My children wore yellow to school on Wednesday to show young people are not alone with their mental health. I’ve had a funny year with medical issues, and this time last year I was in quite a lot of pain every day. I sometimes wondered how I could continue to work and look after my family, but somehow I have managed it. I’ve been reflecting on how I have made some small changes, and the impact they have made on my mental health.
- Physical activity: I’ve been cycling a lot for the past three years, since I worked out how easy it was to get around with my little boy on the child seat. I try to cycle every day, and I now miss it if I’m away from my bike for a few days.
A noticeable difference to my mental health has been because of playing netball. I’ve been a member of a team for a year now, and even when times are tough, it keeps me going to know that I will be going out one evening, come rain or shine, to have fun and get a good workout.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times when I really don’t feel like it, particularly when I’ve been in pain. I’ve taken some pain killers and gone along, and realised at the end that I am not hurting any more. The endorphins have taken over and released me.
- Making time for me: I had a few days to myself this summer, and I’ve encouraged my husband to have the same in November when I will be away with the children. I’ve also been taking naps when I need to. I have an internal argument about having too much to do to take a break, but I find I can work much more effectively after a nap. I end up gaining, rather than losing, time to finish my tasks.
- Spending time with my other half: I have mentioned before that we don’t have family living nearby, and it can be all too easy to find blocks as to why we don’t go out as a couple. I’ve made a real effort to find babysitters, and have found that having the time to reconnect over a meal or a drink has strengthened our relationship.
- Recognising my limitations: As you may know, I’m a list person. I sometimes panic myself with my lists, when I discover exactly what needs to be done in a short space of time. It can help to focus my mind, though. When a colleague called to say that she was concerned over her workload, we agreed to shelve a joint project for a few months. Neither of us were keen to cancel, but it made sense, even if we like to feel that we are superwomen!
- Accepting that life isn’t fair: I’m the sort of person that finds myself dwelling over things that I can’t change from the past. I wonder to myself if I had done this, or done that, would things have been different? I have been told in the past that I have a “highly tuned sense of justice”. I somehow don’t think it was a compliment! However, it is a part of my personality that I need to embrace, rather than deconstruct, and use to mine and other people’s advantage.
Reminding myself that only the Lord knows the justice in every situation has helped me move forward. I still find myself reminded of unfair times, but I use my mantra to help me accept the past.
What small changes could you make to improve your mental health?
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