This week, from 9th – 15th of October is Mental Health Awareness Week and today is the World Mental Health Day. I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts and I never thought I’d publish it because I don’t share overly personal things here. However, I don’t think I’ll have a more fitting day to post this and it’s about time we stop feeling embarrassed or scared talking about mental health.
I’ve had a tumultuous year to say the least and one of the biggest things I’ve realised is the importance of making sure I keep my mental health in check. Today, I’ll share how I’ve dealt with my mental health and how I boost my wellbeing.
1. Seek Help/Talk to someone
This could be family, friend, therapist or counsellor. Talking to someone truly helps. Before this year, I’ve never had any form of anxiety or panic attack so I had no idea what was going on with me and my body. The actual breakup didn’t stress me out as much, it was more the aftermath of the jabs that kept on coming that really did it. I was at work and all of a sudden it happened. I was so stressed out because my delusional ex kept hounding me for money that I didn’t have nor owed him (don’t worry, I won this battle in the end but that’s story for another day). I went home, tried to sort it out by seeking legal advice then went back to work. The next few days, It happened again so I went to my GP. That’s when I realised stress can cause a shit load of things. She ordered me to take 3 weeks off work. I took 2 weeks off in the end to sort out the money/legal stuff, the house and to relax and unwind. If I didn’t seek help, I would’ve kept going and she said I would’ve burnt myself out.
Another thing I did this year was talking to a counsellor. I have a good friend that advised me to do so as he did it during a difficult time in his life and it helped him greatly. He recommended it to me and said it was worth the money. Thankfully, one of my work benefits is free EAP sessions which is counselling support for any reason. I took advantage of this. Talking to someone completely random and unbiased really helped me. They see things in a different light and they have experience dealing with different situations. I found it incredibly useful. I only had one session about my breakup and the rest was about career, future goals and how to balance life and work etc. I can’t recommend this enough.
If you don’t have the resources, just talk to someone. You’ll be surprised that someone out there is willing to listen.
2. Go Outside
I’ve found that although I don’t enjoy swimming, the beach is my happy place. Walking along the beach, listening to the waves and just being there made me a lot happier. Going out and getting fresh air can do wonders. I’m lucky that I live close to the beach and can walk along it every day after work if I want to. I don’t consider myself as an active person but this year, I’ve tried to be more active because I know it helps my overall wellbeing. My friends and I planned doing the Tongariro Crossing and although the weather didn’t allow us, we still did a 2hr hike in pissing down rain. I’ll conquer Tongariro hopefully this December.
If the beach isn’t for you, there are other places to go. Auckland has plenty of volcanic cones. Go up Mt Eden, One Tree Hill and Mount Victoria and North Head if you’re in the North Shore. Staying inside all cooped up can also help you but nature is a wonderful thing.
3. Surround yourself with good people
Throughout this emotional roller coaster of a year, I’ve realised who my friends are and the people I want to keep in my life. Although I don’t always talk or see my friends, I know they’ll be there for me. They turned up at my house late at night even if I didn’t ask them to because I shouldn’t be by myself. They were there after shit hit the fan and stayed way past their bed time even though they all have work the next day. They were on the other line when I was crying on the phone when I thought everything was sorted but he’s came back demanding for more. They were there to bring me a bottle of wine when the final agreement was signed and I would never hear from him again. They were there when I needed a laugh or a night out. They were there for me when I didn’t ask for it. They’ve helped me go through one of the toughest times of my life and assured me that I wasn’t the crazy one.
It fills my heart to know that even though I only have a handful of people, they’re so awesome. I feel quite lucky.
4. Reorganise the house and de-clutter
I’ve done a blog post about redecorating my lounge where I briefly touched on this but getting rid of the black lounge and bedroom furniture that I hated was so therapeutic. Getting a dining table made me happy and redecorating the house completely my own way really helped me. My lounge looks a bit different now with the beach prints above the TV and the dining table gone as I have a pretty cool and style-savvy flatmate.
It took me months to slowly change and declutter but I felt so much better afterwards. I’m still in the process of doing it. It’s not a one-time thing but it felt like I was gaining more control of my life and detaching myself from the past every time I did it.
You also don’t have to completely change your furniture and home decor. Sometimes a simple bouquet of flowers, candle or room diffuser helps wonders too.
5. Baths and massages
Before this year, I enjoyed the occasional baths but it wasn’t something I’d look forward to doing to unwind and relax after a long day. Now, I love having bubble baths. I come home and get excited that I can completely relax for an hour or so. I sometimes have my phone to watch TV shows or have music but I also like just lying there in peace and quiet.
I also get massages pretty frequently. I don’t get my hair or nails done so one thing that I like to treat myself with in terms of pampering is a full body massage. I always go to the same place and I’m such a regular that they give me an amazing deal so I keep coming back. It’s one hour away from my phone and detached from everything else. It’s bliss.
6. Cuddle my pets
If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram, you should’ve seen this coming. My cats Turbo and Mouse are the best things in my life. They’re my babies. They came into my life at different times and circumstances (I wrote a blog post on each of them if you want to know) and I cannot imagine my life without these two. I can’t count the amount of times they’ve made me happier and better just by cuddling next to me and purring their hearts out. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a crazy cat lady because I love these two to pieces. They say cats’ purrs are therapeutic and I believe that. Their purrs are my favourite sound ever. They’re cats so they’re naughty and not always up for a cuddle but I know they love me. Turbo’s coat is absolutely beautiful, soft and shiny even if I don’t brush him. Mouse is so adorable he can brighten anyone’s day with just his smiley face. They have different personalities and they fight but I know they love each other too.
I think every pet owner will say similar things about their pets. They’re amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. These two have kept me sane this entire time. I’ve never felt lonely or alone even when I was living by myself for a couple of months because I had them. I’ll have a stressful day and I’ll come home to these two and I’d forget about it. Having pets is the best therapy you can have.
It has been a crazy year for me and I know my mental health is still a work in progress. Whilst I can truly say that I’m in a good place and have been for majority of this year, I still have my ups and downs. A hard day at work, Turbo not coming home for the night, bad dates (lol) or things not going to plan have caused stress but I’ve been through worse. I try to stay positive and practice some of the points above. Overall, I know life is pretty good. I escaped an emotionally abusive relationship and dodged a fucking bullet. I’ve come out of this stronger than I could ever imagine so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to live my best life.
If you’re currently dealing with a stressful situation or having a rough time, please take some time for yourself. The points above worked for me but I know it won’t work for everyone. We’re all fighting our battles but please remember you’re not alone.
If you need help and feel like your mental health is declining, ask someone. Message me across any social media if you want to talk. Whether I know you or not, I will definitely respond. There are also more information on the Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health Awareness Week websites.