Updated: Jan 1
I would just like to start off with a huge thank you from my heart for all the love I received from you all on my last blog post opening about my story with mental health. It truly has meant so much to me and so I just want to thank all of you for your support.
I've decided to stick with the theme of mental health and today I'm bringing you some of my tips and the things that I do to help me stay connected in myself and that make me feel at my best. I hope you enjoy!
1. ACKNOWLEDGE AND PROCESS
The first thing I always do when I'm feeling a little down or off center is acknowledge and process. I think its really important to acknowledge our feelings and just accept them. Be alright with them. For me, once I've acknowledge the reason behind why I'm feeling off, I can usually let go of those feelings because I've now gained a better perspective on them. Sometimes, though, we need to go a little deeper, and that's when processing comes in. I find it really helpful to journal my feelings as it helps me to sort through them understand why I might be feeling a certain way. I usually journal twice a day, in the morning and the evening, and this just sets me up for the day and also winds me down at night for a restful sleep.
Practicing gratitude is a beautiful way of grounding and reconnecting yourself to the moment and what is real and important in your life. Gratitude lists are a perfect thing to add to your journaling routine either in the morning or the evening, which ever you prefer. Or maybe even in the middle of the day, whatever suits you!
Now, I know what everyone thinks, blah blah gratitude lists could you be anymore typical - I'm grateful for my family, food on my plate and a roof over my head kind of thing! But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about true gratitude. Of course we are grateful for all these big things like food and a home, but what about the little things. The things that make up our day, that make us feel good. Try whenever you have time in your day, making a list of 3-5 things you're grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours. It could be having a good nights rest, laughing with a friend or watching the sunset. By giving yourself a time spectrum of 24 hours it helps you to focus on those little things that make each day different and special.
Mindfulness is something that I've only recently really started incorporating into my daily routine and I can honestly say its truly made a difference. By being mindful of yourself, your thoughts and your actions, you can achieve a better understanding of yourself which is so important for self care and especially mental care. If we understand ourselves better and learn how we operate and react to situations we can take better care of ourselves. So for example, if you've been invited to a party but you really don't feel like going. You're tired and really just need sometime to rest, and you know that going to that party might not be the best thing for your space in that moment, then by being mindful of your feelings and the situation, you can avoid maybe an emotional 'crash' later on by taking care of yourself and not going to the party.
Now, I know it can be hard for a lot of us to put ourselves first and a lot of the time we don't value our own space. But taking care of ourselves should be important, and if that means having to decline an invite every so often, then that is okay and we need to understand that. I know that by looking after me and my space first, I can then be a better person to myself, to my family, to my friends, to my business, and to my day, week, month, year, life, because I am solid and connected in myself.
Meditation is also a practice I have recently been implementing. I know some of us can find meditation a bit daunting, and I definitely always kind of avoided because I thought I couldn't do it "right" - like how are you supposed to empty your mind and be still! But meditation is SO much more than that and in fact its not about emptying your mind and becoming a blank canvas. It's actually about becoming an observer of your thoughts. Again becoming mindful. What's going on? How are you feeling? What is your space? It's about seeing your thoughts but being able to detach from them and just let them slide past. It's definitely hard in the beginning but just start with a few minutes each day. There are so many fantastic guided meditations on YouTube and even meditation apps that you can use and if you do just a bit each day you'll notice that it'll start to become a habit and start become easier.
Affirmations are an incredibly powerful tool to have in your toolkit! I use them all the time and they help so much. And no, I'm not talking about, the typical "I love and accept myself" type of thing. Affirmations need to be relevant to you and they need to resonate for you. Something I like to do when I journal in the morning is just write a short affirmation for that day, how I want to feel and the energy I want to have. Each day is different and each affirmation is different, but by doing this each morning it helps to set me up for day feeling good and positive. I also have a few quotes and affirmations that really resonate with me and those I hang on my wall so that I can read them everyday and whenever I need a little boost.
Yoga has played a huge part in my healing journey and is such a powerful way to connect with yourself. There are many different styles of yoga and it's all about finding what's right for you, whether that's stronger Ashtanga practice, flowing Vinyasa, or restorative Yin, there are so many various kinds of yoga and every yoga teacher is different too with their interpretation of the practice. But yoga is so much more than the physical, or asana, practice. Once again it's about becoming mindful, present and connected to yourself. It's about finding that soft quiet space within yourself where you can just flow and be whatever or whoever you want to be. Start slowly and find what works for you, even just 10 minutes in your day can help you feel more grounded in yourself, plus you get the added benefit of some movement and stretching which is very beneficial for reducing stress.
There are a plethora of yoga flows suiting all levels and styles to be found online and on YouTube. I would definitely recommend Cat Meffan for free online yoga flows and guided meditations. She also has a membership that one can join at a monthly cost, if you're wanting more. If you're in the Knysna/Garden Route area or ever come to visit and are wanting to attend an actual yoga class then I would highly recommend my mom, Petra, at her studio The Yoga Den or Adele at Studio on Main. They both offer beautiful yoga classes, along with guided meditations and pranayama breath work.
Well that's it for my tips, I hope you found this blog post useful and that you start putting some of these practices into play in your daily routine. Trust me, you will definitely feel a shift! Remember its also always about listening to yourself and finding what feels good for your, everyone is different.
Wishing you all a beautiful, peaceful and joyful weekend ahead and don't forget to take sometime for yourself!