Valleys Steps is a local charity that offers support to help people take steps to improve everyday well-being. As part of our Time for Summer campaign, we asked Paul Griffiths, Lead Practitioner at Valleys Steps, to share some advice on how to improve Summer wellbeing. In his guest blog, Paul talks about how stepping out of our comfort zone and making small changes can have such a positive impact on our wellbeing.
Small Victories Lead to Great Adventures: Paul Griffiths, Valleys Steps
Summer means longer days, warmer weather, and, for many of us, the chance to spend as much time outdoors as possible. We have spent the last 16 months in and out of lockdown, navigating the difficult waters of a worldwide pandemic. Now I can get out and about more, I am so grateful, as I am a big fan of hiking.
However, you may be reading this and not be excited about the opportunity to go outside, to go to shops, bars, restaurants, the cinema, or your local shops. If you are avoiding daily activities, fearful of what could happen, you are not alone. The funny thing about us as human beings is that we withstand lots of challenging situations, we cope with lots of things which we probably don’t think much about.
During the last 16 months we have responded to one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity. If you are reading this, you have withstood a challenging period in your life, a worldwide pandemic – give yourself a big pat on the back.
Ask Yourself This
Most of us have the tendency to doubt ourselves and list the things we can’t do. I want you to ask yourself these questions:
- “What have I done that has worked?”
- “What can I do?”
- “What do I really want to do?”
- “What resources, skills or attitudes do I have that have helped me along the way?”
- “What have I learnt about myself?”
- “Am I determined?”
- “Do I persevere and try again and again?”.
Why am I asking you these questions? Because during a storm, we sometimes don’t give ourselves time to reflect and look at the positives. We don’t pause and say, “today, I’m feeling anxious about my family’s health, that shows I care – I’m a caring person”. We may take ourselves for granted and not recognise who we are and, importantly, who we could be during challenging times. This leads us to avoid doing difficult things, because we don’t think we will have resources to cope if things don’t go the way we want them to, but life doesn’t always run to a script.
Take a Micro-Risk
The ironic thing about us is that we do take risks. You may be reading this saying, “No, not me, safe as houses”. Well, let’s unpack this risk thing – how many of you leave the house without a raincoat when there’s a chance of rain or leave your house with 50% battery on your phone or choose something different on a menu? These are called micro-risks and they release adrenaline to give us a little buzz of excitement, which can help us build resilience and confidence.
You probably take for granted when you choose a different dish from your takeaway or walk a different way home, but it’s the small victories of minor changes that lead us on great adventures in our lives.
I’m not advising you to go and take risks like bungee jumping or paragliding, but I am inviting you to think about a time when you were feeling fear but got through the event. Was it as bad as you thought?
One of my mindfulness teachers told a profound story about aeroplanes. “If a plane changes its course by one degree, it could end up landing 1,000 miles away from its original destination”. Just think about one small change that you could make, that would help you further down the road of life.
Valleys Steps offers online workshops on mindfulness, stress management, wellbeing and much more. If you would like more information on support from Valleys Steps, you can visit their website here.