Friday, 11 October 2019

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Self Care Strategies for Mental Well Being

Photo of a silhouette of a person jumping in the air, arms outstretched, legs bent up behind them, against the backdrop of hills in silhouette and a orange, pink, purple and blue sunset
Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash.

Self Care Strategies for Mental Well Being


Yesterday was Mental Health Day - and this post was meant to go up yesterday, but I was ill with a migraine, so I didn't get to finish it in time, but I still want to mark it. As I recently wrote about my experiences with anxiety, I thought I would share with you some of my self care strategies that help my mental health.

Self care is so important; it really boils down to looking after yourself, but also doing the things that make you feel good (in moderation, if they're not so good for you). For me, this can be as simple as a relaxing bubble bath, where I try to think of nothing else, treating myself to chocolate, putting on some music I love, and singing at the top of my voice - and maybe even dancing around the room, and, even if there's no special occasion, putting on some really nice clothes that I feel good in. But there are a number of other things that I feel call for discussing in a little more depth.

Reading a Book

As Once Upon a Bookcase used to be strictly a book blog, this isn't going to surprise anyone. But since I stopped focusing on book blogging specifically, I've found myself to enjoy reading even more. I enjoyed it anyway, but now it's like the dial of enjoyment has been turned right up! As most of you originally followed me for my book related posts, I don't really need to tell you about how wonderful it is to just switch off and get lost in a good book. But it's awesome!

Meditation

This is something I've recently started doing as part of my spiritual path. I tried it briefly when I was first diagnosed with anxiety, but I would just forget to do it. And to be honest, I used to roll my eyes at meditation. I didn't think it was for me. But I've been using the free app Headspace and going through their basic course - though I do still forget some times! - and it's amazing how great I feel after just ten minutes. I feel so relaxed, so calm, so capable, like I could deal with any difficulty. I'm actually starting a bullet journal with a habbit tracker to try and get myself to do this every day, because it's effects are incredible.

Journalling

This is another thing I've picked up from my spiritual path, and something I've tried in the past. I'll be honest and say I'm not great at simply picking up a notebook and just going for it, I do need prompts. But being able to take some time to really think about where my head is on some things, and get those words out and on paper offers such a lightness. And there are so many ways of doing this; a gratitude journal, a shadow work journal, a goal and intention journal. There's something about just getting it all out of your head that makes you really feel your gratitude, face your feelings or bad experiences, or feel like you can achieve your goals. I really recommend giving it a go! And, if like me, you need help getting started, just google for some prompts! You can start with 30 Journaling Prompts for Self-Reflection and Self-Discovery on Psych Central, or these prompts on Pinterest.

Spend Time in Nature

I've found actually getting out and spending time in nature is so wonderful. I may take a book, or listen to some music, but simply being in my local park - which is pretty big, and has lots of different paths to take, and a gorgeous lake with a fountain - just sitting on a bench, makes such a difference. Because my local park is so big, you can really get away from the streets, and it's almost like the real world gets left behind, and there's just this beauty. Getting away from everyday stresses and worries, forgetting about them for a while, not really doing anything really kind of presses a pause button on everything, and it's so relaxing. If there's a forest nearby you, I would recommend heading there, too. I don't think there's anywhere more beautiful, and it's even easier to forget the outside world.

Slow Right Down

So this one is slightly different, because it's not something I've consciously been doing, but something that has just come about as a result of my spiritual path. For me, reading about my chosen spiritual path brings me such a sense of peace, and is so calming - and it's like this effect is carried over to my normal mundane life, too, because I've noticed a change. Normally, when I'm out and about, my mind is all over the place: busy, busy, busy, thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. I don't know about you, but sometimes I'll go from A to B, and not even remember the walk there.

But recently, my mind has been so clear to the point that I'm actually noticing things on my way to places: the swirl of a leaf attached to a seed as it falls from a tree, the actual colours of the leaves at my feet, and even their shapes. I'm seeing stars and fireworks, and leaves dancing as they fall. It's almost ridiculous, but it's so beautiful. It might also be because Witchcraft has such reverence for nature, so I'm just noticing nature a lot more. Whatever it is, my mind is clearer, my thoughts have slowed right down, and there's not so much going on in it. I think it is technically mindfulness as I'm walking about? Being aware of my surroundings? It's just taking myself out of my head, and being in the moment as I'm walking down the street. Again, no stressing or worrying. But as I've said, this isn't something I've been trying to do, but I'm thinking some mindfulness is probably a good bet for us all, right? I might try cross stitching again, for some conscious mindfulness!

Get a Plant

I know this is going to sound completely ridiculous, but I bought a little succulent a few weeks back, and oh my god, I can't tell you how much joy it's brought me! I have become so attached! I love this tiny plant! Her name is Sally (I was thinking about how, if I was going to talk to the plant like you're "supposed" to, it should probably have a name, and "Sally" just flew into my head out of nowhere. I then couldn't choose anything else), and she is just wonderful. I open my curtains in the morning for her so she can get some light, and I water her every few days, depending on how her soil is feeling, and I talk to her each day, and I am in love! I bought her on a whim, but she really just makes me so happy! Would this be different if she required more attention? Who can tell, I'm not really green fingered at all. But maybe it's just caring for something other than yourself? Maybe people with pets kind of get this? I don't know, but I do very much have these moments of pure joy whenever I spot her, and she's doing wonders!

Have a Clear Out

I recently got so, so sick of all the stuff in my room - there were books piled everywhere, especially - I decided to have a massive clear out. A massive and brutal clear out. I donated eight boxes of books in all, and I'm still not done with my books. I went through my wardrobe and my chest of drawers, and donated too many bags of books to count. I went through the storage space under my bed, a storage box I had, other things that just didn't have a space, so were put in any area I could find. So much gone, and oh my god, I can now breathe in my room! It was just all getting on top of me, and I started to hate the sight of my room and being in there. It took a number of days here and there over several weeks, but now I've almost done minimalist in there, and it's amazing! I can breathe, I can dance in there, I can swing a cat if I was cruel enough (I most definitely am not), and it's just wonderful. So much space! And I'm now so much calmer when I'm in there, and it's not playing on my mind. It's fantastic! And unbelievable the difference it's made on my state of mind. I would really recommend a clear out if you're feeling trapped in your own space, because my mind is now less cluttered.

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So these are my ways of looking after my mental well being, and things that I've now added into my life that have made such a difference! How do you look after your mental well being? What do you do for self-care? Any of my suggestions that you'll try out, or have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

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