching you out of deep sleep.

Measure your sleep quality by how refreshed you feel when you wake up, and where possible try to go to bed when you’re sleepy and wake up naturally, as close to when you need to get up. You can also try some mindfulness activities (there’s a range of these in the book), as well as talk to someone during the day, about what might be keeping you up at night.

Top Tips for Better Sleep from Delphi Ellis

Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal is out now. © Copyright Delphi Ellis 2022 * citation from this website 20/9/22

Monday Mojo™: Insight, Inspiration and Intention for the Week Ahead – Check out the new website!

After five years of producing a weekly newsletter by email and through this website, and around five years before that sending wisdom straight to your inbox, Monday Mojo™ has now moved to a new home!

You can now find the short version of your weekly insight, inspiration and intention for the week ahead here and on SoundCloud. You can also find Monday Mojo™ on Twitter (use the verified hashtag #MondayMojo if you share from there). Be sure to check it out!

When you subscribe to Monday Mojo™ by email, you also get an extended version (including a video and articles) and receive exclusive access to free resources (subject to availability).

If you are an existing subscriber, the Monday Mojo™ VIP area has also moved. Click here to access the page, the password is will have been sent to you prior to this announcement. Any problems get in touch.

Monday Mojo – Let It Fall

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Well it’s all been a bit intense here in the UK.
If you’ve been watching the news (and I totally understand if you haven’t) I think it’s safe to say the word that best summarises the events of last week is “drama”.

Beth Rigby, a journalist for Sky News, said she’d never known a week like it in her career. She actually recorded a piece to camera half an hour before it was due to go on air on Wednesday night, and by the time it went live what she had recorded was already out of date. 

Do you ever have weeks like that? Where it feels like all the plates are spinning and if you take your eye off the ball for even a second something might drop. It’s exhausting.
Constant Policy or procedural changes at work (sometimes it feels just for the sake of it).
People changing jobs so quickly. we can’t remember where they’ve gone.
So many friends going through difficult times, it’s hard to know who to prioritise.
It gets to the point where we feel so overwhelmed, we might shut down or lash out. (On that note, my latest blog about anger offers some thoughts).

Here’s what might help:

This week, maybe set the intention to Let It Fall. It might sound terrifying but sometimes we get so worried about what might happen, that the best thing could be to see if it does. That doesn’t mean be reckless with choices, but at the same time it can help to step back, take a breath and see just how bad things could get. If you have a tendency to try and control things, which is often in an effort to feel safe and mitigate risk, maybe reflect on the question “What risk am I afraid of here, and why does this matter to me?”

One of the things I cover in this blog about anger is how sometimes we concern ourselves with “shoulds” – standards we place on ourselves and others which can be unachievable. In the same way, this article encourages us to consider “Whose business am I in?” – in other words if you’re trying to control or change something that you won’t be able to affect, it can add to problems that are already there. Ask yourself what would it mean to let this go right now.

Ultimately, this doesn’t mean we excuse or ignore, just that we look down the road a little and see what direction we will travel if we carry on as we are. You’re allowed to rest, pause and reflect so do that as often as possible.

For an expanded version of Monday Mojo™ straight to your inbox, which includes access to free resources, click here. Any third party links offered are not endorsed.

The Business End: I am delighted to provide this complimentary weekly blog. If you like Monday Mojo™ and want to say “thanks”, you can “Buy Me a Coffee” via my Tip Jar here. No pressure though, it will stay free of charge as long as possible.

You might also like: my book Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now.

© Delphi Ellis 2022

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