I know, I know, mental health isn’t something we normally talk about. But it should be. I know I wish it was something I thought I could talk about. I always thought that depression was something that happened to other people. Until it happened to me.
I think at some point depression, anxiety, overwhelm happens to us all, in varying degrees. And the world would be a much happier place if we knew how to deal with these feelings when they come up. Over the last few months, I’ve learnt a few ways to help keep my mind, and spirit, in a much happier place and I wanted to share them with you, so here goes…
1. Move your body
It could be running, walking, barre, yoga, swimming or absolutely anything where you make an concerted effort to move your body for a certain period of time. The last couple of weeks in my day job have been stressful and overwhelming, but once I made the effort to get myself to a barre class (my preferred form of torture), my head space was not only clearer, but I felt more capable and confident in my abilities. I’m sure experts will say something about endorphins and how they make you happy. Personally, I think that giving yourself that half hour/hour means you can sort through whatever’s going around inside your head without feeling like you should be focused on something else. Plus, it keeps your doctor happy too!
I know, this is actually the hardest thing to do when your brain is in a dark place. I didn’t talk about how I was feeling and I wish I had. It doesn’t really matter who you talk to. It can be your parents, your best friend, your spouse, literally anyone within your personal universe. Because talking actually does make it easier. You know that old saying about how a problem shared is a problem halved? I hate to tell you this, but it’s actually true. Sometimes we’re too close to a situation to be able to see it clearly. Sometimes our brains are so overwhelmed that everything seems too much. By talking to someone, other than that voice inside your head (yes, we all have them), you can clarity, perspective and most importantly, love. Because I promise you, nothing will seem as bad once you’ve got it out.
3. Focus on the small stuff
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a big picture girl. I like thinking about the future, I like making plans. But honestly, thinking about that big dream can be pretty damn terrifying, not to mention it sends my brain into overwhelm. If focussing on an end goal or a deadline scares the beejesus out of you too, do this. FOCUS ON THE SMALL STUFF. Write a paragraph of that article, have a shower, make dinner. Whatever it is that’s on your mind, write every single little task down on a piece of paper and start ticking them off. And if writing them all down is too much, break it down into what you want to accomplish this hour/morning/day. Take it one step at a time, you’ll get there.
4. Turn off the internet
Yes, I know. We live in a world where living without the internet for even five minutes seems like too much of a hardship to endure, but honestly, give yourself a break. Turn off your email notifications, delete your social media apps (or at least turn off the notifications) and try and avoid the internet as much as you can for a certain period of time. I did this recently with Carly Jacobs and Kelly Exeter for an entire weekend. Friday night to Monday morning. And I can’t begin to tell you how good it was for me. And how much I needed it. At first it was really weird not picking up my phone and scrolling through my Instagram feed. But then it was actually really great. I actually had proper face time with my family, I watched an entire TV show without losing the plot part way (let’s be honestly, I actually binge watched season 1 of Friday Night Lights but that’s just between you and me, okay?!), I read books – which I love because I’m a total bookworm. There was a point on Sunday night when I knew I could now start looking again. But actually, I was okay with staying disconnected for just a little bit longer. So go on. Give yourself a break from the highlight reel for a while, I dare you!
5. Grace, not perfection
One of my biggest girl crushes is on Emily Ley. If you don’t know her, she is a mama of three, wife, designer and girl boss. She’s also one of my heroes. As in I legitimately aspire to have the work/life balance and passion for a company that she does. But, having followed her for many years (we’re talking five-ish years now), I know that this didn’t come easy to her. She struggled with that need and idea that she had to be the perfect wife, mama, friend, business owner. And then one day, she decided to quit the perfection. Her mantra is now “Grace, not perfection”. And personally, I think that’s something we all need to aspire to. To hold ourselves to a standard of grace not perfection. Because the highlight reel is not real life. Life is messy and glorious and full of laughter and occasionally sorrow, but it definitely isn’t perfect. So instead of overwhelming yourself with the need to be the perfect wife, mother, friend, employee/r, give yourself a little grace and know that done is better than perfect.
So there you have it. Five ways to keep your mental health in check. Nothing ground-breaking or extraordinary, but I know I sometimes need to just be told these things. And if you decide to try one or a couple of them out and post it to the highlight reel, I’d love you to tag me so I can cheer you on! xo