Today on R U OK? Day, I’d like to address an issue that is so often sidelined; mental health. It’s fair to say that ‘wellbeing’ is certainly having its heyday; a word that received 141,469 Google hits last month, globally, and something that we are (literally) all searching for.
However, I want to share with you another search term that came up, and this weighed my heart down heavily. Last month, ‘suicidal’ had more than 350,000 searches. If that doesn’t weigh your heart down too, I’m not sure what will.
It’s so important to acknowledge here that we’ve all been there, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The human brain is on autopilot to seek out the negative. Retraining that wiring takes EFFORT, it doesn’t come naturally; we simply aren’t wired to be Pollyanna.
While I’m no expert on mental health, I’ve certainly had my days/weeks where life has felt more than difficult - it’s felt extremely heavy and impossible to bear. The problems pour in and human-ing is hard.
On those days, it’s harder to find moments of joy. I remember feeling so low at one point, I forced my to STARE at my daughter and repeat, “I’m so lucky,” out loud. I searched my brain for memories to pull myself out of the pits of hell. I scanned my mind for pockets of bliss and held onto them for dear life.
While it sounds trite, it has occurred to me that self-care has to be a high priority. It’s taking care of the little things, so that you can take care of the big things. Once you do that, the big things (like running two businesses, moving house, car accidents, hospital visits, life admin, oh and a global pandemic) feel far easier to handle.
- On waking, I’m learning not to reach for my phone. This forces me to do something that is good for me, like yoga or running, or simply reading a book.
- I spend 15 minutes in the morning tidying the house so my mind is at peace for the rest of the day.
- I eat a solid breakfast. A piece of toast and coffee doesn’t really set me up for maximum brain capacity. Eggs, seeds, nuts and heaps of greens do. And it tastes so very good.
- Coffee every damn day. Whatever your version of this is - you do you.
- I drink loads of water, again for maximum brain function. Whenever I feel brain fog, it’s usually down to dehydration. Also, I don’t want to feel (or look) like a dead plant.
- I plan my days by the hour, so precious time is never wasted.
- Evening rule: no phone after 5pm. This ensures I spend quality time with my daughter.
- I’ve learnt to bring holidays back home with me. ‘Impossible,’ I hear you say. Hear me out. On a recent trip to Noosa, I decided to run on the sand every day at dawn. Our accomodation was close to the beach, so it was too compelling to avoid. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve NEVER run on sand before, despite living on the Gold Coast for most of my life. So I brought this little ritual home. It allows me to sustain that holiday feeling in my daily life, without always waiting for the next holiday.
- I’m learning to live in the moment. Being present just might be the best self-care of all.
- At the end of every day, I write in my journal. Whether it be a poem or three things for which I’m grateful, it allows me to reflect and process emotions and incidents in a way that staring at my phone never will. The memories of smiles, the thought of something funny that someone said - write these down. So when you’re deep in the dark - and we’ve all been there - you know where to find the light. ✨✨
What are the little things that you do, to take on the big things? What does self-care mean to you?