It’s Okay Not To Be Okay.
This is quite an impromptu post for me, with minimal planning and is a bit of a deviation from my unofficial schedule that I’ve set myself for my blog posts. As many of you are probably aware, this week (18th – 24th May 2020) is Mental Health Awareness Week. Usually I will quietly acknowledge “events” like these, preferring to keep my thoughts to myself, but yesterday I had a bad day and then I felt inspired. I feel like there may be some value in sharing some jumbled thoughts in the off chance that they may help someone! As I said, this post wasn’t really planned, so please excuse the rambling, and I hope that this could help some people.
I suppose my main intention here is to reassure anyone struggling with their mental health right now that it’s okay not to be okay. Now more than ever it’s important to acknowledge that your feelings are completely valid and you are allowed to feel however you do! I think it’s also important to remember that you are not alone. There will always be someone who feels a similar way, and they may not be willing to admit it, but they’re out there. When I start to struggle I can often feel isolated but I find that voicing my feelings often encourages others to open up and we can then help each other. I often feel utterly ridiculous when my anxiety rears its ugly head, often over some distant event or something that I’ve convinced myself will go wrong and, while it is difficult, you need to remind yourself that there’s nothing weird or wrong about how you feel. Your emotions, good or bad, are always 100% valid.
Continuing from that sentiment, it’s important to be kind to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up for feeling low, or not doing that bit of reading you needed to do. Acknowledge your feelings and take your time to allow yourself to feel a bit better, do whatever you feel it is you need, be that watching TV, reading, calling a loved one, having nap! You should be your own priority and it’s okay to be selfish every once in a while if that’s what you need.
As part of this little post I wanted to share a few things that help me when I’m feeling down in the hopes that it might give you some ideas or inspiration:
It’s cliché I know, but I’ve found that exercise has really helped, especially during lockdown. I’ve been a regular at the gym for a few years now, but since they’ve been shut I’ve found a new fondness for running, which has been a complete surprise to me! While my family has a few home gym bits and pieces, I often find myself drawn to the outdoors and find that a run or a walk is just what I need to refresh, reflect, and shake off whatever is getting me down. It can really help to clear your mind.
I use my walks in particular to listen to some of my favourite, feel-good music. Some of my top choices right now are anything by Tim Minchin (his work is a wonderful, refreshing blend of humour, wit, and incredible instrumentals, although I will warn that it’s not to everyone’s taste and may be something to avoid if you’re easily offended) and a compilation of my favourite hits from musicals that was inspired by the Instagram 30-Day Song Challenge!
Revisit some old favourites…
Rewatching your favourite films or TV shows, or rereading a favourite book, can be just what is needed to lift your spirits! Perhaps make a note of some feel good shows, films, and stories and delve into one when you feel that you need it! Personally I’m planning to watch the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (aside from The Hulk, probably) in chronological order in the near future because I know how much joy they bring me! I’m also feeling especially drawn to the Harry Potter books again.
Find something to look forward to.
I know this one seems odd considering our current situation and the uncertainty in the world right now, but there may be some small things to get excited for! For example, my mum and I always look forward to a weekly virtual pub quiz or watching a musical over the weekend. On top of this, I’ve been able to arrange a socially distanced picnic with a friend who I know has also been struggling in lockdown, which will hopefully help us both, and have been planning a trip to Australia for the very distant future (but it’s fun to plan, so hey, why not?)!
I think a lot of my anxiety right now revolves around returning to university, which I am obviously aware is a long way away, but that doesn’t make my worries any less valid. I had a bit of a rough time of it second year and I’m anxious that I’ll feel as low as I did then once we eventually return. So, in an attempt to combat this and get excited for university again, because I do love it there, is to plan what I’m going to get involved in, as it will be my final year and I need to make the most of it! I’m hoping to volunteer more, maybe join a sports club, but if not then I want to attend more classes at the gym. I’m going to start doing Park Run since I’ve now discovered a love for running, and I’m going to continue my work with the student cinema!
Talk to someone!
My final point and urge, I guess, is to talk to someone! Don’t bottle your feelings up because you’ll cause yourself more harm. Be it a parent, friend, partner, there will be people in your life who will want to help you and be there for you. I often find that once I share how I feel with someone that they can relate and that just really reinforces that you are not alone! If you don’t feel that anyone you know personally can help or understand, then seek help from Warwick’s Wellbeing Services. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them and I would urge that you take advantage of those services while you’re still at university before having to compete with the astronomical waiting lists in the real world. The Wellbeing Services are still active and present online in this bizarre time so I would really encourage you to get in touch if you feel you need it. Remember, your feelings are valid and they won’t judge you, you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, their job is to help you!
And with that, I suppose I’ll sign off on this slightly rogue post! I hope that you are all well for the most part and enjoying the lovely weather responsibly! Until next time, stay safe and take care.