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14.05.2017- On Mental Health Awareness, and Self Care

If you've been tuned in to social media over the last week or so, I'm sure you're well and truly switched on to the fact that the last seven days have been #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Whilst it would be lovely to live in a society where we could talk openly about mental health, it's sadly still an issue which remains largely stigmatised, particularly in many areas of the mainstream media, and, from my experience, mental well being is, on the whole, considered largely secondary to psychical health, in spite of the two being intrinsically linked. I have to confess, that it's only recently that I've started thinking about how well I feel psychologically, but after a fairly intense start to the year, there's been a definite domino effect in terms of how I've been getting on overall. With that in mind, I thought that sharing my experience might be beneficial- and somewhat cathartic for me too! 

I'm no stranger to feeling anxious- and I'm convinced that I was born a worrier. There have been points in my life where this has become manifest in different ways and to different levels- whether that be obsessing over word counts during my degree or being referred for counselling when I started secondary school because I found the whole experience so scary (especially at the point of realisation that I wasn't going to Hogwarts after all..!) Looking back, all of this seems absolutely normal and manageable - perhaps, I suppose, as I now look back on them as phases in life which I got through and which had definitive end goals. However, without the framework of school or university to occupy it, I've discovered that my little brain has a tendency to go into overdrive- something which can be quite tough to manage, and even tougher to talk about as an adult.

There are things which I know will instantly boost my mood- running, reading, listening to some of my favourite music. Equally, I know there are things which add fuel to the anxiety fire- being in busy, confined spaces, not getting enough sleep/rest and not making time for myself- something which I think we're all guilty of, especially today. The nature of life is such that there will always be these unpredictable moments which catch you unawares- and nobody is superhuman enough to be able to manage without support at these times, regardless of what the expectation might be. Whilst I know I need to eat well and exercise to feel physically ok, I'm extremely guilty of neglecting my mental well being on the whole- something which is largely attributable to a lack of time. I'll rarely (if at all) factor in any hours to relax and unwind, either at the end of the day or the end of the week, and I tend to get very fixated on the stresses of everyday life- whether that's worrying about how much money I've got in my purse, or whether I'm making the right 'life choices'. Scary, intense, and totally unhelpful, yet a narrative which we're almost preconditioned to become a part of by modern life. Switching off is also a struggle for me- but over the last couple of weeks I've taken a conscious effort to step back from things (especially social media) and have definitely clocked a little bit of a difference in how I'm feeling overall. Sometimes space for a rest and reset is all it takes to dial things down and make me feel more like myself again. 

The last couple of weeks have been a definite flashpoint in terms of me waking up to the need to redress the balance a little bit. Without going into too much detail, it's been a really scary period, and one which has felt completely overwhelming, particularly in terms of things snowballing simultaneously. At the same time, however, it's made me more aware than ever of the need for open dialogue and conversation around mental health and how we feel on the whole. How many of us are guilty of responding that we're 'fine' when we're far from it? It's also made me very conscious of the fact that worrying about things and getting upset are perfectly human, natural responses to stress and shock, not dogmas which make you any less strong or capable. Managing these moments with help and support, as well as lots of self care, is imperative, and acknowledging that you're not superhuman is more than allowed too. 

I'd be really interested to hear any thoughts or experiences on this, so do leave a comment or drop me an email. I'm sure I'll be penning some more of these posts over the coming weeks and months too. 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


  1. <3 <3 <3 But you ARE a superhuman! Lots of love, Faz - you know the Dream Team are always here for you. xxx


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