Tuesday, October 24, 2006

take time for tranquility


I’m feeling quite happy today as a report for the Campaign for Rural England (CRE) has announced that the North East of England where I live is the most tranquil region in the country, as it houses the top three counties for tranquillity; Northumberland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. All three counties have large rural areas and also, in my opinion, have the most stunning landscape in the country – miles and miles of open countryside, golden beaches, fells, moors, mountains, forests and woodlands. And with that comes less noise, less air pollution and more peace, quiet and fresh air. All of which are essential to create an environment of tranquillity. Those in London and the South East are less fortunate, with Surrey being the least tranquil county, along with Hertfordshire.

According to the report, tranquillity is defined as “the quality of calm experienced in places with mainly natural features and activities, free from disturbances and manmade ones”

Tranquillity is good for our health. Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce heart attacks, increase mental performance and soothe anxiety. It helps relieve stress and recent research shows that one of the primary reasons that people visit the countryside is to escape from the stresses of their lives and seek tranquillity and solitude in the great outdoors.

In my office at work, I have a wall space which I refer to as the wall of tranquillity, which houses half a dozen or so images of attractive, tranquil scenery. No houses, cars, people, roads or buildings, just water, rocks, sand, trees, mountains and sky. I look at this pictures from time to time to give my eyes a rest from the movement, colour and bustle around me (my ears are not so lucky!).

What this research has reminded me of is how much I value tranquillity and how important it is to make the effort to go to spaces where it can be found. Some are lucky enough to live and work in a tranquil environment but huge numbers of us live in urban and built up areas and if we don’t make time for it, the nearest thing we get to tranquillity is a walk in the park.

In my experience, I have some of my best ideas or most profound thoughts when I am out in the great outdoor. Of course urban life and culture can be incredibly stimulating, but equally you can get overloaded with sights and sounds and have little room for your thoughts and feelings.

So I’ve decided that this weekend, come rain or shine, I’ll be out in the countryside, enjoying the peace and solitude. For as Bill Connelly says; there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

create some comfort

For the past two years now, I have kept something called a comfort drawer in my house. This is a special, dedicated little drawer whose purpose (and what could be higher!) is to hold a treasure trove of treats and comforts for your truly.

When you have one of those days where everything goes wrong, when you get some bad news, are disappointed or are feeling up against it in whatever area of your life, you can take refuge in your comfort drawer. Isn't that a wonderful thought? As you lean your head against the bus window or crawl through traffic after a hectic day, or sit in another tedious meeting, or listen to a partner or friend moan and twist, you can conjure up your drawer in your mind and make your choice...what will today's treat be?

Now, I'm not going to tell you what should be in the drawer, that's up to you. You know which things in life delight and inspire you, that lift your spirits, amuse or sooth.

But so you start to get an idea, here's what's currently in mine;

a few bath bombs from Lush
scented candles
a new note book
some coloured pencils and a mosiac colouring book
perfume samples of scents I don't usually wear
foot rub cream
a miniature body lotion
a french manicure kit
a bar of green and blacks almond chocolate
a poetry book
a little pewter buddha
a packet of postcards to send to friends
some louise hay illustrated affirmation cards.

The only rules are, that you must replenish the stocks - one in, one out and that the drawer has comfort as it's sole use - don't shove these beauties in amongst your socks or the remote control and charger collection!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Say Yes!

So many times in coaching and self development books, articles and websites, I've read about empowering people to say No. Clearly, the ability to say No when you need to is important: No to a bad relationship, No to an extra project at work, No to an event you'd rather not attend. It's true that the people pleasers amongst us (that's about 95% of the population in my experience!) really need to say No more often, for our sanity, health and self esteem.

However, what about Yes? What have you said No to recently that you could have said Yes to? Because to me, saying No when you should (I know, I hate that word) say Yes is just as bad. And sometimes, saying Yes is all about stepping outside of our comfort zone. It involves doing something new, stepping up to the bar, challenging yourself and your beliefs about what you can and can't do.

What can you say Yes to today?