Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Are you tired? Stressed? Anxious, even? A few weeks ago I saw an advert on the train by Mind, the mental health charity. I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of 'it's okay to feel stressed and anxious', with a number that you could text to get a free booklet about Stress & Anxiety. It immediately caught my attention. Whether you are aware of mental health issues or not, I'm sure the majority of people have felt stress and anxious on at least one occasion. I sent off for the booklet and it arrived at the weekend.
Suddenly it feels like anxiety is the latest buzzword, but maybe it's because there finally is a word for something that a lot of people are feeling a lot of the time. I've caught myself rolling my eyes on more than one occasion when I see lists on 'how to deal with anxiety', because I don't think a list is a fix-all solution for all of the different reasons and ways that people experience anxiety, but at least it is now a word that is recognised and used in everyday situations in such a way that you don't have to be looking for it to find it.
Sometimes it's difficult to draw the line between what's considered 'normal'...or what you might think is normal, but whether you experience anxiety in any of its forms or whether you're just plain exhausted, stressed and at the end of your tether, a lot can be said for pressing pause on today's 'go, go, go' lifestyle and letting your batteries recharge.
Take a moment
Do you meditate? Maybe you take 10 minutes every day with the Headspace app or 5 minutes after yoga to sit still and do nothing. I recently read an article - I think it was in Red Magazine, but frustratingly I can't find it again - which stuck with me: "Meditate for 15 minutes a day. If you don't have time to do that, you should meditate for an hour." It doesn't have to be as intense as that though - a walk can do wonders for clearing your mind. I'm lucky to live by a big park and fresh air never fails to make me feel good. Actually, I used to get so tense and irate travelling by tube in the morning, so I switched up my commute to include a half an hour walk instead. Having that time outside first thing in the morning and on my way home without any distractions (I don't even listen to music!) really helps me to prepare for the day and decompress in the evening.
Tidy house, tidy mind
I know cleaning the house doesn't sound relaxing, but I really do feel better when everything is in it's proper place. I'm not talking about a deep clean - just a few minutes of tidying makes a big difference (case in point: the pile of clothes on my bedroom chair I've been ignoring for a month only too 3 minutes to actually put away properly). Lots of people have recommended The Life-Changing of Tidying, so I'm looking forward to getting some tips.
A friend in need
Doing something selfless for a friend or a stranger is proven to boost your self-esteem; I like to call it a generosity high. Even something simple like giving up your seat on the train for someone who looks like they could use it - someone with lots of shopping bags, for instance - can be a mood-lifter. Don't forget to treat yourself like a friend, though; sometimes we keep our best, most generous behaviour for friends and family. I think I'm a nicer person for my loved ones to be around when I cut myself some slack and don't feel like I'm burnt out trying to keep everyone happy.
Just for you
Light a candle; aromatherapy has so many benefits, but sometimes just a familiar scent - nothing fancy - is enough to remind you to take a deep breath. Read a book or do something you love and treat yourself to something that takes a little bit more time. I drink a lot of tea, and at the weekend it's nice to take a little bit more time over it. I like the ritual of making a proper cuppa with real tea leaves and JING's diffuser mug is a clever (and beautiful) way to make tea for one.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. I do recommend visiting the Mind website, if not for yourself, then just to understand what someone else - a colleague, a neighbour, a family member - might be going through. There is advice on all sorts of different mental health issues, plus specific sections about how to deal with stress in different situations, like going away to uni or pressure at work.