Ways I preserve my Mental Health
Photos: This Brit & Unspash
As I opened my curtains this morning, I was greeted with dark clear skies, the sun hasn’t even begun to wake up yet. A chilling breeze swept in as I opened my windows; I pulled my jumper tighter around me. This is the weather I’ve been waiting for all winter.
As the weather turns cold, mental health concerns always drift to the front of my consciousness. I’m not sure if it’s the shorter days, darker evenings or the fact everyone is wrapped up, but winter seems to be tougher… for me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, the minute it turns September, I’m planning Christmas, burning candles and getting all of my scarves and hats out of storage. Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons. You get to wear blankets outside without being judged. Nothing can beat that. But the moment Christmas is over and all the fairy lights disappear from the windows, it seems to get even tougher.
Why my mental health is affected so much in winter is beyond me, I guess mental health isn’t tied to your general happiness levels; as I always used to think. Although things do get tougher after Christmas, it doesn’t have to be such a hard battle with your health, and there are things you can do each day to combat the negative effects winter has. Although I’m no expert, here are a few things I do every day to offset the darker days.
Getting some fresh air is really important for your health. I get to the beach, a lake or national park as often as I can, and I’m lucky enough to live on the harbour and near a park, which are two great walking/ running spots. When I’m staying with my parents, I’ll borrow a car and the dog and just head out into the peace and quiet. Nature is a natural relaxer for me, especially water. So when I’m stressed or my mental health needs some attention, I’ll head to the nearest body of water, either walk or run alongside it, and clear my head.
2. Getting out of my head
I am extremely good at overthinking things, getting stuck in my own head and causing myself to spiral. Someone once taught me that visualisation was a good tool to improve productivity, but I’m so “good” at it now, I can visualise what I need to do for hours (usually in bed) and then I never actually do it. This is why a good book or extravagant television series (Netflix, you are my saviour) is my secret weapon.
There’s so much to do and worry about every single day, but continuous worrying isn’t good for anyone. My escape is getting sucked into imaginary worlds, created by others. I can worry about their problems, feel part of their story, and let my imagination run wild. It helps me sleep. I am very good at lucid dreaming, especially of stories I’ve read or watched that night. I come up with new characters, new story lines and insert myself into that world for a while. It’s a welcomed break. I guess that might be a bit weird? Let me know in the comments if you do anything similar, or if I’m simply really weird!
3. Listening to music
Again this is a method to keep out of my own head by keeping my mind busy on music rather than reality. In the morning, I play my favourite songs and dance around whilst I get ready, it wakes me up, gets my blood pumping and puts me in a good mood for the day. At the moment I’m listening to a mix of Ed Sheeran, The Wombats and Flobots.
4. Having a purpose
Mental health seems to affect me most when I’m slowing down, have more empty space around me, or just simply have nothing I want to do. I’m not the type of girl who’s busy for the sake of it. Free time is good, but too much free time? That’s not healthy, so the New Year is a great time for me to start something new; especially this year. I’ve been working the same job for about a year and a half, it’s comfortable, and right now doesn’t require too much of my mental energy. So I’m exploring my options, figuring out what I love, what I hate, and how I can combine things I love whilst avoiding things I don’t. Hopefully I can find a way to make a side business out of it, or if given the chance, a career.
My love of writing, sharing and building people up is at an all time high at the moment. Most people seem to think entrepreneurs should work for themselves, and that helping make someone else’s dream work instead of your own is a bad thing… for me that simply isn’t true. I want to work for someone, to introduce new and creative ways of thinking and make their dream a reality. I want to make a difference, whether that’s to my boss, my colleagues, customers, friends or family, that’s the meaning of personal success for me and that’s what I’m going to look for this year.
This time of year is a good time to set yourself a challenge, whether you have several New Years Resolutions, or you don’t think they’re useful. Most people forget to do them, or set what they think they should be doing “eat healthily, workout more, turn off my phone for 24 hours a month”. That doesn’t work for everyone though. This year, instead of the usual resolutions, why not set yourself a challenge? It could be as simple as running a half marathon, or as complicated as working out your passion. It helps when you have that one target at the end of the year to look back on and remember how awesome you are and what you’ve achieved.
Let me know in the comments what challenge you’re setting yourself this year. Or if you need help figuring that out, leave a comment and we can all help you come up with something.