The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Lara of She Writes, She Says.
One Day at a Time
In the words of Kelly Clarkson, I am a great believer in the idea that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. No matter how cliche the phrase may sound, from my personal experience I am 100% certain that every ‘bad’ experience that has happened in my life has contributed tremendously to my personal growth. For example, experiencing a feeling of emotional neglect during my teenage years pushed me to be independent and self-sufficient; my sister dipping in and out of psychiatric units for eight years under section taught me to how to manage my own Mental Health and broaden my emotional intelligence; and currently witnessing my dad battle an incurable form of cancer has made me realise how precious everyday on this earth is, and that we shouldn’t take anything or anyone for granted.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 is impacting on all of our lives at present too, that is a battle that we all have in common. On a more positive note, it is something that we can all learn from. These are some of the things I myself have learnt so far, and tips I have for managing your mental well-being during this difficult time:
1. You need less than you think.
Anyway you interpret this, is how I mean it. From clothes that you can’t order, to pub trips you can’t make, to soap operas that have been cancelled, to takeaways you can’t order. Life pre-COVID-19 was abundant. We had so much of, well, everything! In fact, I think the Western world has so much of everything, so many options, that it actually makes our lives extremely difficult (in the most ‘first world problems’ kind of way).
Think about how much time you waste deciding which restaurant to go on or scrolling through ASOS’s latest sale; or how much money you spend on 2-4-1 jagerbombs, fastfood drive throughs, or Starbucks on the way to work . How much of this do you actually need? I’m not saying we should make any dramatic changes to the way we live our lives when the world gets back to normal, but I do think we should channel our ability to live a little bit mindfully. This is our opportunity to reflect on everything we’ve previously taken for granted. It’s the time to be thankful for what we’ve got and who we’ve got in our lives, right now. Gradually we may start to realise that all the ‘stuff’, all the business, doesn’t really matter. And that leads me onto my next point:
2. Nothing is more important than health.
No material wealth, social status or personal sense of achievement matters if you don’t have health. And the truth of the matter is, viruses like corona don’t discriminate. That is why it is SO important to maintain a good standard of physical and mental health in our everyday lives, despite what’s going on. We never know what could come around the corner. It shouldn’t take something awful to happen for you to realise how important your health is – physically and mentally.
In the words of C.L.Ludlow: “Your body is your temple, and your mind is sacred”. It’s all about balance. There is no perfect diet or fitness regime you can follow, and you shouldn’t believe otherwise. You will have good days and bad days, we’re all human. Your body is YOUR temple, not anyone else’s, and you will know when you feel healthy in your body and mind. So listen to your gut and learn to trust your body, soon enough your mind will follow. Reach out for the support you need and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take whatever action you need to take to keep yourself healthy.
3. Everybody’s needs are different.
This is your time to go inward, however best that might be for you – journal, write, talk to your family and friends (over face-time). Discover what you need to stay healthy. Not your sister, or best friend, mum’s friend’s brother, YOU. Treat yourself as your own, unique individual; as oppose to a passive listener who, often subconsciously, has to follow what society is telling you to do. One of the problems of having so much more time to scroll on social media is that it can put you into more of a comparison mind-set than ever. Thinking along the lines of “I should be doing ….” or “I feel so guilty for not doing …”. From food to exercise, we are being bombarded with information on how to stay ‘healthy’ – but the truth is, everybody’s needs are different.
I would say though, a great way to tap into your personal intentions and desires is to meditate, and maybe even try yoga. The reason these tools are particularly useful is that they activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which allows you to relax. At this point you should feel much clearer in the next step you have to take. A great app for meditation is CALM, and there are hundreds of yoga videos online (I’ve posted a couple myself which I’ll link below).
4. Flexible routines keep you grounded.
It’s really easy to get bogged down in a routine you ‘have’ to do each day, especially for those who suffer with mental health issues which enforce rigidity e.g. eating disorders or OCD. That’s why although I think it’s so important to have a routine to give you a sense of ‘purpose’ each day, try to be flexible with it. If you’ve planned to do yoga one day but a friend calls you instead, speak to your friend. If you planned to go for your hours walk but are suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue, then take a nap. If you wake up and all you feel like doing is watch Disney + all day, then go and watch Hannah Montana till your heart’s content! There is no ‘right’ way to do this. Do it your way.
Make your routine personal to your own needs, energy levels and goals you want to achieve. As I mentioned before, don’t be a sheep. Don’t feel like you ‘have’ to work-out, set up an allotment in your garden, or learn a musical instrument, just because everyone else on social media seems to be doing that. If you like to run, run. If you like to read, read. If you like to make tik-tok videos, make tik-tok videos. What you don’t see on social media is all the people, just like you, struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. You only see the good, ‘entertaining’ parts of people’s day, so don’t let it make you feel bad about how you spend your time.
5. You can only take one day at a time.
Think about how this situation has forced you to be present. You can’t physically plan where you’re going to go on your summer holiday, or control whether if your job is at stake or not. No-one knows what’s going to happen next week, or next year. However, what you can do is focus on the ‘now’. You can reflect on things that are in your control – what you watch, what you read, how you act. You can wake up everyday and be grateful for your health, that you can manage in the comforts of your own home. You can offer sympathy to those you are not only suffering with corona, but other medical conditions such as cancer, mental health issues or simply old age. This virus is having a knock-on effect on the health of so many people, and we need to be hyper-aware of others needs as well as our own. However, like the safety instructions on a airplane so explicitly express, put your own oxygen mask on before you help others. You can’t help others until you help yourself.
You will get through this difficult time, and any other difficult time you face, so much stronger than you can begin to imagine. The lessons you’re learning are gifts that you’ll carry with you till the day you die, and with them you will help so many people. Whatever happens, it’s going to be okay. With awareness you can deal with whatever life throws your way. Remember, all you can do is take one day at a time.
Lara is a qualified yoga teacher from Brighton, passionate about helping people maintain their mental, and physical health, during difficult times. Her blog is She Writes, She Says.
Beginner’s gentle yoga flow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fTpzE4AcR8
Intermediate yoga flow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWBXV0g8OfY
Thanks so much Lara for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series directory.
Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?
- you have a personal (rather than business-oriented) blog that’s focused primarily on mental health and illness
- you’re a new(ish) blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred
Interested? If you fit the criteria above:
- email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
- let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL
- don’t think of this as having to “pitch” an idea – I’m just trying to make sure people actually fit the criteria and spirit of the series