I spend quite a bit of time offering advice on how people reading the blog could improve their mental health. So in the interests of transparency, I thought I’d share the (numerous) things I could probably get to work on myself.
Nobody’s perfect, right?
As is often the case with maintaining good mental health day-to-day, there are probably no big surprises in here.
Stop spending so much time online
I doubt I’m alone on this one. It’s a biggie.
The horrible thing is, I would not be surprised if I found that 90% of my waking time is spent in front of a screen.
It could be glorious sunshine outside. I could have a beach all to myself. I would, in all likelihood, still reach for my phone.
The worst is just before bed. Most of us do it and there is mounting evidence to suggest that being on a phone/laptop/tablet before bed is just really bad for our eyes and brains.
Must. Put. It. Down.
(Honestly this GIF gives me life.)
…and specifically, social media
These days there is far less socialising going on with ‘social’ media. In fact, now it’s not uncommon to see groups of people who seem to have actually made the effort to meet up in person STARING AT THEIR PHONES.
For me personally, I really need to break the Instagram-Facebook-Twitter-Email cycle I find myself trapped in when I get home from work. Where did that hour ago? What the hell did I gain from it?
See also: 7.30am on Saturday mornings (thanks adult body clock).
Make time for fun stuff
There are so many things I enjoy doing with free time. Painting, writing, playing piano/ukulele, reading, baking, crotcheting (yeah man!). I LOVE getting mad creative on weekends.
But wait, what’s that? There’s this magic time between 6 and 10pm every weeknight that I could be using for my own personal development and work-life balance?
Cool man. I wonder what’s on Instagram?
Drink more water
My awful habit of Googling any slightly concerning symptoms I may experience at any one time often leads to the CANCER result. We’ve all been there. Still, I’ll just as often read articles that suggest very simply that I’m probably quite dehydrated.
At this point, I make a mental note to myself that all I have to do is drink lovely water and then I can stop worrying that I might keel over one day.
Do I do it?
I have no idea. Send help.
Mid-week drinking with no occasion
Ah, getting home from work and seeing the bubbles dance in a G&T or the condensation on a crisp glass of white wine… it’s so hard to turn down.
I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to have a drinking problem. Sometimes I feel like drinking on a Tuesday night (as I write this…) and most nights I’m happy without.
Even so, it’s very, very easy to use it as a crutch, especially on bad days – because we ‘deserve’ it or think it might help us sleep better. The irony is it’s actually more likely to lead to interrupted sleep and can actually make you feel more anxious.
Tackling the not-so-fun tasks as I go
Chores? Ugh. Life admin? Ugh.
These are the necessary evils that, if you let them mount up, will only serve to make you feel worse. This is how you find yourself devoting an entire sunny, hot afternoon to sorting your ‘paperwork’.
Some of this I don’t mind. Making dinner? Sure, takes a while but I get rewarded with DELICIOUS CALORIES at the end. Washing up? Ugh, annoying but it’s done in about 10 minutes. Even mopping the floor is satisfying.
But laundry? It asks so much of you. You have to sort the colours, put them in the machine, choose the right setting, realise you’re running low on detergent and swear, wait what seems like 175 hours for it to actually wash, hang it all up (small pay-out here of lovely scented clothes), wait dayyyyyyyyyyyys for it to dry, iron it, fold it all up and put it away.
Still, I’m sure I’d mind it a lot less if I didn’t leave it until the laundry bin was fit to bursting. One step at a time, eh.
Getting a financial advisor
Oh god. This one I have been putting off for years.
The idea of discussing all my finances, much less getting them in order, is headache inducing. That’s before I’ve even toyed with the idea of doing a bit of research into who I might be comfortable doing that with.
And yet, every year, that fucking Student Loans Company statement lands on my doormat. And every year, I’m sent into a tizz involving lots of sighing, panicking and Googling before promptly assuming the foetal position under my duvet.
One of those things I just need to get done. Some day…
Wake up with plenty of time to enjoy the morning
See, for a while I was getting up with plenty of time in the morning and really enjoying it. I’d do yoga, I’d read, I’d savour a good cup of coffee. It genuinely made a difference to how I felt about the day ahead.
But all too easily, I’ve let the good habit slip. The alarm goes off. It’s snoozed. Again, five minutes later. lie in bed until the final alarm goes off and I have just 20 precious minutes to get my arse out of bed and into the car for work.
Focus my attention on one thing
Multi-tasking is fab and stuff but occasionally it can feel like I’m doing a half arsed job of everything or it takes double the time it should.
I’m trying to talk to my mum on the phone, fold up that fucking laundry, send a text message, reply to a tweet, plan dinner later and SO ON.
What actually ends up happening is my mum wonder where the hell I’ve gone, the messages are gibberish and I’m no further on the laundry.
I’m legit not even as good at this as Spongebob appears to be.
So there we have it. In the interests of following my own advice, I think I’ll try and tackle one issue at a time so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.