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!

🙏🏻

Readjusting

After a wobbly start to the year, a weekend readjusting was much needed.

I took a brief trip to the lovely St. Albans on Saturday to meet up with my family. We’ve often suggested meeting half way between Northampton and London, but never actually done it. St. Albans is pretty much bang in the middle (time wise), taking each of us just over an hour to get there. We met at Verulamium Park for a lovey brunch in the cafe, and then walked up through the park to the Cathedral, and onwards to the shops.

None of us had ever been to St. Albans before, so except for the photo’s we had seen online before we met, we didn’t know what to expect. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place. Sadly, we didn’t have enough time to look around the cathedral, but we will definitely go back in the near future to have a proper mooch around to see what else St. Albans has to offer.

From there, I headed back to my London flat to start having a new year clear out and to settle into life as a singleton. Cupboards have been emptied, christmas presents taken out of their boxes, and christmas decorations put away for another year.

I still have no idea how I am going to get my Christmas tree out of my first floor flat without dropping its needles everywhere. I’ve attempted to wrap it in bin liners to make it easier, but it’s so big and heavy I have an awful feeling the only way to get it out is to slide it down the stairs…needless to say, the neighbours are going to love me when I try to get it out the front door this week!

The sort out has commenced, but I still have piles of things lying around the flat waiting to find their new homes, but I’m in no rush to finish sorting things out. It gives me a focus when I get home from work this week.

It’s been quite therapeutic changing things around though. It really is starting to feel like the fresh start I needed.

In addition to the big clear out, I have also managed to get out for a jog today. My second one this week. For those of you who read my blog New Year, New Goals, you will already be aware that one of my goals this year is to exercise more. For those who know me, you will know that I’m not a long distance runner. In school, I was a sprinter. In fact, I was the fastest girl in my school at one point in the 100m sprint. I have always been rubbish at running longer distances. But being surrounded by parks, and needing to save some money, jogging is my best option for now. Although it’s only the second time I’ve been out this week, I am already finding it really enjoyable. It’s very much walk, jog, walk, jog at the moment, but it’s already giving me more energy, despite the fact it has also made me realise just how unfit I am.

Another goal I have managed to stick to so far, is spending less time on social media. As the clock struck midnight on NYE, I deactivated my Facebook and Linkedin accounts, as well as one of my Instagram accounts. My social media time is already down by 9% this week. I haven’t missed Facebook and Linkedin at all yet. In fact, my mind feels more relaxed for not having them on my phone. Particularly with Linkedin. It’s so easy to get into the habit of working all day, and then reading work related material in the evening, which wasn’t giving my mind the break from work that in needs at the end of a long day.

I still need to work on my other goals, but there is no rush to achieve everything straight away.

To end the weekend, feeling energised after my jog, I managed to make a roast dinner for one, and have enjoyed some time chilling out in front of the tv with a glass of wine.

I wonder what the next 7 days will have in store…

(Photo’s from my trip to St. Albans. I can’t waiy to go back on a sunny day to take some more snaps)

New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again when we take time to look back at the last 12 months and to look forward to the next.

I reflected on much of the last 12 months in a blog I wrote earlier this month called Turning 35, so now it’s time to focus on the next 12 months.

I’m  not one for making new years resolutions. Resolutions always sound like they should involve giving things up. I don’t feel the need to give anything up, so instead, what you will find below, are the 5 things I would either like to achieve, take a break from, or improve on in 2019:

  1. I will be cutting down on my social media time in 2019. Facebook, Twitter, 2 x Instagram accounts, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Why is it as human beings we have the inability to just click into one app and be done with it? Why does clicking into an app lead to us scrolling through the latest updates, and then moving onto the next app, and the next, and the next. Before we know it, at least an hour of our precious day is gone. Whilst there are some apps I couldn’t live without (Whatsapp for one, and my Mindful Gingernut Instagram profile which links in nicely with my blog), do I really need to use mindless apps such as Facebook? And I guess I question why I need 2 Instagram accounts? And Linkedin too. I struggle to ‘get’ Linkedin. Spending my limited free time browsing through posts from work colleagues old and new, is no longer appealing. I do know of people who have been headhunted through the app, but these are few and far between. This week alone, I have spent over 7 hrs on Facebook and Instagram, which is just ridiculous. I could’ve achieved so much more with those 7 wasted hours! So from the 1st January, I will be deactivating my Facebook account, taking a break from my personal instagram account for the first 6 months of the year, and will more than likely be taking a break from Linkedin. This should free up some time to focus on other things, such as reading more books, and joining some classes in order to meet new people and to make new friends. After 6 months, I will reflect back on whether I have missed either app, and if so, look at ways I can continue to use them but in a more mindful way.
  2.  In 2019 I want to find some more London friends. Ok, so I have been saying this for the last 3 years, but in 2019, I really need to get off my backside and do something about it. I love my friends dearly, but not many of them live close enough to pop in for a drink on a Friday night, or to grab dinner after work mid-week. I love spending time on my own, but likewise, I love to be sociable too. Just before Christmas this year, I went to a wreath making workshop. Whilst I didn’t exchange numbers with any of the ladies at the workshop, it did give me hope that I hadn’t lost the ability to talk to new people. So in 2019, I’m going to put myself out there. I’m going to enrol on some courses, learn some new skills, and hopefully, make some new friends.
  3. In 2019, I want to eat healthier and to exercise more. Whilst I wouldn’t say I have an awful diet, I have spent the last couple of years eating oily curries, bigger portions, and lots of naan bread. Now I will be cooking for one more often, I will have greater control over my diet. I want to eat a wider variety of foods, giving my plate more colour, trying out new dishes, and filling them with more vegetables. What i don’t plan to do is to give up my favourite foods however ‘bad’ they may be. What I am going to do though, is make sure I eat them in moderation. When it comes to exercise, I love walking, but struggle to fit this into the working week, especially during the dark evenings. I know once the nights get lighter I will get out and about more in the evenings, but I can’t put my fitness and health on hold until then. I live in between two of South West London’s biggest parks. There is absolutely no excuse for me not to take a run around either of the parks during my lunch break on the day I work from home and again at weekends. I do like to work out from home, and lift my weights and do some strength exercises at least 3 times a week, but I definitely need to do something that gets my heart racing. I would love to join the gym again, however, the nature of my day job stops me from doing anything on a regular basis at the moment, and for me, if I am going to join the gym, I need to be able to commit to a regular routine. So, for 2019, I aim to continue to work on my strength exercises from home, and to work up to jogging around one of the local parks 3 x per week. Although this will be one of the harder challenges I set myself, with a little bit of determination and motivation, with any luck, I will be jogging around those parks in no time.
  4. In 2019, I want to travel more. I have always longed to travel, but i’ve either never had the money or the courage to do it. Money is still tight especially as I face renting on my own for the first time. But what I do have is lot’s more courage. Ever since I took my first holiday alone in 2016, I have longed to take another trip. So yesterday, rather than wait for the new year to begin, I booked my first holiday of 2019, which will see me heading to the Algarve in February. Whilst it won’t be at it’s warmest in February, I’m looking forward to exploring somewhere new, taking my laptop and some books, and just spending a few days relaxing, reading, eating freshly caught fish, and writing more blogs. I hope this will be the first of a few breaks in 2019.
  5. Last but my no means least, I want to spend 2019 focusing on my wellbeing and self-care. It’s only in the last 6 months of 2018, that I have become more aware of the need to look after myself mentally as well as physically. There have been so many times over the last 3 years, where I have been so consumed by work, that I forgot to check in with myself to see how I am. Work has often left me with little free time to do the things I enjoy. It has left me exhausted and mentally drained. This has to change in 2019. In the last 6 months, I have learnt so much about myself as I begin to take greater control over my life and my mind. Yet there is still so much more to explore. I want to spend 2019 reading into and practicing different wellbeing, mindfulness and self-care techniques in order to find out what works best for me.

These goals shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve with a little bit of thought, motivation and determination, yet at the same time, if I get these right, they are things that could really change my life. So much of the last 3 years have been focused on work and other people. It’s time to shift the balance a little, so I can focus a little bit more on me and what I need in order to be a happier more balanced person.

What are your goals and aims for 2019?