So this is the first time I’ve blogged in over two years and it’s only recently that I’ve wanted to get back into writing, and after several attempts at trying to pick something to write about I came to the conclusion that I was suffering from writer’s block. This post is a sort of collaboration idea which me and my sister came up with, as she too wanted to get back into writing but wasn’t sure where to start. We decided it might be a good idea to reflect on our well-being in the last few months, so we came up with the following questions and below are my answers to them.
What morning routine activities help you to start the day with the healthiest mindset?
A pretty key thing for me is avoiding scrolling on my phone for ages when I first wake up. Just checking to see if I have any messages from family and friends is fine, but staying in bed and scrolling through social media doesn’t seem to start my day off with a clear mindset. I enjoy starting my day reading with a good cup of coffee, followed by breakfast. I’d say doing that helps me start my day with a clear, positive and healthy mindset.
How have you been coping with being at home more?
It’s had it’s ups and downs, I felt quite at peace with the idea to begin with, finding ways to occupy myself with online courses, reading and exercise. However, these activities began to lose their appeal after doing them every day for a prolonged period, and I’ve found myself several times getting bored and fed up with not having much to occupy myself with. Since being allowed to go outside for exercise more than once a day as well as visit family and friends, it has been a lot better.
When you are feeling down, anxious or stressed what activities help you to relax?
Talking it out with others really helps, going for a walk, reading, and taking a bath (not that I currently have one in my flat) are all activities that help me to relax. Even just simple things like being in a room with a lit candle can really help chill me out.
Which books, films and TV shows do you think deal with mental health well?
In terms of books, Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet is really good as it explores different features of modern life that can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, often things we wouldn’t usually think of like visiting a shopping centre. Another book is John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down, which was the first piece of fiction I’ve read that deals so closely with a character who has a mental health issue. It tells the story of a teenage girl with severe health anxiety in a very eye-opening light. I can’t think of any particular films, although that is something I’m going to watch out for now. For TV shows, the one example I can currently think of is the character Jackson in Sex Education, he is shown as being put under a lot of pressure from his mum to succeed in swimming, and it turns out that Jackson suffers from panic attacks and also self harms at one point just so he can get a break from the pressure he is receiving from his mum.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
It has got to be Antonia Fraser’s biography of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s a big read as it covers most of her life, but I found it fascinating that although it was a historical biography, a lot of the time I felt like I was reading a thriller. It’s certainly my favourite historical biography I’ve read so far, it’s very well written and clearly well researched, emotionally captivating and a gripping read.
Has there been a TV show which you have enjoyed the most recently?
I’m a bit late to the bandwagon on this but it has got to be Netflix’s Sex Education. I was sceptical at first, I admit, but I think it’s a very pioneering TV show in the way that it so openly deals with taboo subjects surrounding sex, gender and identity, in a way that is informative and eye-opening, but also light-hearted. I also found it had very well written characters that I slowly found myself becoming more invested in (especially Eric) as it progressed into the second series. The mise-en-scène of the show is also very aesthetically pleasing but also interesting as well, with the use of retro cars, technology, interior design and fashion being intertwined with elements of the modern-day. It’s like the show itself has a nostalgic longing for the past.
Is there any music you listen to that helps you stay grounded or lifts your mood?
I find calming instrumental music nice to listen to when I’m perhaps trying to de-stress, but also to aid my concentration when I’m reading and writing. A recent thing that I’ve liked doing to really set the mood of what I’m reading is trying to match music to it, for example listening to medieval-themed music when reading a novel set in that specific time period.
During lockdown, did you have more negative thoughts and how did you combat them? Was there anything that surprised you about yourself during the situation?
I’ve certainly experienced periods of worry and overthinking about various things. One example is that I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with not having work to go to because of lockdown, as I like being productive and sometimes find it difficult being indoors all day. I get sick building syndrome, which is hard to explain to people who don’t experience it but it’s certainly something I occasionally suffer from. I’ve surprisingly coped a lot better than I thought I would have, by finding activities to do and making sure that on most days I go outdoors to exercise and get some fresh air.
What are some fundamental tips, quotes and advice to live by which you would encourage others to follow?
- Be patient, positive and persistent.
- Talking things through with others is really helpful.
- A lot of things aren’t as bad as you think they are.
- Be kind to the environment, make smarter choices.
- Your body is a home you’ll live in forever, take care of it.
- Nothing in nature blooms all year round, so don’t expect yourself to either.
What evening routine activities help you to unwind at the end of the day?
I like to watch a couple of TV shows or a film on an evening, accompanied by a snack or something like a hot chocolate. I find having fairy lights and lighting a tealight or two very relaxing also. Just before I go to sleep it is good practice for me to not go on my phone and instead read a few pages of whatever book I’m reading at the time. This always seems to get me into a ‘sleepy’ state and clears my mind before I go to sleep.
Thank you for reading!
If you can think of any films, TV shows and books that you think deal with mental health well, feel free to leave a comment below as i’d love to hear about them!
Be sure to check out my sister’s answers to these questions over on her blog: https://thespirallingmind17.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/the-well-being-q-a/