World Mental Health Awareness Day

You may have noticed in my Baby Loss Awareness post that I mentioned my mental health toolkit. I was going to go off on a tangent and explain what I meant by that but figured it was best to save it for another day. I had planned to get this written for World Mental Health Day because what better day to share? But the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. However, here it is anyway.

I know that World Mental Health Awareness Day saw lots of people sharing their experiences with mental health. I’ve done this though, you know my story. It doesn’t tend to change much, I’m just plodding along. So instead I thought I’d share something a little more positive. It’s taken me a long time to get to grips with my triggers, my symptoms and also my tool kit.

What is a mental health toolkit I hear you ask?

What I mean when I say mental health toolkit is the things that I know work for me: to keep me calm, to make me happy, to keep me present and centred, to get me through a panic attack, to help me to stay on top – basically to maintain my mental wellbeing. So, here they are…

mental health toolkit

Not a how or a why we suffer but a good illustration of why it’s beneficial to keep ourselves present – based on the quote by Lao Tzu

Yoga

Yoga is something that was recommended to me many times but never something I thought was for me.
Oh how wrong I was.

I began yoga about three years ago when a class started at my work place (healthy workforce program blah blah but it was amazing!). I literally joined because I was intrigued and it was free! Haha! I was always under the impression that only fit, skinny people could do yoga but that is so wrong. I’m overweight, always have been and I have fibromyalgia; I didn’t think I’d be capable but the whole point of yoga is that you do what is good for you. So each position is done to the ability of your own body.

I took to it so quickly and it now is one of my favourite things for keeping myself present as well as learning different breathing techniques that have come in so useful during panic attacks.

Hobbies

Now for me this means taking some time for myself to do something that I enjoy, something that will make me just relax and be happy. This includes knitting, calligraphy, drawing, writing, sewing, baking, reading – I’m a creative type! It doesn’t need to be undertaking a massive project, just doing something little and being in my own company for a while.

Initially I really struggled with mum guilt with this one; I still do sometimes! Taking time to do something that feels unimportant when you have a child to look after and so many important things to do, seems selfish. It isn’t. This definitely falls under the ‘self-care’ umbrella and it really does keep me sane. It’s so easy to get lost being wife, mum, nursery practitioner. When I’m doing one of these things I’m just Charlotte.

Exercise and getting outside.

Now as I said, I am no gym bunny! I’m not talking join a gym and sweat out your troubles!

I just have those days where I need to get outside. I’m lucky to live on a farm so I have so many wonderful little walks and places to go literally on my doorstep. Walking helps me to unwind, let all my thoughts gather and then go again, go through the emotions I’m feeling and just let those go too. I also enjoy swimming for just thrashing out negative feelings. Getting those endorphins pumping really does make me feel better. Clearing those cobwebs away and getting some vitamin D always helps too! Plus afterwards I really feel like I’ve achieved something rather than just stayed on the sofa in jamas like I probably wanted to!

Talk to my happy person

I don’t necessarily mean the person I go to to discuss my problems. You know those times when you just feel down, you can’t give a single reason; you’re just sad. My little sister is who I call. It doesn’t matter what is wrong or if I have a reason. I don’t need to say a thing to her, most of the time she can tell I’m not myself but she doesn’t need to say a thing to me about it either.

That’s the magic of it. Just talking to her about everything and nothing makes me happy. She’s loopy and funny and a bit silly sometimes and she loves me and I love her such crazy amounts. She is my happy person; just talking to her cheers me up!

Music

I’m one of these people who’s emotions and mood are really easily swayed by music; for instance happy songs make me feel happy, sad songs make feel sad, dance songs with an aggressive beat make me feel agitated and angry etc. Now I’m terrible for putting on sad, sing-a-long ballads when I’m feeling down! I need to stop that, I know. It makes no sense and is far from self care and self healing!

I actually made a Spotify playlist to help me with that called Happy Place. When I’m feeling rubbishy I put this playlist on and I dance it out. Have you seen Grey’s Anatomy? (If the answer to this is no, why the heck not?! Get on it, start from the beginning and be prepared to fall in love, fall in lust, fall in hate and cry. Too much crying!) If so you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m talking Meredith Grey style dance party! Either with headphones or on the speakers in the living room and Sophia dances it out with me! She loves it and honestly, how can anyone be sad when they’re throwing their bodies around to the happiest, cheesiest songs, singing at the top of their lungs? They can’t! That’s the magic!

Bubble bath

One of my favourite, most relaxing past times. A hot bubble bath, dim lighting, wine, gin or tea, music and candles. I seriously could stay there all night! Unfortunately, my current house doesn’t have a bath, only showers. You have no idea how much I miss my bubble baths!!

Avoid screens

This seems like a strange one but I find I get lost in a screen very easily; whether it be watching TV and finding I’ve lost a whole day watching a boxset of my favourite show, the iPad with countless mindless games and shopping apps to scroll through or my phone and social media. It’s too easy to wallow in your misery when I’m doing nothing to shift it.

I also find when my mental health is low I am particularly sensitive to the negative side of social media. I am too quick to worry about why people aren’t following me, why are they unfollowing me, what did I do, something I said? I’m not funny enough, pretty enough, interesting enough. Are people talking about me? Judging me? That person has more followers than me, what are they doing that I’m not? She shared that person’s page, I thought we were friends, why didn’t she share mine?

It is exhausting.

I’ve recently deleted the Facebook app because I spent so much time looking at it. I was getting nothing positive from it and just found myself looking at everyone’s seemingly perfect lives and making comparisons.
My Mumblebees Instagram can also really impact me in all of the ways I outlined above. Sometimes I need to step back from it and remind myself why I created it in the first place. Which leads me nicely onto my next point.

Write

I have enjoyed writing as long as I can remember, almost as long as I’ve enjoyed reading.

As a child I wrote stories about the perfect family and fairies and puppies; the usual.
As a teenager I kept a diary and I wrote poems about my thoughts and feelings.
In secondary school English was my favourite subject and I was that annoying person that always had her hand in the air for more paper.
As a young adult, as the internet became life, I transitioned into blog writing and so here I am.

Even though how I write has changed, my reasons have always been the same: I write to offload. I vent my feelings, my experiences and my opinions and so this is definitely one of my biggest tools for my mental wellbeing.

Make your own Mental Health Toolkit

It’s definitely worth spending some time thinking about what works for you, what makes you happy?
Make a list! Write it down! (I’m going to recommend bullet journalling here for those that are creative or love to be super organised! Check out my Pinterest for some ideas to get you started!)

When you are in those moments where you feel lost, out of touch, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, those moments where you’re just not sure what to do – do one of those things on your list. Breathe deep, sing loud and remind yourself what makes you happy and alive!

This is your mental health toolkit – use it and be happy! The best thing is that your toolkit is fluid; it’s ever-changing and you can always add to it. I’m still learning and adding things to mine: as I grow and change, it does too ♥️