After stopovers in Denmark and Germany, Svala Sigurdardottir now is living in Paris, France. Mother of four lovely children, medical doctor and the better half of Icelandic Handball-Pro Robert Gunnarsson since 14 years. Besides this Svala now started taking classes in psychology as well. Not only because of this, but also because Svala is one of the most energetic and positive lady’s we know, we asked her for her personal “positive psychology” to make life a little better for each one of us.
Life besides a pro athlete/ a husband who is “bought” to play
I know it is very difficult for many girls, this life with a husband who is “bought “ to play in all kinds of towns/cities all over – you feel forgotten, your career is on hold, you are “stuck at home” and with the bureaucracy, all the papers you have to have in order to find a good kindergarten, etc. etc., it is not difficult to feel a bit down and lost. That is normal, but…
Look at it from another angle / you only have this moment
… you can try to look at it from another angle: how lucky you are to be able to spend all this time with your husband and kids! How lucky you are to live in all these different places! These things look good on your CV too, don’t forget that! Try to make the most of it, learn the language, try to make local friends or find a way to engage in your hobbies. Learn new things – you only have this moment!
How to find a balance between family, partnership, job and your own well being
It is not easy, and it gets harder with each child :). But I always try doing things that I think are FUN. For me, I get extra energy if I give myself time to do what I love, such as going out with friends, going on dates with my hubby, doing some knitting/sewing, visiting museums, going to the cinema etc…
To be able to do that, you do need help / “buying” quality time
I’ve had an au pair girl living with us since 2007, of course I first didn’t realise that I might need some help in taking care of the home, while studying in another country, but it was the best decision ever. I also decided early on, as a poor student, as soon as I would have extra 40 euros a week to spend, I would use them to pay a cleaning lady. This way you are “buying time” with your family, a more relaxed quality time. I later saw the same idea in a book you might know called “The last lecture” written by Randy Pausch, a teacher and a family man that had cancer and saw his life differently, it is inspiring.
Energy and mental status / try to become the best version of yourself / keep your routine
Regarding energy, like I said, by doing things, I get more energetic, but since I would probably be defined as almost “hypomanic” it is difficult for me to give advice on energy to those who are not. “Ohne spass” (as Svala often says.. / editor´s note) as a doctor I know that a healthy daily routine, good sleep and exercise (it doesn’t have to be the gym, just walking the dog is good too) are things that undoubtedly help with your energy and mental status. I do recommend that people try to do things they love, engage in activities that they like/love to do and try to become “the best version of yourself”. So, no matter where you live, keep your routine, wake up every morning, don’t go back to bed, even though it is tempting (I did that a lot though, when I was breastfeeding, or going through periods where my kids were always waking me up 😉 it sucks the energy out of you!
Some recommendations / my advice
I can give you some recommendations, since I am studying positive psychology at the moment (I’ve been going through a lot of “self examination” via my positive psychology course) so here is my advice, in no particular order:
- Exercise and eat regularly.
- Sleep enough and keep a daily rhythm.
- Find out what you do best and pursue that. (There are all kinds of tests that can guide you – see below.)
- Be around people and stay in good contact with those you have meaningful relationships with.
- Do mindfulness exercises.
It is tempting for me to add the fifth advice, “do mindfulness exercises ” I have been using this the past few months and I recommend doing so for all my friends and patients, it has shown that people are less depressed, more focused and have better memory if you do this kind of meditation:)
Dalai Lama inspires me and he is SPOT ON here when asked what surprises him most:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Svala’s recommendations to watch, test or read:
- Reading: “The last lecture” by Randy Pausch, “The how of happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, “Mindfulness finding peace in a frantic world” by Williams and Penman
- Dalai Lama: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/05/25/someone-asked-the-dalai-lama-what-surprises-him-most-his-response-was-mind-altering/
Fotos: privat/Svala Sigurdardottir