Stepping Up to Mental Wellbeing

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Everyone deals with stress, anxiety or depression in different ways, and there’s no true set rule on how to deal with any of them.  We’ve all read countless online self-help articles touting themselves as being the ultimate list of how to do this or that.. when in reality, most are just rehashes of the same things over and over again.

One thing does ring true though regardless of which articles you read – If you don’t at least give them a shot, then you’ll never know if they truly make you feel more positive about your life, or even help move you down the road to your own happiness.

Side note – Happiness isn’t necessarily a destination, but more of a state of being.  And everyone’s ideal of happiness is different, so find your own happiness. 🙂

What is mental wellbeing?

Per the below NHS site, mental wellbeing is defined as such:

“Feeling happy is a part of mental wellbeing. But it’s far from the whole. Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are too.

“So is a feeling that you can do the things you want to do. And so are good relationships, which bring joy to you and those around you.

“Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult. But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at the University of Warwick

Like anything in life, the more you put into something like your own well being, the more you’re likely to get out of it.  And if you’re waiting on someone else to ‘give’ you happiness, you’ll be waiting for your entire life.

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Steps to Mental Wellbeing

Below are a few suggestions we could all take to boost how we’re doing.  As previously mentioned, this isn’t an exhaustive list and some may work better for some people than others.

Connect with others

All too often when we’re feeling down or a bit blue, we’ll find ourselves pulling away from our loved ones.  Instead reach out to the people around you, be them family, friends, colleagues or neighbours.  Just be willing to make that step to open up the lines of communication.

Be active

This isn’t necessarily about going to the gym or starting some massive work out regime.  It’s more about just finding an activity that you enjoy and incorporate into you daily life – take a walk, go for a bike ride, go for a swim, and so forth.

Keep learning

Sometimes all you might need is to boost your own wellbeing is to engage your mind in something constructive.  It could be learning a new skill, taking a hobby class , getting that certification you’ve been dreaming about.  Or maybe just read that book gathering dust on your bedside table.

Volunteering your time

Being a volunteer in any capacity can not only help you feel like you’re contributing more to your community, but it’s a goldmine for networking.  But you don’t even have to go so far as to actually volunteer – sometimes the smallest thing, like smiling at a stranger or giving a kind word to something, can make the world a difference.

Be in the present

This could be called ‘mindfulness’, but it’s mostly about being aware of what is going around you at any given moment.  This can include the world around you, local/national/international politics, your thoughts or feelings, and most importantly, your own body.  However, don’t allow yourself to get so immersed in this that you block out other parts of life, as that’ll have an averse affect.

This post has been influenced by — Five steps to mental wellbeing – Stress, anxiety and depression – NHS choices

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Getting Snappy

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I’m finding more and more these days that it’s a struggle to keep myself out of the ‘dark place’.  To keep my spirits up and try to look at each new day as something exciting or interesting, even if all I’m doing is my usual daily routine.

And I think I was kind of succeeding with this over the past few weeks despite the lacklustre goings on in my life.  I’ve been doing my best to just enjoy my free time by watching my favourite television shows (Doctor Who marathon anyone?), relaxing on my sofa, and relishing the rare opportunities to spend time with mates.

Unfortunately this hasn’t been going so well for the past week or two, and I’m finding myself stressed out and desperately looking forward to some well-deserved time off work next week (I’m off to Manchester next weekend with my best mate P from Scotland).

I know a lot of this stress and anxiety I’m feeling is due to a few changes at work (something I don’t tend to write much about on here..), where we’ve finally gotten some new staff in to replace the ones that quit/were fired over the holidays.  Normally I enjoy the challenge of showing new people how things work and the processes that need to be followed, but this time I’m finding it too much.

For some reason, it feels like it’s all coming down on me to show the newbies the ropes, which results in a constant bombardment of questions that pulls me away from the work I need to get done.

468737-stressIt’s not so much the questions themselves, but how it’s the same ones over and over again, mostly from this one particular guy.  He’s picked up most of the system processes, but anything else he feels this need to reconfirm on a daily basis, despite us telling him to write things down.

And sometimes he comes out with the most ridiculous questions that either don’t make any sense at all or are just plain stupid.

Gawd, how I hate using that word about someone, especially when I think he’s actually just insecure.  I keep trying to get him to think for himself, but instead he’d rather re-ask the same questions just to make sure.. which then makes me snappy and frustrated to no end.  And once he’s completed the tasks he’s been ‘told’ to do, he’ll just sit there and chill while the rest of us are still working away until end of shift (and beyond some days) as if there wasn’t anything else to do.. and he doesn’t ask if there is.

The worst was this past Friday when I was alone with all 3 of the newbies (my boss had booked the day off.. damn her hahaha), and I couldn’t get anything done.

But when it took me close to 2 hours to do one simple task because I was constantly having to give them directions or tell them what needed to be done next (which they should know by now), I couldn’t help snapping at them.  And that’s not like me at work at all.

too much to do at workSome of the management have commented in the past how I’m always calm and cool regardless of what is going on or what needs to be done.  And this is exactly how I want to be at work.

Unfortunately the stress of the day got the better of me, and I was frazzled all day long.  Something a couple of my colleagues in the office noticed and kept (discretely) checking in on me to see if there was anything they could do to help..

But not any of the management, surprisingly enough.  Hmmm..

Anyway, luckily the supervisor is back to work on Monday, and we’ll have a busy couple of days to ensure we get ahead of the game before I have my time off from Thursday.

Though hopefully it isn’t as bad for her while I’m off until the following Wednesday.. but then again, can’t predict anything I suppose.

Guess I’ll have to write a second post about the stresses in my personal life.. Watch this space. 😉

On Borrowed Time

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A month ago, my current landlord advised me he was serving me notice as he’d decided he wants to live alone for awhile mainly due to some family issues and personal stress he’s been going through.

It sucked to hear it, but I understood.  Sometimes when you’re going through a rough patch, all you want to do is to simplify your life.

Though I’m not that sure how my living here complicated things for him, but whatever.  Not my problem..

Well, actually it is in a way.  I’m the one who needs to find a new place to live, and fast!!

Technically I was due to move out by YESTERDAY.. but because I haven’t found a new place to live as yet, he’s given me another week or two to sort things out.  I’d originally brought it up as I was viewing a place the next day where the move in date wasn’t until the middle of November.

But because of this, I now feel like I’m intruding on him and his life.  And that I’m starting to overstay my welcome..Like I’m becoming the flatmate who won’t leave.

Of course that could all just be in my head, as he said he had no issues with extending my move out date.  In fact when we talked about it last weekend, he said he’d meant to let me know there was no problem if I needed an extra week or so.

He’s been super flexible about it all.

The crap thing about it all is how few responses I’m getting to the messages I’m sending about rooms to rent.  I’ve been looking like crazy, especially over the past week or so, and have only seen a couple places – one that was absolutely lovely but way too outside my budget, and another that was ok but the landlord turned me down due to his ‘acute sense of smell’ (I’m a light smoker).

moving_4-resized-600It’s extremely stressful to be still looking to find somewhere suitable after a month’s time, and to know that I should already be moved or at least packing to move by now (I haven’t started packing yet since I have no clue where I’m going…).

The only offer I’ve had is from a friend of mine from my old softball group, who has offered to rent me a room really cheap.  She hadn’t been planning on renting it out until after the holidays, but is willing to make an exception for me.

It looks lovely from the pictures/videos she’s sent me and she’d probably be great to live with, even it was only short-term.  But the problem I’m having is that it’s even further south than I currently live.. Making getting home from a night out even harder than it is now, and the commute to work twice as long.

*Sigh*  I’m still thinking about the idea.  It would be great cause I could save a bunch of money, but is that worth it to have the extra transport issues.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.  I’ve got a couple more viewings tomorrow (Sunday), so maybe one of them will turn out.. or maybe I’ll just stop overthinking things and accept my friend’s offer.

Fingers crossed x

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The Health of Stress

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We all have stress in our lives, and we all tend to manage it differently to both good and bad results.  stressLike most people, when I’m feeling particularly stressed, it seems my overall health tends to decline regardless of how well I’m taking care of myself.  Which is most likely due to me not wanting to actually deal with the stress that I’m feeling at the time.

For instance, I’ve been feeling stressed lately about work because I’m not in a position I would like to be, and because of that, how I’m struggling somewhat financially.  This has caused me to suffer from stress headaches all week leading to insomnia, resulting in me missing a few days of work.. which in turn makes me stress about going back to work.

It’s a vicious circle that I’m desperate to break free from.

But what if the stress we’re feeling could actually be beneficial to our lives, as well as our health?  And not just beneficial to ourselves, but to those around us?

Apparently, it’s not stress that’s making us sicker, it’s stressing out about stress being stressful that’s actually the problem.

That’s the main message given by health psychologist Kelly McGoinigal in a talk she gave for Ted.com back in June 2013 on how to make stress our friend (clip is at bottom of page).

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

It’s definitely a different way of looking on how we all deal with stress in our lives, as most of us (myself included) tend to shut down and agonize over how we’re going to get through this particular bad patch in our lives, instead of looking for a way through it.

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But it’s also about making sure when you’re feeling particularly stressed that you’re reaching out to those around you to talk about what’s making you feel stressed.  We’ve all heard the stories of people who’ve been super stressed out and because they haven’t wanted to ‘bother’ anyone else with their problems, they’ve gotten sick or had heart problems (ie: a heart attack).

By ensuring you are reaching out to others to discuss the problems you’re going through, it allows you to relieve a lot of that stress you’re feeling.  But as well, by reaching out and being there for someone who’s feeling stressed, it also allows you help reduce stress in your own lives.

stress_weightgainIt seems like such a simple concept when you think on it, but yet not a lot of us implement it into our own lives.

Instead we all talk about planning some holiday or taking some time off work to ‘unwind’, or even focusing so much on getting to the weekend so they can ‘de-stress’.  Basically, we’re all so busy looking for better ways to relax that we’re not focusing on relieving the stress itself.

As Ms McGonigal says in her talk, “When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.”

So take a few moments to watch the below clip and see how looking at stress differently could change your own lives, and hopefully help improve your health in the long run.

I know I’ll be trying my best to look at things differently from now on.

Note: For anyone interested in the transcripts of this talk, they can be found HERE.

What now…

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As I’ve previously posted over the past little while (see The Stress of it all for some backstory), my friend James and I are trying to get a flat near Victoria, and so on (you have read the last posting, right?).

Well, here’s where we are right now:  We’re about to lose the new flat unless something miraculous happens!!!!

You see, I didn’t get the guarantor form from the agent until this past Monday, because he couldn’t read my handwriting and was sending the form to the wrong email address.  Funny thing?  I’d emailed him from my personal email address previously, and he didn’t even think to check the one he had with that to make sure I got the form when I was supposed to.  Smart, huh?

Which means that I wasn’t able to get the form to my Dad in Canada until Monday afternoon (London time) .. and he has yet to say he’ll even do it!

The only kind of response I’ve had from him was an email asking questions about the form (which is literally just the application form James and I had to fill out, but he ticks ‘Guarantor’ at the top instead of ‘Applicant’), which I responded to after asking the estate agent the questions.  Which was last night around 7:30pm or so.

I’d completely understand if my Dad said no to being a guarantor for me, especially with me living on an entirely different continent and all.  It’s just I’d like an answer of some sort from him .. and I’m afraid to push him too much, because I know when pushed into a decision like this, he usually answers ‘no’.

There are a couple of other things we’re trying to do to push this through, but they’re both long-shots:  First being James’s mother being a guarantor for me (although we’ve never met..), but she’s very hesitant to do that.  The second option is to somehow get my work to tell the referencing agency that I’m actually now permanent, eventhough I’m not … I won’t know until tomorrow sometime if Payroll would be willing to do this, as she was gone by the time a co-worker and I thought of it.

If for whatever reason we do lose the flat, James and I will have to start the flat search all over again .. and neither of us want to do that.  We both want this to be sorted and over with already so we can start getting things organized for moving in, transferring the utilities, and so on.

This whole thing should not be causing me as much stress as it is.  I can’t wait until this whole thing is over, one way or another.