We all know that a good self-care regime is one of the things that helps us get through when the dark cloud of depression descends on us. There are a lot of good resources out there to help including The Self-Care Project and 365 Days of Self-Care written by Jayne Hardy of the Blurt Foundation and having read them I’d strongly recommend checking them out if you’re in need of any help. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a marked improvement in how I’ve been feeling and much of this is a result of introducing a morning and evening routine so I thought it would be good to share what has been working for me. By writing a list of things that I want to achieve each day I seem to have a new focus which has helped me get them done and given me a sense of achievement when I tick them off each day. This might sound a bit over the top, but I’ve set up reminders on my phone for each of the tasks each day and then can cross them off each day.
I start my day by making my bed, this isn’t one of my tasks for my morning routine but is something I like to start with after listening to the address by Admiral McRaven. When I saw this for the first time it really affected me and has obviously left a lasting impression. Again, it comes back to having achieved something that day so you’re always starting the day off on a positive note as you’ve immediately completed one task so no matter what else happens that day you have done something. It also makes me feel better as I like things to look tidy and in order! The tasks that I try to complete during the day:
I’ve been using the Best Self journal to try and help me achieve my goals. One big thing that I’ve found from journaling is the reflection on what you are grateful for. Each morning and evening I list three things that I am grateful for which helps focus the mind on the positive things. I’ve also found it helpful for focusing my mind on the important things that I need to do and helps me plan my time. It has also helped to give me somewhere to write down how I’m feeling if I feel like I need to get something out. It takes some time to get going with it but I’ve definitely found it has had a positive effect on my mental health and has taken some of the stress away whilst also focusing me on the positives.
Everyone has now heard of mindfulness and has probably heard of Headspace. I’ve been using the app a couple of times a day (for 10 minutes each time) and it has been a great help. I always though I didn’t have time for it but being able to clear 10 minutes twice a day is much more manageable and it has helped make me more aware of what is going on in my head and how I’m feeling and also giving me a sense of perspective. I feel much calmer and like my head has cleared when I’ve finished which is a great result for 10 minutes effort.
- Box Breathing
I’ve been using an app developed by an ex-Navy SEAL, Mark Devine, who had used this technique to help when he was serving in the military. I’ve found it really helpful in relaxing my mind and giving me a better focus. It seems to work well in conjunction with the mindfulness to help quieten my mind and keep my emotions under control.
I’ve recently been to the sleep clinic at York Hospital in order to sort out my sleep as it turns out that I’ve got sleep apnoea. Now that I’ve been treated, I can’t believe what a difference getting a good night’s sleep can make. I feel much more refreshed when I wake up and have been able to stay awake all day! This is a long way from where I was and it has made such an improvement to my life. In order to help with this I’ve also started leaving my phone and ipad downstairs when I go to bed so that I’m not distracted and have started reading at least one chapter of a book before I go to sleep. Not only does it help me get to sleep but I’ll also be improving my knowledge as I’ll be getting through more books. I first heard the suggestion on the Jamie Alderton podcast, Mindset with Muscle, which has been full of ideas that I have tried to incorporate in order to make me the best version of myself. I’ve also been consciously trying to get at least 7 hours sleep each night which has shorten my evenings but it has been well worth it for feeling so much better.
There is also a couple of other things that have helped in the last few weeks. The first is music. As you have probably guessed by now, music plays quite a big part in my life and when I was going through a difficult time a couple of months ago, someone sent me a copy of their album and that played a big part in cheering me up. It cheered me up as it was nice to get the support and know that people care and secondly because the album was just what I needed at the time to lift my spirits. I’d strongly recommend checking out Sweet F.A. by The Spangles as it’s a great listen and you’ll also be supporting a great local band. The other thing, that is interlinked with this, was a good night out. I went to the album launch gig and not only was it a great gig, I got to catch up with someone that I hadn’t seen for 30 years! Even though we’ve been at the same gigs and have a lot of things in common, we hadn’t seen each other since Middle School so it was good to catch up and also to see him doing what he loves and taking photos of the gig. If you like photography, have a look at his website as I’m sure you’ll like his work.
One thing I need to do now is to start introducing exercise back into the mix as I’ve had a break from it to focus on getting all these other things in place and to focus on my eating habits. I’ve made a lot of progress over the last couple of weeks and it has made a big difference, but exercise is always something that has helped with my mental wellbeing and I want to feel fit and healthy so that I can keep up with the triplets as they get older. The future is looking much brighter so it’s now all about consistency and keeping going when the darkness comes.
Onwards and upwards