Showing posts with label Mental Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mental Health. Show all posts
mental health 2021 goals
Mental health 2021 goals

Hey Stranger,

Long time, no see. It’s been a while since I sat in front of my laptop and just typed. I feel a little rusty if I’m honest so bare with me. To say this year has been a roller coaster would be an understatement. Amid all the painful moments there were a handful worth celebrating. I think we can all agree it's for the best to put last year behind us.

I struggled a lot with my mental health last year and ended up cutting back on a lot of the things I loved doing. I took a long break from social media and blogging when things got too much and then felt a little out of my depth when I wanted to come back. One thing I missed the most was being creative and producing content. One of my goals for 2021 is to be consistent with my content. 

A lot has happened since I last wrote a blog post. One of those things is I’m now working as a journalist. Me! This is something I have been dreaming about since I was in year 11. It’s a completely new field for me and I’m really enjoying it. Writing about more formal topics at work has made me miss what I was writing about when I was blogging. This space has been a place for me to write about beauty, fashion, books and my favourite places in London. A lot of the things that “fed my soul”, if you will, ended up closing during the lockdowns and in the new tiered system. I wasn't very good at finding alternatives, that I could to, to all those things.

The pandemic threw more than I realised and one thing I'm focusing on this year is my mental health. Last year taught me how important a good mental health is in being able to function. After all, we’re only human and we can only take so on much.

Here’s a couple of things I’ll be doing to look after my mental health this year:
  • Be kinder to myself. Funnily enough, I wrote a blog post on this and never followed any of it. I can count on one hand how many times I have been kind to myself this year. It’s quite shocking really. As the pandemic continues, I’m going to have to rethink what things I can do to bring me happiness since what I used to do has been put on pause. Taking it easier and not putting so much pressure on myself are my two priorities. 
  • Have more ME time. For the whole year, I have felt that my time belonged to someone else. I think that’s been a big cause of my anxiety. This year, I’m focusing on taking ‘protected’ time out for just me. I started doing it last Autumn and it really helped. Essentially, Sunday will belong to me. For that day, I will do whatever I want to do whether it’s catching up on my latest read, creating content or going for a nice stroll. The most important thing is feeling as though that time belongs to me and no one else.
  • Be creative. I thrive on creativity. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to make writing my career. I used to bake, cook, write, read, and film. I loved it all! I mentioned earlier that I stopped  doing those things when everything got a little too much. Really, I should have kept those things going. 

Love, Aoife xo

Photographs by Rashidah Beatson.

Having an argument with your best friend in the middle of Westfield probably isn’t the best way to share your struggles with anxiety and eating issues. Sorry hun!

It was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek last week and following a conversation between my two flatmates, a recent post from Grace Victory, I thought I’d share my story and my relationship with mental health. As well as give a few pointers on what helps me feel better when it seems like the world is caving in. 

Mental Health doesn’t necessarily display any physical signs. Of course, the physical signs can come a little later. But my point being, that you never always know what is going on up there for someone unless they tell you. And that’s the sort of relationship I have with my mental health. I have struggled on and off with anxiety for around four or five years now. It tends to come in waves. Thankfully, it’s getting much better. From the outside, I always make sure I look put together as I’m very good at separating my thoughts from my facial expressions. So while I’m panicking upstairs, I’ll look like the calmest in the room.

It was over the summer before year 11 when in the space of one week, I had dropped one stone (about 6KG). As I was already slim, it had quite a negative impact on my body and mental health. I’m pretty sure I was underweight. I struggled to eat; my stomach had shrunk from having nothing in it for a week. I experienced full-blown anxiety for the first time and I struggled a lot with controlling my breathing. 

When I returned to the weight I was before I still had bouts of anxiety, but the second year of A-Level was the absolute worst. Some days I’d turned back home because I worked myself up into a state on the way to Sixth-form. I never sat the mocks for one of my subjects and I sat my final exams in a separate room. I started to lose count of the number of times I practised breath control during A-levels.

At university, I feel anxious at times. My living situation has not helped at all and as a result, I’ve been to wellbeing a couple of times for it. However, for the most part, I manage and a little pep talk always helps.

There are not always obvious signs when someone is struggling with mental health. There can be little subtle changes in their behaviour; a little quieter than usual or not quite in the present. They may act differently towards you or even be a little more annoying than usual. These changes often happen because they have a lot going on internally, that they are less attentive to what is going on around them.

The easiest way to find out is to ask them how they’re feeling. Instead of the 'hey, how are you?', try 'Hey, how are you feeling today?' or 'How are you, mentally?' Ask more pointed questions because from my experience, if someone asks how you are it’s very easy to brush them off and evade how you’re really feeling. My best friend and I often ask these questions now, to avoid a repeat performance in Westfield, and it works as a silent 'I’m here when you need me'.

Ask your friends and your parents how they’re doing. Nothing is worse than finding out a few months or even a year later that someone close to you has been struggling internally for a long time because they didn’t feel like they could talk to you. Let them know that you’re available to lend an ear or give some advice when they need it. Use this time to encourage a conversation about something you never really talk about. Not saying you have to change the way you live but start talking about it.

As for yourself, having good mental health isn’t all about baths, candles and treating yourself. Sometimes, it’s about looking after your body and your environment. 
  • Think: cleaning, paying bills, buying groceries. It’s the simplest of things but looking after your environment is quite important. 
  • Wash your hair or give your body a scrub. I notice a big difference in my attitude when I haven’t shaved my armpits for a long time. Take care in your physical appearance. After all, when you look good, you feel good. Make an effort on the outside and you’ll start to internalise that good feeling. P.S- I'm not saying you have to shave your armpits but if you 'let things go', your mind does too. Look after your body.
  • Go to the gym/ Take up an exercise. It's been proven that working your body physically helps with mental wellbeing. It really helps me with my anxiety. Focusing on exercise and the way your body moves, for even 30 minutes, has a massive impact. It takes you away from those spiralling thoughts leaving your body to relax.
  • Change location. I find that by removing myself from a room I spend a lot of time in or the house itself, makes me feel a lot better about things. I often associate places with feelings and changing the place, clears them away. Even going for a walk around the block can help to clear your head. 

With all that said, use this week to care of yourself and to talk to those around you. Whether you share your problems with them or they share theirs; it’s a start. There’s a whole spectrum when it comes to mental health and while I put myself on the somewhat healthy end, if you’re struggling then there's is plenty of support out there from your family and friends to organisations such as Mind and Samaritans.

Love, Aoife xo