NB: This blog is more personal, less sustainable…
I’ve never openly talked about my mental health, certainly not online for the world to read. But in my job I read and write a lot about wellbeing and mental health, and I realise that a huge part of the problem is the stigma attached to it and the fact people like me won’t talk about it… so I’m going to talk about it!
At the end of March my life changed drastically. I went from living in my dream flat in London with my two best friends, to living back at home with my (wonderful) parents, my relationship ended, my friendships changed, and work got pretty stressful. Though I would never have openly talked about it or said it out loud to anyone at the time – I wasn’t coping, and my depression came back.
Anyone who’s suffered with depression, or had friends or family that have, will know that it is different for everyone, and that everyone deals with it differently. I know people who take anti-depressants, people who’ve had cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling, and people like me who have found others way to manage it.
In finding ways to manage my mental health, I’ve learnt a lot about what does and doesn’t make me happy – so I wanted to share what I’ve found with you in case what makes me happy could put a spring in your step too!
The thought of exercise used to give me the shudders, but since I started swimming 1km a day and walking at least 10km a day I have felt incredible. Research shows that “regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety” – and it’s true! I start my day with 6km of walking and my 1km swim and by the time I begin work at 8am I feel refreshed, reenergised and ready to start the day. Try setting yourself goals (mine are to swim 4km a week, walk 8km a day) – achieving these will make you feel so proud and motivate you to keep going!
2. Time with friends or family
Whilst moving back in with my parents felt like the end of the world at the time – being back with people who loved me was just what I needed in the end. Don’t underestimate the power of your loved ones and spending time with them. Now (though I’ll never admit it if she asks) I look forward to my evenings sat in the lounge while my Mum watches Emmerdale and sits beside me.
3. Less alcohol
Once I started exercising more, I drastically changed my diet and decided to stop drinking. On the most part this was to lose weight (3 stone 9lb and counting!), but I’ve also found that it’s had amazing impacts on my wellbeing. I wasn’t a heavy drinker, but in my final weeks in London I found myself drinking a lot more and that definitely impacted the way I felt – I was tired, groggy, emotional and drained. Now I rarely drink, and when I do I drink significantly less, and I feel so much better for it.
4. Digital detox
Too much time on social media or online shopping is not good for us! Unrealistic life standards, body standards and expectations constantly make us think we’re not good enough. I try to limit the amount of time I spend on social media (difficult when it’s my job!) and avoid advertising or TV shows that promote unrealistic ways of living (hello TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, Love Island…). Avoiding social media also means you don’t get upset if you see friends making plans without you, your ex liking photos of new girls.. and all the other drama that comes with it!
Everyone is different and I’m not pretending to be an expert on wellbeing or mental health. But if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed or blue I really recommend trying to keep active, staying connected with your loved ones, drinking less and switching off. And if this isn’t enough – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Mind has loads of advice and support available on their website.