Mental Health and lockdown

This is slightly different to what I usually talk about, but I feel it is important and needs to be addressed. Mental health, to me, is just as – if not more – important as physical health, and 2020 has been a year that has truly tested us collectively. From the threat of a global pandemic, to world-wide lockdowns, to the constant fight for many social justice issues across the globe, it has been a very trying time. I am someone who has always had issue with what I like to refer to as ‘The Mean Reds’.

Shikhaa Talks: The Mean Reds
Made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

They have been particularly bad during this year. Now I am a very logical person, so I know that there are very real reasons to be afraid right now: Covid is very much a real threat and even though it’s been nearly a whole year since it was discovered, we still don’t seem to be making much progress in finding out how to fight/combat/deal with it. I also hate that this is the first time in a long time where I feel like so much of my life is no longer under my control. I cannot simply go wherever I please, travel where I please, see who I please. I haven’t been able to hug my parents or my best friend in nearly a whole year, and there is no guarantee when it will be safe to do so again.

Now I am in no way qualified to give anyone advice about how to deal with their own mental health, and if you are struggling to manage it on your own I beg of you to go and speak to a professional. Some very useful links are:

www.mind.org.uk
Anxiety UK
Beat Eating Disorders
CALM
No Panic
Samaritans


Some of the coping methods I have found though that really help my own mental health though are as follows. I have used these over the years and find that when done regularly they really do help me keep my head on straight and keep my mental health in check.

Journalling

My biggest thing is journalling. Having somewhere to just completely brain dump all of your thoughts and feelings can be such a helpful exercise. I just use a standard notebook and just word vomit onto the pages. I very rarely go back through my journal to read past entries, as I have found it never helps and just reminds of me of things that I was otherwise trying to not dwell on. But it has also been helpful to sort out my thoughts and my plans, letting me have somewhere completely private and non-judging where I can say whatever I like and to stop all of my thoughts rushing around my head.

Exercise

In the winter this can be hard to keep up with, but even just going for a nice long walk in the evenings can work wonders. It can be good to do something that allows you to move your body and also get you out of your head for a bit. For me, my go to exercises are running, yoga or barre workouts. They don’t have to be very long runs or a really bendy yoga flow, just taking ten or fifteen minutes to move your body and to completely focus on something else for that time. I find that when I do take that little bit of time to just really get into my exercise, I come away with a clearer head and a calmer outlook. Mainly because I’ve usually forgotten about all of the tiny little things I was worrying about before I started!

Being creative

Right so I cannot draw. Nor paint. And really my sewing skills are lacking. But there is something very freeing about completely losing yourself in a creative act. For me, writing has always been my outlet, and even if it is just a couple thousand words, it gives me a way to stretch my imagination and also gives me something concrete at the end of the day that I alone have created. Even my paintings, which look like a four year old could have painted them with their teeth, are a fun way to spend an afternoon where I can just have a bit of fun and make something completely my own.

Connect with people

This is even more important in 2020 than ever before when it can so easily feel like we are all way more isolated from one another. But that is the joy of modern technology: I can call anyone, at any time, and usually get through to them. I can phone my Mom and hear about how her gardening is going, or call my friend to hear about her work dramas. I can play online video games with friends and send my friends funny pictures of my pets. While 2020 has felt like a somewhat lonely year, it has been very helpful for me to have the reminder that we are all feeling this. The entire world has had to sort of stand still for the year, and everyone is finding something about that situation that stresses them out. It’s what makes us human and it is sometimes a nice reminder that you are definitely not alone in any of this.

What do you guys do to look after your mental health? Are there any methods you’ve found that really help you get through the Mean Reds? Let me know in the comments as I am always up for trying something new.

T xxx

Plant Chef sweet potato and coconut soup

Tesco are really killing it lately with their Plant Chef range. During this whole lock down process, their Plant Chef range also includes tinned soups that last a decent amount of time and are also really affordable. The warmer days are definitely here in England too, so if you’re like me and can’t stand the thought of cooking during these hot days but still want something hearty, I give you the sweet potato and coconut soup.

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This soup is so good! Because of the sweet potato and coconut it is quite a sweet soup, so probably best to avoid this if you’re not a fan of either of these things. I, however, have a terrible sweet tooth so this soup is like gold dust for me! The can states that one serving is half a can, but personally that is not enough food for me. I did try to have the one serving, but ended up needing a sandwich to go with it before hangry me took over. That being said it is quite filling and I found it kept me going for most of the day.

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It is very creamy too, so if you’re like me and like to drink your soups rather than eat it with a spoon then this soup is great. I had it in my R2D2 mug and it stayed lovely and hot the entire time I was having it. Other than that, there isn’t really much more to say about it: It is indeed soup and it is yummy.

Overall: 7/10. A very good idea if you need to pick something up that will keep for ages and still tastes nice when you do decide to eat it.

T xxx

 

Pink Berry smoothie

At the moment, England is uncharacteristically hot for April. Typical really; we are all in lock down and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. If this has been any other year, England would currently be rainy, miserable and cold…maybe even with some snow storms around! Knowing our luck, as soon as the lock down is lifted, we will be kept indoors by storms and blizzards.

With all of this sunshine, it has felt like my duty to have smoothies for breakfast. Luckily we bought a lot of fruit that we could freeze just before lock down, so now is the perfect opportunity. My smoothie for today was this:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • half a cup of frozen raspberries
  • half a cup of frozen strawberries
  • 100ml of soya milk (optional, but does make it a bit creamier)

I simply blended this up, adding water if needed until I got to my desired consistency. As I was making a smoothie bowl with this, my consistency was that of slightly melted ice cream. Obviously as it melts it gets a lot more runny, at which point you can just drink it.

With it being lock down, my choice of toppings were….scarce. I therefore settled on a tablespoon of chia seeds and roughly two handfuls of cheerios. In an ideal world I would have added some fresh fruit or some cacao nibs, but alas, I did not prepare adequately!

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So that was my breakfast…it is really light and refreshing and I find that in these warmer and sunnier days I don’t tend to want to eat really heavy meals, especially when I’ve just woken up. I find that raspberries can be a very overpowering flavour, so maybe next time I will just completely ignore the strawberries and just add more raspberries. If you also try this recipe, let me know who it went for you. If you can also think of anything else to add to it to make it better, do let me know! I could use all the help I could get at this point…

Do you guys have any smoothie recipes you want to share? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to try each and every one of them. Stay safe lovely people and speak to you all soon!

T xxx

 

 

 

Audible Original Podcast – Habits for Happiness

England is currently in lockdown and so I cannot leave my house apart from necessities and one form of exercise. Granted, I am only on Day 2 of lockdown but as someone who feels quite restless most of the time, being inside my house for three weeks does fill me with some anxiety. I love my home, and I love my partner and my pets, but I never appreciated how much I love being outside in the fresh air – and it is just sods law that this is the sunniest and warmest March that I can remember.

SIDE NOTE: I am in no way sponsored or associated with Audible. This is just a post note to tell you guys about one app out there that I, personally, have found to be super helpful over the past few months and is genuinely keeping me sane and occupied during this very scary and uncertain time. 

I signed up for Audible about three months ago, as I wanted to still be able to read on my commute. Since I walk to work now though (about 20 minutes each way) I thought that this would still allow me to consume books without actually having to carry one around with me. Currently, I am working my way through Anna Karenina and as it is 35 hours long, I think I’ll be fine during lockdown! Audible have a deal where you can get a 30 day free trial of the service and after that it is £7.99 a month with a free book each month. Needless to say, it’s a really good deal, especially if you are currently stuck inside for the next month or so. Some nice free entertainment for the time being is always a plus!

Audible also do original podcasts that range from a variety of things, but one that I think is important for everyone to listen to at the moment is Habits for Happiness. Doctor Happy (or Dr Tim Sharp as he is also known) talks through habits about how to find the good in all situations and to just learn to be a bit more happy. They range from ideas such as laughing more at life’s little quirks, regular exercise, a proper sleep cycle and creating vision boards to help you achieve goals. Obviously there is more to them than just that, but I don’t want to spoil any of it!

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Personally I felt it spoke about everything that I already knew, but was explained in such a way that it made it feel like a progress: Things don’t tend to get better over night, and the majority of these habits take time to develop and implement into your day to day life. But as the majority of us are no doubt feeling very scared and stressed, while being isolated between the same four walls, there is literally nothing else to do but try and implement these little habits.

One of my favourites, and something that is really helping in this situation, is the habit of enjoying the moment as it happens. While it is truly terrifying what is happening in the world, and we are all scared, I got to do something today that I very rarely get a chance to do – I had breakfast with my partner. We didn’t have to rush, as our commute is opening up our laptops. We got to just sit, and watch some TV and just…take our time. For the first time in a long time (at least my entire life if I think about it) we are actually being encouraged and ordered to do nothing. Go nowhere, see no one in person, sit at home and just be patient and let our health services do amazing things to save the world. Obviously, I hope that what is happening in the world never happens again and we as a world come back to this as quickly and safely as possible, but as it is happening and I have no say in this, I am doing my best to find enjoyment in these little moments: My loved ones are safe and healthy, I am safe and healthy, and by staying at home I am doing my little bit to help.

If any of you guys have used Audible before and have any book or podcast recommendations for me, please let me know!

Stay safe and stay home ❤

T xxx