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Everyday self-care: 5 ways to build self-care into your daily routine

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When we are super busy or stressed, it can seem impossible to fit everything in. When we are constantly faced with work pressures, deadlines, commitments and social events to attend, it can seem like our to-do list is never-ending. Life can be chaotic, and it can often feel like there is barely time to breathe. During these times, it’s important to remember that self-care isn’t always something that we need to set big chunks of time aside for, but something that we can build into our everyday lives by making small changes.

Self-care is so important because it helps us to stay mentally well. Taking regular breaks allows us to calm down, re-charge, and go back to our work with a clearer head, so that we can work more efficiently in the long run.

Here are some ideas of ways to build self-care into your day-to day life:

  1. Listen to music or a podcast

I love this tip because it is so easy to build into your day-to-day life. Listening to your favourite tunes while you’re in the shower, brushing your teeth, or cleaning your house could be an easy and simple way to boost your mood, without taking lots of time out of your day.

  1. Take the scenic route

You could try taking the longer (but prettier!) route to work or getting off the bus a few stops earlier each day, so you can spend an extra 10 minutes walking through the woods near your house. Doing the same route everyday can get monotonous and boring, so it’s okay to take the scenic route sometimes!

  1. Treat yourself

We can either spend our lives waiting for the perfect occasion to wear our favourite outfit, cook our favourite food, or give ourselves a break from our studies or work. But we can’t spend our lives waiting for summer, waiting until we have less on our plates, or waiting for when the time is right. The ‘right time’ may never come and life is far too short, so treat each day as a special occasion, and make the most of what you have right now!

  1. Phone a friend

After a bad day, there is nothing like talking to a good friend who knows just what to say to cheer you up!

  1. Get active

This doesn’t always have to mean going for a fun or starting a new sport. Starting the day by doing some exercises or stretches can be a positive way to boost your mood and improve your mindset. Taking a break from your desk to do some stretches or dance to a song you love will release endorphins and help you to return to your work feeling mentally recharged.

I hope that these tips have helped, and I’d love to hear any other ideas you have in the comments.

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Chloe posts

Mindfulness: forget the past, forget the future, and focus on the present

I am a notoriously unobservant person. My friends and family often laugh at me, for failing to remember the route to a new place, notice a new shop that has sprouted on our street, or realise that the layout of our living room has completely changed. To many people this might seem crazy, but I know that I’m not alone in my unobservant tendencies. Many of us drift off into our own worlds much of the time, where we choose to over-analyse the past, or worry uncontrollably about the future, rather than live in the present. For this reason, being “off in our own world!” for a large chunk of time, might not be ideal for our mental health.

Have you ever travelled a familiar route on the bus or in the car, but felt completely oblivious to your surroundings throughout the whole trip? Or have you ever ventured on a long walk to ‘clear your head’, only to end up ruminating over the same thoughts, and failing to enjoy your surroundings? Mindfulness seeks to put an end to this. It is all about remaining in the present moment and enjoying and appreciating everything in it.

There are a variety of ways we can use mindfulness in our everyday lives. Mindfulness can be concentrating on each step of your morning routine, and noticing the sights, smells, tastes, and noises around you as you do this. For example, rather than thinking about your itinerary for the day while getting ready, you stop to observe how the shower water feels on your skin, the cute design on your coffee cup, and the texture of buttered toast in your mouth. You can also use mindfulness on the commute to work – rather than worrying about the argument you had with your housemate that morning, take time to really notice your surroundings. Look at the sky, the weather, listen to music, look at the people around you, and try to avoid going into ‘automatic pilot’, and getting lost in your thoughts.

Personally, I use mindfulness to calm the thoughts in my head, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Looking at the scenery around me, the colour of the walls, the shape of the chairs, the people passing by, and generally thinking about what I can see, feel, or smell in that moment, helps to bring me back to the present. Thinking about my senses helps me to realise that there is a world going on outside of my head, and it helps me to see the bigger picture again.

I used mindfulness recently, when I went to watch a performance with some friends. I felt incredibly anxious, and like everybody around me was staring at me, and talking about me. I wanted to leave the situation but felt like I couldn’t. I struggled to quieten the thoughts in my head and knew that I wouldn’t enjoy the performance if my thoughts persisted. Instead of leaving, I tried to focus on the present. I looked at the ceiling of the theatre, noticed how delicately the building had been built and thought about the time it must have taken to design it. I watched the people below filter into their seats, and listened as their voices sparkled with excited anticipation. Gradually, I turned the focus away from myself, and back onto the world around me, and I felt a lot better for it.

There are a few different approaches to mindfulness, and I recognise that my interpretation of it may not be the ‘correct’ one. There are mindfulness meditation tapes, books about mindfulness, apps for smartphones, mindfulness courses, and much more. Mindfulness meditation is useful to help us to relax and focus on our breathing. It helps us to see thoughts and feelings as things that come and go, like a train passing through a station, rather than viewing them as fixed and constant in our minds. When your head is swarming with negative thoughts, it can be seriously overwhelming, and it’s easy to think that you will feel this way forever. In these moments, I encourage you to try to remember that thoughts and feelings are temporary, and the way you are feeling right now, is not how you will feel forever.

Since discovering mindfulness, I like to think that I have become more observant, but my family and friends regularly remind me that this is not the case. Drifting off into my worries instead of appreciating my surroundings will always be the easier thing to do, because it is difficult to rewrite behaviours that have been commonplace for so long. One thing is certain though – living in the present and taking things one day at a time, makes life feel a lot lighter, and happy.

Have you found a way to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life? Have you found any other strategies that help you to cope with negative thoughts? Or are you a mindfulness sceptic? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments!

Chloe posts

The power of self-compassion: Crushing your inner critic and practicing self-love

It has never been easier to compare ourselves with others. Our society today is saturated with images of perfect and unattainable lives, and if we’re not careful, these images can taunt us whenever we open our phones. Though we might know deep down that nobody’s life is perfect, it can be all too easy to compare the worst parts of our lives, with the filtered, flawless images we see on social media.

It can become easy to start wishing we were more attractive, intelligent, funny, hard-working, or popular. Constantly comparing ourselves with others can lead to feelings of inadequacy, and worthlessness, and it can cause us to torment ourselves for never being good enough. But this is an unhealthy and unhelpful thinking pattern to slip into. It can be difficult to concentrate on work, hobbies and relationships, when there is a little bully at the back of your head, relentlessly telling you that you can’t do anything, or that you’re rubbish compared to everybody else.

Though being aware of our weaknesses can motivate us to improve, it’s important that we don’t let our inner critics take over. Often the flaws that we are so quick to point out in ourselves, are not what other people see. Have you ever had a friend complain about a part of their appearance or personality, even though it is one of the things that you love about them? It’s easy to think that people notice your flaws straight away, and focus on them, but realistically, they are probably too busy worrying about their own hang-ups too!

Talking to yourself as a friend, rather than being your own worst enemy, can be a brilliant remedy for self-hate. Instead of telling yourself things like ‘you can’t do this’, ‘you’ve left this task too late’, ‘they won’t like you’, thinking about what you would say to a friend, if they were in the same position, can be immensely helpful. For example, if a friend is struggling at work, you might say ‘keep at it and you’ll get there’, or ‘do the best you can with the time you have left.’ You wouldn’t criticise a friend for their flaws, so why is it okay to do this to yourself?

Challenging cruel thoughts as they enter our heads and swapping them for kinder ones is a simple way to feel happier, but it’s also difficult to do sometimes- especially under times of stress. Asking a friend or close relative why they enjoy spending time with you, and focussing on the positive things about yourself, rather than the negatives, is a good place to start.

In a world that thrives on our insecurities, it is increasingly difficult to accept ourselves as we are, and show ourselves compassion for doing the best that we can. Although there may be many people you wish you could be like, or many things you wish you could do, it’s important to remember that you’re already enough just by being you.

Lizzy posts

Establishing a routine: Approaching big life changes with stability and mindfulness.

It’s no secret that major life changes can be a struggle for our mind to process. These changes can come in many shapes and sizes: moving to a new country, a bereavement, changing jobs, graduating from university, or even something as minor as taking on a new hobby, project or interest.

When changes like this happen, it’s important to be aware and conscious of the potential toll it can take on our mental health. With a mindful attitude, we can gently introduce these changes into our routines so that they don’t put our coping mechanisms out of whack.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of this somewhat abstract idea. Take graduating University as an example – this is a major shift in day to day life: moving back home, often back in with parents/family members, and most importantly no longer having something to work towards, deadlines to meet or a routined lecture timetable to follow.

While on the surface this freedom is exciting, our minds can struggle with the lack of purpose that we feel in this limbo between education and working life. The same goes for the feeling of being in between jobs, or in a brand new place – the well practiced and deeply internalised routines and daily goals that we are used to are totally shifted.

It can take some time for this to sync in and for us to start to feel a little lost, which is why whilst our routines and norms are changing, it is important that they are not lost altogether. Being mindful of the changes we are going through can go a long way towards benefitting the way in which we cope with them.

To go back to the University example, upon graduation, despite not needing to wake up at a good time, get dressed and go to class, it is important to establish a different routine. For example, we must still maintain a healthy sleep schedule, wake up at a good time to start the day and set daily goals, whether it be go for a walk, read a chapter of a book or apply to one job per day.

What must not be lost is the determination to accomplish something every day, no matter how small. If you’re feeling a bit lost and unsure of what your daily goals are, try making a to do list for each day, ticking things off it can give a sense of achievement and purpose for the day.

Overall, it’s important to be fully aware of the impacts that big changes can have on a smaller scale, if we become capable of acknowledging these impacts, we also become capable of changing our behaviours so we are better prepared to cope with them.

 

Lizzy posts

Excersise isn’t just for your body: Escapism and literature

The first post on healthy escapism is on reading, and this is purely because it is without a doubt my favourite way to distract myself from any of my own worries, as well as calm myself down and ground myself.

Often, the most common suggestion made to people suffering from mental health issues is exercise, fresh air, “get out and about!” or “you just need to get your blood pumping!” are things that can often be heard over and over again.

The problem is that when people are in the midst of a mental health crisis, getting out of bed can be an Everest size climb in itself.

Literature is a beautiful way to escape intrusive thoughts from the comfort of your own home. Research has found that one of the main psychological benefits of reading is the ability it gives one to be able to relate to others, and different ways of looking at the world.

In the midst of a mental health crisis, changing our outlook can be incredibly helpful and can often move us a step closer to lifting the fog and realising that the way we are thinking right this minute is temporary and will pass.

Personally, I find it easiest and most enjoyable to escape into non-fiction books, specifically autobiographies. Reading the autobiography of a person who interests you, for whatever reason, can be a form of comfort and can, in a strange way, make one feel slightly less alone.

Getting lost in somebody else’s story, whether fictional or non-fictional for a while can allow us to get out of our own, even if just for a short while. Even better is when we are able to relate so closely to a character that in some way we are able to find answers to our own problems in their stories.

Besides from reading a book, for somebody in the go podcasts are a fantastic way to fit a bit of escapism into a busy routine. My favourite at the moment is Maya Jama’s ‘When life gives you melons’ but there is a huge variety of E-books, documentaries and interviews available on the internet.

Podcasts can be integrated into walks, waits in queues, public transport or even a lunch break in a way that sometimes books cannot, but their distracting and comforting effect is very similar.

On a more practical note, integrating reading into your daily routine can improve sleeping patterns. Specifically reading a couple of chapters of a book before bed (not from an e reader as bright screens) can help us to wind down, and as we all know, a healthy and long sleep can do absolute wonders for our mental health.

At the moment, there is a wealth of mental health literature emerging that can be really directly helpful, but aside from that there is a whole world of escapism waiting for you. My next post will discuss how music can be a healthy form of escapism in much the same way as reading can.

 

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Summertime and Healthy Escapism

The blog’s theme for the summer is going to be healthy escapism. Escapism is a word that means so many different things to so many different people, so I thought it would be a nice wide theme to explore throughout the summer months.

Summer is a time when many of us want to get active, travel, have some time off from work/school/university and channel our energies into something new.

Of course, when you’re suffering with ill mental health getting out of bed takes more energy than you feel your capable of producing in a lifetime. Which is why a conversation needs to be had about what escapism can mean for everybody.

So often we hear that people will ill mental health need to ‘get outside’, ‘leave the house’ or ‘get active!’. At the risk of sounding patronising – duh! don’t you think they know that staying in the house 24/7 does bad things to our minds?!

When going downstairs to get the post is somebody’s equivalent of climbing Everest, we need to talk compassionately about baby steps that we can take to engage our minds in something other than negative and intrusive thoughts.

As well as getting out and exercising, which is no small feat for a lot of mental health sufferers, there are many outlets that have much a similar effect but perhaps engage us on a slightly less mentally intense level.

Over the summer this blog will be exploring outlets like art, music, and literature as a form of escaping and engagement of the mind from the comfort of your own home, for people who perhaps aren’t at the stage where they are able to willingly get out of the house far less start an exercise programme!

Lizzy posts

Help to keep us open!

Over the past year, the Rainbow Heron Cafe has helped many people throughout Sheffield and the surrounding area with issues surrounding mental health. As I know from my visit to the cafe, many members said that Rainbow Heron had filled a void that existed in Sheffield, being one of the only cafes of its kind in the area.

Rainbow Heron is a safe space for people to feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and experiences with understanding and like minded people. There have been many opportunities for expression through art, movement, discussion and many other outlets throughout the time the cafe has been open.

We are now looking to you to help us to keep doing good work. We want the opportunity to keep helping the people who have been visiting us, and to remain an active member of the Sheffield Community.

If you could spare anything you have to our just giving Just Giving Page it would mean the world and will help a charity so close to the hearts of many people in the Sheffield Community.

Thank You!