Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking: here we go another millennial ranting about mental health, thinking she’s the Dalai Lama. And that’s exactly what I’d be thinking too; to be honest I doubt I’d even make it this far through the article, so big respect if you’re still here – bear with me I promise I’ll get to the point. Maybe you’ll even take something from this…or maybe you’ll think I have no idea what I’m talking about and should pipe down – either way, strap in; shit’s about to get real.
I hate the phrase ‘mental health’. I hate it because it sounds incredibly formal and to be honest, really quite intimidating. It also appears to have lost its meaning; we hear the phrase thrown around so much that perhaps we’ve lost sight of what’s at its core. To me, my ‘mental health’ is simply how I’m feeling – day to day, minute to minute, even second to second. Sometimes I feel happy and positive about life, sometimes I feel absolutely fucking awful and would quite enjoy curling up in a ball and disappearing entirely. There is not a single person reading this (and I do appreciate that may only be you, so cheers for sticking with it) that has not had moments where they’ve felt that similar feeling of, well, shit. And let’s be honest, yes it’s 2020 and we’re all about acceptance and openness and all that, but we’re also British and would rather step on lego than talk about our feelings.
Open up, if they take the piss, they’re not worth your timeIzzy Hammond
Now, while you sit there cringing over the words: ‘emotions’and ‘feelings’, shall we just drop the ‘we’re way too cool to talk about our feelings’ act, for just a few minutes. Because in reality, it’s not that we’re ‘too cool’, we’re actually absolutely fucking terrified. I should know; writing this really isn’t easy, and I went through, and to some extent am still going through, quite a challenging period of my life and for a long time said nothing about it. It’s not easy to talk about our feelings, but it really is important. Chatting shit with mates for hours on end is great, it really is, it’s hilarious and leaves us feeling fantastically jolly, but there’s more to friendship than that – no honestly there is. It takes serious balls to do it, and just the thought of doing it might make you feel slightly nauseous, but I promise you telling a mate that you’re struggling might benefit you even more than having a laugh with them, seriously. I don’t mean sit in a circle holding hands and talk about our days, but just a text saying I’m feeling a bit low today, can we talk about it, could make a world of difference. Open up, if they take the piss, they’re not worth your time.
Okay, so what if talking about it is too much? Take a step back and grab a pen. No, I don’t mean title a page with ‘Dear Diary’ and gush out dramatic poetry likening your mood to an angry sea, just jot it down; get it out. Maybe it’s the talking to another person that’s too hard, so sit your dog down and rant about it to them – they’re great listeners. If something was going wrong in your body – let’s say your leg is dangling off, you’d probably mention it. So treat your mind the same way: if something feels wrong up there and you don’t like how you’re feeling; tell someone!
Right, so you’ve had a chat with the dog but your mood still hasn’t lifted; what next? We can all appreciate that lockdown is a hotbed for feelings of loneliness, boredom and helplessness – all of which can trigger dark thoughts and moods. It’s the lack of routine that’s really thrown me, and I find doing nothing all day, while great hungover on a Sunday, can be quite difficult every day. Something I’ve found really helpful is exercise, and I know you’re rolling your eyes because you’ve heard this a million times before, but just humour me. I’m definitely not the most athletic person in the word, so by exercise I really don’t mean get your trainers on and bang out a half marathon. Just get up and move – literally use your one a day to wander around listening to music and looking at naturey shit, I promise you just getting out the house and zoning out for a while will really make a difference. Personally I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, which is so unbelievably cliché but has genuinely been keeping me sane. Literally 20 mins of YogawithAdriene on YouTube will, if nothing else, force you to take time to ignore whatever is going on in the house or on your phone, and focus solely on yourself. Just try it – do it for a laugh and never do it again, or commit to doing it once a week, but it helped me so I’m sharing it.
I think it’s safe to say that most of our screen times are embarrassingly high at the moment. Scrolling through feeds is so habitual we often don’t realise how much we’re really doing it. And it’s normal, but if we’re feeling low it can be really toxic. FOMO still exists, even in lockdown, and even though we know an Instagram story isn’t the full picture and they’ve probably felt exactly the same looking at someone else’s story, it’s still easy to compare your life to theirs and feel a bit hard done by. So don’t put yourself through that rubbish, it’s boring, forget it – leave your phone upstairs for an hour and go annoy a sibling or a pet.
Alternatively, fuck all of that and binge-watch a series all day. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t allow yourself to give in to those low moments and do nothing all day. Eat a whole bag of doritos, drink a bottle of wine and make the most of doing nothing. But maybe wake up the next day and try something different – allow yourself a day of wallowing in your shitty mood, and then try and improve it. Run, walk, cycle, dance, paint, draw, bake banana bread, learn a TikTok, dye your hair, dress up a pet, whatever just try and pull yourself out of it – only you can do that.
If you’ve made it this far without closing this tab and questioning who the hell I think I am preaching like I know what I’m on about, then thank you and I genuinely do appreciate your time. I really don’t know what I’m on about any more than you, but I went through a tough time and these things got me through it, so if anyone else is struggling at the moment I just want you to know that you’re not alone, and you will get through it. If you take nothing else from this, just consider messaging someone you haven’t spoken to in ages and checking in; see how they’re doing. It’s such a tiny thing but it could mean the world to someone else.