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Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Importance of Self Care #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health is a subject really close to my heart, with it having affected people close to me. It's a subject that people tend to shy away from, and it really shouldn't be a taboo subject. So here I am, writing this post, explaining that I have had my brush with mental health.

Recently, I was finding life incredibly stressful. I wasn't sleeping properly, I felt emotional a large proportion of the time, and I just generally wasn't coping very well. I tried to deal with it on my own; in all honesty, I tried to ignore it. Unfortunately it got to the point where I knew I needed help. I spoke to my GP, who agreed things weren't going well, and I was given time off to recuperate and it really made me realise how important it is to look after ourselves and our mental health.

In today's day and age, it's all too easy to be concerned with everyone else, with work etc. Looking out for ourselves often comes last. But by taking a little time for ourselves, a few moments of me time, we can start to restore the balance.

Self care is so important. Taking time to do the things you love can make you feel so much better. For me, that includes reading, enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having, treating myself to trips to the cinema. It really does make the difficult times that little bit easier to deal with. I've got three key points I wanted to share with you today, to help any of you going through a bit of a tough time.

A wander round the Old Town can be really relaxing
Obviously, you could say that being the bookworm that I am makes me a little biased when it comes to reading. For me, it's the answer to most of life's little problems. I can escape from the outside world and escape into my imagination. Whether that be a spot of romance with a contemporary novel, or something a bit more fantastical that's a real escape, I just find it really helpful. They say that as little as ten minutes reading can significantly reduce your stress levels, and I thoroughly believe that. Reading fell by the way-side when I first started struggling, but it was one of the first things I turned to and I'm so glad I did. It was so helpful to just have that time to myself, to unwind and stop thinking about the world for a minute.

This seems obvious, but I think it's the most helpful thing. When we're struggling, we shut ourselves off from family and friends, and it just makes the situation worse. I had times when I felt like I was the only person feeling like this and that I was pretty much alone. I couldn't have been more wrong. Once I'd opened up about what was going on, there was plenty of support from the people I spoke to - from family, to friends, to university staff, to medical professionals. It was well worth it - as soon as I knew that I wasn't alone (and wasn't weird for feeling like this, if I'm being totally honest), everything felt so much easier to deal with. I had people who had gone through the same thing and could sympathise, people who could offer advice and just listen to me waffle on. It was really therapeutic and I'll be forever grateful to them.

A chat over a coffee is always a good idea
Switching off
Life today is pretty much 24/7. We're all guilty of living life through our phones, with constant access to messages, social media and emails. We're pretty much always contactable. And I don't think it's that good for us. When we're struggling, being able to be at other people's beck and call, and being able to compare our lives to that of other people's Instagram feeds is not going to help. Life is stressful enough as it is and sometimes you need time to totally switch off. I've tried it by going to the cinema on my own (a few hours in a comfy chair watching Emma Watson as Belle in the new Beauty and the Beast was ideal), having a bubble bath, getting an early night - there are so many ways you can do it. The main thing was putting my phone and laptop down and just enjoying the break from the outside world. Switch off from the world and enjoy the relaxation.

If you take anything away from this post, it's that you're are not alone. There are people out there who care about you and want to help you. You just need to be ready to ask for help, as well as trying to help yourself. Yes, there will be tough days. But they pass, and you can get through whatever's getting you down. I hope in some way this has helped.

Love Lexie

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