It may be just wishful thinking on my part but on my morning walk yesterday the signs of spring were definitely in the air, it was a joy to see the first signs of leaves becoming greener, a few flowers brave enough to go into bud, feeling the sun on my face and the sounds of birds announcing their return home. One of the blessings of this last year for me has been getting out into nature, and more than ever before I’ve felt a connection with the changing of the seasons. Who would have thought a simple thing like going for a walk could provide such a wonderful distraction from the challenges we’ve all had to face.
Never before has there been such a collective acknowledgement in the country of the need for good mental health. It’s not just about recognising how our past experiences and relationships affect our wellbeing in the here and now, that is often the first step to take, but in that recognition reflecting on how we can protect ourselves and be more resilient looking forward into the future.
One of my favourite analogies is that of the oxygen masks on an aeroplane – in the safety announcement we’re told to put on our mask first before helping others. We can’t hope to support our friends and family, or deal with the stresses and strains of a career, if we’re not mentally strong ourselves.
So how can we do that. Well just acknowledging that you are struggling is a great first step, checking in with how you’re feeling and coping on a regular basis will help you identify whether you need to take action.
Some people find mindfulness a good place to start dealing with the difficult thoughts and believe it or not, that simple walk in nature is a form of mindfulness. Replacing negative rumination even for a few minutes and acknowledging the beauty of your surroundings distracts and gives your mind a rest. Believe me it is exhausting to worry all the time and giving yourself permission to take a break is important, in fact a vital move towards self-care.
There are several Apps available to help you if you struggle to manage negative thoughts and feelings including, Headspace, Calm, Buddify, Mindfulness and many more. Most offer 10 minute exercises and it’s easy to incorporate these into everyday life.
Acknowledging to friends or family that you are struggling is also an important step, allowing yourself to be vulnerable with others when you’ve stayed strong for so long is difficult for some, but can open a gateway to the human connection which is a basic need in all of us.
Next, reflecting on what you can and cannot change in your life. Acknowledging that you want to move on and find a new relationship can be daunting but making that decision and taking control in joining an agency like Sara Eden can be the first step as you will be supported along the way.
Finally, be kind to yourself and others, it’s been a bruising year for everyone – what with one thing and another – and there are still challenges ahead, but there is every hope that these experiences have forced many of us to reflect on our lives and make changes. Who knows it could lead us to better more fulfilling lives.