We’re nearing the end of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, and I’m finding myself with a day off, enough time for a breather, to take my day slowly and practice some mindfulness. The theme for this year is ‘Surviving or Thriving?’ and I’ve been thinking about that this past week. What does it take to be thriving, and how do I know whether I’m surviving (see: coping) or not?
I do 12.5 hour shifts, of which I’m doing four this week, for a total of 50 hours excluding the travel time of an hour there and an hour back. The danger with this is the inability to have space, to breathe, to take a step back and even take account of how I’m doing. The beginning of my week was nearer the surviving side of the spectrum rather than thriving, but even a few days later, I’m a lot happier. Not much changed, that I can really pin-point, other than a day off where I was able to practice some self-care at its simplest – a lie in, spending time with a good friend, washing my hair and wearing some of my favourite clothes, good food, a few minutes lying in the sunshine. Things that seem simple but, for me, make the difference between surviving and just getting through the day, and enjoying life – with gratitude for the things that make me happy.
(the yummy food I had the other day in the sunshine)
Everyone has mental health – some people have good mental health, some people struggle now and then, some people struggle every day, some people have a diagnosed (or undiagnosed) mental health illness. With the theme of this year’s mental health awareness week, I’ve come to realise that, like physical health, our mental wellbeing is on a spectrum, not so much simply surviving or thriving, and something which varies on a day-to-day basis. And I have different needs on different days, acknowledging that I have to treat myself more gently some days, and on other days I feel like I’m thriving 100%.
It is acceptable, in which I mean socially accepted, to do things for ourselves which are preventative of ill health in the future – exercising, eating healthily, getting enough sleep. When I write ‘ill health’ however, I’m sure for most people the physical aspects of health come to mind. I think it’s important to also do things to benefit mental health in a preventative way, which is something I often neglect. I need to meditate even when I’m not stressed out or anxious, take stock of how I’m feeling even when I’m feeling happy (especially when I’m feeling happy), get enough sleep even when things are going okay.
I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness, and although I’ve never been able to get past a meditation streak of 3 days, it’s still been making a positive impact. I’ve realised, this week, that I spend a lot of time in my head – thinking, wishing, being sad, being happy, thinking about the future, imagining things, creating, getting lost, planning. That’s who I am and who I always have been, and it allows me to really think things through and come up with new ideas for any amount of crazy projects (big fan of projects). But it can be easy to get lost in my brain, and swept up in emotions, because I feel a lot, and I care about a lot, and I can become quite consumed with these feelings.
Here’s to acknowledging these things, and trying to really give this mindfulness thing a go. Have you got any tips for thriving, and being mindful? 🌻