Mindfulness and a Mind ‘Full’?

There’s a rise in people using, or at least being aware of ‘mindfulness’ to try shift the stress away from every day life. I love the fact folk are bringing meditation into their routine; but we first have to answer this important question; Why does it feel like we are leading even busier lives than what we were before?

kim walking
CREDIT TO @IIVVORRYY Alex Ivory 2017

We’re buying more than we ever did, with access to the Internet being at the height of all heights. We’re living in an infinite world, where we want everything now. Oliver Burkeman wrote an article for the BBC describing why we feel busy all the time and stated:

If there’s a solution to the busyness epidemic, other than the universal enforcement of a 21-hour workweek – it may lie in clearly perceiving just how irrational our attitudes have become. Historically, the ultimate symbol of wealth, achievement and social superiority was the freedom not to work: the true badge of honour, as the 19th Century economist Thorstein Veblen put it, was leisure.’ Now, it’s busyness that has become the indicator of high status.

So is this ‘busyness’ all in our heads? Are putting pressure on ourselves? For me personally, I think it’s to do with the fact we’re finding it harder and harder to switch off. As humans we crave the connections of others- Facebook and Twitter being a world of just that. Now that we can message and call anywhere in the world. So why would we want to switch off from that feeling of connectivity? We love sharing our world with others too, and seek that gratifications through the press of a ‘like’ button to feel appreciated. 

Using mindfulness and meditation is a wonderful wonnnderffullll thing (see my video post here about it); but take a step back and see how busy you are. For me, I feel like I am busy, sure- but the feeling of not being able to switch off lingers in the back of my head. That doesn’t help how busy I feel.

Step back, let go.

 

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What is ‘Having it Together?’

Hey you.

Sometimes life is a big jumble of, well…not what we expect. I implore you to take a deep breath while you read this, and breathe out. You’re here.

You’re here.

Life is the weirdest thing man, and we all look to others who somehow have it together. But as a matter of fact, they’re all looking at everyone else thinking that they have it together. It’s a big mush of ‘having it togetherness’- when as a matter of fact, none of us do. So why are we caught up in something we can’t achieve?

I sure as heck don’t have it together, but I’m just trying to get by with things that make me happy- all the while trying to accept that wherever life takes me, I’ll never really get to the having it together part of my life.

But we can have it together. Here’s how.

It’s about the journey, and I know how up and down it may be. We all struggle, but the only way we can feel like everything falls into place- is when we accept and focus on the present.

Wherever you are right now is wherever you are meant to be.

You’re sitting/standing, whatever it is right here, is what is important. If you’re having a bad day, be gentle with yourself. If your day isn’t going to plan, breathe and again be gentle with yourself.

Having it together isn’t fancy cars, stable jobs, perfect home and happy relationships. It’s about being wherever you are right now and believing that it’s where you’re meant to be.

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Creativity and Mental Health

We all have something that is our outlet, catharsis or release for how we feel or how we deal with things in our lives. It could be anything from going for a walk, reading a book, to playing an instrument, or being creative in any way.7571c2f1e886ca3cce636870f987e9f9

A lot of folk think they have to be naturally creative or have some kind of hobby to use art to help them, but this is not the case at all sweetpeas! For example, the rise in folk doing adult colouring books is at an all time high (Who can blame us, huh? They rule). It’s a way for people to wind down, focus on the activity, with the world’s worries melting away for a little while.

I actually did my dissertation on creativity and mental illness, which is a huuuggeee topic so complex to write about (It took a good 40 pages to try and come up with an answer) and I found that a lot of people throughout the ages have used creativity in many forms, and use it as expression which can contribute positively to someone’s mental health (amongst other technical terms/findings I’ll not go into, I may blog about it some time.)

For me, I’ve always loved art. It has been my saviour through bad days- but it also allows me to get into some kinda ‘arty zen’ where I’m so in my flow that I don’t focus on anything but the pen and paper in front of me. Dot work as my style of illustration is the most intricate yet rewarding form of art I do- which has challenged me to practice patience too.

Creativity Works is a wonderful organisation who provide support groups for people who are in the process recovering from mental health problems, as well as helping build confidence and build relationships. Please do check out their work and mission to help others ❤

Any form of creativity or getting into a flow of activity can be so wonderful for us. Sometimes we are so busy thinking, working and being in a mad rush; we tend to overlook how some of our hobbies or down time can be fantastic ways of reducing stress, winding down and helping us through the day.

I’ll perhaps do a tutorial on how to draw mandalas, as that’s my ultimate zen-zone!

Remember you, be gentle with yourself ❤

 

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso

My Top 5: Ways of Coping with the Bad Days

Now, a lot of people have a wonderful variety of coping strategies with the days that are just that little bit harder to get through. When I did some research for my degree- there’s a lot of different healthy ways we find that suits us due to our personality traits and personal preferences. For example, folk who are naturally creative love to use art in different mediums to feel better and in others they use music, physical exercise or experiencing the outdoors. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.31.50

As long as your coping strategy is not harmful to you or others, and you can feel better by exploring your coping strategies in a safe and healthy way- then there is no wrong way of doing it. You’re doing what is best for you my lovely!  Mind have a wonderful section on their site about self-care which I extremely recommend on checking out.

Here are my personal Top 5 that I feel help me the most, and perhaps they can help you too! Be gentle with yourself ❤

  1. Ecotherapy – otherwise known as the great green outdoors. Spending time away from distractions, the city life or just by getting out of the house into a natural environment can be so helpful. It is quite a mindful experience, and for me it clears my head. I’m very thankful to live in Yorkshire, and living right next to the woods. Find your place and go there as often as you can. Be one with nature and enjoy it.
  2. Reading – now this doesn’t have to be books on self-help or mindfulness, but a genre or type of book you really enjoy. Love a bit of adventure? Get your Tolkien game on! Like a bit of a classic? Flick through a good Jane Austen! Whatever floats your boat, give it a read. But I will say, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing this for you, remember! Some books with graphic content may be triggering to your wellbeing. My favourite book for the past year has been ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. As a naturally creative person, and I feel I’m having a block/ bad day- I read her book and her prose.
  3. Playing an instrument – I know some folk don’t have musical instruments, but this is one of my personal favourites. I was fortunate enough to be given a classical guitar by my Mum’s friends years and yeaaarrss ago that I still have. You somehow get lost in it, and its just the combination of making sound and feeling the movements. If you don’t have access to anything like that, my next coping strategy is…
  4. Listening to music – Boy can music change your soul. Whatever clicks with you and makes you feel good give it a listen. Pop your headphones on, lay back and shut off the world. You can listen to your favourites/most played or go for super funny songs like ‘I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Sunshine’ by Natasha Bedingfield or the Flashdance Soundtrack (soooooo groovy)
  5. Art- This encompasses everything to scribbles, writing, doodles and full blown commissions for me. It gets me in a nice groove that I can focus on. Controlling the way the pencil moves, or shading in something can be a very mindful experience. Allowing yourself to get lost in it, and only think of what you are creating really helps me get in a good headspace. Also, I write a hell of a lot  when I feel down. I’ve kept a diary for years that I always tend to look back on. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel, so I write whatever is going on in my lil brain down. It’s very cathartic, even if its just in bullet points of things that are bothering me. It also allows me to check in with myself and see what’s affecting me, or what I could highlight as something that needs to change.

 

I hope my Top 5 may help, or perhaps gently give you the smallest ideas of ways to cope. From knitting to running or reading and playing monopoly, there’s so many healthy ways of coping with the bad days.

You are not alone. You are here, and you are enough.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week!

Hi there folks. Hope you are all doing well! Here in the UK, it’s mental health awareness week. Already on the news bright and early this morning there were speakers and wonderful content on mental health- and a highlight of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge starting the ‘Heads Together‘ campaign aiming to end the stigma surrounding mental health. mhaw-tile-relationships

It’s just as important as physical health, and it affects each and every one of us. In my opinion, I feel we’re making progress. Maybe that’s because I’m actively doing things surrounding wellbeing and mental health, but a lot of organisations, non profits, charities, as well as some amazing individuals are starting to speak up and fight for better MH education in schools, as well as fund their mission to break the stigma and provide support. It’s truly amazing to see, and that means we are reaching more people of all ages about taking care of ourselves and each other.

Know that you are not alone, my sweet. We as people are always going to have good and bad days. We’re not happy all of the time and for some of us, that can be a challenging thought. We always think people have it better off, but in fact its just not the case. We’ve all got something that gets us down, and sometimes we don’t know why we feel so upset.

Check out the helplines on my site and take a peep at what they’re up to this week for Mental Health Awareness. I’ll be doing more posts for MHA week about what I find good for ways of coping with the bad days, plus more about how our wellbeing affects us in such diverse ways.

Be gentle with yourself, and as always – keep real! ❤ ❤

p.s if you’d like to have a chat in a confidential manner, do not hesitate to email me at kimmykeepreal@gmail.com