“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.”
We all get those moments, don’t we? Those periods of time, however long, of feeling completely overwhelmed and disillusioned by everything.
It seems like we’re constantly juggling things – careers, home life, relationships, friendships, health – and we become petrified of taking our eye off the ball, in case we cause everything to fall catastrophically to the floor.
But take heart! We aren’t alone in these fears. According to the Mental Health Foundation,
“about a quarter of the population will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year, with mixed anxiety and depression the most common mental disorder in Britain.”
I’m not saying this to terrify you, and I am certainly not suggesting every person who feels a bit down has an underlying mental health issue, rather I am just putting the statistics into context. Looking after our mental wellbeing is imperative and often it can be the simplest changes to how we treat ourselves that can really help.
Now, I’m going to be frank. While I have never suffered from a debilitating mental illness, I have been plagued by anxiety in recent years.
I’m going to put it out there because I am not ashamed, actually I am the opposite. I am proud of myself for overcoming this period in my life.
I have had times during my twenties where I have felt like I wasn’t in control of anything, that a never-ending succession of bad events kept popping up and I had to bat them down like a virulent game of whack-a-mole. I felt lost and a bit hopeless, and it started to manifest itself in inexplicable ways – worrying about every little thing, crying, panic attacks, persistent insomnia – that I recognised as odd behaviours but I couldn’t control them – I was on the outside looking in, yelling at myself to stop being so ridiculous, but I couldn’t actually stop it.
In hindsight, I realise I was being hard on myself. Feeling like that is not only completely normal, but it’s also really common. I suffered in silence until my mum realised something was up with me and I broke down and told her exactly how I felt. She was great and listened to all my fears, not once telling me I was ridiculous, rather reassuring me that all my fears were unfounded and the things I wasn’t happy with could be easily altered.
Now, as I approach my thirtieth birthday, I feel fantastic, positive and very much in control of my future which is really quite hilarious since at this point I find myself starting over again in every single aspect of my life.
Although I realise that the way I changed things and, with it, how I lived my life and viewed myself, was more extreme than most people might be able to do in their everyday lives – I quit my job, moved away, went travelling, was basically able to wipe the slate clean – there are certainly little things we can do to help alleviate the feeling of hopelessness.
It may sound like common sense, and I realise bloggers have done this subject to death, but being a little kinder to yourself works wonders. Realise that things going wrong aren’t necessarily a product of your own doing, rather a result of the natural peaks and troughs of life. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong or you make a mistake. This is how we learn and grow. This is life.
I have learnt to take more time out “for me.” I mentioned in my previous post that I found it difficult to relax, well; I am learning to work on this. Identify the things you love to do. For me, it’s writing and travelling (especially if I get to combine the two). I only realised how much I loved travelling when I decided to treat myself to a five month long trip. I’m not saying you have to be this extreme, even small things like running a bath, reading a favourite book, cooking yourself a nice meal, can help.
Learning to like you is easier said than done and, in all honesty, I think most people spend their entire lives trying to get to grips with this one. But it’s important to start thinking about yourself in a more positive light.
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Getting rid of the negativity in your life is probably the best advice I have received. If someone is constantly calling you out on your shit, why should you listen? Someone once said to me “treat yourself as you would your best friend” – would you let your friend be messed around, stood up, called out for nothing? I certainly wouldn’t. I’d have their back. It’s time we starting having our own.
Thinking about what you want from life is another great tip. Yes, I know it’s a bit cliché. I’m not saying go out there and “find yourself” a la Kate Winslet circa Hideous Kinky (excellent film FYI), more try and think about where you see yourself in five, ten, even twenty years. For me, I knew that my job made me unhappy. Yes, I made OK money but was I happy being cooped up in a legal office? Not at all. Don’t be afraid to pursue your goals even if it seems scary or impossible.
One thing we often overlook is our health and that’s all too easy. Whether it’s working long hours, missing doctors’ appointments, indulging in faddy diets, not exercising or simply engaging in unhealthy habits – we’re all guilty of this. But health is important and often a root cause of feeling a bit blue.
Lastly, remember this: a good friend of mine always tells me “what’s for you won’t go by you” and whenever I feel down or overwhelmed, I think of this. Didn’t get that job? Maybe it wasn’t for you. That guy didn’t call you back? Perhaps it’s because someone far more suited to you is waiting just around the corner.
With a little bit of hard work and positivity, you’ll probably get exactly where you want to be and feel fabulous for it.
Do you have any tips for positive mental attitude? Have you ever experience a period of time where you were anxious and felt lost? How did you overcome this? Have you learnt to treat yourself like your own best friend?