Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Self Care When You're Not Feeling Yourself

Whether it be dealing with life's inevitable ups and downs, anxiety, mental illness or a sudden and unexpected life change, practicing self care and listening to your body and what it needs has the potential to feel like an impossible juggling act. It felt right for me to share a post like this at the point I'm at with my life now, after a tricky few months of mental health and life changes leaving me often feeling low in mood and lacking in energy. Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I felt it right to be open now about the things that really helped me through a low period, because whether you're prone to mental illness or not, sometimes even the daily cycles of life can become overwhelming.

It's not necessarily anything life changing or new, but maybe it will come as a reminder for you to put yourself first if you're dealing with some difficult times and are struggling to practice self care at the moment. You've got this! 

Photography by Lily Barber

GETTING OUTSIDE:
Whilst it's a cliche and something I really have to force myself to do, getting outside, whether that be for a change of scenery, to get some fresh air or to try and enjoy my surroundings has done me the world of good in grounding me mentally and reminding me of the other things happening in the world outside of my head. I've been really enjoying cycling since the warmer weather has arrived and find it to be a great way of zoning out of my anxieties, which is made all the better by my countryside surroundings now that I'm not living in London. I always find motivating myself to leave the house to be the hardest part, so if you can overcome that hurdle then once you're out and about everything else should hopefully feel easier. 


READING SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOUR PHONE:
Whilst feeling totally overwhelmed by the seemingly smallest and most menial of tasks, it's been horribly easy to sit scrolling social media for hours on end both without achieving anything of significance and simultaneously feeling mentally lower and lower. I've been pushing myself to read more books this year and am really trying to continue this now more than ever, not only to provide myself with a distraction but also not to lose sight of my own personal goals. I'm currently reading 'I Let Her Go' by Clare Mackintosh which is really easy reading- my number one book requirement right now. If you're looking for other recommendations I loved 'Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine' earlier in the year and wish I could relive the experience of reading it for the first time again. 


LISTEN TO YOUR BODY:
It's all very well and good motivating yourself to embody and 'get up and go' attitude, but when your mind and body are craving time to rest and recuperate, it's so important to listen to what you feel your mind truly needs. You know yourself better than anyone else, so if it feels healthy and beneficial to do so, isolating yourself for a little while to spend time reconnecting with who you are and practicing self care can be just as important as surrounding yourself with those that you love and channeling a social butterfly outlook. It's important to put yourself first and listen to your intuition regarding what your body needs. 'Listening to your body' seems like the simplest of things but is something I often so easily forget to really do.
DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF YOURSELF:
It's so easy in times of change and uncertainty to feel lost within yourself and your life- that's definitely been my overriding emotion over the past few weeks. It's easy to question yourself, who you are, what you want to achieve and how you're going to get there when something big and unexpected happens, particularly if it throws off your daily routines and rituals. I've been making a lot of lists and vocalising my feelings as much as possible to friends and family, both to keep them in the loop but also because I see such a noticeable difference when I'm able to get things out in the open and stop myself from overthinking every detail of what's happened. Whether you're experiencing change or just feeling overwhelmed by the cycles of daily life, I personally find it really empowering and motivational to find focus on the goals I have (or even set new ones!) to act as both a distraction and inspiration that there are things to live and work for.


DON'T PUT PRESSURE ON YOURSELF TO REACT IN A CERTAIN WAY
No matter how frequently you deal with difficult mental health patches or how accustomed you are to managing change and how this makes you feel, it's SO important to let your body and mind truly do their own thang rather than trying to dictate and control your reaction. The mind is a funny thing, but often instinct kicks in before long and helps guide us through difficult periods through fight or flight and other defence mechanisms. In short, don't punish yourself if you're dealing with a recurring problem that your body has recently tried to overcome- relapsing into different emotions and worries is a process that we all go through and something that shouldn't be frowned upon in mental health recovery. Follow your head and your heart in equal measures and the end destination should be a positive one.

I really hope that this post has been helpful for anyone else going through a difficult mental health patch and can provide some tips for channeling a more positive attitude to anything tricky you're going through right now. Remember that you're not alone in whatever you're going through and if you ever need a friend to chant or vent to then my Twitter DMs are always open!


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