What are the things that make you happy?
All too often, we forget to stop, take a moment, and appreciate the little things in life. Between working, hobbies, trying to maintain a social life, general life admin (and let’s not forget managing the symptoms of HS) many of us probably neglect our mental health.
This year has probably been difficult for many. Living in a pandemic has meant disruption to everything we know. Our routines have changed. We have had to sacrifice physical relationships. We have missed out on spending time with family and friends (and let's face it, it’s not quite the same over a video call). Walking into public spaces now feels uneasy (with everyone wearing masks) and the news is a constant outlet to trigger those anxieties and negative thoughts. As someone who has suffered with both anxiety and depression in the past, this could have quite easily been my everyday reality for the majority of this year, BUT I refused to go back into that dark place.
I have been working from home since March and it’s looking likely this will continue for quite some time. As someone who LOVES her job and being in work (yes, I am one of those people) the thought of being at home without my wonderful colleagues did concern me, but instead of worrying about things out of my control, I decided to embrace the ‘new normal’.
I was surprised by how quickly I adapted to working from home. Not only that, but I started exercising… a lot! Now, for most people, exercise is a part of everyday life, but in all honesty I hardly ever exercised. I did start running in January of this year, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit in March, that it really took off! I joined an online coaching fitness plan and soon enough I was working out from home, multiple times a week as well as running and my weekend mountain hikes. In September, I took on my biggest challenge yet. I signed up to run 50 miles of running to help support The Children’s Society (a UK based charity) I completed 50 miles of running, over 19 miles of walking and almost 10 hours of home workouts. This was all done alongside working full time. This new way of working has given me so much more time. No more early morning and evening commute to and from work has given me freedom to focus on me, and honestly, I think we could all use a little more of that.
As well as exercise, I’ve put more effort into the things I enjoy, like writing for example. I also love to cook (I share photos of food on Instagram now and then, for any foodies out there ha) I’ve been listening to podcasts, reading more books and I’ve recently started redecorating. Setting myself little goals and setting aside real time to focus on my mental health and the things I enjoy has not only helped me get through this year but my motivation and productivity levels are higher than ever!
And I’m not the only one…
Over the past few months, I’ve seen friends and peers start up their own little businesses online. I’ve seen people take up new hobbies and explore things they love – because let’s face it, what else is there to do?! This for me has been the best thing of this year so far. I love seeing people do well and find success!
Now, I am not trying to downplay just how awful this year has been (because it really has) but I guess what I am saying is that you can choose to make the best of not so great situations. You’d be surprised on the impact that you can have on your own mental health and happiness. So, I’ll refer back to my first question. What are the things that make you happy? Do you love to paint? Are you a dab-hand at gardening? Could you give those on ‘bake-off’ a run for their money? Whatever it is, take time to do it. Focus on you this month.