Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about mental health a lot this week. Particularly apt due to it being mental health awareness week.

Everywhere I’ve turned there have been reminders about looking after our mental health. Social media has been full of interesting quotes and articles, and celebrities as well as us ‘normal’ folk have been talking about our own mental health.

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday who said they feel as though everyone has mental health problems these days, and that sometimes it feels as though people are just ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

Whilst I’m not sure people are ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, it certainly does feel as though more people have mental health problems these days. However, I’m not sure that this is true either.

What seems to be true, is that more people are opening up and talking about mental health.

Radio 1 have done a great job at allowing people to open up and talk about their mental health, frequently talking about different ways to cope, and just allowing people to air their problems.

Celebrities too have been opening up about their mental health experiences, which somehow makes it easier to discuss things. By opening up and telling us their stories, they are letting everyone know that it is ok to not be ok.

Workplaces too are taking a tougher stance on mental health, ensuring staff know what to do if they are experiencing problems, or by simply making staff more aware of the signs that one of their colleagues maybe struggling so they can help, or find someone who can.

I too created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut as a way of managing my own mental health. I often struggle to put things into words when speaking out loud, but writing my blog helps me to have a voice, and to say the things I often wish I could say in person. It also helps me to reflect and to make sense of things.

Yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of bittersweetness when we talk about mental health.

In a couple of months time it will be the anniversary of my best friends suicide.

I often wonder, if there had been more publicity about mental health back then, if there had been easier access to information, support groups etc, whether she may still be here.

We’ll never know.

What I am grateful for, is the fact that times are changing.

Mental health has a growing voice.

Mental health is finally being listened to.

Amen to that!

🙏🏻

Reprioritisation

Do you ever find yourself caught up in life and realise that you’ve not quite got your priorities right?

Life has been busy lately. In fact, since the new year, life has been pretty mental. Finding time to relax in the evenings and at weekends has been near on impossible, especially since my trip to Portugal back in February.

I’m certainly not complaining. There’s nothing worse than falling into January with an empty diary.

There have been weekends with friends or family visiting. There have been hen parties. There have been weekends where I’ve volunteered to help out with work events.

I also lost an entire Saturday when I was meant to be meeting my family for the day, but instead I ashamedly spent the day recovering from the worst hangover I’ve ever had in my entire life. Far from my proudest moment.

I felt awful not going to see my family. My brother was due to have an operation the following week and I had desperately wanted to see him before he went into hospital. But I wasn’t in a fit state to go anywhere, let alone jump on the train to go and meet them.

As frustrating and embarrassing as it was (I’m 35! Surely I should know better!?!), it was the kick up the backside I needed to refocus and get my priorities straightened out.

So after much deliberation, I decided to cancel my plans at the weekend (even though it meant letting someone else down), and head north to visit my family for the weekend.

And I’m so pleased I did. It was great to see for myself that my brother is recovering well from his operation, as well as getting to spend some time with my other brother, Sam, and getting the chance to look after mum and dad a bit. I know they all really appreciated my visit too. Making me even more grateful that I refocused my energy.

I hadn’t meant to leave it so long before I visited home. After my last visit in January, life just kinda happened, and time has a really bad habit of speeding by.

But it was good to take some time to refocus and reprioritise. It’s so easy to get caught up in life. But family come first, always. No matter how busy we get, it’s so important to remember to prioritise. And not to worry if you need time to refocus your energy and to reprioritise.

I’m heading back home again this coming weekend. However, with a hen party and a wedding reception to go to, it’s going to be another busy one. But I have kept Sunday free, so I can at least catch up with mum and dad again before I head back to London. And hopefully I’ll have a clear enough head to make the most of it!

Love or Loyalty?

Have you ever stopped to consider whether love or loyalty is more important to you?

I hadn’t.

However, it was a question raised by one of the guys in the office today, and it’s really got me thinking.

Most people in the office opted for loyalty. Without hesitation in most cases.

My initial reaction was that I want both. Why wouldn’t you? But, if I really had to chose, which would it be?

Could I continue to love someone even if they were unfaithful?

Could I remain loyal to someone if love starts to fade?

Would I want a future partner to be loyal even if his love for me fades? Would loyalty be enough?

I have been in relationships where the love has faded over time. You love each other, but your not in love. You end up simply existing with each other. Unhappy, but loyal.

I’ve also been in relationships, where the man has chosen loyal over love. I asked one of my ex boyfriends a very long time ago, whether anything would ever drive him to leave. His response was that even if he was unhappy he would stay.

My reaction back then possibly isn’t too dissimilar to what it would be now.

Why would you do that to yourself

Why would you stay with someone who didn’t make you smile?

Why would you want to stay with someone who was happy to just plod through life?

No excitement, no laughter. Just existing.

I’ve also had my fair share of heartache. When you love someone, and they don’t love you back, whether you’ve been together for months, years, or you’ve simply loved someone from afar; not getting that persons love back is enough to break the strongest heart.

But at least heartache makes you feel something. It reminds us we’re alive.

Funnily enough, those who have caused me the most heartache are the ones I remember most fondly. It’s those relationships where the love has faded that leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I can’t imagine there is a worse feeling than being cheated on. I suspect a couple of ex boyfriends have not been so loyal to me in the past. But never with enough evidence to rely on. And I am grateful for that. Maybe if I had concrete evidence, I would be fighting loyalty’s corner harder.

If you love someone so much, and found out they had cheated on you, would you forgive them? Or if not forgive, at least push to the back of your mind, because your loyalty for that person is so strong?

Believe it or not, I want loyalty to win. But is loyalty enough?

Ultimately, as human beings, we want to chose both. What greater feeling than having a loyal partner whom you love dearly, and is loyal and loving back.

Yet, we are also aware that finding love and loyalty isn’t always possible. Let’s not forget that in some cultures love isn’t deemed to be as important. Arranged marriages for example. Arranged by the couples families, for convenience, for wealth, for popularity. All before love.

For me, being in a relationship is about enhancing your life, not just making do.

If you no longer love me, I don’t want you to stay with me because it’s easier than breaking up with me, or because you’re happy to ‘make do’, or because it’s expected of us. Sod that!

Ultimately I want you to stay because you love me. With your heart, body and soul. And if you can’t do that? I don’t really need you.

What’s more important to you?

Love or Loyalty?

Knife crime, dirty laundry, and self care

The last couple of weeks have made me realise just how important it is to have a self care bank.

If I hadn’t been able to cash in on some of my self care reserves, I definitely wouldn’t have got through it as well as I have.

Most of the drama that has unfolded, has been out of my hands.

Sadly we’re living in a city where knife crime is a reality. It’s almost becoming the norm. Yet twice, in the space of just a few days, knife crime got closer to home.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s my country bumpkin background that makes me more shockable when these things happen.

The guys I know who have lived in and around London for most of their lives, tend to just shrug it off and tell me ‘that’s life’. I guess this isn’t the first time they have dealt with knife and gang crime. It’s not like it’s a new problem, but with the news and social media platforms we use these days, perhaps it just seems worse because it’s talked about more.

Whatever’s going on, when it impacts people you know, as well as the work you do, it starts to feel like it’s getting a bit too close for comfort.

I’ve also still been having problems with my ex. I’m not going to air my dirty laundry on here, but it’s something I could do without.

I’m also trying to spend some time forging new, exciting friendships/relationships with people. It was one of the things I wanted to accomplish this year. It’s early days, but it’s kinda fun wondering whether these people are here for a reason, here for a season, or here for a lifetime.

I haven’t even had time to head home lately. Weekends have been filled with hen parties, friends and family visiting, and work. And there’s still more busy weekends to come.

I’m certainly not complaining, but my body and mind are starting to tell me I need some R&R.

Today, I listened to my body and did bugger all. After working all day on Saturday, I needed some time to just vegetate today. I only left the house to grab some food for dinner, and barely left the sofa. I used to hate days doing nothing. But I’ve learnt that when my body says rest, I need to listen to it, otherwise I run the risk of burning out.

Heading into a new week, I need to make sure I focus on getting back outside for some exercise, as well as creating some time to bank some more self care points, in order to replace those I have used over the last couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed for a more peaceful week ahead…

Olhos de Água and Praia da Falesia

After my relaxing day on Tuesday, yesterday I was back into explorer mode.

This time I decided to head east of the resort, and headed to the beach at Olhos de Agua. Again, I chose to walk, as good old Google maps told me it was only a short walk away.

20 minutes later, I arrived at the beach. Olhos is small fishing town where the local fishermen still pull their boats onto the sand when they arrive back to the shoreline with their fresh catches. It’s a much quieter town than Albufeira, but lovely if you have a young family and aren’t looking for somewhere overly commercial.

As there wasn’t an awful lot to do or see there, I decided to head down onto the beach to see if I could walk round to the next Praia (beach), Praia da Falesia.

(All photos in this post are my own )

If you are lucky enough to get down to the Praias on the Algrave’s south coast when the tide is out, it is really easy to walk from many of the beaches to the next without too many problems, albeit over a few small rocks. However, once the tide comes back in, these parts are pretty much impossible to reach by foot.

Luckily, the tide was out when I arrived in Olhos de Água, leaving a clear path right i round to Praia da Falesia.

As soon as I walked around the corner of the cove onto Praia de Falesia, the view took my breath away. Seeing the vivid orange colours of the cliffs and the distinguishable layers of rock, made my inner geographer do a little back flip of joy!

I must’ve walked down almost the entire stretch of the praia with a massive grin on my face. Every new section of cliff face I came to had something different to offer.

As I continued to walk along the beach, I realised how light and carefree I felt. I felt more relaxed and content than I have done in a long time.

As I walked along, I did a lot of thinking. I started to make a lot of sense out of things on that walk, putting some things into perspective, letting other things go, and thinking about some of the changes I need to make in order to create more happiness and feelings of being carefree, on a more regular basis.

I will share some of my thoughts with you over the coming days, but for now, it’s time to pack and wave goodbye to Portugal as I have a flight back to London to catch tomorrow.

Signing out of 2018

Well here we are, New Years Eve 2018. The last year has once again been full of highs and lows. There have been losses, heartache, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of self discovery. I may not be where I thought I would be at the beginning of 2018, but I sure know me better than I did 12 months ago.

If you read my last post New Year, New Goals,you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to improve my wellbeing, and in particular my self care.

I am currently working my way through Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips book, ‘Self-care for the real world’. In the book, they talk about keeping a self-care bank of resources which is helpful for those days when everything seems to be running away from you, and those negative thoughts are creeping in. The purpose of the bank is to build up enough resources on your good days, when you have oodles of energy and motivation, to compensate for the days when quite frankly you feel a bit more out of sorts.

So, in my final post of 2018, I thought I would share with you the 5 resources I want to ‘bank up’ for those blergh days, to help see me through, and funnily enough, most of them seem to link in quite nicely to my aims and goals for 2019:

  1. To get outside and exercise. Being surrounded by beautiful parks, there are plenty of opportunites to get out there and get fit. I love being outdoors, so what better way to look after body and mind than to take a jog around the local park.
  2. To make time each week to reflect on my wellbeing, and noticing what my mind and body needs to help me get through the week. I’ve said it before, but the last few months have really opened my eyes to my wellbeing, and I am slowly getting better at identifying what my body and mind need at particular times.
  3. To make time each week to be sociable outside of work, spending time with those who make me laugh and bring the best out of me, but also to spend time with those who have similar interests. What’s better than spending time with those who make you have a good old belly laugh!
  4. To make sure I get enough sleep, ideally with my head hitting the pillow no later than 11pm. I need my sleep, and if I don’t get enough, I’m ratty. But equally, I hate to get up late. The key for me is getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. So as long as I aim to sleep by 11pm on weekdays and middnight at weekends, by body should get all the rest it needs (with the occasional nap thrown in for good measure).
  5. To not take things personally. The days, weeks even, I have wasted on suffering with imposter syndrome due to one person’s stupid comments, when they have no idea of the way they have made me feel. We never really know what other people are going through and where their heads are at when they make comments to us, yet we can really let their comments affect us.

From the 1st January, I aim to bank as many of these resources as I can to ensure that I have a much happier, more balanced 2019.

As this is my last blog of 2018, I would like to thank all my followers, friends (old and new), and my family, for all your love and support in 2018. I am super excited to see what 2019 has to offer.

Happy New Year folks 🙂

See you on the other side!

Becky xx

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As one chapter comes to an end, another begins

I feel kinda weird writing this post, but wanted to explain my absence over the last few weeks.

It’s been hard to find the right words so as not to cause any further hurt, but at the same time, since I started my blog, I have found it a really useful platform in dealing with my thoughts and find it better to get things out in the open, rather than internalising things.

I had known from the start of the year that 2018 was going to be a challenging time. It was going to test me and my relationship on every level.

They say that big events in life either make or break a couple. They bring you closer together, or you drift further apart.

This time, it sadly resulted in us drifting apart.

I hated having to have the conversation so close to Christmas. It’s one of my favourite times of year. I love the magic of Christmas. But this year, I was losing my spark. My festive spirit had gone, and it resulted me resenting my relationship even more because of it.

Christmas or not, I don’t think there is ever an easy time to finish something you know is not working. It was making me more and more miserable, and I knew that if I prolonged the inevitable even further, it was going to be harder to find happy me again.

It was hard leaving him in London as I travelled back to Northampton for Christmas. We had planned to spend time at my parents together. Instead he would now be spending Christmas alone in our flat whilst I travelled home to spend time with friends and family.

We have continued to live together the past few weeks which has made things hard at times. I’d be lying if I said that heading to Northampton for the holidays hadn’t been needed. It seemed to take so long to get there, but I was so grateful to finally hit the motorway on Saturday. It’s been nice to get some space to reflect, remember the good times, but to also start rebuilding me, so that in the new year, I can start the next leg of my journey.

I’m not sure where things are going to take me yet. I am still taking one day at a time. My heart hasn’t been where it perhaps should’ve been for the last year, so now it’s time to start thinking about where my heart wants to be. But not just my heart. My head too. I know I still have a lot to learn about myself.

The last few months I have become more aware of the need to look after my mind. Self-care is becoming increasingly important to me, and certainly something I want to explore more in the year ahead.

I have no hard feelings towards him. Our relationship has simply run its course. I will continue to hope that he achieves all that he dreams of.

But for now, it’s time for me to strap in, and start preparing for the next chapter of my life.