This time last year I found myself in a particularly difficult patch mentally.
I got so stuck in a hole that I was having trouble finding my way out each morning to get on with my day.
Connecting with my life, the people around me and myself was one of the key ways that I began to improve my own mental health and wellbeing.
Strangely enough, tonight on the eve World Mental Health Day I find myself reflecting on how in our busy day to day lives it is all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.
We all do it.
We wake up, laze in bed for as long as we can before going through the motions of showering, eating breakfast, or maybe grabbing a coffee on the run. On our way to work – whether we use PT, drive or walk, we are generally consumed with playing on our phones or getting pissed off by other drivers.
No matter our mode of transport we probably go the same way every day, take all the short cuts to get there as quickly as possible.
At work we sit at our desk for hours without getting up and attend long meetings.
Generally our days involve the regular bitch and moan about your workload, how management is stuffed, and the fact that nothing gets done right. Then, before you know it, the working day is over.
You head home, prepare dinner for yourself and/or family (ah so annoying it takes forever!), watch TV and head to bed to do it all over again.
Does this sound familiar to you?
The above scenario might be different to your life, however the general principle remains the same – for the most part we live our lives disconnected from ourselves, others and the world around us. It is bloody depressing!
I know this is where I found myself, stuck, and feeling like I had absolutely no power over the way I was feeling. Anxious, disconnected and unhappy with myself and life in general. Like every day was groundhog day, just a hamster on a wheel.
However if you take the next scenario you can start to think about how different your days could be with some small tweaks.
This is where I saw the opportunity for change.
Your alarm goes off, without a second thought you spring out of bed and pull out your yoga mat. You do 20 minutes of stretching then head to the shower. While you are showering you take the time to feel the warm water trickling over your body, the smell of shampoo and the slippery feel of soap on your skin. You get dressed, prepare a healthy breakfast which you sit down to eat, savouring each mouthful.
On the way to work, you make an effort to smile at the person who makes room for you on the train, or you stand up to allow someone to sit down.
If you’re driving, you stop to let a car in front of you, and you refrain from swearing at slow drivers. You’ve got the tunes up and the windows down, and as you’re not in a rush you notice there’s cherry blossom trees all along the road. Spring is so pretty!
You get to work and say hello to those you pass on your way to your desk. Before sitting down, you make a cup of tea and chat with a work mate about a show you watched last night or ask them about their new exercise routine. During this time you may get to know someone just that little bit better. You work until lunchtime, when you take a short break, and get outside into the fresh air and a walk around the block – or you sit in the lunch room, catching up with people.
If you’ve only taken 10 minutes, you call a friend or family member to say hello and update them on what you’ve been up to. In the afternoon you grab a quick cup of tea and return to another couple of hours of productive work.
You opt to stay out of the bitchy discussions forming at work mates desk and just have a laugh to yourself when you get a passive aggressive email (because clearly that person has issues that are nothing to do with you!).
When you reach home after your days’ work you prepare a meal for yourself and/or family and enjoy it sitting comfortably, actually tasting each bite (rather than shoveling it in!) as you reflect on your day. You may even have invited a friend over who you haven’t seen for yonks and you make a yum dessert to share.
After dinner you read a couple of chapters in a good book, or maybe research your next holiday. You then do some stretching or yoga in front of the television, relaxing before bed.
So of us may do some of these things already, but it’s amazing how we can still get so caught up in the day to day bullshit that we really don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. Most of us have room for improvement in this department and will really enjoy the positive feelings that can come from living in the moment.
Because that’s what I’ve found it is all about – being mindful. Not taking life so seriously and realising that it is ok to enjoy life. Even if you don’t 100% love what you are doing for work, or where you life is at, knowing that you can make choices to put yourself in a better frame of mind makes a lot of difference. What we think we create, but our actions have even more power.
Take this scenario and begin connecting with your life and see how it changes your mood. I hope you find it works for you too.