Introduction: Personal Well-Being (The Tao of Kiteman).
"Well being" is not the same as being well.
These tips don't guarantee any sort of cure of what ails you. If we're honest, no website or self-help book can do that.
They are, though, a tool-kit that you can use as you need to to help you be happier with yourself as a person.
Not all will be right for you - just pick and mix as you want.
(Note: the images are pretty meaningless, generally lifted from around the web, but an image-free posting upsets the filters. I've given sources where I know them, but if you know of [problems with their use, please let me know and I will happily change them.)
Step 1: Find Your Space
Everybody needs a place to call their own, a place to think and cogitate without interruption.
For most people, it will be somewhere at home - a bedroom, a den, a shed, a beanbag in the corner.
However, not everybody is the same. Maybe your space is in the local library, maybe it's a bench in the park, or even on the local commuter train, in the corner of the carriage with your headphones on.
Wherever it is, find your space, and go there when you need to.
Step 2: Know Your Worth
Most people are very good at self-criticism, and will put themselves down at the slightest opportunity.
Take some time, sit down with a pen and paper, and make yourself a list of good points. Things you are good at, things that others appreciate.
It doesn't matter how small or how large these good points are - where you find some, more will appear.
Step 3: Relax
Actively find a way to relax yourself in body and mind.
If you can afford the cost or the time, get a head massage from a professional. In between times, take a few moments out of your day for some breathing exercises:
This exercise is good for helping yourself drift off to sleep.
Sit or lie down comfortably.
Close your eyes.
Picture the deep blackness of space, filled with a giant red sun. It is huge, but dull. You can feel its warmth all over your body, but it doesn't burn.
Watch the Sun as you slowly breath.
Breath in through your nose and watch the Sun expand slightly.
Breath out through your mouth and watch it shrink.
The longer you breath out, the smaller and fainter the Sun gets.
Keep breathing slowly as the Sun fades away.
The smaller the Sun gets, the slower you breath.
Smaller ... fainter ... slower ...
Smaller ... fainter ... slower ...
This exercise is good for relaxing after a stressful episode, such as an argument.
Sit or lie comfortably. Perfect position is sitting upright in an office or dining chair where you can put your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on your knees, relax your back, slump a little.
Close your eyes and think about your body. Picture the stressful feelings as an inky black liquid permeating your body.
Breath in slowly through your nose, lifting your chest and shoulders as you do.
Blow out slowly through your mouth (put a little effort into it), and, in your mind's eye, watch the level of the black liquid go down a little. Feel it drain away through your feet into the floor.
With each breath out, the level goes down more.
The liquid in your arms will drain out of your hands, down your legs and out your feet.
You should be able to feel muscles un-knot and even feel warmer as the level drops past them.
(You can also do this exercise whilst sitting in traffic. Imagine the liquid draining right out through the floor of the car, pooling in the road. As you drive off, you leave the stress of the day behind you - just don't close your eyes!)
(If you're lying on your back to do this, imagine the liquid draining out of the small of your back).
NB: I first posted these exercises in 2007.
Step 4: Get Physical
Physical exercise is good for you.
As well as keeping you fit, it also helps you sleep, can give you a bit of blank-mind time to help you think (not to relax, though), and is a good stress-reliever.
Depending on your mood, preferences and ability, go out occasionally and do something that gets you out of breath - run along the beach, climb the whole tower-block stair-well, have a snowball fight, dig the garden - or gets the heart pounding some other way (bungee jumping, firing a gun, go on a roller coaster).
Martial arts are also a good option, since, when properly pursued, they also encourage the spiritual aspects of Well Being.
Step 5: Cut Loose.
If you don't fancy being drunk, have a go at boxing, paint-balling, rugby, or any other activity with a high probability of bruises or a trip to A&E.
- Never, ever get drunk alone.
- Never, ever drive drunk.
- Always remember that you could easily be over the legal limit the next day. If it's been a really heavy night, leave it 24 hours before you drive.
- Do not make heavy nights a regular habit - be aware that alcohol is both habit-forming and toxic.
Step 6: Talk
When somebody asks how you are, the response always seems to be a reflexive "I'm fine".
But, sometimes you're not.
Take time to talk to people. Find somebody you can have a chat with, somebody to rant at. OK, so they probably can't fix what ails you. Maybe nobody can. But talking about things out loud, or typing them in an email, helps you get things straight in your head, fix your perspective.
Get in the habit of talking about how you feel when you feel fine, and then it's easier when you don't.
You could write things down in a diary, but diaries can't respond or give feedback.
You could blog, but you never know who, exactly, is reading it.
You could rant and rave at a web-cam for YouTube, but the feedback is generally useless, and you have even less anonymity than with a blog.
If you don't want (or can't find) a real, actual human to talk to, face-to-face, over the phone or by email, then there is always the option of some sort of therapy. This can be expensive if it is not covered by some sort of insurance cover (or state help such as the NHS), but I have known things like cognitive therapy to help greatly when dealing with stressful situations.
Failing that, there are organisations, such as the Samaritans* who can at least be a listening ear.
Step 7: Challenge Yourself.
Ruts in the track may be easy to follow, but they also restrict your choice of route.
Get out of the rut.
Learn a new skill, try something you find difficult.
Get a hobby. The internet is not a hobby. Video games are not a hobby.
Learn to solder, sew, cook, weld, dance, throw your voice.
When you go to the library, don't walk straight to the shelves you usually visit - try a soppy romance, or a text on the history of a country you have never heard of.
Pick up a discarded newspaper and do the crossword. Finish it, however long it takes.
Change your takeaway option, even if that only means trying a different number 17 with noodles, instead of your usual number six with rice.