Do you know that awakening feeling that comes over you when you finally open a window real wide in a stuffy sealed room? The wind caresses your face violently and the papers lying on the bed gets swept up by the gust of air that just jumped in. You take a deep breath just because it feels like the most natural thing to do. It rushes out of you as though it had been caged in your lungs for the longest time; spontaneously, instinctively, freely.
The last few months for me have been transformative in the same way. I’m not sure at what point I found the strength to pull up the blinds, open the window and let the breeze in, but I did somehow and the difference has been palpable.
It sucked to be stuck and lost in an intricate web of emotions but after getting off the emotional rollercoaster it feels good to be on the other side. Last year was tumultuous as I’m sure you could tell by my posts which, although were few and far between, did not leave many feelings hidden. For most of the year I did spiral, and despite trying to stay positive, I don’t think much of that came through.
I’m not where I was then and my mental health is much better for it, so I thought only makes sense for me to tell you what are the things that have improved my state of mind lately. Please note that there is no quick fix to these things and sometimes you need to just allow yourself to go through the motions believing you will come out the other side. Although things may get worse before they get better, they do get better – remember that.
Pen Your Process and Progress.
As a writer, this tip really is second nature to me. Except when my bad day come mixed with writer’s block, I find I understand myself a lot better when I lay my thoughts down on paper.
With every word I trace, it allows me to draw a vivid picture of the labyrinth I’m lost in, which in turn, helps me then find the way out.
Writing down your emotions, I’ve found, especially when done for your eyes only, allows for real honesty to shine through. The knotted feelings hiding in the shadow of the mind come out more freely when you take the time to write it all down. Your words on paper become a mirror reflecting the map of your mind and guiding you on where to go.
It is also the best way to ponder on how far you’ve come and there is nothing more rewarding than revisiting your growth through your own words. Adulting and searching for the right way to go can be really puzzling so tracking your progress can be essential to feeling like you are moving in the right direction.
Go On a Hunt For Bitesize Wonders.
Practising gratitude is medicine for the soul. I truly believe that.
This year I started a gratitude journal which I called Bitesize Wonders and I’ve been sharing that with you over the last six weeks. Taking notes of Bitesize Wonders, the little big things that make me even an ounce happier, has been one of the most effective habits I’ve implemented that is yielding real effects to the way I’ve been feeling.
When you find yourself in a terrifying state of mind, something hard to do is find the silver linings in your day to day. When everything is dark and grey for what feels like forever, it can be really difficult to catch glimpse of hope and it becomes more and more unavoidable to get sucked into a state of constant blues.
I started capturing Bitesize Wonders because I realised that my negativity was draining and drowning me in a sea of hopelessness. I was constantly feeling down and bitter and basked in my own despair as though it was something to indulge in.
I didn’t expect practising gratitude to have such a big impact on my life. I’ve stopped looking at the world with a glass-half-empty outlook, and I’ve been enjoying consciously setting out to find colour on dark and grey days. It’s not always easy, but the more I do it, the more natural it’s becoming natural to find little joys everywhere.
Walk A Mile In Your Shoes.
No, like literally.
One of my goals recently has been to step outside more often. It’s something I’ve struggled with post-pandemic, getting back into the real world. At first, there was no choice but to stay locked indoors for months and months on end. It initially felt like being submerged in water and every time I came up for air thinking it would surely be okay to do – it wasn’t. Soon enough, I too like the rest of you was told to go back down.
Then we became excellent swimmers, the type that did not even need to come for air. We made the waters our land and got comfortable with the bizarre, imposed reality. Now they reassure us it’s okay to come up for air, but although I hate to admit it (excuse the pun) I’ve felt very much like a fish out of water.
Working from home has definitely not helped as I actively have to look for reasons to step outside the house.
I was not this much of an introvert pre-pandemic and I’m sure most people would describe me as the exact opposite, but much change has changed me too and re-adapting to this semi-normal world is still taking some getting used to. I’ve been making an effort here and there to step out even to do frivolous things. It’s all a matter of getting into the mindset to make small impactful decisions. It’s about choosing to go shopping instead of getting your groceries delivered to the doorstep in five hours, choosing to eat out at a cosy restaurant over ordering takeaway for the third time in the same week or going to church on a Sunday morning instead of attending a duvet-service online. It may be hard to get out of bed sometimes, but sometimes you may have to wrestle with yourself, get back into the world, and more often than not you’ll feel much better for it.
Embrace Life On Airplane Mode.
I must admit, I find social media so boring these days. Not necessarily the part where you get to connect with friends and family, that’s still a positive thing we may not talk about enough. What I can no longer stand is the performative nature of it all and how every post is a clone of its predecessor. These days, I’ve been replacing insta stories with the ones you flip through on pages and embrace as they unfold into something pure and beautiful. I’m enjoying playing games on my Play Station rather than endless scrolling that often leaves me comparing my life to a billion others with whom I do not share anything in common.
I once said social media is a peep through someone else’s window and whilst I do enjoy a good aimless scroll like the next person, I’ve decided it’s not worth spending all that time staring into other people’s lives when I could be living mine to the fullest.
Say It Out Loud – Someone Will Listen.
I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you’ve lost your composure and yelled out the words screaming in your mind. It may not have been your proudest moment, and perhaps you may later wonder if you could have put your point across in a more thought-out manner. In my experience, though, I often come out of those moments feeling like a weight has been lifted up my heart.
Bad days feel ten times worse when you pile up your feelings and keep them locked up in your heart until there’s no more space to hold them. If you keep pouring into a cup that’s already full, it will certainly overflow. Whether you choose to speak to a friend who always listens, or you decide to speak to a professional, it is important that you talk to someone before the agony reaches a point you cannot control.
What are some other little big things improving your mental health lately?
Your restless romantic roamer