3 Easy Self-Care Tips For a Healthier Mind & Body

For my first blog post I thought I would write about something accessible, universal and widely misunderstood: self-care.

I know all too well how easy it is to buy yourself a new coat, get yourself a takeaway, take a 3-hour nap and call it ‘self-care’ – let’s just say I am certainly less than qualified to giving advice on this subject! However, there are ways that you can take care of yourself which are a thousand times more simple and a thousand times more effective, so here goes..

1. Follow a plant-based diet.

Carnivores, I know what you’re thinking! But the reality is, if you’re interested in making some positive changes this one is definitely worth a shot. I could go on forever about the environmental and ethical benefits of veganism, but right now I’d like to address veganism as a form of self-care.

When I was following a plant-based diet I was the healthiest version of myself – and when I say ‘healthy’ I mean it in its purest, most genuine sense! I found that it had a positive impact on my mental health both by improving my own negative relationship with food and by giving myself a sense of pride in knowing that something as fundamental as my food habits were having a positive impact on the world. Not only that, but I found myself more energized, more awake and the moments where I found myself feeling sluggish were rare.

It is important to remember that being vegan is not about limiting yourself but about healthier choices and balance; it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge once in a while! Here is my favourite list of plant-based comfort foods to get you started!

2. Stay aware of your basic personal care habits.

We all know how to take care of ourselves in the simplest ways: eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, drink 8 glasses of water, stick to a regular sleeping pattern and squeeze in some light exercise.

A crime I am guilty of committing myself is knowing these things but not actually sticking to them. Once you begin to keep track of whether you are giving your body all the right things, even if it’s by doing something as simple as making a note in your phone and setting yourself small targets, you’ll find that your mind and body will become more aligned with the addition of a little simple routine.

At this point in this list you’re probably thinking that none of this is new information, but I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s because it’s true, so do yourself some favours!

That being said, as I sit here watching the 40-Year-Old Virgin, eating slightly too much pizza and drinking slightly too much wine, I can’t help but feel that maybe I should practice what I preach. But sometimes it’s okay to aim for the stars and only reach the moon..

3. Listen and learn from others. 

The third and perhaps most important piece of advice I can offer is to observe healthy and admirable qualities in others and apply them to your own life. Have you ever met somebody who manages to be unconditionally kind without giving it a second thought? Or someone with a distinct attitude towards life which you have found refreshing? There is no better way to care for yourself than by adopting habits you find truly praiseworthy in others. Life should be taken as one big lesson, with each day an opportunity to become wiser and more sensitive to the world around you.

There are also books you can invest in (yes – by actual real-life professionals this time!) which can offer more of an insight into personal happiness. Two of my favourites and books which I believe not only define this topic but have also somewhat inspired this post are The Little Book of Hygge and The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking. These are books which I cannot recommend highly enough and both provide a similar message which I will leave you with: Immerse yourself in the smaller pleasures in life – Read a book, cherish friendship and community and extend a family dinner that extra 10 minutes to make room for one more story. Most of all, be kind to yourself and others! 🙂 

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Let’s talk about love! – Why romance is worth heartbreak

They tell you that when you become single you have to take the time to focus on yourself, to get to know yourself and pursue everything you put on hold. All of this is absolutely true – the most important person in your life is yourself and therefore before anything else you need to know and love yourself. When I recently found myself unexpectedly single for the first time since my mid-teens, I felt determined to do exactly this and to take the time to look inwardly and be selfish for once. However, during this time and after countless conversations with friends and some pretty hardcore introspection, I’ve learned something very important about myself. I already know exactly who I am and always have. I like to laugh and smile and to not take life too seriously, but I also love the fantasy and magic of being in love. It is not a question of self-identity or of co-dependence, but rather being someone who loves to love, and enjoying all the excitement and emotion that comes with it.

Today I re watched one of my favourite love scenes in TV history. The scene depicts a couple sharing their first kiss, a scene full of fireworks, chivalry, a little unrealistic, cheesy and everything that a budding romance should be.  But as I reflected on this fictional romance and the fact that I knew exactly how exactly how this particular romance ended, I thought about how the fact that I knew the outcome didn’t detract at all from the beauty of the beginning. I like to think we can draw a parallel here with real life. Knowing what I know now about the successes and failures of my past romances I still thoroughly believe that it is all worth it for the good that can come with it. The idea that we all have a soul mate/side kick we can share all the good and bad bits in our lives with is such an awesome and beautiful concept to me. When we’re lucky enough to fall in love and have someone love us back, it’s the closest we come to experiencing a real life fairy tale.

Whether or not a romance is one which has a tragic telenovela ending, a charming rom-com mishap or a fairy tale happy ever after, a little fantasy never hurt anyone. In a world which is often filled with boredom and grief, romance brings us joy and fun and companionship. I don’t believe that being fiercely independent and also enjoying being lost in the fantasy world of love are mutually exclusive characteristics (as we are shown so often by all our favourite rom-com heroines!) and I definitely intend to keep making the most of both and believing that the most beautiful thing we can do is love others.

May you all find your happily ever after!

 

Some thoughts on mental health…

Hey guys!

Yesterday the world came together to recognise World Mental Health Day, I thought that a quick post sharing some of my own experiences and thoughts on mental health would be both topical and a good way to follow on from my last post on self-care. I have seen many people voice their stories and support on social media and I firmly believe that the more we share our experiences with each other the more we are doing to help those who are struggling to place or identify their own difficulties, or to those who are conflicted about speaking out and admitting that they’re struggling.

A vital part of my own experiences with mental health is that for a number of years I was in denial about my own difficulties. Once I was finally able to admit it to myself and admit that I needed help it then it took me another number of years to voice this to someone besides myself – by this time I was already at a crucial point in my education, making decisions and working towards a future for myself. The turbulence of this period in my life made it all too easy to succumb to my mental illness, to admit that the universe was not working in my favour and to accept that I simply couldn’t reach the potential I knew I was capable of on account of not being emotionally or mentally equipped to do so.

Looking back, I thank myself every day for not giving up and admitting defeat; I have earned my place studying Philosophy at a prestigious university, I have experienced amazing things and met incredible people. When I think about how close the future I am now living in came to not happening at all, despite me being able to salvage some kind of support system for myself prior to my A-Levels, I can’t help but be reminded of the people who are still stuck struggling under the radar. The terrifying reality is that even the people who are brave enough to identify themselves often go on to be repeatedly failed by the support systems (or lack thereof) they have at their disposal. In school not enough time is dedicated to educating young people on mental health, something which is absolutely vital if we are to expect people to help others and themselves. Warning signs are often extremely subtle, particularly in young people who are often unable to identify with the fact that they are suffering from mental illnesses such as OCD, BPD or Schizophrenia because they were never taught what they were or what it meant to be, for example, Schizophrenic or depressed. Early education on this topic could help the less talked about MI’s become less taboo and more recognisable as society is often guilty of being more tolerant of the higher functioning MI’s (which are equally as important) as long as they are considered close to neurotypical.

There is no quick fix for radical educational and social reform regarding mental health, but we can definitely speed up the process by continuing to talk to each other, being more open and attentive towards one another and, most importantly, learning about one another so that we can take the right steps towards helping the people who need to be helped (I still have plenty to learn myself!).

I hope that this is something we can all carry with us in our day-to-day lives 🙂

#worldmentalhealthday2017