Things can get a bit chaotic in this big wide world, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, disappointed and mentally exhausted. It’s at times like these that we realise it’s the little things in life that make a big difference.
The mind is incredibly powerful, with the ability to make us physically feel exactly we are thinking. When we are happy and content, we usually feel comfortable and healthy in our own skin. We look at life with rose tinted glasses and a positive attitude. However this of course means that when we are surrounded by negative news or inescapable stresses, our mind tends to reflect those bad thoughts and feelings onto our body. We get headaches, we feel sick, anxious, tired and frustrated, and often we allow it to affect our daily routines. We might snap at a loved one or work colleague, skip meals or overindulge in unhealthy foods – we let those dissatisfactory issues cloud our judgement on things. And I genuinely believe that we are so unconsciously susceptible to both positive and negative vibes, that we truly allow it to have an effect on our wellbeing.
It can be really hard to wake up every morning with a positive attitude and outlook on life. Everyone has their own set of problems and worries; whether it’s family, health, money, work or friends – or even at times, all of these. Aside from our ordinary troubles, it has felt as though we have had to carry the burden of our country’s breakdown and division on our shoulders in recent times. 2016 was a catalyst of a year. Politically, it was incredibly exhausting and trying on the general public, with views and opinions being thrown at us any which way – whether we liked it or not. There was a general feeling of unrest which soon evolved into vicious attacks both verbally and physically, leaving us bewildered and confused. We celebrated the New Year by enthusiastically waving goodbye to 2016, rather than welcoming in 2017. Perhaps we set ourselves up for a huge fall, as within a few weeks of our promising new year we were thrust into another bureaucratic storm, causing people globally to question their core beliefs and values.
I had a slightly shaky end to 2016 and must admit to not starting the New Year in terribly high spirits. What I started to notice was that my mood was taking a turn for the worse. I felt incredibly restless and distressed and I just couldn’t seem to shake it off. Nothing was taking my mind off of how I was feeling, nothing could distract me from this state of anxiousness. Whilst I think talking to someone would have helped me, I couldn’t quite bring myself to let someone in on how I was feeling – or rather, I didn’t really know how to put these feelings into words. It became a vicious circle, but I knew I had to break it. I’ve seen how depression can leave people; empty shells of their normal selves, and I was determined not to let this happen to me. So one morning after waking up in yet another bad mood, I made the conscious decision not to continue feeling like that for the rest of the day. It wasn’t easy, I had to force a smile on my face and force myself to talk to people. But slowly, I started to feel the warmth reach back into me, and once I realised I could help myself, it all seemed to click into place.
I realise that it’s easier said than done, and often people get to a point in their lives where positive thinking doesn’t solve any of their problems. Sometimes people need medication or help from a counsellor, but I do believe that there are little things we can do each day to improve our mood slightly – even if it’s short-lived, it can really make a difference in the long run.
Here are some tips and ideas for helping you feel that little bit better:
Fresh air – walking is highly underrated, I reckon. Just half an hour of brisk walking really lifts my spirits. Feeling fresh air in my lungs and my blood pumping around my body is enough to make me momentarily forget whatever it was that was bothering me. Even if it’s a quick walk around the block or a local park, getting some exercise can be really helpful.
A good old cuppa – when I was younger I always thought the expression “put the kettle on” was such an odd way to react to someone being upset. But I now truly believe that a cup of tea (or any warm drink for that matter) can really make you feel better; it warms you and make you feel comforted. I saw a caption online once that said “a cup of tea is like having a bath on the inside” – and I thought that described it perfectly. If you don’t like tea or coffee, you could always opt for a hot chocolate or honey and lemon/ginger.
Reading – I read a few books a month, usually on my commute to and from work and I find the time just flies by. When you get stuck into a really well written book, your worries are put to the back of your mind. Nothing can take you out of reality like a good thriller or mystery.
Log off – technology has the ability to make you feel even worse about yourself than you already do. It’s highly addictive and very unproductive. Log off/out of apps to help fight the urge to check in every half an hour.
Water – whether it’s drinking it or washing in it – water can be incredibly therapeutic. Making sure you drink plenty of water each day allows you to stay hydrated and alert, meaning that you will be more focused and less likely to suffer from headaches. As well has staying on top of your H2O intake, having a shower or bath an hour or so before bed can help you prepare for a peaceful night’s sleep. Steam relaxes you and a nothing beats a fancy shower gel or bubble bath to get you beating those blues.
Help others – whether it’s dropping some small change into a collection bucket, or sponsoring a friend for a charity run – helping others can make you feel good. Not only that, you know that you’re actually helping someone other than yourself. If you have an hour to spare, try watching the documentary ‘Happy’ on Netflix. This wonderful short film beautifully illustrates how looking after others can be very rewarding and good for your mental health.