This year has been a year of challenges, but also one of personal growth and discovery. I have been tested again and again, but I am ending the year thankful for so many things and seeing it as an important year in understanding my mental health and appreciating my wellbeing.
I thought I would reflect on some of the things I have learnt over the past twelve months…
May the flowers remind us why the rain was so necessary – Xan Oku
I love this quote, reminding me that when we flourish and bloom, we have normally gone through challenges to get there. Life is made up of highs and lows. We need to remember that nothing in nature blooms all year long so we shouldn’t expect ourselves to either. I wasn’t well through the majority of this year, which resulted in challenges and stressful times, but now I look back, and I think of the yoga teaching course I am currently saving for, I think of the skills I have learnt, the friendships I have found solace in and cherish dearly and the selfless and unconditional love of my family and find myself thinking back more fondly on this year than I thought.
Think positively, even when the obvious is negative
We all do it, we make anxious predictions, we take something to mean something negative when that wasn’t it’s purpose, we get paranoid, we get fed up. I am trying to see things in a better light – even when negativity is forcing itself upon me. We don’t need negativity in our life, and if we can try to stop our minds from producing those thoughts – we will see the world in a slightly brighter light.
It’s okay to not be OK
When I was poorly with anxiety I felt a nuisance, that I was worthless, that I would only spoil things for people and that it was taking its toll on the people around me, that I was inconvenient. I avoided making plans and dreaded the ones I did have. I cut myself off. But I have learnt through the support of my wonderful network around me that it’s okay to not be OK. It’s okay to not be 100% ‘yourself’, your true friends will love you through your best and your worst.
Talking is the key
I felt so alone in my thoughts for so long, but by talking to others and being open about mental health you discover how many people actually suffer but don’t open up about it. When you can speak openly, the world seems a less lonely place. I used to avoid telling people my situation, dreading the inevitable ‘what are you up to these days’ when I was first off work with anxiety, but now I want to change the stigma to mental health and show people, as above, that it is okay to not be OK.
It’s okay to say No
I can be guilty of living my life to try and please others, to get stressed and worried because I feel I have let someone down. But If we said yes to every person, favour, job, event, then we would literally never have time for ourselves. We won’t be any use to anyone if we tire ourselves out, physically and mentally. It’s ok to do nothing. To have time to just relax and make time for ourselves. No is not a negative act and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you need to, or want to, say no to something and have time out.
Self-Love is Not Selfish
We are all entitled to allow ourselves time and space to recover, and anyone who believes you are selfish for taking this time is not worth your time. Mental health should be given as much time as any other illness or injury. You wouldn’t expect someone with a broken leg to be running within a few weeks We are all individuals and each of us suffers differently and recovers differently. Take the time to find what you need, and equally give your time and patience to others.
Relationships and Friendships shouldn’t be an emotional rollercoaster
Good friends should make us enjoy the best of life, love us unconditionally through the bad times, support us and help us see the light at the end of the tunnel. When everything feels chaotic, friends should make you feel you are on stable ground. Sometimes it takes those dark times to see who still walks beside you, holding your hand and switching the light back on around you. These are the people to hold on to and cherish.
Therapy is always a good idea
I have spoken on my blog previously of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that I have been having for around 4 months now and it is a game changer. I happen to have a wonderful therapist that I really click with, and actually look forward to our weekly sessions now. The sessions can be hard going emotionally, but they really open up my mind and have made me a lot healthier in terms of my mental health and wellbeing and my outlook on situations.
Don’t trap yourself in a cage that you made yourself
For years I worked in a certain profession, and for a time I really enjoyed my role. But through various workplaces I fell out of love for the work, I was worn down by the office politics but felt because I had always worked in that certain area that I must continue in that same role.
This year, through no choice of my own, I lost my job. I was forced to be unemployed and it was terrifying. I was lucky enough to be able to take time out, through support from my other half and our families, and through having that time I fell into finding the career i really want to have. I don’t need to stay in the offices I worked, I can create a different path. I have made plans to become a yoga teacher, to teach the thing that I feel truly saved me this year.
I have always enjoyed being creative, but I started to do it a bit more and have recently opened my Etsy shop which my lovely friend came up with the name , ‘The Fringe Shop’. It was this same friend that has been a true ray of sunshine to me, being a wonderfully supportive soul, as well as hiring me to help in her inspiring vintage furniture business ‘Magpies Vintage’.
I am learning new skills from so many different doors that have opened to me and feel so fortunate that this year is ending so much happier than it began.
Yoga has become my happy place
I wouldn’t have believed I would be ending the year putting away any money I earn ready to apply for a yoga teaching course in India in 2019! I have always loved my exercise – it has in a way always been a form of therapy for me. Yoga has been a whole new world, I live and breathe it. I started by teaching myself via YouTube videos (Boho Beautiful Yoga in particular) and I found myself growing stronger and stronger, physically and mentally.
I’ve spoken about my yoga journey in this blog post. I have been practising yoga alone for a while now, it was my own private escape from everything around me, my own place of solace from the chaos, but I am ready to embark on my next chapter and teach others.
Craft is good for the mind
I have made all my Christmas presents this year, and have opened an Etsy store selling Macramé pieces and feel excited to see where my craft skills can take me next. On days when leaving the house seemed an impossibility and I was consumed with guilt for not working, craft gave me a purpose and motivation.
Photography can open your eyes and encourage you to enjoy the ordinary
I adore taking photographs with my camera, it is one of the reasons for starting this blog to put them somewhere other than filling a hardrive! I have found myself learning more and more this year, and developing a interest for certain subjects; derelict buildings, people going about their every day, and of course – nature.
Podcasts + Sleephones are my answer to insomnia
I have always loved listening to podcasts whilst embarking on long distance road trips, but I have found a new use for them this year. After suffering from insomnia, I find listening to a podcast really quietens my thoughts and using the sleephones so I can rest my head down on my pillow as normal and seem to find myself drifting off eventually and not winding myself up for hours on end.
Board games never get old
You can’t really beat a night in with family and friends crowded around a board game!
You are you. Now, isn’t that pleasant? Dr Seus
Be yourself, no-one else can be and so that is pretty special. We should celebrate our individuality, our own passions, opinions, style and characteristics. Instead we seem to be judged by others, expected to conform – but wouldn’t that make the world a pretty boring place if we were all clones of one another. Embrace what makes you YOU and you will find yourself surrounded by the right people and heading in the right direction.
Finding solace in nature
Being outdoors is a solace for the soul. Gardening really helped me early on in my anxiety journey, and has continued to be an important part of my life. Whether that be gardening outdoors, tending to indoor plants, or taking a walk outside – it feels good to be close to nature and i find it almost meditative.
And with that, I say farewell to 2018 – an incredibly difficult but important year and I am excited and ready for whatever 2019 brings!