Part III Connecting with Self
**please refer to blog ‘Supporting others’**
Time to self doing what you want for you is vitally important for recharging the batteries, chilling out and having ‘you time’ without any outside influences or distractions. It was a point made by many of you with some great ideas and suggestions as to what you like to do for your own wellbeing.
I appreciate that for many of you this may be difficult with busy lives, juggling work, children, family and everything else that goes along with day to day life. Yet, for you it is just as important if not more.
Time to self or connecting with yourself does not mean that you have to spend a week away at a luxury location; however nice that may be. It can be as simple as having a bath, lighting a candle, putting a film on or reading a book. You can also connect with the outdoors and with exercise as in previous blogs. Whatever you like to do, do it and where you can, build it into your routine.
At work, take that lunch break, escape from the office, go for a walk and clear your head. I was guilty of sitting at my desk eating my food; yet when I made the effort to go out and clear my brain I was more focused and less stressed with what was thrown at me in the afternoon.
I was guilty of rushing here there and everywhere as I would try and fit in the gym before or after work, then rushing home to do chores and cook dinner before often jumping back onto my work laptop or work phone to clear some emails which had built up in the time from leaving.
Was I connecting with self? No, I felt that I was in the rat race of Monday to Friday (in latest role). My heart felt that it was always beating fast, along with my breathing. I felt like an internal pressure bubble which I could not switch off. My training helped, but at times I even found that difficult to connect with as my head was ahead of itself thinking about the following day.
Yet now, looking at where I am in terms of my mental health, I wish I had taken more time out when I needed it and not jumped from one task to another without a break. Simple, obvious stuff to do but often difficult to execute.
So what can YOU do?
Studies looking at people suffering from depression have shown that mindfulness exercises such as yoga and tai chi are associated with better mental health (bustle.com 2018).
Change your scenery. It could be a 5 minute walk away from a chore or task that you are doing to simply get some air and refresh your brain. All too often it is easy to carry on saying to yourself, that it will get done quicker without a break. This often does not lead to productivity. Studying is a good example of this. If you have exams, take regular breaks rather than just reading without taking anything in. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you.
Taking a break may mean being active or may mean doing nothing at all. Concentrate on mindfulness, breathing, meditation, put your feet up. For that time, move yourself away from the task that you were doing.
If you are really tired, listen to your body and give yourself sometime to sleep. Without good sleep our mental health suffers and concentration goes downhill (Mental Health Foundation).
Why not learn something new? Learning new skills can help boost your confidence and give you a sense of achievement. The options are endless and can include learning a new language, signing up for a course or evening class, trying out a new recipe or a new exercise class. It does not have to be anything big but challenge yourself, keeping it achievable.
Make sure you enjoy your ‘me time’ and that it makes you feel good. It could be going for a walk, playing an instrument, listening to music, going to the cinema, colouring in, grabbing a coffee out locally, reading a book, gardening, or having a bath. Whatever works for you then use it as a stress reliever.
Write down what works and does not work for you and document why? Are there barriers or hurdles which you need to jump but don’t feel that you can at the moment. Some of you may find it too difficult to face the world and go to a coffee shop. If this is the case, what else can you do? Some of you may feel the need to get out of a certain environment; ie the house or workplace and would find a coffee shop beneficial. We are all different, with differing levels of fear, anxiety and stress.
For me, I isolate myself and avoid certain social situations so I am not around people. I like my own company. I like to do what I want to do. If I don’t want to do something or go somewhere then I wont and I am happy with that. This is not to say I never go, I do and someone talking to me there would never know what it has taken for me to get there. So what I am staying is that, though I have given a number of suggestions of things for you to do or consider, they may not work for everyone. Find what works for you, but don’t completely poo poo the idea of dipping your toe into a different ocean.
What YOU have told me
‘My me time involves sitting in a coffee shop away from the crowds reading or writing. I can easily block out what is going on around me, yet when I look up I am reminded that life and the world goes on. I enjoy holidays, and quite often go on my own. I love to walk my dog, finding new places to explore. Watching him run and play with other dogs is just perfect. Being out in the fresh air with him on the beach or park makes everything seem so simple and right; it is as if nothing else matters (Me, 2019).’
‘Breathe. Centre. Don’t worry about the next moment. Stay in safety’.
‘Taking in some fresh air, I love to sit in the garden and watch the birds eat the food I leave out for them. Simple, but it puts me into a different mental space’.
‘I have recently taken up photography. I am learning a new skill and getting out and about at the same time’.
‘I like to go to a coffee shop or the cinema by myself’.
‘Sometimes I forget who I am so I do something I love like helping other or going to a meditation class or somewhere where things feel more real I suppose. A good movie that pulls the heart strings helps me connect again’.
‘A hot bath, with candles whilst the kids are being entertained by their father’.
‘For me, the perfect me time is immersing myself in a good book. I find the time can just go but that does not bother me’.
‘My allotment provides me with the prefect retreat, peace and quiet. I am making the effort to get there more often as I know how it assists with stress relief and mental wellbeing’.
I hope you have got something from this blog which you can use to help you. Even if it just taking time out from everything and everyone make sure you do it for the right reasons and for you. You may think that you are being selfish, but I don’t see it that way. If you look after yourself then you are better able to look after, and support those around you.
Resetting and filling yourself back up in a positive manner will no doubt lead to a better mental health and wellbeing.
Sometimes the world can wait.
Thank you to everyone who has helped contribute to this blog. Forever grateful. xx